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Down plane stored at airport - for now
MONROE - Five bucks a day is all Rob Driver is charging the owner of a plane that went down in Juda on Monday for storage in Driver's personal hangar at the Monroe Airport.

The plane clipped power lines and caused a blackout in the village as a result. The pilot was uninjured.

"I don't want to gouge the guy," said Driver, the airport's supervisor, who said the owner told him he had no insurance for the plane's hull or any liability. "He'll already be getting a bill from the power company, from fire and rescue, from the towing company and from me. Then there's the cost of the plane."

An additional cost could come from the county considering the plane's wingspan caused the removal by chainsaw of several road signs between Juda and the airport.

"For only about $300 a year he could have eliminated his exposure," Driver said.

The owner's associate, who is a flight instructor, was flying the twin-engine plane from suburban Chicago when it ran out of gas just six miles from the Monroe Airport and had to land on County Road KS. The owner was 10 minutes behind in a single engine plane - he isn't certified to fly a twin-engine plane - and circled above the crash site before landing in Monroe. Driver said he took both pilots to a hotel around midnight, talking them out of flying to their destination of Minneapolis in the middle of the night.

"I didn't want to have another crash to deal with," Driver said.

Driver said the gas tank was dry and both engines had stopped operating, explaining why the plane glided into its crash site. He said it is not an uncommon situation.

"He passed how many airports but was probably hoping to make it to Monroe to take advantage of our $3.99 per gallon for fuel instead of 4 or 5 bucks elsewhere," Driver said. "And I've seen planes low on gas try and bypass us for cheaper gas in Lancaster, only to go down."

Driver said he'll meet with the Federal Aviation Administration today and will file a report before he can release the plane. He said he's not sure when or if the owner will claim the wreckage.

"He can get $1,500 per propeller and between 5 and 8 grand for the engine. It behooves him to scrap it out," Driver said.

The plane suffered damage to its front end and also shows signs of major burn marks from hitting the power lines, which were wrapped around the body when it came to a rest.

"He was hit with some pretty good voltage," Driver said.

Driver said records show the plane had been previously wrecked and the owner bought it in January from a salvage yard in Atlanta.