About 4:15 p.m. on March 17, a business jet carrying Oklahoma football legend Steve Davis and three others had just descended to 3,000 feet and was making a gentle left-hand turn to line up with a South Bend, Ind., airport runway when the pilot declared an emergency.
We're “dead stick” and without any power, the pilot told an air traffic controller.
About 20 seconds later, the pilot radioed again, saying, “We've lost all power and we have no hydraulics.”
Asked if the plane was still controllable, the pilot responded, “Ah, barely controllable.”
The airport was still 9 miles away.
The controller gave the pilot permission to land on any runway, provided wind conditions and told the pilot to turn 10 degrees to the left.
“26DK, turning left.”
It was the last communication from the doomed flight. Moments later, after two aborted landing attempts with the landing gear only partially deployed, the twin-engine Hawker Beechcraft 390 plummeted into a residential neighborhood.
Killed in the crash were Davis, 60, the former OU quarterback, and his friend, Tulsa businessman Wes Caves, 58. The plane's two other passengers, Jim Rodgers and Stan May, and a person on the ground suffered injuries that were not life-threatening.
Cause not given
The final radio transmissions from the flight were included in a preliminary report issued Friday by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The conversations were captured on the black box cockpit voice recorder recovered at the crash site.
The four-page NTSB report offered no explanations or conclusions about the cause of the crash.
It also does not identify who was at the controls, noting only that a private pilot and a pilot-rated passenger were occupying the cockpit at the time of the crash. Both Davis and Caves were licensed pilots.
A final report on the board's determination of the probable cause is not expected for months.
The airplane had departed Richard Lloyd Jones Jr. Airport in Tulsa about 2 p.m. the day of the crash.
The report released Friday noted that as the jet made its first emergency approach to South Bend Regional Airport at 4:19 p.m., the pilot was told to go around after the tower controller saw that only the nose landing gear was extended.
The airplane climbed, turned and made another approach, again with only the nose gear extended.
Several witnesses reported seeing the airplane bounce several times on the runway before it entered a climbing right-hand turn then plunged into the nearby neighborhood of tidy, mostly one-story homes.
The plane struck three houses, lodging finally in the residence of Diana McKeown, 62, who spent a week in the hospital after the crash. Both Rodgers and May also have been released from the South Bend hospital where they were being treated.