The aircraft involved in a deadly crash at the Beaufort County Airport on Monday went upside down moments before slamming into the ground, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.
Gyrocopter pilot Sam Dollenmeier, a 69-year-old St. Helena Island resident, died at Beaufort Memorial Hospital a few hours after the 9:40 a.m. crash.
Dollenmeier was performing a series of touch-and-go practice landings at the airport Monday morning, National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson said Tuesday. Witnesses reported seeing the aircraft turn upside down in the air before it crashed, Knudson said.
An autopsy was performed at the Medical University of South Carolina on Tuesday. Preliminary results were not available Tuesday afternoon, Beaufort County Coroner Ed Allen said.
The investigation into the crash will be handled by two federal agencies.
The Federal Aviation Administration will gather on-the-ground information on the crash and hand it over to the NTSB.
The NTSB will investigate those findings and produce a report on the crash, Knudson said. A preliminary report is expected to be publicly available approximately two weeks after the NTSB get the information.
The full investigation could take one or two years, Knudson said.
Dollenmeier was described as “more than capable as a pilot” by Chris Lord, a Florida-based pilot who is among a handful of examiners in the country who can issue gyroplane pilot licenses.
Dollenmeier had logged more than 250 hours in gyroplanes and held a private pilot license with an instrument rating to fly an airplane and a sport pilot license to fly a gyroplane, Lord said.