UPDATED at 4:30 p.m. with ID of pilot.
MARYLAND HEIGHTS • A twin-engine airplane developed trouble shortly after takoff from Creve Coeur Airport and crashed during the pilot's attempt to return to the runway, authorities said.
The first 911 calls from motorists on Missouri 364 were recorded at 4:53 a.m. Thursday. The crash site is just west of the highway. The airport is across the road to the east.
The pilot managed to get out of the wreck of the Cessna 414 and made a 911 call to alert authorities that he had been the only person in the plane.
Maryland Heights Police Chief Bill Carson said the pilot, James Turner, 48, of Chesterfield, told investigators he had just taken off for a flight to Kentucky when he noticed a warning light about the cargo door. As he was looping back to return to the runway, his left engine failed.
"He said the plane descended immediately and he couldn't keep it from going down," Carson said.
Corey Irelan, a battalion chief for the Pattonville Fire Protection District, said of the pilot's condition, "As he was being transported, he was breathing fine and able to talk."
The airplane crashed near a bicycle trail just west of the highway and probably clipped a power line and trees, he said. The site is west of a standard flight approach to the airport runway.
The crash and fire destroyed the airplane. Missouri Highway 364 was closed during the emergency response.
Assisting Pattonville Fire were the Maryland Heights, Monarch and Central County fire districts, and the St. Charles County Ambulance district. Irelan said his department led the response because it covers the Missouri 364 river bridge. The first 911 calls put the crash near the bridge.