Pilot Error Cited in Fatal Plane Crash in Louisiana

October 15, 2014

A National Transportation Safety Board report cites pilot inexperience with the aircraft as the likely cause of a fatal crash in Baker last year.

The Advocate reports John Cary Fowler had plenty of experience as a pilot, logging more than 15,000 hours in the air.

But on June 7, 2013, Fowler was making his first flight in a Beechcraft King Air B200GT. A national safety agency says that lack of experience with the aircraft likely cause of the fiery crash, when the plane slammed into a subdivision, set fire to three houses and killed the 71-year-old pilot.

The NTSB’s causal report, dated Sept. 15, found that Fowler was unfamiliar with the aircraft’s equipment and that his inexperience led to the two-engine plane losing speed and stalling before crashing to the ground.

Fowler’s only other flight with that model came hours earlier, when he was flying to Baton Rouge with two other passengers. One could be heard on the plane’s cockpit audio recorder “pointing out” to Fowler some of the features of the plane, according to an earlier NTSB report released in August.

Fowler, of Brookhaven, Mississippi, then dropped off the two passengers and was flying out of Baton Rouge toward McComb, Mississippi, when the plane stalled and crashed.

“Everyone knew that this was a tragedy, but . it strikes me that this easily could have been prevented,” said Logan Greenberg, an attorney with Ungelsby Law Firm, which is representing more than 30 Baker residents affected by the crash. “This did not come out of nowhere.”

The NTSB reports also provide new details about the crash itself. Minutes after Fowler took off alone from Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport at about 1 p.m. on June 7, the two-engine plane – which is about 44 feet long and could have seated up to 11 people – began losing speed and was slowly descending. The plane’s audio captured a stall warning, and in Fowler’s last radio transmission, he said he was going to crash.

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