1 dead in crash at metro Atlanta air show

Updated 2:55 PM EDT, Sun May 15, 2016
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(CNN) —  

The pilot was killed Saturday afternoon when a biplane crashed during an air show at a metropolitan Atlanta airport, authorities said.

DeKalb County public information officer Shiera Campbell confirmed Sunday that Greg Connell was the pilot.

The webpage for Connell’s company said he lives in Trenton, South Carolina, and began flight training in 1989.

The biplane and another aircraft were performing stunts in tandem during the next-to-last performance of the day at the Good Neighbor Day Open House Airshow at DeKalb Peachtree Airport, said CNN Digital news writer Melissa Gray, who attended the show with her family and witnessed the crash.

Video shot at the show and posted on YouTube showed the two planes flying past each other low to the ground. The biplane ascended for a loop and came straight down to the ground.

“It immediately split apart, with the front of the plane rolling a few times in a fireball,” Gray said.

Fire trucks responded and put out the fire, Gray said. No spectators were injured. The announcer said the show in Chamblee was over and the crowd left.

“It happened directly in front of the crowd,” Gray said. “There were no gasps from the crowd. It was as if everybody could not believe what they had just seen.”

Another CNN employee at the airshow, Senior News Editor Amanda Watts, said the biplane appeared to be shaking and “acting squirrely” before the crash.

“Around me, everybody sucked in air, then silence,” she said. “It was a skeleton of a plane left. It was completely burned out.”

The crash was the first in the three decades of the annual air show, according to Campbell.

There are scores of air shows, large and small, throughout the world, especially during summer months. The Good Neighbor show is one of 33 in North America this month, according to the International Council of Air Shows.

One of the worst accidents occurred last August at Shoreham Airport in southeast England. Eleven people were killed and 14 were injured when a vintage jet plane crashed onto a highway during a performance.