Pilot Who Landed on New York Beach Inspired by TV Show
By Ric Reynolds, News Editor, EAA 642317
Piper 32ND in the Atlantic surf off on Far Rockaway beach near Kennedy Aiport in New York City.
Photo courtesy NYPD
April 6, 2011 — A pilot and his two passengers were unhurt Monday evening when their Piper PA-28 made an off-field emergency landing at Rockaway Beach, New York, according to a report in the New York Post. But the incident seems a bit fishy - and not just because of the landing location, reported as about three miles due south of New York’s Kennedy Airport. The pilot reportedly told police he landed on the beach because he saw it done often in the Discovery Channel show Flying Wild Alaska.
The pilot, reported as Jason Maloney, 24, reportedly took off from Farmingdale, Long Island, with passengers Clarke Oler, 22, and Chelsea Protter, 21. The tower recording obtained from LiveATC.net revealed Maloney had requested flight following and was looking for traffic advisories from the Kennedy Tower. Maloney’s radio phraseology was “undisciplined,” to put it mildly, including a lot of unnecessary back-and-forth exchanges in one of the busiest airspaces in the country.
After several minutes of banter, Maloney is heard asking the controller, “Hey tower, I got a question for ya.”
ATC: Go ahead.
Maloney: This might be crazy, but are you allowed to land on the beach?
ATC: Ah, I don’t think so, unless it was an emergency.
Maloney: I’m a paramedic. Is there anyone I can ask?
After being told landing on a public beach was not allowed, Maloney asks, “Got it. Any private beaches around?”
Moments later the pilot claims his engine was running “a little, teensy, teensy bit rough.” Asked by the patient controller if he required assistance, the pilot declined, but added, “We should be fine but I’m going to make precautionary landing - is that alright with you?” and then claimed one of the passengers was sick. “We’re gonna land on the beach,” Maloney said matter-of-factly.
Maloney is described as an “upstater” studying medicine at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., according to the Post, which also reported the following exchange between Maloney and the police:
"It happens in Alaska all the time!" he told the police, sources said.
"Welcome to New York," an officer replied.
No charges from local authorities or the FAA have been announced as of yet but a local law enforcement source put the episode in perspective: "He doesn't sound drunk. He doesn't sound stoned. He sounds like a jerk. He was looking for somebody to tell him to do that - land on the water," the source said after listening to the audio recording.
A witness said the airplane “hit the beach hard” and made a big splash. The pilot was said to be limping after the accident, but all occupants refused medical attention. He was then questioned by law enforcement. The FAA is investigating the incident and could not speculate about any violations “until we understand the circumstances of the incident," a spokesman told the Post.