By Carl Cooley | Chetek Alert
A pilot walked away uninjured after his single-engine airplane experienced some sort of problem and crash-landed under a parachute in a cornfield north of Sand Creek on Wednesday morning, Nov. 21.
Minneapolis Air Traffic Control Center was apparently in contact with the pilot and alerted Barron County dispatch that the plane had gone down around 11:05 a.m.
The plane, a Cirrus SR22 Turbo, can carry four passengers and a pilot; however, only the male pilot was on board at the time. He was flying from Cumberland to Akron, Ohio, according to the Dunn County Sheriff’s Office.
Cirrus aircraft are equipped with a “ballistic recovery system,” which is a rocket-deployed parachute that the pilot or passengers can activate in an emergency. In this case, the pilot apparently had some sort of trouble with the aircraft and deployed the parachute. The plane experienced mechanical issues, the DCSO said.
Flight data, via www.flightradar24.com, showed the aircraft had taken off from Cumberland sometime around 10:30 a.m., and started a flight path to the southeast. It reached an altitude of 10,050 feet above sea level—about 9,000 feet above the ground—before descending and turning north over Sand Creek. Radar contact was lost at just under 4,000 feet around 10:48 a.m.
Deputies and Sand Creek firefighters found the aircraft in a harvested cornfield near the intersection of 1450th Avenue (Barron-Dunn Avenue) and 930th Street (23rd Street). The parachute is not steerable and the plane landed on top of a field irrigator, damaging the irrigator. The field is owned by Hanson’s Golden Acres LLC, according to county land records.
The pilot was taken to the Sand Creek Cafe, where he was picked up by friends.
Deputies secured the area and waited for Federal Aviation Administration officials from Minneapolis, Minn., to arrive. A deputy used a drone to take pictures of the aircraft. Friends of the pilot said the aircraft would likely be removed via trailer at a later date.
Brandon Zimmermann, with the Sand Creek Fire Department, had been deer hunting in the area and had heard the plane flying low, overhead. He said he didn’t notice anything unusual about it.
David Nelson, also of Sand Creek, was hunting about a half-mile of where the plane landed. He said the engine sounded normal and he thought he heard it rev up to climb and circle around several times. He and his son heard a loud explosion, likely the plane’s parachute system being activated or when it landed on the irrigator.
Nelson noted the close proximity of the crash to that of an airplane crash that killed a Chetek-Weyerhaeuser teen and injured his passenger in May 2017, about five miles away. It was unsettling, he said.
The pilot is from Duluth, Minn. His name was not released and a message left for the pilot was not returned as of press time.
The plane is owned by Mark Waddell, of New York City, N.Y., and was built in 2008, according to FAA records.
Dunn County sheriff’s deputies, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Sand Creek Fire and Colfax Ambulance responded to the Nov. 21 crash.