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Fort Dodge man walks away from plane mis-hap and crash landing

FORT DODGE – A Fort Dodge man survived an incident in which his home-built plane malfunctioned 800 feet off the ground and he was forced to crash-land in a field.

On June 12, 2018 the Webster County Law Enforcement Center received a 911 at 3:18 PM. Caller advised he just watched vvhat he thought was a plane crash north of the Fort Dodge Regional Airport in the 1500 block of National Avenue Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Emergency responders were still in route to the scene when the first Fort Dodge Police Officer on the scene advised that there was a sing,le engine aircraft northeast of 160th Street and National Avenue. The Officer was able to advise that the pilot was out walking away from the aircraft and for responders to slow down and arrive in a safe marmer.

The aircraft was a homebuilt Zenith 601XL-B piloted by Ralph Sonnickson of Fort Dodge, Iowa. Sonnickson had no passengers in the aircraft. Sonnickson advised that he had just left the Fort Dodge Regional Airport and made it to about 800 feet elevation when he had engine trouble and started his return to the same airport. Sonnickson observed another aircraft in the area and made plan to land in a field near the airport so not place anyone else in danger. Sonnickson landed the aircraft in the field and even tfied land with the crop rows to reduce the damage to field and aircraft. The front landing gear on the aircraft however sank into soft soil and aircraft came to rest on front nose area of the plane. Sormickson was able to exit the aircraft on his own and walk away from the incident with only scratches and declined medical treatment at the scene.

The FAA was notified of the incident and will follow up the investigation of this incident.

The aircraft is on private property and observers are advised not to approach the scene of an active investigation.

Fort Dodge Fire, Badger Fire, Fort Dodge Police Department, Iowa Department of Transportation, Webster County Sheriff’s Office, Webster County EMA, Fort Dodge Regional Airport crews, Unity Point Medical Center and the FAA responded to this incident. A local alert went out from the Webster County Telecommunication Center to Al first responder’s in the area if further assistance was needed.

A recent aircraft incident drill on May 23., 2018 sponsored by the Fort Dodge Regional Airport helped prepare first responder’s and responding agency’s to these types of incidents, said Rod Strait, Chief Deputy in the Webster County Sheriffs Office.

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