Engine stall, lack of license cited in plane crash

Posted: Thursday, July 12, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- A pilot who flew his small plane into a hangar at the Juneau Airport last year probably crashed because he stalled the aircraft by mistake on takeoff, according to a final report by federal investigators.

Pilot Anton Bowers, who died in the crash, had been in two previous accidents and lacked a private pilot certificate. Bowers, 69, of Sitka, was the plane's sole occupant.

A National Transportation Safety Board report cites Bowers' lack of a pilot certificate as a factor in the crash. Bowers' certificate was revoked by the Federal Aviation Administration in 1991, after he had two accidents in the Lower 48 and failed subsequent pilot proficiency tests.

Although a toxicological test by the state medical examiner showed evidence of alcohol in Bowers' blood, later tests by the FAA ruled out alcohol and drugs, NTSB investigator Scott Erickson said.

The crash happened shortly after takeoff on Aug. 31, 2000. Bowers' Cessna 172 appeared to climb about 400 feet, then rolled to the left and right, according to the report. Then the aircraft descended sharply to the left, collided with a tree near Jordan Creek and crashed into the Silver Bay Aviation hangar.

Federal inspectors did not find evidence of mechanical problems, according to the report, which instead cited an inadvertent ''stall mush'' by the pilot.

That's when a plane stalls, then goes down in a straight line, as opposed to a spinning descent, Erickson said.

''It appeared to be a ... stall mush where the plane didn't have sufficient flying speed and the nose just dropped straight ahead,'' Erickson said.

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