Rockaway Beach Landing: Distorted Reality

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When I took my ATP checkride some years ago, the examiner, who knew me, posed a question: Could I prove that I met the requirements of FAR 61.153 (c)? In case you're a little rusty on the FARs, that clause requires ATP candidates to be of "good moral character." Hah,hah…very funny. But I do wonder why that clause got there. Maybe it had to do with hauling mail pilots out of saloons to fly from St. Louis to Chicago in a blinding snow storm. What's really needed, however, is a clause in 61.103—private pilot eligibility—that says: must be demonstrably less impressionable than a six year old.

This would apply to the pilot who decided it would be a good idea to land on Rockaway Beach, south of JFK International, at dusk one evening last week. Here's the news story on that event and, to better understand it, listen to the recording of radio exchanges (MP3) from LiveATC.net. (Take your time, I'll wait while you get up to speed.)

There's so much wrong here, that it's hard to know where to begin. When NYPD Pilot-Detective Dennis Derienzo landed his helo on the beach to render assistance, the pilot explained himself by saying, "What's the big deal? It happens all the time in Alaska," evidently referring to a popular Discovery Channel program called Flying Wild Alaska. Derienzo replied: "Welcome to New York." In other words, if I have to explain this to you kid, you couldn't possibly understand. Obviously, apart from the risk to innocent bystanders on the beach—probably not much on a chilly April evening—you've got first responders racing to the scene, the risk of the landing itself, then the task of recovering the airplane. Speaking of which, one photo had the airplane up to its wing in saltwater from the incoming tide. I wonder if the thing is trashed. Then the enforcement mechanism has to figure out what to do with this guy. On the one hand, it's not wise to discourage emergency declarations, on the other, there are limits to everything.

Ironically, Flying Wild Alaska is, in a sense, a show very much about aeronautical judgment of the sort not displayed here, in my estimation. It's a reality series about a family-run air service based in Unalakleet that provides a range of scheduled and on-demand air transportation throughout the state. I've seen a few of the episodes and whether it accurately represents commercial flying in Alaska or not, it's informative and entertaining. In one recent episode, the series' pater familias, Jim Tweto, struggles to lift his overloaded Cessna 180 off a short field that was unexpectedly covered with snow. After a couple of tries, he has the hunters he's carrying dump 400 pounds of gear, lightening the airplane enough to claw its way into the air. The gear will stay there until spring, probably. It's the sort of simple, direct problem solving that I suspect happens every day in Alaska, but that you wouldn't expect to see in say, Van Nuys.

And that's the point. Context is everything. In Alaska, pilots land on beaches, sandbars, glaciers, the cleared tops of hills and even public highways and no one blinks because it's a necessary part of the way things work. But there are better ways to get to Rockaway Beach than by Piper Warrior. This, I suspect, will be the painful lesson our young pilot is about to learn.

Just a word here about the controllers. Listening to this tape reminds me of why I miss flying in the New York area. Despite dealing with a pilot who seems to have, shall we say, a non-standard agenda, the controller is polite, friendly and professional. In reality, he could be forgiven for having told the pilot to put his compass on E move along to someone else's airspace.

Comments (128)

It's clear watching FWA that the FARs are interpreted a little differently in Alaska, at least from the camera sequences edited into the show. Their idea of "1 mile, clear of clouds" is certainly different from mine. That goes for the "demonstrated cross wind component" too. The problem with this is when a pilot in the lower 48 that is as impressionable as a six year old thinks this is the norm.

The show is great entertainment, but only that. They really should put up the "Do not attempt" disclaimer before each show.

Posted by: Jerry Plante | April 10, 2011 9:09 AM    Report this comment

After hearing those first two "Rogaahhs", I confess, I just about had it with that pilot. If this isn't a clear case of violation of 91.13, I don't know what is.

... and while I agree that the controller was 'friendly', his sticking a little bit closer to standard phraseology from his end would have been nice.

Posted by: Phil Derosier | April 10, 2011 2:00 PM    Report this comment

I think the term "idiot" applies to the warrior pilot. Hope he enjoys his 709 ride!

Posted by: Josh Johnson | April 10, 2011 4:30 PM    Report this comment

I agree with every word you said, Paul, and was equally impressed with the patience of the controller. I also agree with Phil Derosier. After hearing the pilot say, "Rogaaah", it was obvious the guy was a disaster of overconfidence in the making. If not on that beach, somewhere, sometime. Like many amateur pilots, I pride myself in sounding as professional as I hope I fly. And when I'm around Detroit airspace or Chicago (I've never flown in NYC), I tighten up my game so the controller will think he's dealing with someone who takes his craft seriously. The one thing you did not mention about Flying Wild Alaska, though alluded to, is that those guys all seem to be on the knife-edge of sharp. You don't see any of them landing their 206s or Caravans on a sandbar...which is way different from a beach (have you ever tried to walk on a beach?) The only one who I've seen do off-airport landings is Jim Tweto in his 180 with tundra tires. And he's obviously done it hundreds of times. I am half bemused and half horrified by the Rockaway idiot. He does as much harm for GA as the guys who flew miles into Washington DC airspace. We don't need terrorists to make the public fear us with jerks like him around.

Posted by: Jim Gorman | April 10, 2011 5:57 PM    Report this comment

Just a few years ago, people used to land on beaches all the time; no big deal. NOW people are afraid of airplanes, their fuel, and that the sky is falling.

Airplanes and pilots are no different; just everyone else is. It's really sad that people are such woosies in 2011.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | April 10, 2011 7:50 PM    Report this comment

The first "Rogahhh" was a misuse of the word to mean "affirmative" -- not uncommon among neophytes.

Posted by: Steve Brecher | April 10, 2011 7:58 PM    Report this comment

This little boy lacks education and common sense. Perhaps the FAA and NYPD will help him with both. On the other hand, Ron White is right: "Ya can't fix stupid".

Posted by: Tom Mitchell | April 10, 2011 9:17 PM    Report this comment

There is something fun and challenging about landing an airplane off airport. There are a multitude of beaches and sandbars where this can be legally accomplished. Beaches in many cases provide a nice long flat area where even a small wheeled light aircraft with wheel pants can safely operate.

A couple of pointers for the more adventurous readers who may be interested. 1. No rented aircraft without express written permission. 2. Obtain permission to use the area. Many areas are below the high water mark and therefore accessible to the public. 3. Find an area with absolutely no one for miles. This is easy in an airplane. 4. If using a sandy beach land in the area just above the waves. If the sand is too wet or too dry you will sink. 5. Take your girlfriend and a bottle of wine(for her of course), or a buddy and fishing gear. 6. Take pictures and show others that not everyone who lands on the beach is an irresponsible moron. 7. Finally, although im making it sound easy, off airport landings are really easy to screw up if you dont know EXACTLY what you are doing.

Posted by: Brad Vaught | April 10, 2011 9:53 PM    Report this comment

Hi just old and crabby me ... again! Got another one of those questions or maybe a few. What was actually wrong if anything with the aircraft and what happened to the aircraft? could it have taken off again? did anyone try? or was everyone so determined to GET this pilot that everything else was forgotten?

Just when did fly for fun become a chore to fly?

Some researches a while back discovered that the most unregulated fun sport had the fewest incidents (read that deaths) and the most regulated sport had the highest and those two were maritime and aviation. In fact the aviation industry falls far behind automotive. Maybe we need to rethink our strategy and back off a little.

Now I can click the check box below and read the rest of this thread. Have a good one (that's really for you Paul :-))

Posted by: Bruce Savage | April 11, 2011 6:41 AM    Report this comment

As my friend at CAE, Seth Beckhardt, says, "Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment."

I am impressed with NY Approach controllers 99% of the time, and I thought the controllers in this were rock solid. On the other hand, the overconfident young pilot was a rock head.

Look up a paper called "Unskilled and Unaware of It" by a couple of, IIRC, psychologists named Kruger and Dunning. Their findings have been absorbed into pop culture as the Dunning-Kruger effect. Briefly stated, just about everybody thinks he's above average at a given skill (say, piloting), so only the tiny subset of people who actually are above-average -- those whose good judgment comes from experience, perhaps -- are actually correct. Tyros like this guy tend to overestimate themselves and their abilities. They just don't know enough about the scope of the task to know how little they have mastered it. Conversely, true experts UNDERestimate their skills -- they are so aware of the dimensions of the problem that they're naturally modest about their very high level of skill. The line showing the evolution of personal self-estimation of expertise only intersects with the actual growth of expertise at one point.

A logical corollary to this is that, the experienced pilot who underrates his own skills naturally errs in the direction of greater safety. And the novice who overrates his own skills places an obstacle in the way of his becoming an experienced pilot.

Posted by: Kevin O'Brien | April 11, 2011 7:13 AM    Report this comment

This incident also casts into sharp relief the biggest hole we have in flight training. Mostly, we teach rules (and breed legalistic petifoggers like this kid, trying to game the system). Wanna be a pilot? Memorize the non-flying lawyers' rules. Next to that, we teach the muscle memory skills of flying a plane. So easy a caveman could do it.

But most mishaps don't come because Johnny busted a rule; the rules are too loosely correlated with safety. Relatively few result from bust-outs in stick-n-rudder airplane drivership. Most mishaps come because of bad judgment, and we make very feeble attempts to teach better judgment. When some guy kills his family VFR into IMC, the accident report cites the rule violation but the real killer was the judgment lapse. (There are a few tools out there. Some of the AOPA ASF online interactives are pretty good. Encourage your students to do them!)

Posted by: Kevin O'Brien | April 11, 2011 7:17 AM    Report this comment

Probably the more important question about this guy is #1 -- WHO was his examiner and #2 -- WHO was his CFI? Normally people who are as stupid as this guy show it all through training, but qestioning the regs, not doing flight plans, etc.

As I understand it, this guy is also in MEDICAL school!! I know if I'm in NY, I'm headed back home before I get medical care just so I don't happen to run in to this idiot...

"Just let us know if we're in your grill" -- yeh buddy, real professional. I think I'd rather him say "10-4 Good Buddy".

The FAA should REVOKE his ticket (not simply a 709 ride) and the Medical school should seriuosly think about cutting him as well.

Posted by: R. Doe | April 11, 2011 8:13 AM    Report this comment

The aircraft was impounded by NYPD and the FAA is investigating its mechanical condition, last we heard. I wouldn't be surprised if it's totaled if saltwater got into the wings.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 11, 2011 8:36 AM    Report this comment

Paul, a small correction. In the episode of Flying Wild Alaska you mentioned, Jim Tweto dumped 400 lbs of gear after the FIRST aborted take off; he dumped the rest of the cargo, leaving just the hunters aboard, after the SECOND aborted take off. He also had the hunters run their snowmobiles up and down the top of the ridge to pack down the snow and bust up the drifts. He was finally able to get airborne on the third attempt, after which he swore he would upgrade the engine in his prized 180 before the next flying season.

The show includes a disclaimer--as does nearly every show depicting extreme behavior--that the activities shown should not be attempted by the unqualified. An earlier episode of the program clearly outlined the kind of training and experience the pilots who fly for Era Alaska are required to obtain and maintain.

Clearly, doing what Era Alaska pilots do every day is not impossible, but neither is running a NASCAR stock car around an oval at nearly 200 mph. Maybe I'm a wimp, but I wouldn't try that without proper training either, even though I have a driver's license saying I know how to drive.

Posted by: Mark Sletten | April 11, 2011 9:35 AM    Report this comment

Guys,we are talking about a stoner not much worth talking about.I'll bet you he tested positive.Can you verify that, Paul? The problem is when people high on cocaine start flying within the NY TCA:the damage they could do to G.A. is limitless and so the real challenge for our community in the future is how you keep jerks of such caliber on the ground.

Lupo Rattazzi Rome,Italy (FAA Private,Multi,Instrument)

Posted by: Lupo Rattazzi | April 11, 2011 9:50 AM    Report this comment

Thanks Paul. So I take it no one took off in the aircraft before the sea caught it, what a shame. The first time I flew into a farm runway (if you could call it that) out in the bush at night to drop off a farmer after he had a heavy drinking session was an experience, as much as I would say Jason had landing on the beach but then I had to take off again. After a few times of doing it you get used to it and wonder why so many people have difficulty in understanding why it is done. During the war it was expected to fly into make shift small runways in the bush at night and then takeoff again with a causality even maybe a medic. I can only thank those farmers for the experience.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | April 11, 2011 10:02 AM    Report this comment

Can you verify that, Paul?<<

Geez, I'm not going there. All I'm willing to do is examine the basic judgment involved, not the potential altered state of mind of the pilot. Point I'm trying to make is to illuminate judgments in context, not in the absolute.

Mark, you're right about the gear offload. I glossed over the detail, but that doesn't change the fact pattern. Without passing judgment, I'll allow readers to run the useful load numbers on the 180 for themselves. Fact is, he tried the max weight takeoff and couldn't make it work. He then adapted and found a solution that did.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 11, 2011 10:18 AM    Report this comment

I've made a few dirt road & desert plains landings in a C182, but unless driving a fat-tired taildragger would really shy away from experimenting with an un-scouted beach. Too likely to find yourself on a surface equivalent to one of those runaway truck turnouts!In truth there are very few off-airport locations left in the "lower 48" on which a landing, technically legal or not, doesn't risk attracting immediate and disapproving attention from citizens and/or authority figures. Not something I would recommend doing on the spur of the moment, for sure.Just a comment about Flying Wild in Alaska: It is a most entertaining series but keep in mind that the action is significantly hyped with creative dialog & editing to jazz it up. The flying being depicted isn't all that extreme, it's just being done in a more exotic setting than most of us are used to. GPS, satellite phones and internet linking have transformed Alaskan flying, and the busy paved-runway Unilakleet I see in the show is a far cry from the sleepy dirt-runway fishing village I flew into on my first cross-country as a student all those years ago.

