Small plane crash-lands in suburban Bedford Park

June 18, 2011 (BEDFORD PARK, Ill.)

There were four people on board the plane but no one was seriously injured.

On Saturday night, the Federal Aviation Administration is investigating why the single-engine plane ended up in a reservoir, hundreds of yards from a busy skate park.

Witnesses say it was around 4:30 p.m. Saturday when they heard a loud sputtering noise up above.

"All of a sudden you don't hear nothing at all, and you see the plane just descending, descending, descending, and it came right over us in the park. That's where it landed -- in the reservoir, right behind us," said witness Kevin O'Connor.

The FAA says the Cessna 172 was headed towards Midway Airport, which was just a few miles to the north, when its pilot was forced to land. Officials say the plane flipped over shortly after touching down.

"It probably went 100, 200 feet and flipped over because the ground was very soft over there," said Assistant Chief Dwayne Hanson, Bedford Park Fire Department.

Two of the four people on board the plane were school-age children. Three were taken to Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, though none sustained serious injury.

The plane was registered to a company called API Flight School at Midway Airport, and on Saturday night, a manager there says the pilot, who is licensed and lives on the Far North Side, attempted to land in a nearby field but opted for the reservoir after seeing people on the ground.

"The pilot did a good job of landing at where he did. If he had landed in the park, it would have been a worse outcome," O'Connor said.

"Kudos to the pilot who was able to save himself and save his passengers," neighbor Karen Mellenthin said.

Crews were working to remove the aircraft from the scene late Saturday night. The plane does not come equipped with a flight data recorder but investigators are in touch with the pilot and passengers.

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