Boats Come To Aid Of Pilot, Passengers
It could have been far worse... but emergency pontoons kept a
Eurocopter EC135 afloat after it experienced mechanical problems
and landed in the Hudson River Saturday afternoon, cutting short a
planned aerial tour of Manhattan.
The New York Times reports the helicopter's unidentified pilot
executed a controlled landing in the river, between midtown
Manhattan and Weehawken, NJ, just before 5:00 pm EDT. Two
recreational boats came to the aid of those onboard.
Neither the pilot nor the seven passengers were seriously
injured. The helicopter (type shown above) was eight minutes into a
planned 10-minute tour.
Off-duty EMT Jose Mejia and his girlfriend were onboard the
helo, celebrating their fourth anniversary as a couple. Mejia
stated they heard a loud noise, similar to gunfire, as the
helicopter made its way back to the West 30th Street heliport.
"Very, very, very loud, even with the earphones on," Mejia said
of the sound. The
helicopter then started falling -- "like a bird out of the
The pontoons deployed when the helo hit the water, Mejia said.
"When those things inflated underneath the helicopter, that was the
most reassuring feeling."
Mejia said the helicopter's pilot earned her pay throughout the
ordeal, calming passengers and giving them emergency instructions.
"The pilot really had no blame in this," he said. "She did an
But, Mejia was also quick to lay blame for the incident. "[T}he
company should really be maintaining these helicopters," Mejia
said. "That’s really my main complaint."
The helicopter was operated by Liberty Helicopters, which has
operated aerial tours around New York since 1990. Another Liberty
helo was involved in a 1997 accident, when the aircraft impacted a
building at the West 30th Street heliport. The eight people onboard
received minor injuries.