UPDATE: Pilot identified in deadly gyrocopter crash in Wrens

By: Staff Email
By: Staff Email


JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ga. -- Tragedy struck a local fly-in before it even started. Now, investigators in Jefferson County are trying to figure out what caused a unique plane to go down in a field -- killing the pilot.

That pilot has been identified as 55-year-old Christopher Bowen of Bluffton, S.C. His body is being autopsied Saturday at the GBI Lab in Atlanta. Investigators say they hope the autopsy will help determine the cause of the crash.

The plane was a single-seat gyroplane that had just taken off from the airport in Wrens. It crashed around 4 p.m. in a cotton field about a mile and a half away from the airport.

The man had just brought his plane into town for an event at the airport on Saturday. The airport in Wrens is hosting a "Fly -in," an event to show off all types of aircraft. People come from all over to attend these events.

The man who died in the crash had brought his single-seat gyroplane into town for the event. He and a friend arrived at the airport Friday afternoon. They unloaded their planes and took off from the airport together in their separate planes.

People at the event say the friend returned not long after with the news that the other plane had gone down.

Jefferson County Emergency Management tells us the gyroplane caught on fire when it crashed in the field. Once they were able to get the flames out, they found the body in the wreckage.

This is the first fatal crash ever at the Wrens Fly-In, but they say they don't think it will affect the turn out for Saturday since what they do comes with a risk.

"People will still be coming because everything has a risk in life," said John Magnan, secretary of the Experimental Aircraft Association. "It's just like if you drive a car. As everyone knows, it's more dangerous to drive an automobile than it is a to fly an aircraft."

They have not been able to determine a cause for the crash. Investigators with the FAA have been on the scene along with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office.

We are told the man was not local and was just in Jefferson County for the event.

Initial report:

Friday, June 8, 2012

JEFFERSON COUNTY, Ga. -- News 12 has just confirmed that one man is dead after crashing his gyroplane near the Wrens Memorial Airport.

The victim has not been identified at this time, as investigators are waiting to notify next of kin.

Arlene Salac of the FAA says the gyroplane crashed in a field off Ozier Russel Road due to unknown circumstances. Salac confirmed one person was on board.

This gyroplane, classified as a "Dogbee," is said to have burned after it crashed.

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