TRENTON, SC (WFXG) - "We were sitting in the hangar," explained Allan Swires. "And we heard some chatter on the radio."
Swires and his friend were at the Twin Lakes Airpark around 6 p.m. Monday night when they heard a troubling sound.
"Then, right after that we heard a low flying plane in the back of the hangar," Swires said. "And the runway is actually in the front."
Swires said he then rushed out of the hangar to investigate.
"Then after we heard the motor of the plane go by, it seemed pretty low, we heard the crash."
He said what he saw next was shocking: a wrecked plane and a body among the wreckage.
"It looked like he tried to land on Rachel Avenue," explained Swires. "And for some reason, he couldn't do it, and instead crashed into the trees."
The Edgefield County Coroner said the pilot and sole occupant, 56-year-old Richard Showalter, was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy today in Newberry revealed Showalter died from blunt force trauma to the head and body as a result of the crash.
"I'd met him maybe...seven, eight, nine months ago," said Swires.
He said Showalter was a flight instructor in the area. His LinkedIn page confirms he also was a contract pilot in the area. It's unclear at this point why Showalter was flying yesterday. Swires said it was a senseless tragedy.
"I think he was in the air for 30 or 45 seconds. Maybe a minute. But not that long."
We also reached out to Showalter's family, but they weren't ready to talk about the tragedy. A preliminary report from the FAA/NTSB should be available in about a week.