BALTIMORE (AP) _ The wreckage of the small plane that crashed on the White House lawn in September indicates the pilot was trying to land and not commit suicide, The Sun of Baltimore reported Saturday.

Federal investigators who examined the wreckage found the plane's wing flaps and throttle in a position that would indicate the craft was landing, the newspaper said.

The stolen Cessna cleared a fence before careening about 50 feet across the White House's South Lawn. The 38-year-old pilot, Frank Corder, was killed. He was the plane's only occupant.

Secret Service spokesman Carl Meyer said investigators ''were looking for indicators of a landing versus a crash. That is part of the $64,000 question.''

The plane's owners, Joseph Mancusi and Joseph Kesser, said federal investigators told them about the flap and throttle settings.

Those settings show Corder was ''trying to land as slowly as he could,'' Mancusi said.

Corder, who had a history of drug and alcohol abuse, told his brother in a brief phone call the night before the Sept. 12 crash he was ''checking out.''

But John Corder said his brother also had expressed admiration for Mathias Rust, the German teen-ager who successfully landed a plane in Moscow's Red Square in 1987.

'''That guy made a name for himself,''' John Corder quoted his brother as saying.