A small plane crashed north of Edwardsville on Monday, killing the pilot in a fiery wreck in a field, authorities said.
Another pilot flying over the crash scene near Old Carpenter Road and Illinois Route 157 saw the downed plane and reported it about 2:30 p.m., said Capt. John Lakin of the Madison County sheriff's office.
That pilot, who was not identified, circled above the crash to help guide rescue crews to the burning plane, Lakin said.
The crash occurred roughly four miles southeast of the St. Louis Regional Airport, although authorities did not believe the pilot tried to call the airport for help before the crash.
The plane was described only as a single-engine, two-seater aircraft that landed on its top.
Authorities on Monday did not release the pilot's identity, or where he was flying from or headed to. The pilot was the only person in the plane, Lakin said.
The Madison County coroner's office did say that the pilot was from Missouri. An autopsy was scheduled for today.
The cause of the crash was under investigation late Monday, and authorities were unsure when the cause will be known. As of late Monday, authorities said they had no witnesses to the crash.
However, Lakin pointed out that the pilot avoided crashing onto the busy Illinois Route 157 or into nearby homes.
"This pilot should be commended for his actions prior to the crash," Lakin said.
Firefighters used a four-wheel-drive vehicle to get to the crash, which happened in the middle of a field, and tried to put out the fire with portable extinguishers until other equipment arrived, said Edwardsville Fire Chief J. Brian Wilson.
Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration arrived on the scene late in the afternoon and were probing what led to the crash. Wilson said the plane's interior was gutted by fire, but that the engine was intact.
Lakin said the last fatal plane crash in Madison County occurred about a decade ago. In that accident, a pilot preparing for an air show died when his McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C Hornet crashed in a residential area near Bethalto.
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