13th June 2024

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Small plane crashes into vehicle on busy Minnesota highway

BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. — A small plane crash-landed into a car Tuesday morning on a busy Twin Cities highway, injuring the pilot and the driver.

Brooklyn Park police say it happened at about 10:32 a.m. in the southbound lanes of Highway 81 (Bottineau Boulevard) near West Broadway Avenue, about 6 miles northwest of Minneapolis.

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Police say the plane was approaching Crystal Airport when it lost power. The pilot then made an emergency landing about 2.5 miles northwest of the airport.    

The plane clipped several power lines on its way down before colliding with a car. The driver and pilot suffered minor injuries.

“The fact that (the pilot) impacted one vehicle and was able to put the aircraft down … is probably a testament to his skills as a pilot,” said Brooklyn Park Fire Chief Shawn Conway.

WCCO confirmed the plane, a Piper Cherokee, is owned by Thunderbird Aviation.

Authorities give update on Brooklyn Park plane crash


The Air Control Traffic Control Recordings

Flight data shows the single-engine Piper Cherokee took off from Crystal Airport at about 7:15 a.m. It flew to South Dakota and back. 

WCCO obtained air traffic control recordings between the tower and the pilot.

“Did you lose power?” said an air traffic controller.

“I don’t think I have power. I can’t make it to the runway,” said the pilot.

The tower then tells other planes to get out of the way.

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“If you can just circle where you are now. We have an emergency. I’ll let you know when you’re able to come in,” said the air traffic controller.

Later, an airborne pilot tells the tower what happened on the ground.

“Contact, he’s on the highway,” said another pilot.

“He’s on Highway 694? 81?” said the air traffic controller.  

“I believe that would be, one second, that would be 81,” said the other pilot.

Southbound Highway 81 was closed for several hours and reopened late Tuesday afternoon.

The National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration are investigating.