ATLANTA — An Augusta-area pilot is dead after a plane crash at an air show in Atlanta Saturday.

It happened at the Good Neighbor Day Open House Airshow at the DeKalb Peachtree Airport.

Friends and family confirm that Greg Connell was the pilot of the plane.

Connell grew up in North Augusta.

Connell and pilot Gary Ward were doing an opposing pass when something went wrong.

“Something didn’t go exactly according to plan. I pulled up to de-conflict and Greg flew underneath me. I had no idea that Greg had crashed like a second later,” Ward said.

Ward kept flying and became confused when he didn’t hear Connell talking back to him via radio.

“I stayed airborne another five minutes then they finally cleared me to land and so it was not until I landed and got out of my airplane to find out really how bad it was,” Ward said.

Now, Ward and the rest of Connell’s large circle of friends are mourning a man who they say was someone you could count on.

Many knew Connell through his local heating and air company, but Ward says Connell’s true passion was flying.

“Just like me, he was passionate about aviation. And, you know, we lived airplanes. That was our life. Greg probably worked to support his flying habit,” Ward said.

Connell grew up around planes and started flying them himself as soon as he could.

“Greg came from a flying family. His dad flew and Greg started flying at early age. Probably 16 or so,” Ward said.

Ward says Connell was also passionate about his country.

“Greg was a true-blue American. He believed in the country. He believed in the principles this country were founded on and was a very patriotic individual,” Ward said.

A prominent business owner, an accomplished pilot, and most importantly, a tried and true friend.

This loss is being felt throughout the community.

“He had a great circle of friends. He was greatly loved by these friends. And he’s going to be greatly missed,” Ward said.