Councilman Robert Cormack walked away from a weekend crash of a private plane in El Monte with only a scuffed elbow.

Cormack, a pilot with 31 years of experience, said he only had a minute to decide where he was going to land the 1973 Cessna after the engine stalled 300 feet in the air. Recalling advice from a former flying instructor, Cormack tried to cushion a crash landing by aiming his plane for a large tree in a residential backyard.

The plane, registered to Delta Industries, a Santa Fe Springs company that Cormack owns one-third of, was destroyed. The tree split in half, striking a nearby telephone pole. But Cormack only scuffed his elbow when he jumped out of his plane.

"It didn't even bleed," Cormack said.

Cormack said he was practicing takeoffs and landings at the El Monte Airport when the accident occurred Saturday morning.

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