Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash Site
In the woods bordered by PP Wilson Rd & Mississippi State Highway 568 & Easley Rd in Gillsburg, MS.
On October 20, 1977, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s chartered Convair CV-300 ran out of fuel and crashed into a wooded area near the Mississippi – Louisiana border. The band was en route to a show in Baton Rouge. Lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, background singer Cassie Gaines (Steve’s sister), assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray were all killed. Twenty other crew and band members survived. Though all badly injured, keyboardist Billy Powell, drummer Artimus Pyle and crew member Ken Peden were able to crawl out of the wreckage and hike ¼ mile through the swamp and forest to the house of Johnny Mote, a 22 year old dairy farmer.
The remoteness of the thick forest and swamp hampered rescue operations, causing several emergency vehicles to get stuck. Crews were also hampered by a 20 foot waist deep creek they had to cross to reach the crash site. Two bulldozers were brought in to cut a road through the woods and brush from State Highway 568.
Ironically, the band had decided they were not going to use the aircraft any longer and were celebrating their last flight on it only moments before it went down. Before Lynyrd Skynyrd leased the plane, Aerosmith had considered leasing it but deemed it too unsafe.
Unfortunately, there is no official marker or access to the crash site. A chicken farm sits near the site. On one of the trees, a makeshift memorial has been made where visitors have carved messages in the tree.