BETHPAGE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — An audio recording capturing the final moments before a plane came crashing down onto a railroad crossing on Long Island has been released.

Pilot Joseph Milo, 59, of Westhampton Beach, was killed when his small plane crashed onto the Long Island Rail Road tracks near South Oyster Bay Road in Hicksville on Aug. 16.

Milo crashed after being directed by an air traffic controller to a runway that no longer exists at a closed airport, according to preliminary findings released Monday by the National Transportation Safety Board.

Audio of the conversation was recorded by a website tracking aviation activity.

Milo: “I’m having a little bit of a problem. … I may have to turn to Farmingdale.”
Republic Airport Tower: “4-6 Charlie, sure, just let me know, uhh, what you need.”
Milo: “I’m going to have to take this down at the, the closest spot. Farmingdale is the closest, is that correct?”
Republic Airport Tower: “There is a strip at your 10 o’clock in five miles. Uh, Bethpage airport there. If you want to try that one. … It is a closed airport. I just know there is a runway there at about 11 o’clock in about a mile and a half.”

Radio and radar contact were then lost, CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported.

It is unclear whether the controller gave directions based on personal knowledge or Federal Aviation Administration records.

“We’re kind of a little confused on trying to get all the facts ourselves to feel peace and at rest that, if he was misguided, it was tragic for all of us, because he was just so loved here,” said Michele Bugge, a friend of Milo’s.

Pilot Joseph Milo died in a plane crash in Hicksville, Long Island, on Aug. 16, 2015. (Credit: CBS2)

Pilot Joseph Milo died in a plane crash in Hicksville, Long Island, on Aug. 16, 2015. (Credit: CBS2)

Rep. Steve Israel, D-N.Y., said he, too, wants answers.

“You get in a car in my district and you turn on GPS and it tells you whether there’s a road there or not,” he told WCBS 880’s Steve Scott. “The FAA should have the same technology. The FAA should have the same ability. And we need to know exactly why this pilot was told or may have been told a runway existed when it didn’t.”

The passenger Milo was ferrying to New Jersey from Gabreski Airport in the Hamptons survived. He told investigators he heard a loud pop, followed by a flicker of light from the engine area, and a “smell of oil,” according to the report.

The engine began to sputter and lose power.

Milo, an experienced pilot who owned a popular Montauk Highway restaurant, Joe’s American Cafe, was heard telling the air traffic controller he needed to put the plane down, could not restart the engine and was unable to see the Bethpage strip.

The plane crashed less than a quarter-mile away from the former Grumman airfield, which closed in 1990. The area is now a mix of light industry and residential homes.

“The pilot should have up-to-date maps and he should know where he is, but the controller can help in just advising him of his exact position, wind direction, things like that,” said retired military pilot Col. Michael Canders, an instructor at Farmingdale State College’s Aviation Center, who added its “100 percent” up to the pilot to safely land the plane.

The air traffic controller advised pilot Milo that Bethpage was a closed airport, but available. The preliminary NTSB report indicates the air traffic controller discussed a number of landing options with the pilot, including LaGuardia, Farmingdale, Islip, Westchester, Bethpage and nearby parkways.

The NTSB is still investigating.

The FAA declined to comment.

Comments

Leave a Reply