NewsNewsChannel 5 Investigates


FAA suspends examiner who approved pilot in fatal crash into Percy Priest Lake

Joe Lara with guitar.png
Posted at 5:01 PM, Jun 28, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-28 18:56:19-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Federal Aviation Administration has suspended a local pilot from being able to perform checkrides with other pilots while investigators continue to look into the fatal jet crash that killed seven members of a Brentwood church.

Keith Chapman, a longtime designated pilot examiner for the FAA, had approved former Tarzan actor Joe Lara's certification to fly the Cessna 501 that he crashed into Percy Priest Lake in late May.

Chapman confirmed Monday the FAA had suspended his credentials as a designated pilot examiner pending the outcome of the investigation. Chapman described it as a "normal" follow-up to a fatal crash.

"I gave him a checkride 14 months prior to this happening," Chapman told NewsChannel 5 Investigates. "Me giving him a checkride 14 months prior had nothing to do with this."

Chapman added, "I'm just letting the investigation run its course because I did nothing wrong."

Designated pilot examiners act on behalf of the FAA in assuring that pilots meet the minimum qualifications for certificates to fly various types of aircraft.

Chapman said he had been a DPE since 2008 without incident.

The FAA confirmed the suspension without additional comment.

Since the May crash, questions have arisen about the potential pilot error as being a possible cause of the crash that killed Lara, along with his wife, Christian diet guru Gwen Shamblin Lara, and five other leaders of the Remnant Fellowship in Brentwood.

YouTuber Dan Gryder put out a video Friday claiming that Lara had "washed out" of Flight Safety International in Atlanta before going Chapman to get his certification.

"Anybody with have a half a brain can recognize this guy's an idiot, he can't fly." Gryder claimed.

A spokesperson for Flight Safety International declined to comment on Gryder's claims.

Related stories: