Pilot Saved the Day
NOT MY PHOTO used by permission from: www.flickr.com/photos/gregorylam/3200086900
The above photo was taken by ' grego! ' on flickr. He told me he was there and posted the photo right away to flickr. A NYC friend, Yolanda told me about this online shortly after this happened today. ( I don't have television or watch it all so I'm glad Yolanda told me and I could see some photos on flickr.)
I used to live in the NYC area and as a pilot and avid traveler this event and photo was important enough to me to re-post it.
As a commercial pilot myself, I can appreciate what happened and I've got a pretty good guess of what went through the pilots mind. The first thought was to turn around and get back to the airport OR is there some other airport runway closer. But based on the tradeoff of altitude for airspeed he correctly calculated that ditching in the water is the safest bet. One complicating factor is that the pilot wants to save not only the people but also the aircraft. The boss is not happy when the aircraft worth many buko bucks is a total loss.
SO, although the pilot might have been an even bigger hero to save the plane AND the people, and even to prevent them from getting wet and cold, IF he got it back to the airport, the gamble might be deadly if it didnt work. So he correctly made the descion to knowingly destroy the aircraft in the hopes of saving the people. Well done!
Compare that to the poor Airliner pilot who ran out of fuel and crashed the commercial jet into the ground on Long Island some years back. Both pilots had an emergency situation, what a comparison. (Although the comparison is not fair because there was no pilot error leading to the destruction of the above aircraft.)
I had a simlar aircraft emergency flying a single engine airplane in Florida near Pensacola. My engine died mid-flight and I had to do an emergency landing with no power in a rural field. Both myself and the aircraft survived that potentially fatal incident.
In another similar incident in which I had to land the balloon in a small forest, the envelope (fabric part) got all caught up in the tree branches. There was at least a few thousand $$ or more in damage to it. BUT, I was correct not try to be a hero and save the aircraft AND the people. The passengers really do come first. I was so glad that I took the 'hit' of major aircraft damage, but at least the safety of my passengers was NEVER in doubt.