(a) The operation of an aircraft on the land or waters of or in the air over this State shall be deemed an appointment by the owner or operator of the Secretary of Commerce to be his true and lawful attorney upon whom may be served all legal process in any action or proceeding against him, arising from the ownership, maintenance, use or operation of such aircraft and resulting in damage or loss to person or property, and the use or operations shall be signification of his agreement that any such process against him which is so served shall be of the same legal force and validity as though served upon him personally, provided such person is a nonresident of this State or at the time a cause of action arises is a resident of this State but subsequently becomes a nonresident of this State.
(b) Service of process shall be made by serving the original and a copy of the complaint together with a fee of two dollars upon the Secretary of Commerce of the South Carolina Department of Commerce and by mailing of a copy of such process and of the complaint by the plaintiff or his attorney to the defendant at his last known address, within five days thereafter by registered mail. In lieu of such mailing to defendant in a foreign state, plaintiff may cause a copy of the complaint and process to be served personally in the foreign state upon such defendant by any adult person not a party to the suit by actually delivering it to the defendant or by offering to make such delivery in case defendant refuses to accept delivery.
(c) Proof of service of process upon the Secretary of Commerce or proof of mailing or personal delivery to the defendant shall be made by the affidavit of the party doing the act, which shall be filed in the office of the clerk of court in which the suit is filed. Process shall be deemed to be completed upon the filing of such affidavit and of the original registry receipt issued by the post office upon the mailing of such registered letter, if service is obtained by mail.