Airplane Went Down Shortly After Takeoff From Valdosta Regional Airport (KVLD)
A pilot described as a prominent businessman in Wayne County, GA, was fatally injured when his Diamond DA40 went down Monday night in Lowndes County, GA.
Rick Poppell, 52, was the only person on board the airplane at the time of the accident. According to the FAA, Poppell had called on his cell phone to report trouble with the airplane just after 2030 EDT. The airplane disappeared from radar shortly after that call was completed.
The Press Sentinel of Jessup, GA, reports that as many as 50 people were involved in the search and rescue effort, which located the wreckage of the airplane about 1115 EST Tuesday morning. The plane went down in an area described as "rugged" about 20 miles south of Valdosta. Rescuers reportedly had trouble reaching the accident site, and Poppell was pronounced dead at the scene by Lowndes County Coroner Bill Watson.
Poppell had been active in Republican Party politics for several years, assisting in the elections of both Governors Sonny Perdue and Nathan Deal. He had opened Poppell's Produce, a wholesale vegetable distributor, in 1991.
He is survived by his wife Cathy and four children.
(Diamond DA40 image from file. Not accident airplane)