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April 08, 2015

Cockpit transcript released in crash that killed Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz, six others

Plane Crash Investigation
040815_Katz National Transportation Safety Board/AP

This Sunday, June 1, 2014 photo shows NTSB investigators at the scene of a plane that plunged down an embankment and erupted in flames during a takeoff attempt at Hanscom Bedford, Mass.

The National Transportation Safety Board on Wednesday released the cockpit voice recorder transcript from the Massachusetts plane crash that killed former Philadelphia Inquirer co-owner Lewis Katz and six others on May 31, 2014. 

At 9:40 p.m. that Saturday night, Katz's Gulfstream G-IV crashed and burst into flames after accelerating down the runway at Hanscom Field, killing the 72-year-old just four days after he won an auction for ownership of The Inquirer, The Daily News and

Also killed in the crash were Susan K. Asbell, 68, Marcella M. Dalsey, 59, and Anne B. Leads, 74, along with three crew members, Bauke de Vries, 45, James McDowell, 51, and Theresa Anne Benhoff, 48. 

According to 6ABC, the transcript reveals that one of the pilots repeated the phrase, "The lock is on," followed by "I can't stop it" and "oh no no" in the moments before the crash. The plane was scheduled for a return to Atlantic City after a series of regional flights that took Katz and his friends to a fundraiser at the home of historian Doris Kearns Goodwin earlier that day. 

A preliminary report from the NTSB, released in June, suggested that pilot error was likely a strong factor in the crash, as the experienced crew evidently did not perform a pre-flight check that may have alerted them to an issue with the gust lock system. 

According to, 800 pages of new documents were released by the NTSB on Wednesday, including further evidence that the flight crew routinely took off without performing pre-flight checks. The documents indicate that the pilots likely attempted to take off despite failing to unlock the elevators and rudder on the plane's tail, a necessary procedure for the plane to take flight. 

Katz, who rose to prominence in business and law, was a former owner of the New Jersey Devils and Nets. In recent years he became increasingly dedicated to charity, donating millions of dollars to educational institutions including Temple University and Dickinson College

The latest NTSB public release did not provide an official cause of the crash. A final report is expected to be issued in the fall.