Posted by: John Wilson | April 11, 2011 10:33 AM    Report this comment

To me the biggest violation this guy committed was not landing on the beach,it was B.S.ing on a NY TRACON frequency ,in the vicinity of Kennedy to boot,like those guys had nothing else to do than tend to a flying dope fiend.

Lupo Rattazzi Rome,Italy (Instrument trained at "The Gabresky")

Posted by: Lupo Rattazzi | April 11, 2011 10:51 AM    Report this comment

Paul, agreed. Jim Tweto also had a tremendous about of experience to draw upon before making the decision to even land on the ridge in the first place.

Clearly, your reference to a six-year-old mentality that abjures responsibility using the Johnny-did-it-too defense is apropos. I see it more as a symptom of a society that has so greatly insulated itself from individual responsibility that we seriously consider legislation to "regulate" television programming rather than recognize idiocy when we see it...

Posted by: Mark Sletten | April 11, 2011 10:54 AM    Report this comment

Great TV show. BTW, I think it's "wussies." :-)

Blue skies!

Posted by: Bradley Spatz | April 11, 2011 11:21 AM    Report this comment

For any other pilot on the frequency the multiple "Rogaah" responses would have been enough to flag this pilot as someone likely to engage in jackass behavior. The extended and self-centered misuse of the frequency in a busy airspace was a confirmation and certainly would have been an embarassment to other professionals listening. What got me was the smart-ass and plain dishonest claim that his engine was running "just a teeny bit rough" as a justification for an "emergency" landing.

Throw the book at him. Not because he landed on a beach, but because of his obvious lack of any concept of aeronautical decision making. If there was ever any reason for the FAA to claim reckless and careless flight, this was it. We don't need him anywhere in our airspace or his exploits to be celebrated by the tweet-twit generation.

I agree that it is possible to make a beach landing, even in a nose-dragger. I did it once in a Beech Musketeer, but I knew that it was common practice on that particular beach, I knew the chracteristics of the sand, I knew the tide schedule, I knew that there was adequate space to taxi above the high tide line, and I even filed a VFR flight plan with the intention of doing it. It was a blast.

Posted by: David MacRae | April 11, 2011 11:37 AM    Report this comment

According to the news report the kid had two passengers (one apparently female) onboard when he landed on the beach. So we've got a young guy clearly trying to impress the passengers with his savoir faire on the radio, as well as the "clever" rule-splitting rationale (engine running a teensy weensy bit rough!) for landing on the beach. This sounds to me like a very transparent motivation to look "cool" in the eyes of his peers. The motivation is hardly remarkable, but he sure chose a REALLY DUMB way to do it!

Regarding the posted remarks about questioning the kid's CFI and/or examiner, it's most likely that when he needed to (i.e., when flying with the instructor/examiner) the kid demonstrated the requisite proficiencies. But lots of people (in lots of avocations) have gotten themselves in trouble when trying to show off. So let’s hope the kid leans his lesson here, and goes on to be a much smarter pilot in the future.

Posted by: William McClain | April 11, 2011 12:06 PM    Report this comment

This is another spectacular case of poor judgment. I suspect the FAA may want a piece of this guy for having purposefully mislead ATC, but local authorities may be his biggest concern. Some aspects of this incident are similar to one a couple of years ago when a fellow in Illinois landed his Piper Clipper ski plane on the seventh fairway of a golf course to drop off his son for a tennis lesson. I don’t know that the FAA took any action in that case, but he eventually pled guilty in the local court to criminal trespass and disorderly conduct.

Posted by: Paul Barker | April 11, 2011 12:19 PM    Report this comment

Let's get a grip. Senator Inhofe landed on a closed runway full of people and equipment on S. Padre Island and NO ONE called the cops or suspended any certificate. This kid landed on a deserted beach and with at least a realistic excuse.

I'd put forward that Inhofe was more dangerous, less professional, and much more of a "judgment problem" than this kid ever demonstrated. If you want to make an example by prosecution, you don't prosecute a kid who is only following his "leaders".

Posted by: Mark Fraser | April 11, 2011 2:44 PM    Report this comment

Oh,OK,let's "get a grip": the Warrior pilot doesn't deserve to be punished because,in the past, a US Senator pilot made an (admittedly serious)mistake .Nice reasoning.And how about the "realistic excuse" he had to land on the beach ? Didn't his pathetic communications with the TRACON controller provide you with a cue on his professionalism, seriousness and,above all,credibility?

I know it's fun to take contrarian views but they must possess a semblance of reasonableness.

Lupo Rattazzi

Posted by: Lupo Rattazzi | April 11, 2011 3:35 PM    Report this comment

Inhofe by all indications is a pretty arrogant fellow on many fronts, and as I recall was unwilling to admit that he was in the wrong. In fact he as much as said that he would do it again.

That he got away with it is only due to the spineless enforcement gudelines of the FAA as they apply to the politically well-connected.

At least in his case nobody had to scramble the rescue squad. Its not what you know, its who you know evidently. Doesn't make him right, nor does it excuse the Long Island escapade.

Posted by: David MacRae | April 11, 2011 4:03 PM    Report this comment

I was just trying to interject "context" that Paul called for. In the context of real danger and real arrogance toward rules, Inhofe was much worse. Also (since Inhofe was a public servant, his "arrogance" was much worse.

Point being is that it's not really context that's reality, it's rank. You can even make a low pass in a jetliner over NY City if you have the "rank over context" and get away with it.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | April 11, 2011 5:52 PM    Report this comment

I'd vote with William McClain and add that the peer pressure of a young female passenger and male friend aboard created the mix for his act of idiocy.

I can just hear the "Hey guys: WATCH THIS" in his voice.

This is often called "Famous Last Words".

Maybe we need to add a "novice" time phase to the newly issued private ticket that forbids unrated passengers.

Posted by: Walter Freeman | April 11, 2011 8:57 PM    Report this comment

Paul, in the same sense that we all rubberneck a collision on the highway, I couldn't help but read and listen to this story, as shameful as it was. I hope that Avweb will follow-up on the outcome, and maybe even score an interview with our "pilot."

Posted by: Jon Rudolf | April 11, 2011 9:12 PM    Report this comment

testosterone poisoning perhaps

Posted by: Bill Ellison | April 11, 2011 10:46 PM    Report this comment

My question earlier about what was wrong with the aircraft still stands and nobody has answered it. When in a situation like the engine not working properly (read that backfiring etc) and you have a first time flyer (especially young girl)what would you say on the radio? or are you so blatant that you would frighten your passengers throw up your hands and tell them they are going to die? Actually Jason did not need to do a radio call as the first action is to aviate find somewhere to land and then and only then do a radio call. Come on have some sense here what was wrong with the aircraft/engine and then let dissect the situation. This article is a classic jump to conclusions and assume the worst without all the facts.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | April 12, 2011 4:27 AM    Report this comment

Hey Bruce,haven't you figured it out?Did you not listen to the tape?There was NOTHING wrong with the aircraft.The guy just faked an emergency (I'm not sure why!)and in the process engaded several Law Enforcement,Sanitary and Fire Department assets,just "for the hell of it",I guess,and diverted them from more serious undertakings.Do you have any doubt about that? Lupo Rattazzi

Posted by: Lupo Rattazzi | April 12, 2011 4:42 AM    Report this comment

OK Lupo I heard two issues and a declared emergency. 1) a passenger was not well and a precautionary landing was broadcast and accepted. 2) some engine problem.

