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Only minor injuries in plane crash

Pilot Benny Harris Svien of Northfield walked away from his 2002 Kit Fox two-seater airplane after it crashed into a Castle Rock Township cornfield Tuesday afternoon.

Svien, 61, was walking around and talking to Dakota County sheriff's deputies and paramedics following the crash, which occurred around 2 p.m. near the intersection of 280th Street and Highway 3. A county deputy accompanied Svien to Northfield Hospital, where he was going to get stitches for a cut received in the crash.

Dakota County sheriff Dave Bellows marveled at Svien's piloting abilities.

"More often than not, you have pretty serious injuries or fatalities in these situations," Bellows said. "I give a lot of credit to the pilot."

According to Bellows, Svien was bringing his experimental aircraft in for a landing when the accident occurred. He was going to land on a runway on his property, but had to make adjustments in his landing. When he powered up and started to climb the aircraft back into the sky, he started to have problems. He was flying at about 1,700 feet when the problems started. Svien was able to take the plane down most of the way before it crashed into the cornfield.

Svien got out of the plane and ran through the cornfield to a nearby farm, where he reported the incident. By the time the Farmington Fire Department arrived, the aircraft was engulfed in fire. FFD sent firefighters on one of its brush trucks to extinguish the fire.

The plane is a complete loss, Bellows said.

"The pilot is very fortunate. He had a malfunction and it took a lot of piloting skills to land without getting injured. You don't have a lot of time to pick a landing spot when you're coming down that fast," Bellows said.

Investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board were called to the scene, which is typical in plane crashes, Bellows said. The plane will be removed after the FAA and NTSB finish their investigations.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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