A pilot doing aerobatics in a small airplane near Borrego Springs was killed Saturday when the plane crashed near the airport officials said.
The plane crashed about 300 yards northwest of the runway at the Borrego Valley Airport around 12:30 p.m. officials said.
The FAA released preliminary results of their investigation and said it appeared the pilot had ejected from the homebuilt airplane but his parachute malfunctioned.
Del Mar resident Reinaldo Beyer, MD, a cardiologist at Sharp Rees-Stealy, died in the crash according to an email sent by the medical group's president.
"It is with profound sadness we note the sudden passing of longtime Sharp Rees-Stealy cardiologist Reinaldo Beyer, MD. Reinaldo was killed today in Borrego Springs, CA when the plane he was flying experienced mechanical difficulties. Our hearts go out to his wife and fellow SRS cardiologist," wrote Donald C. Balfour III, medical director of Sharp Rees-Stealy.
The pilot was alone in the plane officials said.
A helicopter was requested to transport the pilot but he died a short time later.
A report released by the medical examiner’s office Sunday confirmed 58-year-old Beyer as the pilot that died in the crash.
According to the ME report, Beyer’s airplane experienced some sort of mechanical failure and spiraled out of control. Beyer’s parachute did not completely deploy because of low altitude, the report said.
Friends remember Beyer as a world-renowned aerobatic competition pilot who was both loved and respected in the aviation community.
Friend and competitor Tim Just told NBC 7 San Diego that Beyer was a meticulous pilot with a unique aviation style.
“If 100 people flew the same airplane you could pick Reinaldo out. His style was so precise and so perfect and yet very, very graceful. It was just a joy to watch him fly,” recalled Just.
Just said Beyer was flying a friend’s airplane Saturday when the fatal crash happened in Borrego Springs. Beyer had just returned from the Advanced World Aerobatics Championships in Hungary and his own aerobatic plane was still en route home.
Just said Beyer was practicing aerobatic maneuvers for nationals, and died doing what he loved.
“It's a fluke and it's a sad thing that happened, but unfortunately it’s one of the consequences of flying this type of airplane and doing what he was doing today," added Just.
Beyer's friends said the pilot and doctor excelled at everything he did and was passionate about his family, his work and his flying
Friends said Beyer was also generous with his time.
“He'd coach anybody that asked for help. He did a lot of coaching; he did a lot of critiquing. He coached me. He was a good friend and he really was even more than a fine pilot and doctor, he was just a gentleman,” said Just.
"The 2012 USA Advanced Aerobatic team is deeply saddened by the loss of our teammate and friend. We will always remember our time with Reinaldo, and express our sympathies for his family and others in the aerobatic community."
The cause of the plane crash is still under investigation.
On Wednesday, Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group released some more background information about Beyer’s life and his upcoming funeral service, which will be held Sept. 19.
According to the medical group’s release, Beyer was born in Chile in 1954. He took an interest to aerobatics and began flying gliders at the age of 16. Shortly thereafter, he became a flight instructor.
Beyer attended medical school at the University of Chile and then completed his residency and cardiology fellowship at UCLA’s Wadsworth VA Medical Center in Los Angeles.
He later moved to San Diego and married his wife, Elizabeth Noll, MD, who’s also a cardiologist at Sharp Rees-Stealy. Beyer began his career in San Diego practicing at UCSD until joining Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group in 1999.
Beyer is survived by his wife, parents, sister, two brothers and their children and “Red” his beloved Golden Retriever.
The medical group said Beyer’s funeral will be held Sept. 19 at St. James by the Sea Episcopal Church in La Jolla. In lieu of flowers, Beyer’s family asks that contributions be made to charities.