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APNewsBreak: Ex-astronaut pilot in downed plane
APNewsBreak: NTSB says ex-space shuttle pilot was in plane that crashed in Alaska last month
By The Associated Press

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) ' Former space shuttle pilot Bill Oefelein was the pilot of a small plane that stalled and crashed last month in rural Alaska, federal officials said Friday.

An engine check was conducted on the crashed Cessna 206 floatplane on Friday and no problem was found, according to the Jim La Belle, the National Transportation Safety Board's Alaska regional chief.

NTSB's investigation continues and will look at any potential issues involving Oefelein or mechanical problems, La Belle said. The environment does not appear to be a factor.

"We're not assuming any operational errors," he said.

Oefelein piloted the shuttle Discovery in December 2006. A few months later, his former girlfriend, astronaut Lisa Nowak, was famously charged with assaulting his new girlfriend, Colleen Shipman, in a bizarre airport attack in Florida after driving from Houston.

Oefelein and Shipman are now married and living in Anchorage, according to Florida attorney Kepler Funk, who has represented Shipman in the past.

In the Sept. 15 crash, Oefelein managed to skillfully steer the stalled small plane into some alder bushes and land without any injuries near Judd Lake, about 50 miles northwest of Anchorage. None of the three on board was injured, but the six-seat Regal Air plane was heavily damaged when it went down in a swampy area of alder bushes about 200 feet from the lake.

Oefelein did not immediately return an email seeking comment Friday and there is no telephone listing for him or Shipman in Anchorage.

The NTSB said at the time it would have taken "nerves of steel" for the risky maneuver.

A preliminary report of the crash is expected to be released next week, La Belle said.

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