An attempt by a pilot of a CJ2 small business jet to abort a landing early Wednesday morning at the Michigan City Municipal Airport ended abruptly.
On its way, the plane crashed through a fence and guardrail and skidded across a four-lane highway, losing a wing and its landing gear.
The pilot of the plane and a passenger suffered minor injuries, but were taken to a hospital as a precaution and later released, said Jessica Ward, airport manager. The names of the two individuals involved in the crash were not released pending the conclusion of a Federal Aviation Administration investigation, according to Michigan City police.
The pilot was landing and then made a decision to abort, Sgt. Chris Yagelski said in a news release. When the pilot tried to take off again, there was not enough room left on the runway.
According to FAA records, the plane is owned by Van E Aviation LLC in care of Land O'Frost Inc. According to the company's website, Land O'Frost is a third-generation, family-owned business based in Munster.
The plane took off from DuPage (Illinois) Airport west of Chicago at 6:22 a.m. Twenty-two minutes later, it arrived in Michigan City, according to FAA records.
It was a rough landing, though, with the pilot telling officials they overshot the runway, said Tony Drzewiecki, public information officer for the Michigan City Fire Department.
Ward said the plane, which could seat about six passengers, came in from the north and touched down on the 4,100-foot-long runway. The plane was unable to stop on time, went off the end of the runway and crashed through a 10-foot-high section of metal fence marking the southern perimeter of the airport property along U.S. 20, about a quarter mile west of Interstate 94.
Ward said the plane also took out a metal guardrail a few feet behind the fence and crossed all four lanes of U.S. 20 before coming to rest 300 yards to the south in an open field.
According to Michigan City police, the plane sustained extensive damage including a lost wing and landing gear.
"With that plane skidding across the highway, we're lucky there wasn't any traffic coming from either direction," Drzewiecki said.
Ward said the runway had no ice on it, had been plowed the previous evening and had just a slight dusting of snow when the crash occurred.
She said the pilot's destination was Michigan City.
"I'm just glad everybody is OK," Ward said.
Ward said about 22 small aircraft use the airport each week during the winter compared to roughly 24 per day the rest of the year.
Land O'Frost provided storage for people's meats when founded on Chicago's South Side in 1941. In 1952, the company began producing sliced beef along with frozen meat pies and TV dinners.
In 1969, it opened its first lunchmeat processing plant in Lansing. Another processing plant opened in 2007 in Madisonville, Kentucky. The headquarters relocated to Munster in 2014.
According to the company website, Land O'Frost has more than 1,000 employees at three locations and has grown from a regional to a national brand.