Early this morning, a small cargo plane crashed into a Chicago house shortly after taking off from Midway Airport. According to the the city's fire department chief, the impact missed the sleeping elderly couple living there by just eight inches.

The pilot, whose name has not been released, was found dead at the scene of the crash, the Chicago Tribune reports. There were no other passengers, and the couple in the home was uninjured. The plane, an Aero Commander 500, departed for the Ohio State University airport at 2:30 a.m, and the pilot radioed about engine problems shortly after takeoff. From the Tribune:

The pilot was circling the airport after takeoff when he radioed Midway's air-traffic tower that he had an emergency and was attempting to make it to any of the three runways aligned southeast to northwest, an air-traffic control source said.

"The tower cleared him to land on any runway and then watched him go down as he was maneuvering,'' the source said.

The plane went down about a quarter of a mile from the airport, crashing through the front of the couple's home and coming to rest in the living room, its tail angled upward against the roof of a neighboring home.

According to the fire chief, "the floor of the living room collapsed into the basement" after impact, as the occupants, ages 82 and 84, slept in their bedroom nearby. "The whole right side of the house is gone," one neighbor told the Tribune. "Thank God their bedrooms were on the left."

National Transportation Safety Board officials are investigating potential causes of the crash.

[Image via AP]