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Pilot rescued from small plane crash near Spirit of St. Louis Airport

A pilot of a small single-engine airplane that crashed near Spirit of St. Louis Airport in Chesterfield on Sunday night reportedly suffered serious but non-life threatening injuries.

Chesterfield Sgt. Keith Rider identified the pilot as Ramakrishna Vallurupalli, 70, of Chesterfield. Vallurupalli was found conscious and alert inside the upside down plane about two hours after the crash, according to Monarch Fire Protection Agency officials.  He was extricated from the plane and hospitalized at a local hospital.

The investigation of the crash now is largely up to the Federal Aviation Administration [FAA], Rider said. Vallurupalli was the only person in the plane.

Roger Herin, a spokesperson for the Monarch Fire Protection District, said about 8:07 p.m. on Sunday night the control tower at Spirit reported the plane had gone down somewhere to the west of it.  Tower officials couldn’t immediately pinpoint the location of the plane,  A police helicopter found the plane after 10 p.m.

It was thought that the plane may be on the riverbank of the Missouri River in the Howell Island Conservation Area.  The plane turned out to have landed in an area near airport property, south of Rombachs Farm in the 18000 block of Olive Street Road that  shielded by high grass and  difficult to see, particularly with darkness setting in, Herin said.

The pilot actually was able to call his wife via cellphone to tell her to call 9-1-1 but the call was dropped before he could give a better location, Herin said.  Herin said another agency was in cellphone contact and responders were able to pinpoint his positions from the pilot’s cellphone signal.

Herin said the plane was upside down when responders came on the scene.  He said fire fighters had to literally cut the pilot out of the plane.  The pilot was then transferred to a local hospital.

Herin said plane crashes aren’t common.  “It does happen,” Herin said.


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