HELENA, Mont. — An Arizona business executive who died along with a co-worker in an airplane crash in northwestern Montana last month was not a certified pilot, federal transportation safety regulators said.
A preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board says the Beech B100 collided with trees near Libby at 12:02 a.m. on Dec. 19, causing the crash that killed Carl J. Douglas, 54, and John Smith, 43, both of Coolidge, Ariz.
Douglas was piloting the plane.
The men were flying from Arizona to Libby for a meeting at Douglas' company, Stinger Welding. When Douglas did not appear at a company function, employees there reported him overdue.
The Western News confirmed with the Federal Aviation Administration in late December that Douglas had a student pilot license.
The NTSB report said that the pilot was "noncertified," but did not provide any additional details about Douglas' license.
Under FAA rules, a student pilot may not carry passengers, may not fly for hire or in furtherance of a business and may only fly under visual flight rules.
Just before midnight Dec. 18, the plane was seven miles away from the Libby airport and the pilot reported the field was in sight, according to the NTSB report. A police officer saw a plane fly over the city, then turn toward the airport.
The officer went to the airport but found no plane. There was fog in town but the airport was clear, the officer told the NTSB investigator.
Authorities found the wreckage that evening. Douglas and Smith were fatally injured and the plane was torn to pieces after striking at least two trees.