NEW YORK — A helicopter that had just taken off from a midtown Manhattan heliport made a crash landing in the Hudson River on Wednesday but the pilot, who had no passengers, escaped nearly unscathed, officials said.
The 35-year-old pilot, who was working for Zip Aviation, had just refueled at one part of the West 30th Street heliport when he crashed about 2:20 p.m. EDT, sources said.
He took off so he could swing around and land at another area and wait for passengers when he suddenly lost altitude, the sources said.
The pilot tried to land at the heliport but fell short of the landing pad, crashing in the water about 50 feet away.
“It just hovered there for maybe a couple of minutes before it just came down,” said shocked Texas tourist Al Gaydos, 74, who was having drinks nearby when he witnessed the crash. “It was a very big splash.”
The rotary blades snapped and flew off after they sliced into the water, he said.
The pilot managed to get out of the helicopter and jump into the water, where a passing boat for New York Waterways picked him up and took him to land, first responder sources told the New York Daily News. He escaped with only a cut to his hand, officials said.
A heliport worker suffered minor injuries from flying debris. Both were treated at the scene, an FDNY spokesman said.
The chopper’s flotation devices were activated but the helicopter flipped over as first responders pulled it toward a nearby dock.
“The pilot is out of the water and the helicopter is secured. Please avoid the area,” the NYPD said.
The pilot was reported to be the only person aboard but FDNY divers jumped into the choppy waters as a precaution.
The crash took place not far from where pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger famously landed a packed U.S. Airways flight on the river in 2009. All 155 people on board the plane survived.
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