July 23, 2008

Federal Officials Investigate Crash at Sparta Airport

By Anne Jungen, La Crosse Tribune, Wis.

Jul. 23--SPARTA, Wis. -- Federal aviation officials are investigating what caused a single-engine aircraft crash Friday at the Sparta/Fort McCoy Airport that injured one aboard.

Pilot John D. Linder, of Mankato, Minn., aborted takeoff, skidded off the east/west runway, and slid through grass and brush about 10:30 p.m. after refueling, said Fort McCoy spokeswoman Linda Fournier. A female passenger was taken to a La Crosse hospital with non-life threatening injuries, she said. The names of the three passengers were not released.

"The good news is that it could have been a lot worse than it was," Fournier said.

The plane was heading east, but its flight plan was not available.

The investigation is expected to take several weeks while officials review the aircraft's maintenance records and interview the pilot, passengers and air traffic control operators, said Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Tony Molinaro.

The Piper Cherokee plane is owned by Prescott Flying Club of South St. Paul, Minn., he said.

A National Transportation Safety Board investigator also handling the investigation was unavailable Tuesday.

This is the first plane crash at the airport in about 10 years, Fournier said.

Anne Jungen can be reached at (608) 791-8224 or [email protected]


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