A twin turboprop Beechcraft King Air 100 that crashed at night during a snowstorm on Dec. 19 near Libby, Mont., killing both aboard, was piloted by 54-year-old Carl Douglas who, FAA records show as of Friday, held only a student pilot certificate. Douglas was CEO of Stinger Welding and was flying with passenger John Smith, 43. Both men died shortly after midnight when the aircraft hit Swede Mountain three miles northeast of Libby Airport. While the FAA's online database does not show more advanced credentials for Douglas, the event is still under investigation by the NTSB and new facts may emerge. At least one airport official familiar with Douglas has publicly commented on the matter.
A Libby airport official told local media he was surprised by the fact that the FAA's online database of airmen listed Douglas as a student pilot. Ron Denowh, chairman of Libby Airport's governing board, told TheWesternNews.com, "If that's the case, that really surprises me." Denowh said he had seen the accident aircraft fly into Libby "hundreds" of times and had believed Douglas had "been flying all his life." Regarding the online database, Denowh said, "I hate to hear this. If it's true, there will probably be a lawsuit." Douglas was reportedly flying the King Air into Libby from Arizona with plans to attend a Christmas party later in the week. Swede Mountain, where the aircraft crashed, sits nearly 1,700 feet above the elevation of Libby Airport, a few miles away.