Residents of a northern Indiana neighborhood were shocked Sunday afternoon when a Beechcraft Premier I twin-jet plane clipped a house and crashed into two others. Today the community was stunned to learn one of the plane’s passengers who died in the crash was Steve Davis, who played quarterback at the University of Oklahoma when the school won back-to-back National Championship titles in 1974 and 1975. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
Davis was one of two people killed in the plane crash. The other man killed was Wesley Caves, who owned the plane. He has a pilot’s license but investigators have not determined if he was flying the plane at the time of the crash. Two other passengers survived the crash and were taken to a local hospital for treatment. One is in serious condition and the other in fair condition.
Miraculously, no residents in the affected homes were killed when the plane crashed, although one woman was injured. According to neighbors, Diana McKeown lived in the middle house that was struck, and was in fair condition following the accident. Hundreds of people were evacuated from their homes around the crash site due to danger from leaking jet fuel, and eight homes remain under mandatory evacuation orders.
Frank Sojka, 84, who lives in the first house clipped by the aircraft, told the Associated Press he was surprised anyone survived the crash. He said the plane hitting his house made a “loud dull sound” and when he went to investigate “I could see the sky through the ceiling and all kinds of debris in the far end of the living room.”
The flight originated in Tulsa, Oklahoma. A representative of the St. Joseph County Airport Authority told the AP the plane attempted to land at the South Bend airport around 4:15 p.m. but instead gained altitude again and maneuvered south. Eight minutes later the airport reported the plane was no longer in the air. Oklahoma’s Newson6.com said the pilot reported electrical problems prior to the crash.
In the four-year period from January 1, 2007, through December 31, 2010, about 6,500 general aviation (GA) aircraft registered in the United States were involved in crashes and other accidents, resulting in the deaths of 1,908 people and several thousand more injuries. On average, this means that 1,613 small aircraft crash annually, killing about 480 people.
General aviation aircraft encompasses all flights other than military, scheduled airlines, and most cargo jets. Most often, general aviation aircraft consist of private and charter jets used for flight training, business, recreation, police and firefighting operations, crop dusting, and other applications.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), these aircraft account for more than 75 percent of all air traffic in the U.S., so it’s not surprising that the vast majority of all airplane accidents in the U.S. every year involve general aviation aircraft.
Photo courtesy Newson6.com.