And now I have another what about the passenger that was sick?

I can't say the pilots communications skills were anything to go by but then how many can communicate well when under pressure because of an unexpected issue. Here he is confronted by a professional communicator rattling he cage because he feels he is wasting someones time.

Good thing we are not part of the NTSB we may just be condemning innocent pilots.

I don't know if I said this before but every time we point fingers at others remember three fingers are point at yourself by yourself.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | April 12, 2011 5:11 AM    Report this comment

"Good thing we are not part of the NTSB we may just be condemning innocent pilots"

Always a risk, that's for sure. And we're judging base solely on radio manners, which hardly seems fair.

On the other hand, if this pilot had a real emergency that required him to be on the deck immediately, JFK was three minutes away, would have yielded a lower risk landing and he could have had emergency equipment rolling. An emergency declaration would have cleared the airspace.

Looks to me like he just wanted to land on the beach and figured out a way to do it. Casual beach landings ought to be okay, with prudence and on the right beach with the right airplane. Rockaway in a Warrior isn't one of those, I don't think.

And then there's this: Sick pax and an engine that's a "teensy bit rough?" Could happen, I guess. But what are the odds?

Like you, my sense of fairness and objectivity strains against the difficulty of mounting a spirited defense of this incident. The benefit of doubt reaches the breaking point.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 12, 2011 5:34 AM    Report this comment

In regards to the who is the examiner and who is the CFI question. I'm willing to bet that this pilot received all training required by the FAR's and met all standards in the PTS when he took his checkride. This was not a lack of piloting skill, it was a lack of judgement, not unlike a 16 year old who passes their driving test with flying colors then 4 hours later gets caught driving 150mph! Keep the blame where it belongs - with the pilot! And yes, perhaps an emergency revocation may be in order, but a 709 with a very, shall we say, thorough inspector would be better punishment in my opinion!

Posted by: Josh Johnson | April 12, 2011 5:50 AM    Report this comment

Just the arrogance and ignorance of a kid showing off to his mates, hopefully the Piper Warrior is his, and I doubt the Insurers will pay out if he can,t prove an emergency !

Posted by: MICHAEL BROGAN | April 12, 2011 6:47 AM    Report this comment

Bruce,

You are correct in that there is a bit of conclusion hopping going on. But don't you find it a bit suspicious that the "emergencies" only developed AFTER the kid is told landing on the beach isn't advised by ATC?

If it turns out this guy made a precautionary landing based on reasonable fears, I'll be the first to eat my words. Until then, I see no problem with condemning what appears to be his real reason for doing so.

Posted by: Mark Sletten | April 12, 2011 8:05 AM    Report this comment

"if this pilot had a real emergency that required him to be on the deck immediately, JFK was three minutes away,"

OK Paul, excuse me, but your very last article stressed the need for quick action in real emergencies. 3 minutes is an eternity and JFK airport is not "first choice" in this post 9/11 era of small panes and DHS security (you want to talk about context in decision making then landing at JFK and scattering traffic does come into that decision making process for overall safety!).

Lets wait and see who really "over reacted" to a perceived situation. My bet is that it's more than just the pilot! The aircraft loss to the tide looks to be due actually to the fault of the so-called police force who apparently let it sit there to be consumed by the sea.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | April 12, 2011 8:24 AM    Report this comment

OK Paul, excuse me, but your very last article stressed the need for quick action in real emergencies. 3 minutes is an eternity and JFK airport is not "first choice" in this post 9/11 era of small panes and DHS security (you want to talk about context in decision making then landing at JFK and scattering traffic does come into that decision making process for overall safety!)"

I don't know how much experience you have the wide range of potential emergencies. I said get it on the deck immediately in case of a fire. I was explicit about that.

Ever done a beach landing? I have. The problem with Atlantic beaches like Rockaway is that they have a large soft sand field, then compacted sand near the water, which is where you need to touch down. It has to be done right, or you risk a flip over, which would be infinitely worse than a little vomit in the cockpit. Flip overs are common for pilots who make the beach choice, especially in airplanes without large tires.

The act of declaring an emergency does several things, but the most important is that it allows you to operate in any way you see fit and alerts ATC to get everything out of your way. And not all emergencies are equal. Some allow the luxury of time, such as a stuck gear. Some don't, such as a fire.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 12, 2011 9:27 AM    Report this comment

If your judgement would cause you, in a declared emergency situation, to deviate from a two-mile long runway to an unknown beach because you're worried about DHS issues, you and I aren't even in same universe with regard to risk assessment. But, more power to ya, brother. Tamahto and pahtatoe. (Also...rod-jah...)

I know your contrarian viewpoint here prompts you to try to support this guy, but if you really believe he had an engine emergency, there's a bridge west of Kennedy that I hear is for sale.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 12, 2011 9:29 AM    Report this comment

Lupo Rattazzi, You might be a few thousand miles away, but you and I agree 100%! My first impression, upon hearing the ATC tape, was that I would not be shocked if there was some substance abuse involved! Also, it seems to me that people in Mr. Maloney's age group are more influenced by shows such as MTV's "Jackass", than by Flying Wild Alaska. There seems to be an obsession to perform all kinds of stupid stunts, sometimes causing serious injury or pain to themselves, that might provide an adrenalin rush, and then to document them on youtube, for everyone to see. On many levels, this whole stunt just totally reeks of a twisted mind...what about the consequences?! Was he just going to take off into the sunset and return this airplane to its poor owner? I have to say that after flying through this most sensitive airspace for close to 40 years, I thought that I had heard everything-until last week! Also, Mark Fraser, if he really did have to get down fast, why didn't he consider Floyd Bennet field where the NYPD aviation unit is based? It's only minutes away, is depicted on his sectional chart, has real runways and has all of the EMT help he could have needed. I really think that anyone hearing that tape had to know that this was just a stunt; in my opinion, anyone who actually believed this guy can't be for real! I feel sorry for the controller, who was doing his job in a very professional manner, and was being interfered with and played by this idiot!

Posted by: Steve Tobias | April 12, 2011 9:29 AM    Report this comment

Steve,

we agree 100% because even if I'm sitting in Rome ,Italy, I was trained in the US, at "American Flyers","The Gabreski", where,amongst other skills, I was also taught to have the utmost respect for the surrounding airspace.We also agree because we probably both know an unprofessional jerk when we hear one on the COMM. For this guy,the only alternative explanation to the abuse of illegal substances is a severe addiction on third rate war movies (hence the "rogaaaah").Either way, he better get hold of a good lawyer.

