Pilots Ditch In Hudson "Near" GW Bridge

  • E-Mail this Article
  • View Printable Article
  • Text size:

    • A
    • A
    • A

A Piper Warrior pilot who spent about 20 minutes in the 37-degree waters of the Hudson River last Monday was released from hospital a little more than a day later, none the worse for wear. John Eberle, 42, the flight’s pilot and a flight instructor, met with reporters on Tuesday, 27 hours after the Warrior lost power after departure from South Jersey Regional airport and ditched in the Hudson. Mark Sorey, 44, identified by FAA spokesman Jim Peters to The Associated Press as a student pilot, also escaped the ditching but was kept in the hospital longer. Eberle said they were climbing out at about 1,000 feet when the engine just quit. "At this point, I'm contacting emergency -- 'Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, Piper Warrior, one mile north GW Bridge, engine failure, going down.' " And in New York's busy airspace, there were plenty of people listening.

AVweb reader David Faile wrote us to say he heard the Mayday, as did the crew of the Air Force AWACS plane that keeps watch on the Big Apple. Faile said neither he nor the AWACS crew could copy all the message but an airline crew managed to put it all together and relay it. Back in the cockpit, Eberle and Sorey had already decided they were going to get wet. "As we were coming in, we decided to stay straight and level. This would give us the most time to try and restart and also it made more sense rather than try to get to land -- that could jeopardize somebody in a building, somebody in a car. We don't need to bring others into it," Eberle said. The ditching was textbook and the two pilots were able to stand on the wing of the floating plane for a short time while Sorey made a 911 call on his cellphone. But the plane sank before rescue helicopters, which initially had a hard time spotting the two, arrived on the scene.