This song depicts the flight from Greenville, South Carolina to Baton Rouge, Louisiana; the plane was carrying the band Lynyrd Skynyrd and crashed that night. Lead singer Ronnie Van Zant fell asleep during this flight and was sleeping on the floor when the emergency began. He was quickly awoken and put into a seat and strapped in. The airplane was supposed to be repaired when the crew got to Baton Rouge, where a mechanic from Texas was meeting them. Both engines were failing during flight and the loss of gasoline was too much for the plane to make it to Baton Rouge. Once the crew realized they couldn't make it to Baton Rouge, they turned the plane around to reach the nearest airport. Shortly after the plane turned around, it ran out of gas, the engines turned off, and the controls were no longer operable for controlling the decent of the plane.