The death of a 90-year-old Iowa pilot in a small plane crash two years ago was likely due to his decision to let his large dog fly next to him in the passenger seat of his two-seater plane, federal authorities announced earlier this week.
Jerry Naylor, from Scotch Grove, Iowa, was attempting to land a single-engine two-seater plane when he crashed into a cornfield next to the runway at Monticello Regional Airport in Iowa on July 1, 2017.
The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said in their final accident report of the crash, released Monday, that the pilot’s dog likely made contact with the flight controls and interfered with the pilot’s ability to land the plane.
“The pilot’s decision to fly with his large dog in the two-seat, light sport airplane, and the dog’s likely contact with the flight controls during landing, which resulted in the pilot’s loss of airplane control and a subsequent aerodynamic stall when the airplane exceeded its critical angle of attack,” the NTSB findings said.
— Shirley Descorbeth (@ShirleyReports) July 2, 2017
The NTSB said that they did not find any evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures during the post-examination of the plane and its engine, which led them to believe the dog interfered with the plane controls and subsequently led to the plane crashing nose down about 250 feet, or about 83 yards, from the runway.
Officials say the pilot died from “multiple blunt-force injuries sustained during the accident.”
FAA records showed no previous accidents, incidents, or enforcement proceedings for the pilot. A toxicology report from Iowa’s Office of State Medical Examiner showed the pilot did not have alcohol or drugs in his system at the time of the crash.
Recorded data from before the crash did not show any anomalies with the engine during the flight, the report states.
According to his son, Naylor routinely flew with his dog, who weighed between 70 and 75 lbs, as the right seat passenger. His son also told investigators that his father had made a plywood device to prevent the dog from inadvertently touching or pressing the plane’s rudder pedals during flight. Although the device was not approved for use, investigators found no evidence that it interfered with the full movement of either the plane’s control stick or the pilot-side rudder pedals.
A witness reported that he saw the plane’s final approach to the runway and that the pilot had transmitted his intention for a full-stop landing, the report says, but the witness also said he did not see the actual accident itself, as he was piloting another plane at the time and lost sight when he turned his own plane. The witness said the dog survived.
“After the accident, the witness saw the pilot’s dog running out of the cornfield where the airplane had crashed,” the report states.
First responders to the scene were able to catch the dog, which was treated for minor injuries by a local veterinarian.
— KCCI News (@KCCINews) July 1, 2017
Naylor’s son told KCRG that the dog, a Goldendoodle by the name of Jasmine, was his father’s “favorite travel companion.” He also said his father had been flying since 1945 and still had an active commercial pilot’s license at the time of his death. He also had a valid Iowa driver’s license.
Naylor was a board member of Camp Courageous, a non-profit organization that serves as a recreational camp for individuals with special needs.
“He will be greatly missed in the community and throughout the area. It’s a huge loss,” said Charlie Becker, executive director at Camp Courageous at the time, in an interview with The Gazette in 2017.
“He was just one of those guys that even though he was 90 years old, you wouldn’t think twice about asking him to help you with something because he would be right there to hustle and go, go, go.”