NTSB: Pilot from flying-boat crash not properly licensed

Donohue and Smith died in the crash. (Source: Facebook)
Donohue and Smith died in the crash. (Source: Facebook)

DEWEES ISLAND, SC (WCSC) - A final report from the National Transportation Safety Board states the pilot from the flying inflatable boat crash which killed two people on Dewees Island last summer was not properly licensed to operate the aircraft and was also under the influence of alcohol when he performed "aero-loops" just prior to the crash.

The pilot, 40-year-old Lucas McDowell Smith, and his passenger, 27-year-old Cara Lee Donohue, died from blunt force trauma sustained in the crash just after 6 p.m. on July 20, 2011.

The report by the NTSB states Smith had just completed one loop and was inverted at 1,000 feet above the water for another loop when the wing folded and the Polaris Polar Star, an experimental flying boat, dropped straight down into shallow water.

The cause of the wing failure was attributed to "overstress" rather than an equipment malfunction, the report states.

The NTSB said a review of the Federal Aviation Administration database revealed Smith did not hold a pilot certificate. The report states Smith was required, at minimum, a sport pilot license to operate the boat.

The final report also states a blood-acohol level of .069 was detected in Smith's system in an autopsy.  Federal law states .040 blood-alcohol level as the limit prohibiting "any person from acting or attempting to act as a crewmember of a civil aircraft."

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