CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, S.C. – Investigators with the FAA are trying to determine why a small experimental aircraft crashed in Chesterfield County.

Deputies say the pilot 59-year-old Walker Hester of Atlanta was killed instantly.

Hester is well-known in aviation circles, he's a Navy Veteran and flew Boeing 777's commercially with Delta before he retired.

Deputies with the Chesterfield County Sheriff's Office learned about the crash from a farmer who witnessed it.

"After an extensive search and help with a helicopter some debris on the Pee Dee river in some of the thickest swamp in the County," said Sheriff Jay Brooks.

"Started a search with boats on foot and 4-wheelers, and the plane was located in a couple of hours."

Brooks says the farmer told him the aircraft clipped a power line and went straight down crushing the cockpit and killing the pilot instantly.

Hester kept his experimental aircraft at the Cheraw Airport and would often make the commute to get some hours in flying.