Stone Mountain Guide
Plane Crash

Due to dangerous conditions, this is a restricted area by order of the Stone Mountain Memorial Association. Ordinance 2-110

On September 16, 2003, a Beechcraft A36 Bonanza, registration number N1980K, owned and operated by Phillip Daniel Rogers of Atlanta, a 69-year-old accountant and commercial pilot, crashed fatally into the south side of Stone Mountain. According to radar data and witness testimony, the airplane made five complete counterclockwise circles of the mountain. On the sixth circuit, further out from the mountain than the preceding five circuits, it turned in and headed straight toward the mountain. Radar contact was lost at 19:58 while the airplane was in a rapid descent at a ground speed of 179 knots (332 KPH or 206 MPH).

There was no evidence of a mechanical malfunction with the airplane, or weather related factors. The flight profile of sudden rapid descent and pitch-up could not have occurred without pilot input. The pilot, who held a commercial pilot's license and had 5700 hours of flying experience, had consumed alcohol in the hours before the accident according to a witness. Several acquaintances testified that he was ordinarily careful not to fly within at least 12 hours of alcohol consumption. It was found that in the past the pilot had severally threatened suicide by crashing his plane into Stone Mountain, and suicide was the official root cause finding of the NTSB.


Impact location


Impact location

The plane was flying VFR (Visual Flight Rules). Visibility was good and wind was light.
Sunset on this day was at 19:43, fifteen minutes before the 19:58 time of the crash.
Therefore the crash was 45 minutes before day VFR rules ended. No flight plan was filed.

The plane hit the mountain at 3348'3.60"N 848'42.45"W on a heading of 347 degrees.


Impact location

The crash occurred at 19:58 (7:58 PM) EDT. The impact occurred at an elevation of 1350 feet.
The wreckage covered a vertical distance of 980 feet and a horizontal distance of 392 feet.
These distances are incorrectly stated in the opposite in the NTSB report.
The aircraft had no maintenance issues or lapses.


Impact site viewed from the west


Impact site viewed from the west


Impact site viewed from the west


Impact site viewed from the west


Impact site


Impact site


Impact site viewed from the east


Impact site viewed from the east


Impact site viewed from the east


The prop made distinct marks

The wreckage of N1980K was released to the USAIG's Assistant Vice President of Claims on November 12, 2004. But not all of it. Due to the widespread wreckage and difficult terrain, not all parts were located. Here are some examples of parts that were left behind.