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Ronnie VanZant, guitarist Steve Gaines, vocalist Cassie Gaines

Ronnie VanZant, guitarist Steve Gaines, vocalist Cassie Gaines

Ronnie VanZant, guitarist Steve Gaines, vocalist Cassie Gaines

October 20, 1977: The Lynyrd Skynyrd plane crash killed lead singer and song writer Ronnie VanZant, guitarist Steve Gaines, vocalist Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick. Also killed were pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray.

According to the NTSB report, the pilots miscalculated the amount of fuel provided in Lakeland, Florida two days earlier. When they refueled in Greenville, South Carolina on the 20th, they compounded this error by believing they had more fuel than they really did. The airplane was also experiencing some mechanical difficulties which required the pilots to operate the right engine in the “auto-rich” position which burned fuel at an excessive rate. The combination of these problems resulted in nearly complete fuel exhaustion. The pilots changed course and headed for an airport near McComb, Mississippi but the plane stalled near Gillsburg, Mississippi and crashed in swampy woods.