Ken Biberaj watching officials pull the helicopter in at the 79th Street Boat Basin.

A helicopter made an emergency landing in the Hudson River near 79th street on Sunday morning, and all five passengers made it out safely. The ‘copter was reportedly showing a family of Swedish tourists the sights, and they’ll now have quite a story to tell. They supposedly spent about 10 minutes in the water.

The pilot told the Post that there was a “mechanical error” during the flight and he was forced to drop down in the river (The Post was already calling him a “hero”). The engine apparently cut off in midair.

Corey Menscher, a loyal reader of the West Side Rag, took the photo below and sent us a description of what he saw:

We were above the Boat Basin Cafe by the roundabout at 79th and saw the helicopter approaching from the South.  It was coming down quickly, but he didn’t seem to be out of control.  I wondered out loud to my wife why he was coming in so low, and suggested maybe he was coming in to hover and shoot film or video footage.  Then, before he got to the Boat Basin (maybe 100 feet up?) the pilot deployed the pontoons and I realized he was going to land in the water.  It still didn’t seem as if he didn’t have control…the helicopter was moving straight and didn’t physically appear to be in distress.  It wasn’t making any odd noises or have smoke billowing out of the engine.  He came down pretty hard, enough to make a big splash but not so hard that the heli pitched forward or anything.  My first fear was that pitching forward would cause the rotors to hit the water, which might dangerously swing the whole aircraft around and result in flying debris.  But he landed about as well as you can expect.  He did a great job.
I wasn’t able to stick around to see any rescue vehicles, but there were several other tour helicopters overhead and at least one did a circle around the landing area.  My guess is that they were aware he was in distress via the radio.

Gothamist interviewed another witness:

Eyewitness Stefan Capan, a real estate broker who lives on the Upper West Side, was biking in Riverside Park with his girlfriend when he saw the helicopter go down. “We were sitting north of the Boat Basin Marina when I saw the helicopter approaching north, going very fast and losing altitude very quickly,” he told us. When he saw two yellow flotation devices emerge from the copter, “I freaked out because I thought it was flames.

NEWS | 3 comments | permalink
    1. Pedestrian says:

      Private helicopters are flying all over the UWS. A densely populated neighborhood should have to put up with the noise or the very obvious risk of a crash. Imagine the destruction if this one had come down on the Flea Market at 76th and Columbus. The risk is simply unnecessary. .

    2. Liz says:

      These private helicopter companies do not have a great safety record. I don’t know if it is because of a money problem or poor maintenance; but this is too dangerous in a heavy populated area like Manhattan.

    3. Donna says:

      Why do I hear the buzz of helicopters every evening and beginning earlier than 5 a.m. today. Do you know if this will continue? Can something be done to stop the noise? Where are the helicopters in relation to 72nd Street and Broadway?