Take care

Lupo Rattazzi Rome,Italy

Posted by: Lupo Rattazzi | April 12, 2011 9:57 AM    Report this comment

"The problem with Atlantic beaches like Rockaway is..."

Well it was no problem for a novice pilot in this case. It worked out just fine. No prop strike, no damage was done at all. Correction, The damage was done by police RESPONSE to the event. They apparently did nothing to save the plane or save any "evidence" for the NTSB.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | April 12, 2011 9:58 AM    Report this comment

There are many attributes to being a safe pilot, common sense, discipline and good judgement come to mind as toppers. All are extreme assets for Bush Flying in Alaska, if you want to live to be an old pilot. Needless to say this pilot has violated all those attributes, and above all: trust. Trust from the FBO/owner that he as a pilot can be trusted with operating an aircraft sensibly and return it without damage. I am not a fan of revoking airman certificates, however, this pilot has demonstrated poor judgement in risking the lives of his passengers and himself to imitate professional pilots landing off airports on legitimate flights. Anyway, who in their right mind would ever let this idiot fly one of their aircraft after this stunt!

Posted by: Sabrina Kipp | April 12, 2011 10:09 AM    Report this comment

What aircraft owner (who lovingly cared for their aircraft) would ever "declare" an off-airport emergency in NY any more? If police response is so misguided that it stands by while the aircraft is destroyed, it has to give you pause about calling in such "help".

Idiot amateur pilots are one thing; trained professional responders with guns who act like idiots (and let a perfectly good plane get destroyed) is a big problem for the GA fleet as well.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | April 12, 2011 10:33 AM    Report this comment

Mark,c'mon...Now the police are the villains in this story because they failed to salvage the Warrior.....

Lupo

Posted by: Lupo Rattazzi | April 12, 2011 11:08 AM    Report this comment

"Well it was no problem for a novice pilot in this case. It worked out just fine. No prop strike, no damage was done at all."

Do we know this? I've only seen limited news coverage, but I did not see why he couldn't take off. The assumption is that the authorities prevented him from doing so, but I have not seen that confirmed. Was it established that the Worrier was airworthy?

Posted by: Rush Strong | April 12, 2011 11:26 AM    Report this comment

They are not heroes of GA nor the environment. All that equipment and manpower on-site and none of it used to "help" the situation. Basically police made an interesting situation into a bad situation (plane destroyed, 100LL and oil into the sea, etc).

That's beyond idiotic when you are paid to make situations worse.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | April 12, 2011 11:32 AM    Report this comment

"Was it established that the Worrier was airworthy?"

Irrelevant. Fly it or tow it but you don't just leave it on the beach. You don't need to be a Boondock Saint to know that a little rope is all you need in a strange situation. Surely these "rescuers" has some rope to at least pull the plane 70' to higher ground?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | April 12, 2011 11:39 AM    Report this comment

Hey Mark, nice pivot from defending this guy to blaming NYPD. (They were complicit in the 911 attacks, too, ya know.)

Things you don't know but think you do: Water washed over the wings and got gas in the sea? No, all we have is a photo of the airplane up to the bottom the wing. Sorry, no cigar on that one.

Second, do a little web surfing and you'll find a picture of the pilot in shorts that are wet all the way to mid-thigh. Do you suppose he went wading after landing feet dry on a sandy beach?

Check the tide tables and you'll find Captain Nemo here was landing on a flood tide, so the water would have been near mean high. That means not much beach and that means he probably landed in or near the water, thus the wet shorts. You'll also find some photos of NYPD's recovery efforts and a shot of how narrow the beach is. Hemmed in by dunes.

But you're right. NYPD should have to pay for this airplane. That's just common sense...in your world.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 12, 2011 12:53 PM    Report this comment

Was the pilot immediately whisked away from the scene? If I made an emergency landing (and that is how the autorities initially treated it) and was not arrested and forced away, and no ones's life was at risk, I would darn sure have seen to my aircraft. I was dissappointed that nobody thought about rescuing the airplane, but that takes no blame away from the idiot that put it there by his own free will! That this was his choice, I am certain! I don't want to give any other idiots any ideas, but there are miles and miles of beach to the east, where he could have risked life and limb and made an illegal beach landing, and probably no one would have been the wiser and he would not have been so close to some of the busiest controlled airspace in the world!...And I really had to laugh when this moron compared a beach within the NY city limits to the vast Alaskan wilderness. When I started flying, in the NY area, there were not yet transponders or alphabet airspace or what were once called TCA's. JFK's airspace was treated like today's class D. If overflying or skirting the relatively (by todays standards) narrow traffic area, one would make a "courtesy call" and let the tower know your intentions. The regulations governing almost all facets of aviation were much less restrictive, but those were different times with much less traffic. We still were taught to respect the rules and the rights and safety of the rest of the public.

Posted by: Steve Tobias | April 12, 2011 1:45 PM    Report this comment

Does anyone know - was the pilot the aircraft owner or was it a rental?

Posted by: Josh Johnson | April 12, 2011 1:58 PM    Report this comment

I would hope that he is the owner, although I doubt it. The registration lists some corporation. If he was an owner, he would have to share in some of the pain. The insurance carrier is going to be really angry and will try to recover from whomever they can. If they find any I's not dotted or t's not crossed with regard to their pilot warranty, they will try not to pay off! They will certainly try to subrogate against the pilot, who might or might not have any assets.

Posted by: Steve Tobias | April 12, 2011 2:20 PM    Report this comment

Paul, The pictures you see when you web surf were taken long after the landing and before the plane was extracted. Other than showing that the aircraft landed undamaged I'm not so sure that a time line can be interpreted.

What can be interpreted is that the the NYPD did nothing to save the plane and kept anyone away from doing anything. That's a typical response from law enforcement; keep everyone away and then figure it out. Too bad they tides are not held back by police tape...

Posted by: Mark Fraser | April 12, 2011 2:21 PM    Report this comment

Paul is correct that the pilot's shorts were wet on the bottom. I doubt that this would be the case if he stepped off of the wing onto dry sand! Mark, do you know for a fact that the police did not allow anyone access? I still say...where was the pilot? If it was me, only handcuffs (or a straightjacket) would have prevented me from intervening!

Posted by: Steve Tobias | April 12, 2011 2:37 PM    Report this comment

...Also, the incident was supposed to have taken place at 7:00PM. The pictures that I saw were taken right away, in dwindling daylight, but clearly showed the wheels and fairings awash.

Posted by: Steve Tobias | April 12, 2011 2:43 PM    Report this comment

"Paul is correct that the pilot's shorts were wet on the bottom."

Like wet shorts is unique after an emergency landing? You have to remember that by the TIME that news people arrived to take pictures that a lot has transpired. I challenge anyone to find a picture that has an NYPD officer DOING anything. All these pictures of NYPD standing around and not a one of then showing them assisting.

Anyone seen a picture of NYPD HELPING? Anyone?

