The Rochester man who was fatally injured when his sailplane crashed near the Dansville Municipal Airport Saturday was an experienced pilot and certified evaluator, authorities said Sunday.

The Rochester man who was fatally injured when his sailplane crashed near the Dansville Municipal Airport Saturday was an experienced pilot and certified evaluator, authorities said Sunday.

Investigators are trying to determine why a glider piloted by James J. Rizzo, 66, crashed shortly after 3:30 p.m., Saturday, approximately a half mile from the airport.

Rizzo, an attorney, was the president of the Dansville Airport-based Finger Lakes Soaring Club. The club's website said it has a fleet of six gliders and two tow-planes. Gliders operate without engines, depending on their wing structure and stability to maintain lift. While the planes have radios, they generally are only used to communicate with other pilots, officials said.

Investigators said Rizzo was flying alone at the time of the crash. Earlier Saturday, his glider was towed to an elevation of 1,700 to 1,800 feet and launched, according Sgt. Michael Dougherty of the Livingston County Sheriff's office.

Dougherty said Rizzo's glider soared for about three hours before coming down at the Marks Farm. Dougherty said an eyewitness on the property saw the accident and called 911.

“We believe he was coming back to land (at the airport) at 3:37 p.m. and something happened,” Dougherty said. “It could have been a mechanical problem or a medical problem. It's kind of unknown.”

Firefighters and ambulances from Dansville and sheriff's office personnel sped to the scene and found the damaged glider and the pilot. He was taken by a Dansville ambulance to Noyes Memorial Hospital, where he later died.

Dougherty said an autopsy, to be performed by the Monroe County Medical Examiner's Office, might provide some clues into the cause of the crash.

The sheriff's office, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating.

Dougherty said investigators learned that Rizzo was a very experienced glider pilot who took a very active role with the soaring club. He noted that Rizzo was an “FAA evaluator” for other glider pilots.

The Finger Lakes Soaring Club held the Soaring Society of America Region 3 Championship from Aug 18-25 at Dansville Municipal Airport.

Rizzo was not a part of the competition, authorities said. However, an Aug. 23 item on the club's website described the “Best soaring day EVER at Dansville.” The story was posted by Jim Rizzo.