YANKTON, S.D. (KELO) — Authorities have identified the pilot and lone occupant who died in a small aircraft crash northwest of Yankton Tuesday as 65-year-old Kevin Rehm of California.

The aircraft involved can go by a few different names including gyrocopter, gyroplane or autogyro. They look like a small helicopter and can be sold as kits you can put together or you can buy one that’s fully built.

According to FAA documents, the gyrocopter that crashed had caught fire in mid-air before it crashed.

NTSB spokesperson Peter Knudson says investigators arrived in a Yankton County field on Wednesday morning to document the site.

“That has essentially been completed. The wreckage is going to be removed later today, and they’ll take it to a secure location where they’ll do some follow-up work. He did indicate that there was a very significant post-crash fire and that this was a composite airframe, so there actually wasn’t a lot of airframe left to examine,” Knudson said.

Knudson says the gyrocopter left the Yankton airport and crashed shortly after takeoff. He says they’re looking at the history of the aircraft, maintenance records, certifications and what the pilot did in the 72 hours leading up to the crash.

“If there was anything that could have affected the pilot’s ability to safely operate the aircraft. We may test components of the aircraft, so there’s a lot of work yet to be done until we fill out the factual record,” Knudson said.

Henry Boger is a gyrocopter flight instructor in California with decades of experience, including 10 years specifically with gyrocopters. He says he also knew the victim Kevin Rehm.

“Super great guy and a very safe pilot. He was a very skilled and very safe pilot. Never took chances with things, so that’s why this is such a shock to me,” Boger said.

According to FAA documents, the gyrocopter Rehm owned was part of a kit made by Air Gyro Aviation LLC known as the AG-915 Spartan. It was FAA certified just last month.

“He received that kit, and he had put it together himself, and I think he had just completed it about two weeks ago. After it’s completed, you have to go through a fly-off period of about 40 hours. The FAA makes you fly it by yourself basically for 40 hours to make sure that there’s no issues for it, and it was I guess within this 40-hour period that this incident happened,” Boger said.

Boger says gyrocopters operate on a simple system involving a powered propeller in the back and rotors that act as pinwheels. He says he feels safer flying them than any other aircraft.

“If the engine dies or quits or whatever, you’re always in what’s called auto-rotation. It’s what helicopters do when they get in trouble, so if your engine dies, like a leaf coming off a tree, you’re just going to slowly float down and you should have a landing somewhere. So they don’t require any power to have a safe landing,” Boger said.

Boger says he trains with the aircraft everyday and has never had a problem.

The NTSB says a preliminary report of the crash usually takes 2-3 weeks and a complete investigation generally takes a year or two.