NC pilot may have been doing tricks right before fatal crash

James Thomas (WSOC)

James Thomas (WSOC)

NEWTON, N.C. — A pilot may have been doing tricks right before a fatal plane crash in Catawba County, according to the Hickory Daily Record.

James Thomas, 55, of Denver, died in the wreck when his plane crashed May 25 near Newton, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

Investigators said they believe Thomas was teaching himself stunts. Authorities said they spoke to a flight instructor who gave Thomas a lesson. He said the pilot didn’t have the skill to do the tricks.

Thomas’ plane took off from Laney’s Airport in Maiden at about 7:45 p.m. The crash occurred about 20 minutes later, according to officials.

Authorities said the plane was a home-built Stolp Starduster SA-300 and crashed in a wheat field.

A witness told WSOC-TV that the plane was flying at about 1,500 feet while making maneuvers over the southern part of Catawba County.

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