Tulsa Pilot Blamed For Crash That Killed Him, Former OU QB Steve Davis
SOUTH BEND, Indiana - The National Transportation Safety Board blames the pilot for a plane crash three years ago that killed him and former OU quarterback Steve Davis.
Pilot Wesley Caves, 58, and Davis, 60, died on March 17, 2013, when the plane crashed into houses near the airport in South Bend, Indiana.
Two passengers on the plane, Jim Rodgers and Christopher Evans, both survived the crash. The crash also hurt one person on the ground.
The Beechcraft Premier 1 was a twin-engine business jet registered to a company owned by Caves. The company does business in Tulsa as DigiCut Systems, making window film and paint overlay for autos.
The flight had left Jones Riverside Airport on a business trip and was headed to South Bend Regional Airport.
According to its Final Report on the crash, the National Transportation Safety Board determined the probable cause of this accident as follows:
The private pilot's inadequate response to the dual engine shutdown during cruise descent, including his failure to adhere to procedures, which ultimately resulted in his failure to maintain airplane control during a single-engine go-around. An additional cause was the pilot's decision to allow the unqualified pilot-rated passenger to manipulate the airplane controls, which directly resulted in the inadvertent dual engine shutdown.
The NTSB says the cockpit voice recorder indicates Caves was allowing Davis to fly the airplane, including manipulating the throttles for the engines. Davis was an experienced pilot, according to the NTSB, but had not been trained to fly the Premier.
As the plane neared South Bend, Caves told Davis to throttle back, but Davis inadvertently shut down both engines, according to the NTSB.
"The pilot recognized that the pilot-rated passenger [Davis] had shutdown both engines after he retarded the engine throttles past the flight idle stops into the fuel cutoff position. Specifically, the pilot stated 'you went back behind the stops and we lost power,'" the NTSB wrote.
Caves declared an emergency as the plane approached the South Bend airport, but a ground controller told him to go around because only the nose gear was extended. The NTSB says the cockpit voice recorder did not contain evidence that Caves was able to restart one engine, but it notes that the pilot was able to make a go-around, which implies he did get one engine running again.
On the second attempt to land, the NTSB says the airplane still had only its nose gear extended and that witnesses reported it bounced several times on the runway before pulling up then crashing into houses nearby.
The NTSB says the battery switch in the cockpit was in the wrong position for a successful engine restart and that the handle used for extending the landing gear was in a position that would have prevented the main landing gear from extending.
The NTSB wrote that "it is likely the pilot did not fully extend the handle to obtain a full landing gear deployment. Had he fully extended the landing gear, a successful single-engine landing could have been accomplished."