18-year-old pilot seriously injured after crashing small plane into Wauwatosa neighborhood

WAUWATOSA, Wis. (CBS 58) – An 18-year-old pilot is in critical condition after he landed a single-engine plane in Wauwatosa’s backyard on Thursday afternoon, May 26.

The crash happened just before 3 p.m. in a neighborhood across from Timmerman airport.

Before the crash, the pilot had broadcast on the tower’s radio to say he had engine failure, that the engines were stopped.

Crash investigators scoured the safety scene for hours in a residential backyard as they literally pieced together what happened.

The neighbors were moved by what they had seen and heard.

Amanda Schomberg was pushing her 2-year-old daughter on a swing when she noticed the plane was flying lower than usual. “This, for whatever reason, I looked up and saw it in the corner of my eye. It just kept falling. I’m still in shock that it happened.”

She then watched the plane crash into the backyard of her neighbor Rashad Hicks. “It was so big it shook my house,” says Hicks.

And many others heard it too, like Jennifer Jenkins. “I heard a loud pop. It was like an engine and a metallic sound.”

Neighbors said a single-engine plane orbited Timmerman Airport for most of the day, practicing take-offs and landings.

At 2:45, the unidentified pilot radioed the tower for help, saying: “Landing, engine failure, it’s not working. It stalled, I don’t know what to do. ” The tower replied, “Are you solo?” The pilot said, “I’m sorry, I didn’t have the swing arm.” That was his last communication.

Neighbors said the plane appeared to have fallen out of the sky shortly after. From across the street, Alexandra Davis said, “And no smoke, no fire.”

Jennifer Jenkins said, “You never think it’s going to happen. You always see them short, but here they are always short.”

Police confirmed the pilot was 18 years old and may have crashed before the plane crashed. “There are indications of that, but we’re still investigating. We have liaison officers in the tower at Timmerman Field,” Wauwatosa Police Chief James MacGillis said.

Back at the scene of the accident, Rashad Hicks ran out of his house and into his backyard to see what had happened. His wife called 911.

The pilot was still in the plane, but was seriously injured.

Hicks said he “Just had to train him to hold his breath. Officers were on the scene, so many people I couldn’t believe it, because there was a plane in the backyard!”

Witnesses said there was no fire and no smoke, but they were concerned about a gasoline explosion.

Emergency crews arrived within minutes, attempting to rescue the pilot.

Neighbor Robert Dietlmeier saw “The fire department was taking off on the left, then they removed the door and reached the pilot.”

“I’ve seen them pull someone alive,” said Alexann Davis.

The pilot was taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

When the crowd gathered, the scene was recovered and the accident scene was secured.

Somehow, no one else got hurt.

“We’ve lived here for almost 50 years and have never had an accident,” says Jenkins.

Amanda Schomberg said she was still shaken by what she saw and that her daughter also knew what had happened. “My daughter keeps repeating ‘crash’ and ‘boom.'”

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) have been contacted and will help with the investigation.

The Wauwatosa Police Department is presiding over the case, along with the Milwaukee Police Department and the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office.

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