A small plane crash that killed the 90-year-old pilot was likely caused by the man’s dog in the passenger seat making contact with the flight controls, according to a National Transportation Safety Board report that was released this week.
Jerry Naylor died in July 2017 when his single-engine aircraft went down in a cornfield near Iowa’s Monticello Regional Airport. The cause of his death was multiple blunt-force injuries.
His son, David, told local news station KCRG at the time that his father had been flying since 1945, still had an active commercial pilot’s license and was flying “about two to three times a week.”
Naylor had been flying with his dog, Jasmine, who David Naylor called his father’s “favorite travel companion.” Jasmine, a 70-75 pound labradoodle, survived the crash with only minor injuries. The NTSB report notes that first responders spotted the dog running through the field shortly after the accident and were able to catch her.
But the report attributes Jasmine’s presence in the passenger seat as the most likely explanation for the crash. NTSB analyzed the path that the plane took and engine data and determined that there were no mechanical issues with the aircraft. Naylor also had no drugs or alcohol in his system and his son said he had no medical issues, BuzzFeed notes.
Although the NTSB could not say with total certainty what caused the accident, it concluded that the “probable cause” of the crash was “the pilot’s decision to fly with his large dog” and “the dog’s likely contact with the flight controls during landing,” causing him to lose control of the aircraft.