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Pilot Survives Small Plane Crash In DeKalb County

DeKalb Plane Crash
A replica of a World War II-era Mustang fighter plane flipped over as the pilot tired to land in a field in DeKalb County on Dec. 11, 2012. The pilot survived, but firefighters had to cut the plane open to free him. (Credit: CBS)

Updated 12/11/12 - 9:05 p.m.

DEKALB COUNTY (CBS) -- A replica of a World War II fighter plane crashed in DeKalb County Tuesday afternoon. Police said the pilot was alert and talking to emergency workers after the crash.

DeKalb County Sheriff Roger Scott said plane went down in a cornfield south of the DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport. The Federal Aviation Administration said the plane was a T-51 Mustang, a 3/4 replica of a P-51 Mustang from WWII.

"We have a report from a citizen that the single engine aircraft went down in a field in the area of Webster Road and Route 38, which is near Peace Road and Route 38," Scott said. "The information is that the pilot was communicating and talking with the officers."

CBS 2's Mike Parker reports witnesses said the plane appeared to be coming in for a landing when, suddenly, there was trouble.

"They saw puffs of ... black smoke coming from the aircraft as it went over Route 38, and it looked like it was losing altitude, and it ended up crashing into the field here," DeKalb County Sheriff Chief Deputy Gary Dumdie said. "It kind of looked like he was trying to land the plane on its belly, and then subsequently it flipped over once it hit the field."

The pilot has been identified as 62-year-old James Auman, of Sycamore. He apparently built the replica Mustang himself, and is a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association's chapter at Schaumburg Municipal Airport.

Jim Auman
Jim Auman (Photo courtesy EAA Chapter 153)

He survived the crash, but was trapped inside, as fuel was leaking from the plane. Emergency workers cut a hole in the side of the plane to get the pilot out.

Auman was airlifted to OSF Saint Anthony Medical Center in Rockford for treatment. He was in stable condition Tuesday night.

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