The wreck of a private plane into DeKalb County townhomes in October has brought renewed attention to the possibility of accidents around DeKalb-Peachtree Airport. The risks to any one person or property are extremely low, but the list of accidents is long since the airport, located in Chamblee on the Brookhaven border, switched from military to civilian public use in the late 1950s. Today’s tensions between the busy airport and its surrounding neighborhoods began in the 1970s, and involved safety concerns from the start. A 1976 Atlanta Journal-Constitution article said, “When most people think of DeKalb-Peachtree, they probably think of the 1973 crash, apparently caused by birds in a jet engine, that killed seven people. Or they may think of the occasional reports of planes dropping into nearby residents’ front yards.”
Today, there is some debate about the significance of accident statistics, and Airport Director Mario Evans suggests that PDK itself should not be blamed for crashes caused by pilot error miles from the airport. The following list, compiled from National Transportation Safety Board records and media reports, shows notable accidents and other incidents involving aircraft flying out of or into PDK. It does not include every incident or accident.
October 2019: Two killed when plane hits townhomes on Peachwood Circle in DeKalb County.
May 2016: Pilot of an acrobatic airplane dies in fiery crash before a crowd of spectators at PDK’s annual airshow.
May 2015: Four killed when plane crashes on I-285 near the North Peachtree Road exit in Dunwoody.
October 2011: Plane runs out of fuel and crashes into yard of house on Hawthorne Drive in DeKalb County near the Hawthorne Elementary School. Two are injured.
September 2010: Plane makes a successful emergency landing in rush hour on I-85 between Shallowford and Clairmont roads.
September 2008: One killed when plane crashes into the front yard of a house on Chamblee-Dunwoody Road near Gramercy Circle on the Brookhaven/Chamblee border.
August 2007: Plane crashes in Dunwoody near the county water treatment plant at Winters Chapel and Peeler Roads. Two are severely injured and a public event to showcase the renovated plant is postponed.
October 2004: Two killed when plane crashes into an auto body shop in Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn area, near Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthplace.
August 2004: Plane flying an instructional flight makes a successful emergency landing at the airport, but goes through a fence and onto Chamblee’s Dresden Drive.
March 2003: Two killed in the crash of an instructional flight in Walton County.
February 2002: Four killed in plane crash in a wooded area near the Regal Hollywood movie theater along I-85 in DeKalb County.
December 2001: Pilot killed when plane crashes into the yard of a house in Lilburn, Ga.
February 2000: Student airplane pilot killed at PDK after near-collision with a helicopter in accident witnessed by patrons of the airport’s Downwind Restaurant.
November 1999: Pilot killed at PDK during emergency landing due to fire at takeoff.
September 1999: Three killed in a Forsyth County crash, reportedly while test-flying a plane that was for sale.
October 1998: A pilot makes an emergency landing on Ga. 400 in Sandy Springs, sliding the plane under the Roberts Drive overpass, hitting vehicles and killing one driver. The pilot was flying from Alabama to Gainesville, but had mechanical problems and was attempting to reach PDK instead. The victim’s family expressed anger that authorities did not close the highway for the emergency landing and that the pilot did not attempt to land in trees instead of on the crowded roadway.
April 1998: Two planes, one from PDK, collide over East Cobb subdivisions, killing five.
December 1996: Plane heading into PDK crash-lands in trees in Doraville.
January 1995: Pilot killed in crash in parking lot near the Chamblee MARTA Station.
November 1994: Plane makes successful emergency landing on Buckhead’s Chastain Park golf course, hitting trees and a fence and seriously injuring the pilot.
July 1994: A 14-year-old student pilot and an instructor make an emergency landing in a parking lot behind the now-demolished GM plant in Doraville, hitting a parked vehicle and a fence.
March 1991: Plane heading into PDK makes a successful emergency landing on a road in Lawrenceville.
October 1989: Two killed when a plane comes apart mid-air after takeoff and crashes into a nearby neighborhood.
June 1989: Three killed in Douglas County crash.
November 1986: Two killed when plane headed for PDK runs out fuel, crashes in a Gwinnett County construction site.
August 1985: Plane heading to Toccoa runs out of fuel, diverts to PDK, crashes into trees about 1.5 miles from the runway. No one is injured.
March 1984: Pilot killed in fiery crash at PDK; 4-year-old son is rescued from the debris.
July 1982: Pilot killed in crash off Holcomb Bridge Road in Roswell, near the Sandy Springs border.
June 1982: Plane crashes into house at 1788 Georgian Terrace in Brookhaven and explodes. No one was home and no one was seriously injured, but the house was badly damaged.
March 1982: Pilot makes successful emergency landing on Woodcock Boulevard at I-85 in DeKalb County.
May 1980: Pilot killed when plane crashes into house at 2589 Cove Circle in Brookhaven. The plane smashed through patio doors and into the den of the house.
September 1978: Pilot and a Federal Aviation Administration examiner killed in a crash somewhere north of the airport, apparently while simulating an emergency.
July 1975: World War II-era plane makes emergency landing on grounds of a church on Chamblee-Dunwoody Road; no injuries.
May 1975: One killed as plane crashes in the front yard of a house at 2051 Dering Circle in Chamblee.
December 1974: Two killed as plane crashes into the Winters Village Shopping Center at Winters Chapel and Peeler roads in Dunwoody. On the same day, four are injured in crash into woods in Cobb County.
November 1973: Two killed when plane attempting to reach PDK for an emergency landing crashes into the backyard of a house in Decatur.
August 1973: Student pilot makes emergency landing on I-285 near the North Peachtree Road interchange in Dunwoody, hitting a truck and seriously injuring its driver.
February 1973: Seven killed when bird strike causes a jet to crash into apartments at 3523 Buford Highway in Brookhaven. Burning jet fuel critically injures a resident. Investigators blamed the county for operating a bird-attracting landfill next to the airport. Lawsuits led to a battle over the ability to sue the county that went to the U.S. Supreme Court.
May 1970: Six killed in plane crash on I-285 in southeast Atlanta; five of the dead were family members in a car that was hit by the plane.
March 1970: Pilot of cargo plane dies in crash on takeoff.
July 1969: Plane from PDK crashes in Monroe, Ga., killing 14.
June 1969: Three killed when plane crashes on takeoff, lands on railroad tracks near Clairmont Road.
February 1969: Plane crashes in front yard of house at 6709 Brandon Mill Road in Sandy Springs. No one is injured.
May 1967: Two killed in helicopter crash at PDK.
September 1965: A physics professor who lived in Dunwoody dies in a crash on takeoff.
April 1962: Four are injured in a crash in DeKalb County near I-85 on the test flight of a plane for sale.