NTSB Prelim On South Bend Premier Crash

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The preliminary report of the NTSB into the crash of a Beech Premier bizjet into three houses in South Bend, Ind., last month raises at least as many questions as it answers. According to the report (PDF), witnesses told investigators they saw the airplane "bounce several times on the runway before it ultimately entered a climbing right turn" after apparently landing with only the nose gear extended. The unusual climb-out also occurred minutes after the crew told ATC, "We've lost all power, and we have no hydraulics."

The airplane went radio silent a few minutes before reaching the airport but the crew could apparently read incoming transmissions and had regained power, because they complied with an ATC recommendation to go around when controllers saw the main gear was not deployed. The aircraft climbed and entered the pattern for Runway 9R. It was on the second landing attempt that the witnesses reported the aircraft, minus the main gear, bouncing along the runway before getting airborne again. It crashed into a residential area soon after. The two pilots, Wesley Caves, 58, of Tulsa, Okla., and his friend Steve Davis, 60, were killed. Two passengers and one person on the ground were injured but are expected to survive.