Wheeling Plane Crash: Pilot Manages to Avoid Apartments, Walk Away

Wednesday, 26 Jun 2013 01:05 PM

By Alexandra Ward

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The pilot of a small Beechcraft plane walked away Tuesday night after crash-landing just yards from an apartment complex in Wheeling, Ill.

The pilot, the aircraft's only occupant, was trying to land at Chicago's Executive Airport when the plane experienced trouble and went down near the Foxboro Apartment complex, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro told reporters in a press briefing.

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The plane landed upright and its right wing struck a tree, spinning it around in an intersection before it came to a stop between two condominium complexes, the Daily Herald reported.

Executive Airport Manager Dennis Rouleau said the pilot's quick thinking saved his life.

"To develop a problem and then put it down on the road instead — it could have been a lot worse," Rouleau told the Herald. "It could have been in some buildings, but he was able to put it down on the street to avoid injuries to himself and people on the ground.

"There was a fair amount of damage, but for what he did, the airplane was pretty intact for landing short of the runway. He did a spectacular job of avoiding homes and cars."

Nick Helmer, mayor of Prospect Heights, Ill., also acknowledged the crash could have been a lot worse.

"It would have been a disaster," Helmer told the Herald. "Actually what happened was a Godsend. I think we're very fortunate to have an airplane accident that was a walkaway situation. It's very fortunate that nobody was hurt — either on the ground or those in the air."  

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