Timothy Kniess of Iron Station proved he is one of the luckiest men in North Carolina on Wednesday when he survived crashing a helicopter he'd bought with his $100,000 lottery winnings.
It happened around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday. Lincoln County Emergency Management described the aircraft as a "Gyrocopter" Mosquito XE, reported the Observer's news partner WBTV. The crash was blamed on the tail rotor hitting a tree, the station reported.
Kniess, 56, suffered minor injuries, multiple media outlets reported.
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"We have the understanding he was just attempting to hover, and that’s when the crash occurred,” N.C. Highway Patrol Trooper Jeffery Swagger told the Gaston Gazette. “The pilot was very fortunate that he did not receive injuries more severe than he did."
The aircraft sells for between $32,000 and $34,000, according to PiloxMix.com, an aircraft marketplace.
Kniess, a maintenance man, won $100,000 in October in the North Carolina Education Lottery, reported the Gazette. He credited his wife for his luck at the time. After required state and federal tax withholdings, the couple took home $69,504, according to a press release sent out by the lottery.
“I’m married to Lady Luck,” Kniess said in an October press release. “When my wife scratches a ticket, she always wins something. I just buy them for her.”
FAA investigators were looking into whether Kniess had pilot certification status, reported WBTV.
Neighbors told the Gaston Gazette he got the helicopter a couple of weeks ago and was not an experienced pilot.
However, none dared tell Kniess what he couldn't do on his own property, neighbor John Aubery told Fox46 and WSOC at the scene of the crash.
"Man bought a helicopter. He woke up one day and said: 'Today's the day, I identify as a pilot,'" Aubery told WSOC. "Oh, I knew it was going down. You don't see somebody bouncing a helicopter around the yard and think, 'Oh, this guy is going to make it.'"