SOUTH BEND, Ind. – People who knew former Oklahoma quarterback Steve Davis say his passion for flying began before he arrived at the school and led the Sooners to back-to-back national football championships in the 1970s.
He and friend Wes Caves, a Tulsa, Okla., businessman, were the flight crew for the private jet that crashed into a northern Indiana neighborhood on Sunday, National Transportation Safety Board investigator Todd Fox said Monday.
Davis, 60, and Caves, 58, died; Davis’ parents, Jim and Patsy Davis of Sallisaw, Okla., confirmed his death. Three others were injured, including two passengers.
Fox said he had minimal information about the pilots, but said both had pilots’ certificates and both had multi-engine aircraft certificates. The voice box recorder was recovered and is being sent to Washington, D.C., for investigation, Fox said.
Caves, of Tulsa, owned the Beechcraft Premier I twin-jet. It was not immediately clear if he was at the controls when it crashed.
The crash occurred after two aborted attempted landings at South Bend Regional Airport, Fox said. The plane leaked enough fuel to force the evacuation of hundreds of people from surrounding homes, but most residents were allowed to return Monday morning.
Davis, who started every game during Barry Switzer’s first three seasons as head coach and won national championships in 1974 and 1975, compiled a remarkable 32-1-1 record in three years as the Sooners’ starter. The Sooners went 11-0 in 1974, then won the national title again the following year after going 11-1.
It was a storybook career for Davis, who finished with one of the best records for a starting QB in the sport’s history.
Oklahoma beat Baylor in Davis’ opener, then tied powerhouse Southern Cal – with Lynn Swann and Pat Haden – in the second game.
After that, Davis and the Sooners ran off 28 straight victories.
A product of a different era, Davis hardly had to throw a pass to be the star quarterback in Oklahoma’s dominant wishbone offense. He completed just 40 percent of his passes during his career for 2,034 yards, but only attempted about six passes per game during Oklahoma’s back-to-back championship seasons.
Davis’ school records for consecutive starts (34) and career victories (32) were surpassed only last season by Landry Jones, who started every game the past three seasons plus most of 2009 while replacing injured Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford.