45 Years After Lynyrd Skynyrd Aircraft Catastrophe, Survivor Remains Traumatized!

FLORIDA: Artimus Pyle remembers the plane catastrophe that killed three Lynyrd Skynyrd members 45 years to the day.

One of the final original band members on the 1977 flight told Forbes, “I think about it every day.”
The Jacksonville, Florida-based band left Greenville, South Carolina, on Oct. 20, 1977, to perform at Louisiana State University the next night.

No luck.
Convair CV-240 ran out of fuel at the end of the mission. The captain and co-pilot didn’t have enough fuel to land at a local airport, so they made an emergency landing and crashed near Gillsburg, Mississippi.

Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, and Cassie Gaines were killed.
Dean Kilpatrick, Walter McCreary, and William Gray Jr.

Pyle, 74, told Forbes that the farmer was protecting his family. “With my long hair and beard, I looked like Charles Manson smeared in blood.”

He denied shooting Pyle.

“He shouted stop.'” Pyle spotted the gun. “I was stumbling from injuries and feared I was dying. Something tore through my arm, and I cried “aircraft crash” with my dying breath.”
Three days after releasing “Street Survivors,” the band crashed.

“Would you remember me if I left tomorrow?” Ronnie Van Zant’s “Free Bird”

Lynyrd Skynyrd had only played five gigs of their “Tour of the Survivors” before the disaster.
National Transportation Safety Board: “fuel exhaustion and total engine power loss due to crew inattention to fuel delivery” Inadequate flight planning and an unexplained engine problem also contributed to fuel loss, according to the NTSB.
He wrote “Free Bird” and “Sweet Home Alabama”

Johnny Van Zant, Ronnie’s brother, became the lead singer in 1987.

The band honored the more than 100 concertgoers who preserved their tickets to the Oct. 21, 1977, show 14 years later.
Lynyrd Skynyrd was inducted in 2006. Ronnie Van Zant and Steve Gaines were posthumously inducted.

Van Zant, Gaines, and sister Cassie Gaines were buried in Florida for 23 years. After vandalism in 2000, the remains were relocated to a private cemetery. Van Zant’s unopened casket and Steve Gaines’ cremated remains were disturbed, necessitating the move.

Fans can still honor Van Zant and Gaines. Their mausoleums remain at the Jacksonville cemetery 45 years after their deaths.