JONES COUNTY, Iowa – A man’s decision to let his dog ride in the passenger seat of his small plane ultimately doomed him, the NTSB says in a new report on a 2017 plane crash.
The single-engine airplane flown by Jerry Naylor, 90, a former commercial pilot, crashed into a cornfield 50 yards away from where he was trying to land—the runway at Iowa’s Monticello Regional Airport.
Naylor died, but his 70- to 75-pound dog survived—and in its report, the NTSB says “it is likely that the dog contacted the aileron and/or stabilator controls during landing, which resulted in the pilot’s loss of airplane control and a subsequent aerodynamic stall at a low altitude when the airplane exceeded its critical angle of attack.”
The agency found no evidence of mechanical malfunctions or failures, leaving the dog as the likeliest culprit.
Fox News has the full quote from the NTSB on probable cause: “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 report also notes that Naylor’s son told investigators his father often flew with his dog, and had installed a homemade, non-approved plywood device meant to keep the dog from accidentally making contact with the rudder pedals.
There was no evidence the device interfered with the plane’s controls. As for the dog, it was treated for minor injuries, NBC News reports.