Collision With Birds Forces Plane To Ground


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(KSDK) -- A Lear jet’s collision with a flock of birds forces a pilot to make an emergency landing in a Metro East farm field before the plane burst into flames. Remarkably, there were no serious injuries!
St. Clair County officials tell NewsChannel 5 that the flight originated in Farmington with a pilot and co-pilot on board. The plane made a stop at the Downtown St. Louis – Parks Airport to pick up two male passengers enroute to North Platte, Nebraska. The plane took off from Parks Airport at 6:30 Wednesday morning, The problems began shortly after take off.
The plane ended up in a farm field in Millstadt, Illinois.
The flight’s co-pilot told emergency officials that shortly after take off, the plane struck a flock of birds causing engine damage. The pilot and co-pilot fought to keep the fully fueled plane upright and away from populated areas as they searched for an alternative landing sight.
The crew guided the plane into a field just southwest of Belleville, Illinois, near Highway 163 between Town Hall and Ayler roads. A field owned by Ralph Vogt.

All four on board eventually got out of the plane safely, thanks to acts of heroism that NewsChannel 5 is beginning to learn about, by those at the scene. (Related Story: Tales of Heroism Emerging)
Witnesses say the two passengers, the co-pilot and possibly a fourth person, went back into the plane and pulled the pilot out before the plane burst into flames.
Witnesses say the two passengers, the co-pilot and possibly a fourth person, went back into the plane and pulled the pilot out before the plane burst into flames. ARCH helicopter arrived on the scene and airlifted the pilot to St. Louis University Hospital in St. Louis. He is reportedly in fair condition. The two passengers asked to be taken to St. Luke’s Hospital in West St. Louis County. The co-pilot was taken to Belleville Memorial Hospital. Their conditions are unknown, but it is known that they did not suffer life-threatening injuries.
Shortly after all four passengers got out of the plane, it erupted in flames. The Belleville Fire Department responded and extinguished the flames. They remain on the scene awaiting the arrival of the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation administration that are en-route to begin their investigation.
Emergency crews cover the plane in fire retardant foam.
Fire crews covered the plane with fire retardant foam. Officials from Centerpoint Energy Company, out of Columbia, Illinois were also on the scene, concerned that one of the company’s gas pipelines near crash site may have ruptured. After using a backhoe to dig to the line, it was determined that no rupture had occurred.
Witness Reports
An employee of the Millstadt Ambulance service says she was one of the rescue workers on the scene when the plane went down. She says because of the efforts of three of the planes passengers, and possibly one other person, the pilot was able to survive. The woman say when emergency crews arrive, the three passengers were already outside the plane, the pilot trapped inside. The three passengers, and possibly a fourth person, went back into the plane and pulled the pilot out before the plane burst into flames.
All four passengers survived this emergency landing Wednesday morning.
Donald Scharf lives nearby the crash site. He says he was reading his morning newspaper when he heard plane flying extremely low over his home. Because of the sound, he immediately figured something was wrong. By the time he got outside, all he could see was a plume of smoke rising above a nearby field. “I heard nothing but silence and I knew the plane had crashed. I was going to go inside and call 911, but by that time I hears sirens going so I knew someone had called.”
Pilot Did A Good Job
NewsChannel 5’s Bill Houska reports that the pilot of the downed plane did a commendable job in getting the fully fueled aircraft back to the ground, avoiding population centers and structures. Houska says planes are at their heaviest upon take off, and that the pilot’s skills prevented this incident from being much worse.

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Story and more pictures here

Nice work by the crew. This is where I grew up and did my private (a little north of here) but I used to work at the Belleville News-Democrat.
Any landing you walk away from is a good one.

Wasnt a great one since they can't use the plane again.

I hope everyone is ok. Nice work by the pilots.

another nice landing since they all survived and walked away. Says alot about their training in critical situation.