NTSB: Pilot in fatal Mt. Pleasant crash did not have instructor - WCIV-TV | ABC News 4 - Charleston News, Sports, Weather

NTSB: Pilot in fatal Mt. Pleasant crash did not have instructor credentials

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MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) – A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board into a plane crash that killed two people in August shows the pilot did not have a flight instructor certificate.

According to the NTSB, 33-year-old Graham Borland had a commercial pilot certificate and a first-class medical certificate. He was not a certified instructor, the NTSB reported.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, Borland earned a private pilot certificate in May 2007 and added instrument rating a few months later. He earned his commercial pilot certificate and a multi-engine land rating in October 2008, the FAA found. Two months later, he upgraded the airplane single engine rating to the commercial pilot level. 

However, there is no record with the FAA that Borland was ever issued a certified flight instructor certificate.

The crash killed Borland and 20-year-old Matt Gaither, who was learning to fly.

The NTSB report shows that many witnesses thought the plane “immediately looked unstable” at the time of liftoff. One witness told the NTSB investigator that the wings were banking left and right.

Joe Bustos owns Mount Pleasant Flight Training, a flying school based at the Mount Pleasant Regional Airport. He said he saw the crash and gave a statement to NTSB investigators.

“All the flaps were down on the airplane,” Bustos said. “I was thinking the airplane wasn't going to fly,”

Bustos said the flaps on the plane operated on an electronic system. He didn't know whether the system was working that day. He also said it was a hot, humid day; thin air made it bad conditions for flying.

“Ultimately everything is the pilot's responsibility,” Bustos said.

“When the airplane reached an altitude of about 100 feet above ground level, it entered a continuous left turn and subsequently rolled wings level on a westerly heading,” the preliminary report states.

Then the plane went into a “straight downward dive” and hit the ground, officials said.

The NTSB reports that a flight plan had not been filed for the flight. The NTSB's full report may take a year to complete, officials said.

Meanwhile, Gaither's family has set up a memorial scholarship fund at Wells Fargo bank.

Cole Gaither, the 20-year-old man's father and co-owner of Hanger Aviation, said his son just started pilot training last week. On the Monday before the crash, he had started training with Borland in a three-hour session.

"We were just as surprised as everyone else by the deception," Cole Gaither told ABC News 4 after he read the preliminary report.

At the time of the crash, Cole Gaither said he thought Borland was a licensed instructor.

In addition to having a commercial pilot license, Bustos is also a certified flight instructor. The extra certification took a lot of extra time and skill, he said.

“It takes four to five hours of both oral exams and demonstrating skill flying from the right side, as opposed to the pilot side on the left side,” he said.

Bustos said he worked for six years as an instructor at Coastal Aviation, the same company where Graham Borland was employed. Bustos said he presented his instructor certification before getting hired there.

The owner of Coastal Aviation said he was "broken-hearted" over the crash, but said he could not do an interview until the investigation was complete.


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