Man who won lottery survives helicopter crash in Lincoln County

IRON STATION, N.C. — The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating after a small aircraft crashed Wednesday morning in Lincoln County, near Iron Station.

The crash happened around 10:30 a.m. in the area of Every Drive and Leepers Street.

The pilot, Timothy Kniess, is reportedly OK, and was up and walking around after the crash.

Chopper 9 Skyzoom flew over the scene and could see that the Mosquito XE mini-helicopter caught fire and burned after it went down in a neighborhood near homes.

In the days before the crash, neighbors filmed Kniess practicing with the aircraft and he appeared to be struggling to get it off the ground.

One neighbor said he was sure Kniess would crash, but he's glad he's OK.

"I knew it was going down," said John Aubery. "You don't see somebody bouncing a helicopter around the yard and think, 'Oh, this guy is going to make it.'"

Neighbors told us Kniess brought the helicopter a few weeks ago. He only flew it in his front yard, but it was a spectacle, with wild gyrations as it flew less than 5 feet up in the air.

Federal investigators said the chopper was hovering on private property when the tail rotor hit a tree and the aircraft went down.

The FAA said it is "working to confirm the helicopter’s registration and current ownership and the pilot's certification status, which is a routine part of our investigations. The National Transportation Safety Board will determine probable cause of the accident."

It's not the first time Kniess has made news. The Gaston Gazette reports he and his wife won $100,000 on a scratch-off lottery ticket in October.

"If I had a helicopter I wouldn't fly it into a tree myself, but he chose to and I respect his rights for his property," Aubery said.

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