One person was killed and another injured Wednesday afternoon when a small single-engine airplane took off from a northwest suburban airport, then crashed in a nearby parking lot while trying to return for a reported engine problem, officials said.
The single-engine Beechcraft plane crashed just north of the Chicago Executive Airport near Wolf and Hinz roads in Wheeling.
After making it about a half mile from the airport, the pilot radioed about engine trouble and turned back. The pilot crashed into a parking lot just before 3 p.m. Several vehicles were damaged.
"I was across the street. I took a phone call and I noticed that there was black, oily smoke in a parking lot. I thought maybe it was a car fire. I ran across the parking lot to see if I could lend a hand and realized it was an airplane that was down," said witness Rick Swearingen.
Wheeling Fire Chief Keith MacIsaac said the injured person was conscious and alert with serious burns and apparent multiple fractures, and he was flown by Flight for Life to Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge.
Another person couldn't be rescued.
"The flames were too hot. It was too hot, so we couldn't get at him," said Swearingen.
The tail number of the plane was N5293M, said FAA spokesman Tony Molinaro.
The plane was registered to Ronald Kesinger from Jacksonville, Ill., according to FAA records. Molinaro noted that the person it is registered to wouldn't necessarily have been who was on the plane at the time of the crash.
It was nearly a year ago that the pilot and co-pilot of a cargo jet were killed during a crash into the Des Plaines River during a final approach to the same airport.