PAWNEE COUNTY, Oklahoma - Authorities says the pilot of a small airplane made a hard landing in a field near Keystone Lake west of Sand Springs Saturday morning.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol says the small plane went down in an area east of Cleveland and north of Bears Glen at about 9:30 a.m. 

Firefighters from the Peninsula Fire Department responded to the scene.  

Troopers said the plane's 57-year-old pilot was taken to a Tulsa hospital to be treated for a head injury, but is expected to be OK. The OHP says it appears the plane experienced mechanical problems and the pilot was forced to land in the field.

They said the nose of the single engine plane was destroyed.

People in the community say the pilot is very familiar with the area, which is why they say he chose this field to land in, in order to avoid the trees.

The airplane barely missed the tops of trees before smashing the nose into the field below.

"When I woke up, my wife said that she'd saw Rich fly over this morning and that the plane really sounded bad," retired U.S. Navy pilot Art Long said. "The engine was sputtering and she said it was just right over tree top level."

Long lives not too far from where the plane crashed off Old Keystone Road and knows the pilot well. In fact, one after another, friends and neighbors came by to check to make sure the man was OK.

"He's always flying this area, so he knows it pretty well," Long said.

OHP says the pilot took off from the Westport airstrip, then he realized something was wrong with his plane and started looking for a place to land.

Trooper Derek Hempel says when he got to the scene and saw the plane, he wasn't sure the pilot would have survived.

" ...The plane's totaled, so he's very lucky," Hempel said.

The pilot was taken to a Tulsa hospital where he was treated for some cuts and scrapes to his head, but friends say he is expected to recover.

The FAA is investigating the incident.