The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating what caused a small airplane to crash in Wheeling near Chicago Executive Airport on Tuesday night, although the pilot walked away without serious injuries.
NTSB Air Safety Investigator Josh Lindberg said the investigation is in its early stages but will try to determine what caused the plane crash and how the pilot handled the situation.
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As of Wednesday afternoon NTSB officials said they had not identified or spoken with the pilot.
Meanwhile, airport officials identified the pilot as Larry Parr from Clarksville, Tenn. According to FAA records, Parr received his commercial pilot certificate in May 2012.
Parr was alone in the Beechcraft Super King Air 200 and was approaching the airport from the north about 8:30 p.m. when he experienced trouble and landed instead on Wolf Road, Chicago Executive Airport Manager Dennis Rouleau said. The plane touched down on Wolf Road, and the prop struck the ground before the right wing struck a tree in the parkway, spinning the plane around near Wolf and Hintz roads.
Parr took off from Springfield, Tenn., and was scheduled to stop at Chicago Executive Airport overnight and pick up a passenger before leaving the next day, Rouleau said. Parr radioed the tower that his plane -- registered to Tennair LLC in Clarksville, Tenn. -- was having a problem shortly before he crashed about a half-mile from the airport.
The NTSB would not release what was said during the radio call, Lindberg said.
Parr initially refused medical treatment but agreed to be taken to Glenbrook Hospital in Glenview to be checked out, authorities said. He was diagnosed with minor injuries and released from the hospital soon after.
Parr could not be reached Wednesday, and it was unknown if he was still in the Chicago area.
Municipal officials are saying the crash could have been much worse.
"This could have been a nightmare, but the brunt of the problem was just that his plane is destroyed," Wheeling Village President Dean Argiris said. "He knew what he was doing and he knew he was in trouble. It's scary, but he saved a lot of lives landing how he did."
The plane's final resting place was directly between two condominium complexes, said Nick Helmer, mayor of Prospect Heights, which shares oversight of the airport with Wheeling.
"It would have been a disaster," Helmer said. "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."
• Daily Herald staff writer Sara Hooker contributed to this report.