An investigator with the Federal Aviation Administration conducts an investigation at the site of the crash in rural Mabel.  DAVID STOEGER/NEWS-RECORD
An investigator with the Federal Aviation Administration conducts an investigation at the site of the crash in rural Mabel. DAVID STOEGER/NEWS-RECORD
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Fillmore County Sheriff's Office are investigating a small plane crash in a rural area in Preble Township. The crash happened on Saturday afternoon, about five miles north of Mabel. The pilot suffered minor injuries.

The sheriff's office initially received the 911 call at about 2:43 p.m. Saturday, according to Chief Deputy Tom Webber. The plane, a Preceptor Ultra Pup, was traveling from Wisconsin Rapids to South Dakota.

The pilot, Carl Koch, 65, of Mitchell, S.D., told authorities he was experiencing mechanical difficulties as he was traveling to his home in South Dakota. He tried to land the plane in an open field, but was unable to make the clearing and crashed into the trees, which caused the plane to flip.

Koch declined to be taken by ambulance to a local hospital and was instead taken by a private party. Fillmore County Sheriff Daryl Jensen said he sustained a minor head injury and a laceration.

It is unknown at this time if the plane itself is salvageable.

Koch is said to be an experienced pilot, serving numerous years in the air force. He had just purchased the home-built aircraft in Wisconsin Rapids and was flying it to his home when the crash occurred.

"According to the information from the pilot it (the cause of the crash) would be mechanical, (and) the findings of the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) will tell us if there was another issue," said Fillmore County Sheriff Daryl Jensen.

The crash occurred on property owned by Vic and Mary Spaulding, Alan and Melissa Spaulding, and Mike and Laura Cashill, all from the Twin Cities area. No one was at the property at the time of the crash.

"It's interesting, he's (the pilot) lucky to have walked away from it," said property owner Vic Spaulding.

Jensen said the retrieval of the aircraft will likely be arranged between the property owners and the pilot. "It's just going to be matter of how they're going to do it...I suspect they're going to take it (the aircraft) apart. You can put that on the bed of a flatbed truck."

The FAA was on site Tuesday morning conducting their investigation into the reported mechanical problems the plane experienced and to see if pilot error might have been involved. The Fillmore County Sheriff's Department continues to assist the FAA with its investigation.

The Fillmore County Sheriff's Office and Mabel Ambulance responded to the call on Saturday.