The pilot of a home-built gyrocopter died Monday morning after a crash at Valkaria Airport in Brevard County, authorities said.
The pilot, Scott Adair, of Scarborough, Maine, was trying to land the Dominator rotorcraft when it crashed at the east end of the airport, just off the runway, Brevard Fire Rescue said. Adair had a second home in Florida.
The gyrocopter fell about 100 feet and struck a parked aircraft, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen told FOX 35 News. A debris field extended several hundred feet and Adair was pronounced dead at the scene.
Adair, 58, was the only person aboard the downed gyrocopter, Bergen said.
"Scott Adair was a dear personal friend, as well as a friend of the Palm Bay police department," said Captain Mark Renkens of the Palm Bay Police Department.
Overcome with emotion, Capt. Renkens paused several times, as he spoke about his close friend and flying partner.
"Scott impacted many lives, and will be missed. I ask that God be with Scott's family and friends during this difficult time."
Renkens recalled how Adair voluntarily trained three police paragliding pilots for the department's SOAR unit. The flying police officers are used to help spot marijuana grow fields from the air, as well as track down missing persons.
"He attended training sessions and offered anything that was needed, no matter how dirty or difficult the task," Renkens said.
Adair recently obtained his certification to fly gyrocopters, because of their ability to fly in windy conditions. The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating.