An Illinois couple, frequently flying from their home state to the Brainerd lakes area, were injured when their single-engine airplane crashed Monday, July 30.
The crash occurred less than a mile and a half away from where they were scheduled to land at the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport.
The crash, reported at 10:05 a.m., ignited a large response of emergency personnel from the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office, North Memorial Ambulance and Air Care, Minnesota State Patrol, Brainerd Fire Department, airport personnel and the Crosby Police Department-the first agency on scene.
Chief Deputy Denny Lasher of the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office said the Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft crashed just south of what is called Runway 34 at the Brainerd airport in Oak Lawn Township. Lasher said finding the aircraft was difficult as the terrain was heavily wooded with thick brush and swampland. Sheriff and police personnel were up to their hips in muck trying to find the couple.
Sheriff personnel stayed in communication with the couple-Vincent and Jody Facchiano, both age 60, of Belvidere, Ill.-to try to locate them. Authorities also tracked the couple's cellphone signal in an effort to locate them. The six-seat aircraft crashed somewhere northeast of Brainerd, east of the airport and Highway 210, and to the west to Demery Road, near Shannon's Auto Body in Brainerd. Authorities set up posts to conduct their efforts at two different locations-one off Three Mile Road and the other off Crow Wing County Highway 25.
Emergency personnel learned the aircraft was near the BNSF Railway railroad tracks. Crews were working on the railroad tracks and stopped their work while authorities looked for the injured couple in the aircraft. Lasher said personnel took a squad vehicle down the railroad tracks as far as they could to where the aircraft crashed. Then they went into the woods on foot.
All the agencies worked together and state patrol used its helicopter to locate the aircraft. Once located, the couple was able to walk to the helicopter, which landed nearby. They were then airlifted from the scene to the Brainerd airport because of the remote area and rough terrain.
From the airport, the couple was transported by ambulance to Essentia Health-St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd. Later Monday afternoon, a hospital spokesperson stated Jody Facchiano was treated and released and Vincent Facchiano was in good condition.
Sgt. Andy Galles of the sheriff's office said the couple had minor injuries, including some bumps and bruises.
Galles said the pilot, Vincent Facchiano, told them the engine failed upon approach and the aircraft was unable to reach the runway. The aircraft crashed, snapping off branches of trees before landing in the thick brush. The National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Administration will investigate the cause of the engine failure and crash.
"They are very fortunate that they are OK," Lasher said of the couple.