Plane Collides with Helicopter over Hudson River


A private plane collided with a helicopter full of Italian sightseers over the Hudson River this weekend. All nine people aboard both aircraft were killed. So far seven bodies have been recovered from the Hudson. The wreckage from both the helicopter and plane has been recovered, as well.

It is unclear exactly what happened in the midair collision, but thousands of people were apparently witnesses. Accounts seem to point toward the airplane hitting the tour helicopter from the rear at a height of 1100 feet. One of the plane’s wings and the helicopter’s rotor were sheared off. The helicopter then fell straight down and the airplane spiraled into the river. Witnesses report ducking to avoid falling debris from both craft.

The dead aboard the helicopter include the 33-year-old pilot, the father and teenage son from one family, and the parents and teenage son of another family from Italy. The passengers aboard the Piper Saratoga include the 60-year-old pilot, his 49-year-old brother and teenage nephew.

While there are certainly questions as to the cause of the airplane accident, no one is arguing that the Hudson River is a congested section on both water and in the air. While there are several sightseeing businesses that take people up and around to view the bay, the Statue of Liberty, and the New York skyline, small aircraft bolt up the river at low altitude for all sorts of destinations. It is reported that the helicopter pilots are in constant contact with flight controllers, but small aircraft are not required to do this.

The helicopter sightseeing flight was to have been no longer than 12 minutes and was based at a Midtown Manhattan heliport; the plane had just taken off from Teterboro Airport in New Jersey and was headed to Ocean City.

Italians have wondered, and rightly so, why aircraft are allowed to fly so low over the river, especially after 9/11.