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Plane crashes, pilot hospitalized

An Oak Harbor man was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center Wednesday afternoon after his single-engine plane crashed at the Oak Harbor Air Park on Monroe Landing Road.

At approximately 3:15 p.m. Roger Christensen was attempting to fly his home -built Piper Cub out of the air park.

However, after the plane started down the runway, the plane flipped and came to rest north of the runway near a patch of bushes.

When firefighters from North Whidbey Fire and Rescue’s Monroe Landing station arrived on scene, they found Christensen upside down and still in the airplane, said Chief Marv Koorn.

“It was fortunate because the (fire station) is right at the air park,” said Jan Smith of the Island County Sheriff’s Office.

Koorn said Christensen was conscious when firefighters arrived and it took about 10 minutes to take the precautions necessary to safely remove him from the airplane. The plane did not catch fire.

Shortly after being pulled out of his plane, Christensen was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. As of Friday morning, he remained in serious condition and in intensive care. The injuries he sustained included compound fractures in both legs.

The cause of the crash isn’t known. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the accident.

Dennis Hogenson, air safety investigator for the NTSB, said he didn’t have a lot of information available yet. He will examine the plane early next week. He also wants to talk with Christensen, but is waiting until he is in better condition.

Hogenson said investigations for such crashes can take anywhere between 60 days and 90 days.

The plane remained near the eastern end of the runway overnight. By Thursday afternoon, volunteers had hauled the mangled plane into a nearby hanger.

While rescue crews were treating Christensen, a plane carrying four jail inmates was waiting to take off. The inmates were heading from the Island County jail to San Juan County.

Smith said the county contracts out jail space for San Juan County. The inmates had to wait 45 minutes until takeoff. That provided enough time for Christensen to get airlifted and move emergency vehicles that provided enough runway for the fully loaded, single-engine plane to take off.

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