August 6, 2008

Pilot Had Received Permission to Land in Park From Village Board

By M.K. Guetersloh

GOODFIELD - The pilot of an experimental aircraft that crashed Saturday at the Goodfield Village Park received the village's permission to use the park only weeks ago.

Michael King, 53, of Normal, the owner and pilot of the aircraft, remains in critical condition at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria. His passenger, Scottie Weatherington, 31, of Pekin, was taken to Saint Francis after the crash but was no longer a patient at the hospital.

The investigation into what happened during takeoff to the powered parachute aircraft and why it crashed into the trees on the north edge of the park remains under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Goodfield Village Board gave King its permission to operate out of the park following discussion at its regular meeting July 17.

Public Works Director Roger Mullins said King could use the park as long as neighbors or those using the park did not complain.

"It was understood that he would have to stop if there were complaints," Mullins added.

The 17.3-acre park is a multi-use park for the village with pavilion, playground equipment, picnic areas and open spaces.

The experimental aircraft is light framed with two seats, a canopy and is powered by a small engine and propeller. FAA records show the aircraft owned by King was built in 2000.

Although it is an experimental aircraft, it does not have an FAA registration number or tail number.

It is likely King had a sport pilot license that would qualify him to fly the aircraft, said FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory.

The sport pilot license is a relatively new license issued by the FAA and allows people to fly low-altitude, slower aircraft such as the powered chute, Cory added.

Cory said FAA personnel have 45 days to conduct the investigation into the crash and federal agency would not have any comment on the crash until the investigation is completed.

Woodford County sheriff's police said they have turned over their reports on the crash to federal officials.

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