Updated 11/18/14 – 6:33 p.m.
CHICAGO (CBS) — The pilot of a small cargo plane was killed when the plane crashed into a home a few blocks away from Midway International Airport early Tuesday morning.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the pilot reported engine problems shortly after taking off from Midway, and was trying to get back to the airport, but never made it. The plane nose-dived into the front of a two-story home in the 6500 block of South Knox Avenue, around 2:45 a.m., and ended up partially in the living room, and partially outside on the front lawn, its tail still up in the air.
The plane initially was headed for Chicago Executive Airport in Wheeling, but just before takeoff, the pilot changed his flight plan to go to Ohio State University Airport in Columbus.
The Fire Department said the pilot of the plane — an Aero Commander 500 turboprop — was the only person in the plane at the time, and was killed in the crash. Crews cut the wreckage into sections, loaded it onto a trailer and hauled it to DuPage Airport for examination.
A friend of the pilot identified him as Eric Quentin Howlett, 47, from Ohio. The medical examiner’s office has not confirmed the pilot’s ID.
WBBM’s Steve Miller spoke with a friend of Howlett, who says he had changed careers several years ago to follow his dream of becoming a professional pilot.
Eric Howlett used to work in IT, his friend and co-worker John Keller tells WBBM, but Howlett wanted to follow his dream to be a professional pilot.
Keller is charter manager of Capital City Jet Center in Columbus, Ohio, where Eric Howlett was a flight instructor.
Keller says Howlett had just gotten the job about a month ago with the Kansas City-based aviation cargo company. He was flying one of that company’s planes when he went down Tuesday morning near Midway.
“He had been working toward getting this position for awhile. That was his focus here in Columbus,” Keller says, “building his time as a flight instructor and flying with us in the charter department.”
“He was no-nonsense. He was a pilot,” says Keller.