FAA Flight Standards District Office: DUPAGE
AIRCRAFT ON LANDING SLID OFF THE END OF THE RUNWAY, HOBART, INDIANA
Aircraft Make: CESSNA
Aircraft Model: C172
Event Type: INCIDENT
Highest Injury: NONE
Aircraft Missing: No
Flight Phase: LANDING (LDG)
Don Niemeyer helped rescue a pilot from a Cessna 172M Skyhawk that skidded off the runway of the Hobart Sky Ranch Airport Friday.
HOBART — Airport manager Don Niemeyer Sr. was sitting in his office Friday afternoon at the Hobart Sky Ranch Airport when he heard what sounded like the screeching of tires on the runway and an airplane nose-diving through a wooded area off U.S. 6.
“It sounded just like when you take your lawnmower through (shrubbery), that grinding noise,” said Niemeyer, the longtime manager of the small, privately owned airport just north of U.S. 6 and Lake Park Avenue.
Niemeyer Sr. said he immediately called for his son, also named Don Niemeyer, to run to the pilot’s aid.
The airplane — a Cessna 172M Skyhawk, according to the Niemeyers — skidded off the runway at 1:06 p.m., and landed in a wooded area north of U.S. 6, said Hobart Fire Chief Brian Kerr.
A pilot was trapped inside the plane, but made it out with minor injuries, Kerr said.
“It’s always a good ending when you walk away from a plane crash,” Kerr said.
The younger Don Niemeyer said his father pulled him out of the office to tell him to go the crash site.
The damaged airplane, visible from U.S. 6, appeared to have nosedived into the wooden area north of the roadway. The plane’s front-end was planted into the ground while the body of the plane rested against trees and shrubbery.
The pilot, who Niemeyer said was traveling from the Griffith-Merrillville Airport, is “lucky to be alive.”
“From the condition of the airplane, he’s very lucky. With the size of the trees that he came in contact with, he’s lucky,” Niemeyer said.
Niemeyer said Friday’s rescue was unfortunately not the first time he’s helped out at the scene of plane crash.
“I was basically born and raised here on this airport. I've been around aviation my whole life. So things happen when you’ve been around long enough,” he said.
The pilot’s name and age were not available Friday afternoon.
U.S. 6, or East 37th Avenue, remained shut down as of 2:45 p.m. between Wisconsin Street and Lake Park Avenue because of the accident.
National Transportation Safety Board spokesman Peter Knudson said Federal Aviation Administration officials will be going to the crash site to investigate.
“When they go to the scene, they often do an assessment of the damage, take photos and provide that to investigators,” Knudson said.
It is undetermined if NTSB will open its own investigation, he said, noting there are many factors to take into consideration — including the seriousness of injuries or plane damage.
A spokesperson with the FAA was unable to be reached for comment Friday.
Lake Station, New Chicago, Hobart police officers and Hobart fire officials responded to the scene.
An unnamed pilot was transported to St. Mary Medical Center in Hobart with minor injuries Friday afternoon after skidding off the runway at Hobart Sky Ranch Airport in Hobart and crashing in the wooded area just north of 37th Avenue, police said.
Hobart Fire Chief Brian Kerr said the incident occurred about 1:05 p.m. Don Niemeyer, owner of the Hobart Sky Ranch Airport, 3700 N. Lake Park Ave., could not be reached for comment Friday.
Kerr said the pilot, whose name was not released, was alone in the single-engine aircraft.
He said the pilot had to be extricated from the plane, but appeared to have suffered only minor injuries.
A man in the airport office said the pilot was experienced.
"He had a couple hundred hours in," he said.
Police closed 37th Avenue from South Lake Park Avenue to Wisconsin Street while police and fire crews worked around the crash scene.
Lake Station Police Chief Dave Johnson said there was gasoline leaking from the plane.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration registry, the plane, a Cessna fixed-wing single engine, is owned by Great Northern Aircraft Inc. in Griffith.
A voicemail left at the airplane sales company was not immediately returned.
Johnson said Hobart Fire Department, and Hobart, Lake Station and New Chicago police responded to the accident after receiving a 911 call of a plane crash by the airport.
"In the 20 years I've been working here I don't remember another plane crash at that airport," Kerr said.