The pilot of a Delta jet that crashed on...


DALLAS -- The pilot of a Delta jet that crashed on takeoff, killing 14 people, said Tuesday everything went normally on the flight until he heard two loud bangs but that he does not know what caused the accident, federal investigators said.

Capt. Larry Davis, 48, of Greenville, was discharged from Parkland Memorial Hospital Tuesday afternoon, after speaking with National Transportation Safety Board investigators for the first time since the fiery Aug. 31 crash of Flight 1141, said hospital spokeswoman Ester Bauer. Davis is in a back brace and his jaw is wired shut, but Bauer said he could walk.


Davis and the two other members of the cockpit crew were among 94 survivors of the crash. Davis was at the controls of the Boeing 727-200 as it lifted off from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport en route to Salt Lake City. The plane failed to gain altitude on takeoff, crashed and burned. The flight had originated in Jackson, Miss.


'He does not know why his plane crashed,' Lee Dickinson, a NTSB board member heading the investigation into the crash, said in a telephone news conference from Washington. 'He said the takeoff roll and rotation were normal. He said he didn't experience anything (unusual) until he was in the air.'

The investigation has centered on the possible failure of one or more of the jet's three engines and whether the jetliner's wing flaps were in the down, or extended, position to get the lift necessary for takeoff.

Davis told investigators that to his knowledge, the flaps were in the correct position and that the two loud bangs or explosions, if they were compression failures, were unlike any he had ever experienced, Dickinson said.

'He said he did not specifically remember the first officer lowering the flaps on this flight, but also had no recollection of the flap handle coming up. He said he remembered the '15, 15' green light callout, but he does not remember looking at that time at the flap indicator,' Dickinson said.

The '15, 15' callout was made by a flight crew member to indicate the flaps were extended to 15 degrees, where they should have been. Investigators said the flaps were fully retracted on one wing and partially retracted on the other.


'He said he went to full power,' Dickinson said. 'He said he didn't experience anything (abnormal) until he was in the air.'

'He didn't recall seeing any engine failure lights nor did he remember any oral warning alarm,' Dickinson said, but after the bangs, he experienced the 'stick shaker,' an alarm in the cockpit that indicates the plane does not have enough lift.

'He said he took control of the airplane and did everything he could to get it in the air,' said Dickinson.

Dickinson confirmed that the tail of the jetliner struck the runway as it took off, but he said Davis did not remember that until he was reminded.

'He has said he tried to keep the attitude high to try to keep the plane in the air,' said Dickinson.

The first lawsuit in connection with the crash was filed Monday by survivor Alicia Hayes, 32, of Dallas. The suit filed in state district court names Delta Air Lines and Davis as defendants and seeks unspecified damages for emotional, physical and economic suffering.

Haynes, a Dallas attorney, was on her way to Salt Lake City on business when the jetliner crashed. She was treated and released from a Bedford hospital the day of the crash, but her lawyer, Frank Branson, said she has been treated since for neck and back injuries and has experienced considerable emotional trauma from the crash.


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