Pilot who crashed near Wheeling crawled out of plane, called 911
Investigators are trying to determine why a small airplane destined for Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling crash landed in a forest preserve about a mile to the northeast, officials said.
Cook County Forest Preserve spokeswoman Stacina Stagner said the plane was found on the ground in Potawatomi Woods, adjacent to Dam No. 1 Woods East. The pilot, who was alone, walked away from the wreckage and called for help after the Thursday night wreck.
According to a preliminary Federal Aviation Administration report, the pilot "declared minimum fuel inbound to land" at Chicago Executive before crashing 1.3 miles away. The Icon Aircraft Inc. A5 amphibious light sport plane was registered to CG 422 LLC in Miami Beach, according to an FAA database.
Forest preserve police were dispatched to the woods at 8:48 p.m. Thursday. Authorities have yet to release the pilot's identity.
Airport Executive Director Jamie Abbott said a husband and wife were in separate Icon A5 planes and intended to land together.
"His wife landed fine here and she's safe and sound," Abbott said. "And he for an unknown reason -- it'll take the FAA to investigate the reason why he went down -- but he didn't quite make it to the airport. He went down into the forest preserve."
Abbott said it's not immediately known where the couple's flights originated. The husband's plane wound up deep in the woods south of Dundee Road and east of Milwaukee Avenue near Wheeling.
"He crawled out of the airplane and he made his way to Dundee," Abbott said. "He actually used his cellphone to call 911 and to call the (fixed-base operator) where he was heading. He was conscious and made it out to Dundee."
Signature Flight Support general manager Al Palicki said the woman parked her airplane in a hangar. He said he did not know the couple's names.
"People just come and go," Palicki said.
In addition to the FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board was working on the crash investigation.
"We do not discuss the investigation until it is completed," FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro said. "That will take a few weeks."
Wheeling Fire Department paramedics took the pilot who crashed to a hospital. Information on whether he was admitted and his condition wasn't available.
"We're grateful for the first responders that sprinted into action here," Abbott said. "Most of all, we're grateful no one was seriously hurt as far as we know right now."
Stagner said the Dam No. 1 Woods entry on the south side of Dundee Road will be closed through the weekend due to the crash investigation. That entrance is used to reach Potawatomi Woods.