Posted by: Mark Fraser | April 12, 2011 2:50 PM    Report this comment

I didn't see them wet in the front-only the bottom! Besides, he was much too cool to have wet himself, if that is what you meant. The media was actually on scene really quickly, and there was video shot from a News 5 chopper that was on the scene only minutes after the NYPD choppers got there. It clearly showed the aircraft with its undercarriage in the surf...before dark! There has been alot of blame assessed to everyone involved. I have seen many instances where helpfull, well meaning people have done more damage to an aircraft by improper handling after an accident than was done by the actual incident. I don't think that the police are obligated to try to move an aircraft and expose themselves to liability. I also read that someone had critisism for the controller's "non-standard" phraseology! Give me a break! I have to admit that I have participated more in this discourse than I would have liked. I have helped to beat it to death and for that I apologise. I, for one, will with hold anymore comment until some official explanation is offered.

Posted by: Steve Tobias | April 12, 2011 3:14 PM    Report this comment

I have been involved in a lot of emergency situations, fires, skydiving BS and even deaths. I have never seen anyone wet themselves. My guess he was in the water because that is where he landed. Mark is just trying to prove that NYPD didn't help anyone. With no evidence, of course. NYPD has nothing to do with any of this.

Steve, since you know the area, do a Google Earth on Beach 56th Street and Shoreline to see how narrow the beach is. You can clearly see the dune line and--unusual for barrier beaches--the mean high water mark is right on it. Picture of the airplane confirms it.

My guess is he picked the worst place on Long Island to try a beach landing with a flood tide. As for taking off from that beach, it would have been at night six hours later and then without much beach width.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 12, 2011 3:38 PM    Report this comment

Right on Paul! In fact, most of Long Island's barrier beaches have similarly lost much of their width to erosion; none of them are ideal. I just keep getting pulled back in, but Mark, you really have it in for the police!

Posted by: Steve Tobias | April 12, 2011 3:59 PM    Report this comment

Paul, watch the videos of the 20+ people standing on dry beach doing absolutely nothing but watching. Watch the night shots where trucks wit work lights are just sittng doing nothing while a few yards away the airplane is awash.

This is a string of stupid actions that ended up with a wasted plane. Just because the pilot was stupid did not mean that the responders had to also be stupid and just stand around. Hint: If they could drive emergency truck to the site, they could tow a light plane back the same way.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | April 12, 2011 7:19 PM    Report this comment

I've read these last few responses and I'm still confused. I thought the NYPD's main responsibility is the safety of the public. That pilot choosed to land on the beach, emergency or not. And whether it was on a road, football field, or pasture I thought it was the pilot's responsibility to remove it from the location he placed it. The cops may give you the number of a tow service, but you write the check. Whatever damage occured to that aircraft--before and after the landing-- is the pilots responsibility. Just my thoughts.

Posted by: Mariano Rosales | April 12, 2011 9:15 PM    Report this comment

"I thought the NYPD's main responsibility is the safety of the public"

Bingo. NYPD, news people, emergency responders all suffer from the "it's not my job" syndrome. 20+ people all standing around like idiots and never think to even tow, lift or move the plane because their "job" was done when no one was hurt.

What is it with people today to stand around and let a plane become awash in the sea and never THINK to pull it just a few feet away or lift it a few inches onto some blocks? No, it's not their job to think.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | April 12, 2011 11:54 PM    Report this comment

Guys,I think we have veered way off course here and it's become a "Mark Fraser vs the rest of the world". Mark, I don't understand why you found it necessary to box yourself into this line of argument,i.e. that the real issue here is not this sick guy's "airmanship" but the fact that the aircraft was not salvaged. Should NY's Law Enforcement Agencies really be at the disposal of idiots of such magnitude?Have they nothing better to do than to tend to the aircraft of a reckless, juvenile cretino,as we say over here? As far as I'm concerned ,if the aircraft was his,it deserved to be totaled and I'll bet you he is going to have a tough time recovering from insurance.If it belonged to an FBO, I hope they were covered against such "deliberate acts".Either way,who cares? I only care that next thing you know,Medical Authorities the world over are going to start requiring a thorough psychiatric evaluation before they issue your medical and then you really will have lost your freedom,with a capital F.

Lupo Rattazzi,Roma,Italia Lupo Rattazzi

Posted by: Lupo Rattazzi | April 13, 2011 2:30 AM    Report this comment

Its the classic case of " He didn't know that he didn't know." That will get you everytime.

Posted by: Patty Haley | April 13, 2011 3:35 AM    Report this comment

Geez, Mark. Write a letter to the NYPD. I'm sure they'll be glad to hear from you. They have nothing to do with the topic at hand. Nothing.

So what we have here is what appears to be a manufactured emergency. We have several photos of the airplane in the water, none of it on dry land. We have a photo of the pilot soaked nearly to his hips. We have a satellite picture showing that mean high water is right on the dune line and the tide was two hours from full. Also, it was a new moon, so the tide was higher than normal.

All of which is to say...strong indications he landed in the water in the first place. It's a supreme act of fairness to give the pilot the benefit of the doubt here. Bruce Savage talked me into doing that.

But if I went before an ALJ on an enforcement action, I'd be squirming like hell when that tape was played.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 13, 2011 4:12 AM    Report this comment

"Squirming like hell" is the right expression:I heard that tape all over again.I tell you guys,I enjoy these blogs, like I enjoyed the heated discussion on the King's arrest at the Santa Barbara Airport.But I am not going to waste one extra second of my time discussing the actions of a guy who adresses one of the busiest Terminal sectors in the world with "Hey Tower!"

Posted by: Lupo Rattazzi | April 13, 2011 4:42 AM    Report this comment

I feel sorry for the controller. Working in ATC myself I have a perspective of what goes on in the background that you guys could never believe. This would have ruined my week. Our jobs are naturally stressful enough. It's not like you can just go to your lunch break and forget about what just happened.

Posted by: Sam B | April 13, 2011 6:53 AM    Report this comment

Thank you Paul for your kind words.

Now what do I really think. Well I have heard of a few pilots in various part of the world who would for a price crash your plane so that you can score on the insurance. Is it possible that this is one of those cases? What a wonderful setup the NY beach is, the rising tide to insure there can be no evidence of any problems with the aircraft that couldn't be attributed to damage by sea water. The inability to get the aircraft off the beach (various reasons including too soft sand) damage to the aircraft due to mishandling when retrieving it etc.

The pilots actions and reactions indicate that he was doing something that he was unsure of. All these and every thing mentioned by all above will be evaluated by the insurance agents tasked to investigate the accident. They on the other hand will have all the evidence to hand including history of the aircraft maintenance to do a relatively in-depth investigation.

