The flying boat aircraft that crashed and killed both its passengers Wednesday night was not registered but should have been, a Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman said Thursday.
The FAA is launching a full investigation into the crash of the light-sport aircraft, spokeswoman Kathleen Bergen said.
Bergen said the aircraft operator is required to have a sport pilot certificate or a private pilot certificate and is responsible for having inspections done by designated FAA airworthiness inspectors.
Lucas McDowell Smith, 40, and Cara Lee "Carly" Donohue, 27, died in the 6:19 p.m. crash, according to an incident report released by the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office on Thursday. The Charleston County Coroner's office confirmed the victims' identities.
The aircraft crashed in between Dewees Island and the Isle of Palms.
The aircraft was essentially a rubber raft with a parasail and engine attached. Smith called it his flying boat, according to friend and business partner Chris McIntire.
McIntire said Smith was one of the best boat captains he’d ever met and an experienced pilot of the aircraft.
“All I can guess is it was a catastrophic failure of some kind,” McIntire said.
The loss of both Smith and Donohue was a double blow to the Motoryacht Southern Comfort family, a boat-chartering business owned by McIntire.
Smith, McIntire said, was a devoted father to two children who was always running on all cylinders with his own charter boat, The Osprey, and his dry-cleaning business.
“He lived with his hair on fire,” McIntire said. “He was the type of guy to buy the first round. To lose him and Carly is beyond words.”
Smith hired Donohue as his ship mate part-time to help entertain the charter passengers and keep books. She could keep a bunch of frat boys smiling and laughing on one trip and then exude elegance and class on a trip with teetotalling Charleston women, McIntire said.