NTSB: Former Oklahoma QB, friend were flight crew

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 18, 2013 at 6:31 pm •  Published: March 18, 2013

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) — People who knew former Oklahoma quarterback Steve Davis say his passion for flying began before he arrived at the school and led the Sooners to back-to-back national championships in the 1970s.

He and friend Wes Caves, a Tulsa, Okla., businessman, were the flight crew on the private jet, owned by Caves, that crashed into a northern Indiana neighborhood, National Transportation Safety Board investigator Todd Fox said Monday. Davis, 60, and Caves, 58, died. Three others were injured, including two passengers.

Fox said he had minimal information about the pilots, but said both had pilots' certificates and both had multi-engine aircraft certificates. The voice box recorder was recovered and is being sent to Washington, D.C., for investigation, Fox said, adding that the NTSB doesn't know why the plane was headed to South Bend.

Patsy Davis said she believed it was possible her son would have been in the co-pilot's seat. It wasn't immediately clear who was at the controls when it crashed.

"He hadn't flown for a while, but as far as we know, he was still a licensed pilot. He didn't own a plane," she said Monday.

"He absolutely loved getting in the air," said Deron Spoo, pastor at First Baptist Church in Tulsa, Okla., where Davis went to church.

And former Nebraska football coach Tom Osborne recalled Davis flying a small airplane to Lincoln, Neb., back in the 1970s to speak at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes banquet.

Messages left by The Associated Press for Caves' wife and at least two others who are believed to be his family members in Tulsa were not returned Monday.

The crash occurred after two aborted attempted landings at South Bend Regional Airport, Fox said. The plane leaked enough fuel to force the evacuation of hundreds of people from surrounding homes, but most residents were allowed to return Monday morning.

"It is miraculous that there was not a greater loss of life," South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said.

Fox said the immediate focus of investigators is removing the fuselage from one of the homes for further investigation. A total of eight homes remain under mandatory evacuation, but South Bend Assistant Fire Chief John Corthier said residents of the five undamaged homes should be allowed to return after the fuselage is removed — likely Tuesday.

"I'm surprised people survived that," said 84-year-old Frank Sojka, who lives in the first home that was struck. Sojka said he was in the front bedroom of the home he's lived in for 55 years when he heard a loud, dull sound.