Chicago Miracle as King Air Crash-Lands on City Street

A King Air miraculously crash-landed on a busy city street on Tuesday night on approach to Chicago Executive Airport with surprisingly little damage and only minor injuries to the pilot. Incredibly, there were no injuries to people on the ground and far less damage than might be expected to the airplane or property.

The crash happened at around 8:30 p.m. local time as the King Air was on a half-mile final for Runway 16 at the airport in Wheeling, Illinois, north of Chicago. ATC audio of the accident records the pilot, the sole occupant of N92JR, a 1981 Super King Air 200, saying in a Southern drawl, “Two Juliet Romeo, I ain’t gonna make it.” He repeats the same transmission, prompting the tower controller to ask, “Calling, say again?” The King Air pilot again repeats the same phrase. There is a pause and then the pilot says, “Damn.” That was the last transmission before the airplane crashed on a street next to an apartment complex.

Those same apartments were the site of a fiery Gulfstream IV crash in 1996 that killed three crewmembers and a passenger. Unlike that accident, this time there was no fire after the King Air touched down on a road next to the apartments and plowed into a tree. Among the factors NTSB and FAA investigators will consider are how much fuel was aboard the airplane when it went down and whether fuel starvation or a mechanical issue may have caused a loss of power in both engines.

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