I cannot say if this is a scam or not only that the Insurances are going to nix pick the evidence until they find the truth (and hopefully we will get to know the truth as well)

Posted by: Bruce Savage | April 13, 2011 7:30 AM    Report this comment

"Write a letter to the NYPD...They have nothing to do with the topic at hand"

Paul, the LOSS OF THE AIRCRAFT is "reality". This reads like a classic NTSB report of the cascading of bad decisions. Just because the pilot made bad decisions was not the cause of the loss; he was just the first link in a very long chain. The actual damage was caused by the decision to "do nothing" by the 20 odd responders who had driven on the beach and to the aircraft and then stood around and doing nothing useful.

If I was this kid, I'd stick to my story. Since the NYPD did neither protect nor serve, it just gave him a huge legal present by letting the aircraft become awash with water and sand. All this kid has to do is say he suspected it was condensation in the tanks and his story cannot be disproved.

Without evidence, the pilot gets the benefit of the doubt on choosing an emergency off-airport landing area and walking away without harming people nor property. The FAA can't even insist on a 709 ride if he sticks with his story.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | April 13, 2011 7:34 AM    Report this comment

Bruce, on the insurance thing, some years ago, we looked into denial of claims. It turns out that these are fairly rare. Insurance companies pay for all manor of stupidity--running out of gas, flying out of annual, unapproved maintenance and so on.

The reason for this is that it's bad for business to get a rep as a claim denier and a little of that goes a long way. Further, light GA hull losses that don't involve liability claims are fairly trivial. This Warrior will probably be a loss totaling under $40K, if it is written off. I'd be inclined to believe the insuror would just pay.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 13, 2011 8:03 AM    Report this comment

In 2002, we had a hull loss on our Mooney similar to this. The engine quit on takeoff and the pilot--who participates in this blog sometimes--landed straight ahead in a tidal salt bog. The airplane sunk to the bottom of the wing, where it stayed for three days.

I pushed the insurance company to recover it immediately but they didn't do this for two reasons. One, it was difficult to get the specialized gear to do it, given the location, and two, they had already written it off as a $100,000 claim and didn't want to deal with the risk of repairing an airplane exposed to salt water.

In retrospect, they did us a favor. We got our check and moved on.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 13, 2011 8:07 AM    Report this comment

Agreed it was the same for those that were paid to crash the aircraft. The cost of doing a complete investigation is greater than just paying out. In most cases all parties win. The owners get rid of an aircraft that was about to fall out of the sky and the insurance companies continue to get paid for the new aircraft.

Just some lateral thinking that was all.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | April 13, 2011 8:26 AM    Report this comment

As Paul perfectly stated, it's just too risky to actually DO something (especially if doing nothing means you will still "get that check" anyway).

What Paul needs to "get" is that this illustrates that GA is no longer "worth it" in NYC, DC, or the rest of this country. Who cares, let the sea take it, it's just not worth lifting a finger to save, they are all idiots anyway, it's too risky, just give it up because we'll still get paid.

Move along.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | April 13, 2011 9:16 AM    Report this comment

Mark, I just don't understand why you think the NYPD should have been involved at all with the aircraft recovery. It presented no danger to anyone and it was apparently already in the water (the only shot I've seen of it being out of the waves was after a tractor pulled it out). They aren't trained in aircraft recovery, and probably didn't have the equipment. Plus, they have other duties. Would you have them spend their time being tow truck drivers? It is the pilot's responsibility to save the plane, not the cop's.

Posted by: Rush Strong | April 13, 2011 12:11 PM    Report this comment

If you call NYPD to a bank robbery then I expect NYPD to know how to use guns and shoot bad people. If you dispatch NYPD to an aircraft landing to assist I expect NYPD to know something about which end of an airplane is which.

As far as "special training", why is it that city people need that? Any farmer or country boy would instinctively know what to do and lend a hand...

Posted by: Mark Fraser | April 13, 2011 2:00 PM    Report this comment

Yes, I'd expect the cops to know how to use their guns. It is part of their training, and is what they are hired to do.

And I wouldn't dispatch the NYPD to recover the aircraft. I'd send them to investigate the situation, ensure general safety, provide crowd control - and here's a good one, - preserve a potential crime scene.

I'm sure they knew which end of the airplane was which.

But don't you think they had some sort of official responsibilities to take care of? Do a cop ask a spectator to keep the crowd back while he wades out and shoves on the rudder? Will he damage any evidence along the way?

BTW, I came across only one article describing the actual landing, in which a young girl described the plane as coming down hard and making a big splash. I'm guessing that the damage was done by the time the cops got there. It is hard to believe that the three of them couldn't have done the NYPD's sworn duty and shoved the plane to safety.

Posted by: Rush Strong | April 13, 2011 3:37 PM    Report this comment

"and here's a good one, - preserve a potential crime scene."

Which is WHY NYPD's duty WAS to preserver it. Now the NTSB has zero evidence to either prosecute the pilot OR (if it was real) help other pilots with similar engines/airframes. Safety looses either way.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | April 13, 2011 4:21 PM    Report this comment

Did I thank you Paul for such a good article? It certainly got a good response.

If you want to hear more about flying into farms in Rhodesia give me a call you've got my mail address

Posted by: Bruce Savage | April 13, 2011 4:22 PM    Report this comment

"Which is WHY NYPD's duty WAS to preserver it."

Huh? How could they preserve the scene, but still move the plane?

(Oops - my bad. I forgot about the chalk outline.)

Posted by: Rush Strong | April 13, 2011 4:29 PM    Report this comment

The wonderful thing about the NTSB is that they have no enforcement authority or power to "prosecute." They simply investigate accidents and make recommendations based on objective evidence. Their findings may not be used in court. Sometimes I wish that were not the case when pilots sue airports of manufacturers for accidents that were blatantly on the pilot's shoulders, but that's another discussion. The NTSB cannot and will not bring action upon our intrepid adventurer (the FAA is another story) and they may elect not even to investigate this case. There are many minor accidents like prop-strikes and ground loops which are not required to be reported to the NTSB. If they do pursue it, they've never let a little thing like a quick bath in seawater deter their investigation. Between a completely intact airplane, ATC tapes, and pilot and witness interviews, they've got plenty of evidence.

Posted by: Ryan Lunde | April 13, 2011 4:42 PM    Report this comment

Apparently the Queens District Attorney will be doing a criminal investigation on Mr. Jason Maloney. And the Warrior was a club aircraft. I feel bad for the other members.

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/queens/landing_in_trouble_FKAdGaweBqlYAI550cusNM

Posted by: Mariano Rosales | April 13, 2011 5:37 PM    Report this comment

"and they may elect not even to investigate this case."

Very common these days for the NTSB to let the FAA do the leg work on minor accidents. As of today, still no prelim on the NTSB site. Sometimes they get one up quickly, sometimes not.

"(Oops - my bad. I forgot about the chalk outline.)" ROFL! Among NYPD's many failings, they have not been trained in the use of the new waterproof chalk. Honestly...

