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Accident description
Last updated: 19 October 2017
Date:Thursday 20 October 1977
Type:Convair CV-300
Operator:L & J Company
Registration: N55VM
C/n / msn: 3
First flight: 1948
Total airframe hrs:29013
Engines: 2 Pratt & Whitney R-2800-CB16
Crew:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Passengers:Fatalities: 4 / Occupants: 24
Total:Fatalities: 6 / Occupants: 26
Airplane damage: Damaged beyond repair
Location:8 km (5 mls) NE of Gillsburg, MS (   United States of America)
Phase: En route (ENR)
Nature:Domestic Non Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Greenville Downtown Airport, SC (GMU/KGMU), United States of America
Destination airport:Baton Rouge-Ryan Airport, LA (BTR/KBTR), United States of America
While flying the Lynyrd Skynyrd Band from Greenville to Baton Rouge, the crew had to divert to McComb because the aircraft was low on fuel.
Both engines quit before the Convair could reach McComb. A forced landing was made in a wooded area. Band members Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines, and the band's manager Dean Kilpatrick were killed in the accident.

Probable Cause:

PROBABLE CAUSE: Fuel exhaustion and a total loss of power on both engines due to crew inattention of fuel supply. Contributing to the fuel exhaustion were inadequate flight planning and an engine malfunction of undetermined nature in the right engine which resulted in a higher than normal fuel consumption."

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: NTSB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration: 242 days (8 months)
Accident number: NTSB/AAR-78-06
Download report: Final report


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This map shows the airport of departure and the intended destination of the flight. The line between the airports does not display the exact flight path.
Distance from Greenville Downtown Airport, SC to Baton Rouge-Ryan Airport, LA as the crow flies is 946 km (591 miles).
Accident location: Exact; as reported in the official accident report.

This information is not presented as the Flight Safety Foundation or the Aviation Safety Network’s opinion as to the cause of the accident. It is preliminary and is based on the facts as they are known at this time.
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