NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A helicopter on a sightseeing tour had to make an emergency splash landing in the Hudson River Sunday, following an engine malfunction.
On Sunday night, the pilot was speaking out – and brushing off the praise.
As CBS 2’s Dave Carlin reported, the pilot pf the Bell 206 registered to New York Helicopter was flying from the Wall Street Heliport up the East River. He had circled Yankee Stadium and was on his way back south along the Hudson River when something went wrong.
The pilot urgently called in a disaster as his engine conked out.
A mayday message was broadcast over air traffic control radio, but pilot Michael Campbell, 22, remained calm and steady. Even though he his helicopter had no power, he was able to deploy flotation devices and set it down intact.
At that point, the helicopter landed upright in the water near 79th Street around noon and was drifting south. A family of four Swedish tourists and the pilot were rescued, as the chopper was safely towed to shore.
“The helicopter pilot reported losing power,” NYPD deputy commissioner Paul Browne told 1010 WINS’ Gene Michaels.
“He lost engine power. The helicopter pilot was able to land the helicopter safely in the river. The pontoons deployed, the helicopter stayed floating,” FDNY Deputy Fire Chief Thomas McKavanaugh told WCBS 880’s Jim Smith.
As for Campbell himself, he told CBS 2’s Steve Langford he was “just doing my job at the end of the day.”
Campbell was quick to brush off suggestions that he was a hero for landing the stricken chopper in the Hudson without anyone being hurt.
“It was an emergency in flight, and I just did what I had to do,” he said.
The helicopter took off Sunday from the Wall Street Heliport, with the pilot and the family of four from Sweden on board. It went down just 12 minutes after takeoff.
“When it was about — I don’t know, I’d say 5 meters from the water, the floaters came out and it, landed, like, quite hard,” said Lambert de Monte, 16.
De Monte, who was visiting from Montreal, jumped into a dinghy with family friend Sebastien Berthelet and raced toward the helicopter in the Hudson.
“They were all shocked, of course — especially the pilot,” Berthelet said, “as he just saved four people.”
While someone in another dinghy rescued the four Swedish tourists, they were taken to St. Luke’s- Roosevelt Hospital for observation. Berthelet said he congratulated the chopper pilot.
“I said, ‘Well, nice landing. I saw it.’ He said, ‘Well, it could have been smoother.’ I said, ‘Well, it could have been worse too.’”
A U.S. Army Corps of Engineers vessel hoisted the floating helicopter out of the Hudson. The chopper was taken away as part of the investigation.
Fire officials said the safe landing was a smaller-scale version of the 2009 Miracle on the Hudson.
“A smaller version, but absolutely,” McKavanaugh said.
In that incident on Jan. 15, 2009, Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger splash-landed a US Airways flight in the Hudson following a double bird strike. All 155 people on board flight 1549 were rescued and uninjured.
But for some other incidents involving helicopters flying over the Hudson, the outcome has not been so fortunate.
On Aug. 8, 2009, nine people were killed when a small plane collided with a tourist helicopter in midair over the Hudson. That accident was partially blamed on mistakes by an air traffic controller who was distracted by a personal phone call.
On Oct. 4, 2011, a helicopter went down in the East River. One tourist died when the aircraft sank, and two other passengers also later died of their injuries.
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