The Lamont family and their pilot perished after the aircraft they were travelling in exploded mid-flight about 100 miles from Atlanta, Georgia.
Witness Tracy Carter described seeing it circling before catching fire, reports The Union Recorder.
Parts of the wreckage landed in a field while the bulk came to a stop in a wooded area where it was extinguished – though no-one aboard survived.
Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills identified the victims as pilot Larry Ray Pruitt, 67, of Morriston, Florida; Shawn Charles Lamont, 41, of Gainesville, Florida; his wife Jody Rae Lamont, 43; and their two children, Jayce, 6, and Alice, 4.
The Federal Aviation Administration has confirmed the Piper PA31-T Cheyenne twin-engine turbo prop plane was flying from Williston, Florida, to Newcastle, Indiana.
A National Transportation Safety Board spokesman said pilot Larry Pruitt had radioed air traffic controllers about deviating around troublesome weather conditions and also enquired about re-routing.
While Williston Airport manager Benton Stegall said Mr Pruitt had called about getting a fuel top up.
Also a friend of the tragic pilot, Mr Stegall told The Gainesville Sun: “Larry always had a smile on his face and would crack a joke for anyone that needed it.”
Former colleague Shawn Lamont runs J & S Trailer Service, Inc, and a Facebook post from the company announced the news “with a very heavy heart”.
“We have lost a very special family…May they all Rest In Peace,” it added.