Federal investigators now say a pilot who was training another person when both were killed in a plane crash at the Mount Pleasant Regional Airport last month was not a certified instructor.
The preliminary National Transportation Safety Board report into the August 14 crash was released Wednesday. It did not give a cause for the crash that killed both 20-year-old Matthew Gaither of Johns Island and his flight instructor 33-year-old Graham Borland of North Charleston. Both men died when the single-engine Cessna crashed into a marsh shortly after takeoff.
According to the report, witnesses told the NTSB investigators that the plane “immediately looked unstable” as soon as it took off. Once the airplane reached about 100 feet above ground level, the witnesses said it entered a continuous left turn and subsequently rolled wings level on a westerly heading. The report adds the airplane then entered a nose down attitude followed by a right wing low attitude and was in a “straight downward dive” when it hit the ground.
In its investigation, the agency said Federal Aviation Authority records indicate that Borland did not actually possess a flight instructor’s certificate, although he had been certified as a commercial pilot.
Gaither’s father, who co-owns Hanger Aviation in Charleston, told WCIV-TV that he had thought Borland was a licensed instructor when his son began taking lessons a week before the crash.
The NTSB says it may take a full year for a complete investigation. The agency traditionally releases a preliminary report a month of a plane crash to detail their initial findings, but does not usually determine a cause until it has time to better analyze the wreckage and flying conditions.