ELLENBORO — A South Carolina man was killed Tuesday when his ultralight plunged to the ground after takeoff at an air park off Ferree Road. His wife witnessed the 1:15 p.m. crash.
Michael Dean Sarti, 72, of Chesnee, South Carolina, was pronounced dead at the scene when his aircraft nosedived into a grassy field used as a landing strip for ultralight enthusiasts, according to Capt. Jamie Keever of the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office.
Sarti’s wife and another witness that oversees operations at the park reported to authorities that Sarti took off, then went straight up in the air for about 75 feet before the ultralight suddenly nosedived into the ground, Keever said.
It was the victim’s first time flying this model, Keever added.
First responders attempted to save Sarti before succumbing to his injuries at the scene.
The N.C. Highway Patrol first responded the crash before the sheriff’s office took control of the call.
An ultralight has only one seat, is only used for sport or recreational flying. Ultralights can be powered or unpowered. If unpowered, they should weigh less than 155 pounds. If powered, they weigh less than 254 pounds empty, have a fuel capacity not exceeding 5 US gallons, are not capable of a speed above 55 knots at full power in level flight, and have a power off stall speed which does not exceed 24 knots.
No pilot’s license or aviation medical is required to fly an ultralight. It’s unclear if Sarti had a pilot’s license.