Pilot dead in plane crash near Rockford

June 26, 2012 2:43:26 PM PDT
Before crashing into a Rockford field, the pilot of a single-engine plane reported it was on fire, officials said.

The pilot, who has not been identified pending family notification, was killed. He was the only person on board the small plane, which had left DeKalb earlier Tuesday morning.

"There was nothing I could do with the situation as it was. It was pretty much done," Matt Morgan said.

Morgan was on site minutes after the single-engine plane went down behind his family's home, but fire had already overwhelmed the aircraft and its pilot.

"The pilot reported that he had a fire before attempting an emergency landing here," John Brannenn, NTSB investigator, said.

Emergency responders from Ogle County and Monroe Township were on their way to the crash site even before the 911 call from the Morgans came in.

"Rockford tower knew about it. They tried to divert him to Rockford. Next thing you know he dropped off their radar and we had known that we had a possible plane crash," Monroe Township Fire Chief Scott Jaeger said. "My guys got here first. We had a little bit of a field fire, put that out. The plane was on fire, put that out. And then basically we controlled the scene."

The FAA says the plane was en-route from DeKalb to Rockford when it went down about five miles southeast of its destination. NTSB investigators are still trying to determine what made it malfunction.

"There's a lot of fire damage in the cockpit area. And we're just sifting through it right now and we're just sifting through it to see if we can locate the source," Brennan said.

The plane is registered to a Monee resident at a private air park.

"Your thoughts and prayers go out to the family," Morgan said, "and hope they can get through it. It's just a bad situation."


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