Pilot on safe landing in NYC river: Just doing my job


by CBS News & Associated Press


Posted on July 1, 2013 at 11:56 AM

Updated Monday, Jul 1 at 11:56 AM

NEW YORK -— The pilot of a sightseeing helicopter that made an emergency landing on New York’s Hudson River says he was just doing his job.

Michael Campbell tells the New York Post everything was going smoothly Sunday when suddenly he heard “a big boom.”

The charter helicopter had taken off from the Wall Street Heliport and was carrying a family of four Swedes north up the Hudson River when it lost power after 12 minutes in the air.

The helicopter landed safely in the water around noon near 79th Street, by the New York City Marina. Pontoons deployed, and the craft stayed upright and afloat.

No one was injured.

“The pilot did a terrific job considering he’d lost his engine power,” Deputy Fire Chief Thomas McKavanaugh said.

“This is a pilot that knew exactly what he was doing at the time he was doing it,” NYC Office of Emergency Management Deputy Commissioner Frank McCarton told CBS Station WCBS.

Speaking from his Woodbridge, N.J., home, the 23-year-old pilot said he knew he needed to remain calm.

He said: “If I panicked, I knew it wouldn’t be a very good ending.”

Campbell deployed the craft’s pontoons, which it kept it upright and afloat. A boater brought the family back to shore.

Sebastien Berthelet, visiting from Montreal, was on a boat when the craft went down and went over to help, bringing the pilot back to shore.

“At the beginning, we thought maybe it was an exercise,” he said, but then “when he hit the water, it was hard.”

He said he complimented the pilot on the landing, but the pilot said it could have been smoother.

“I said, ‘Well, it could have been worse, too,”’ Berthelet said.

Another boater brought the family back to shore, and they were all calm, he said.

“They all seemed very healthy. They were all shocked, of course,” Berthelet said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said the helicopter, a Bell 206, is registered to New York Helicopter, which offers sightseeing tours ranging from $139 per person for a 15-minute flight to $295 per person for a 25-minute flight. A call to the company went unanswered.

The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating.

The emergency landing on the Hudson River was reminiscent of another one where all aboard escaped unharmed. In 2009, Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III safely landed a US Airways flight after striking a flock of geese. All 155 people aboard survived.

But other aviation incidents over the waterways surrounding Manhattan have been deadly.

In 2011, a helicopter crashed into the East River. Two passengers were killed at the scene, and a third died a month later.

In 2009, a collision between a tour helicopter and a small plane over the Hudson River killed nine people.