Plane was on course before crashing in Baker

Advocate staff photo by JAMES MINTON -- Baker police officer Willie Brooks watches nearby homes and residents as flames roar through two Rue Jennifer homes Friday afternoon. Brooks said he witnessed a small plane having difficulty before it crashed into the two burning homes. The plane apparently struck the roof of another nearby home, but the residence did not catch fire. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by JAMES MINTON -- Baker police officer Willie Brooks watches nearby homes and residents as flames roar through two Rue Jennifer homes Friday afternoon. Brooks said he witnessed a small plane having difficulty before it crashed into the two burning homes. The plane apparently struck the roof of another nearby home, but the residence did not catch fire.

The pilot killed in a June 7 plane crash in a residential area had reached an altitude of 1,200 feet and was on course for McComb, Miss., when his aircraft began losing speed and started a slow descent toward Baker, according to a preliminary National Transportation Safety Board accident report.

The pilot indicated in his last radio transmission that he was going to crash, the report says.

The crash shortly after the Beechcraft King Air took off from Baton Rouge Metro Airport killed pilot John Cary Fowler, 71, of Brookhaven, Miss.

A final report on the cause of the crash could take as long as a year to prepare.

“Fatal airplane accident investigations average about 12 months in duration,” NTSB spokesman Peter Knudson said Friday.

The report says the air traffic controller at Metro Airport assigned Fowler a heading and altitude for the flight to McComb. A review of the plane’s radar track revealed the plane soon began losing speed and went into a slow descent.

“The airplane then disappeared from radar, prior to the accident site,” the report says.

Several witnesses reported that the airplane was heading north and was low before it dropped into the residential area off Groom Road in Baker, about 3.5 miles from the airport, the report adds.

The plane first hit a home on Rue Nicole, cutting large gashes into its roof and dousing it with aviation fuel.

The airplane then hit a tree and shed in the backyard of neighboring homes. The airplane came to rest in an upright position, in the corner of two houses on Rue Jennifer. A resulting fire consumed most of the airplane and heavily damaged the two Rue Jennifer homes.

No one on the ground was injured in the crash.

The NTSB report says the wreckage was recovered for further examination.

The plane’s cockpit voice recorder was located and shipped to the vehicle recorder lab in Washington, D.C., for downloading and further processing, the report adds.