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Pilot killed in plane crash near Monroe Center identified

Jacqui Stephens photo

A Will County man  who took off from the DeKalb airport en route to Rockford was killed shortly after 8 a.m. Tuesday when the single-engine plane he was piloting crashed in a farm field at 19164 Crill Road near Monroe Center.

UPDATE: As of Tuesday night, the Ogle County Coroner had not released the man's name, but both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times cite people close to the pilot who identify him as Tom Plodzien, resident of Meadow Creek Airpark, outside of Monee. Records list Plodzien, 77, as the owner of the plane. 

Earlier in the day, WNIJ's Mike Moen reported from the scene that authorities were preventing onlookers and reporters from getting close to the crash itself, which was obscured by the corn crop. He said a helicopter hovered above the site and an ambulance was near the actual crash, but he was unable to see specifically what was happening.

The pilot radioed shortly before the crash that the plane was on fire and he was attempting to reach the Chicago-Rockford International Airport. The crash site is about 8 air miles from the airport in southwest Rockford.

Rockford Fire Chief Derek Bergsten confirmed that the Monroe Center Fire Department handled fire and rescue efforts while the Ogle County Sheriff's Department controlled the scene.

FAA spokesman Elizabeth Isham Cory identified the plane as a Lancair, an amateur-built plane from a kit.

The Chicago Tribune posted an aerial photo from the crash scene on its website.