HAWLEY, Minn. — A passerby who witnessed the fatal gyroplane crash at the Hawley Municipal Airport on Thursday, July 11, saw the aircraft descend nose-down toward the ground before crashing, federal investigators said.

The gyroplane hit the ground about 300 feet from and slightly to the right of the departure end of a runway at around 12:30 p.m., immediately erupting into flame, according to a preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board.

The passerby saw the crash while driving east on Highway 10, stopped his vehicle, ran to the crash site and pulled the pilot from the burning wreckage, according to the report. The pilot, 69-year-old Bradley Gibb of Vergas, died from his injuries at the scene. The passerby suffered serious burns on his hands.

The gyroplane was destroyed by impact forces and the subsequent fire, leaving behind a 30-foot ground scar from the point of impact to the main wreckage, investigators said.

Weather conditions were clear during the flight no flight plan had been submitted, the NTSB said.