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 13, 2011 6:06 PM    Report this comment

Paul, regarding the 2002 landing of our Mooney in the salt water marsh, the first guy on the scene was the DEQ guy who proceeded to tell me that I better not be leaking fuel into his marsh and how was I planning on getting my airplane out of his marsh without crushing the marsh grass. This the reason the insurance company took so long to retrieve the airplane. They had to truck in special equipment from a couple of hundred miles away to take the airplane out of the marsh. To your point, the insurance company was more than happy to pay off the claim. As the insurance agent told me, "there was road and trailer park in front of you, an industrial park to your left and a big open field to your right. You chose the most inexpensive place to land. Every other place would have have cost us $2M+". That taught me a lot about the perspective of insurance companies.

Posted by: Dana Nickerson | April 13, 2011 6:33 PM    Report this comment

I could only listen to half of the mp3. It kept making me cringe. I couldn't imagine ever having this conversation with a NY controller. Most of my conversations in NY airspace were 5-7 sec exchanges of very precise, exact and efficient wording (except for one which is another story). In my mind, the NY controller that dealt with this guy was incredibly tolerant. Most controllers probably would have said "unable" that would have been that. Of course, maybe the controller sensed something wasn't right and wanted to keep track of him since he was so close to JFK airspace.

Posted by: Dana Nickerson | April 13, 2011 6:45 PM    Report this comment

And by the way, the special equipment they brought in was an a-frame crane on a track, like a bulldozer. They laid down cribbing and plywood to get to the airplane, which was a distance of several hundred yards from the closest hard spot.

I talked to the recovery guy when I was down there. Quite a big to-do to get the airplane out of there. I was glad they totaled it.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 13, 2011 7:00 PM    Report this comment

"an a-frame crane on a track, like a bulldozer"

Such is a response from city people. As said, country people would have pulled it out immediately before it settled into such a point. Another plane lost forever...

Posted by: Mark Fraser | April 13, 2011 10:40 PM    Report this comment

Mark - I do believe there are a few thousand new built aircraft every year so as they say "Don't worry be happy" the guy in trouble (pilot) is the one that may not be too happy. Do yourself a favor and go for a flight in your airplane it will lift your spirit and do wonders for you.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | April 14, 2011 4:59 AM    Report this comment

All this does weigh into the decision making as a PIC. The aircraft has been deemed "not worth saving" and that has to be added to the decision process of a owner/pilot. Precautionary landings are NOW off the table!

Posted by: Mark Fraser | April 14, 2011 7:50 AM    Report this comment

after the FAA revokes this guys ticket, and he spends a year in prison, they should also order a vasectomy to help ensure a crop of sensible pilots in the next generation.

Posted by: karl hipp | April 14, 2011 8:49 AM    Report this comment

after the FAA revokes this guys ticket, and he spends a year in prison, they should also order a vasectomy to help ensure a crop of sensible pilots in the next generation.

Posted by: karl hipp | April 14, 2011 8:49 AM    Report this comment

I agree with Dana Nickerson; listening to the tape made me cringe!! No mercy for this clown; he will likely cause all of us to lose even more freedom. I hate the fact that non-pilots will hear this tape and judge all of US for his stupid, stupid actions.

Posted by: A Richie | April 14, 2011 10:04 AM    Report this comment

As for putting an airplane in the drink and recovering it...salt water is terrible, but fresh water may not be all that bad. Thirty years ago I watched a man land his C-120 on the runway then veer off into a farm pond. Everything up to and inclucing the instrument panel was underwater. It was pulled out of the lake with a pickup truck and rope, then a mechanic changed the oil and looked it over closely. Within 30 minutes or so, the plane was flying again with no further issues! Quick action saved the day.

Posted by: A Richie | April 14, 2011 10:12 AM    Report this comment

We never let the kids drive with other kids in the car. At least not until all of their brains came in.

Posted by: Bill Cassels | April 14, 2011 10:20 AM    Report this comment

Regarding NYPD responsibility, First the Warrior manipulator of the aircraft controls (I refuse to use the highly regarded name Pilot or Aviator with this knuckle heads actions) insinuated an emergency situation. If he hadn't the NYPD / NYFD would have not been dispatched in the emergency role, and it is unknown where the jurisdiction of the NYPD in this incident begins and ends. Second once this was determined to be a emergency it becomes the same as if it were any other incident of an emergency dispatch to an accident (regardless of being aircraft, highway car accident, fire, robbery, shooting.....whatever). The emergency responders, first duty is to the safety of the public and those involved, then to preserve the accident scene until it can be investigated by the controlling authority (in this case the NTSB). Any emergency responder in the country is not going to move evidence unless it is determined to be of further, or continues to be dangerous in nature to the public safety, and not until the investigating authority clears the scene. Who ever was responsible for putting the Warrior on the beach is responsible for getting it off. Even if the incident was a non-emergency, and became that of a municipal statute violation, or criminal nature the NYPD hands are tied until the investigating authority allows the removal of evidence. Roj-aaaarrr That.

Posted by: Rick Tomalewicz | April 14, 2011 10:40 AM    Report this comment

Surely this is another good idea for Dick Wolf and "Law and Order" :-)

Posted by: Bruce Savage | April 14, 2011 11:05 AM    Report this comment

NYPD is not "at fault", they are just another link in a chain where a plane was lost when it should not have been. Pilot cockiness, controller ambivalence, NYPD inaction, lawyers, etc. Break the chain anywhere and the plane would not have been lost.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | April 14, 2011 11:41 AM    Report this comment

News is showing the kid being taken from home to the hospital. Might be getting a Cranial rectolectomy.

Posted by: Bill Cassels | April 14, 2011 12:12 PM    Report this comment

"Controller ambivalence"....That's interesting...Through his "ambivalence" the controller contributed to the loss of this aircraft...You are going to have to explain to all of us in which particular circumstance of the idiotic exchange into which the poor guy manning the "Kennedy Sector" in the Westbury facility was forced by this idiot, did he contribute to the chain of events that led to the loss of the aircraft. Maybe YOU should visit that facility and find out under what pressure those people operate.Then you would probably figure out that their role is not to handle flying mental cases. But you could go on and on ,Mark..... Lupo Rattazzi

Posted by: Lupo Rattazzi | April 14, 2011 12:15 PM    Report this comment

Let's "re-cap": The "Bozo" asked if he coud land on the beach. ATC said it was un conrolled airspace (no ATC violation), and a public beach, therefore not unless it was an emergency. Bozo asked if there were any PRIVATE beaches around. (Do you suppose this is the moment of his decision to attempt what he'd never done before? Clearly he is developing justifications to land on the beach, so..with no emergency declared by him..he seeks permission.) Bozo has a "teensy" engine roughness...says he's gonna make a "precautionary"...but SPECIFICALLY says he does NOT declare an emergency. (One wonders if a truly rough engine wouldn't be grounds to climb and head for an airport. We all beleive it's B.S., of course.) Bozo states he has a "sick pax" and unfortuantely, it is ATC who defines a "sick pax" as "an emergency" ...lending credence to the landing. (roll eyes) The questions I have: 1- Are vehicles allowed on that beach. (NYPD's domain, and perhaps the only really enforceable law for them in this matter) 2-Does 91.13 actually apply? (para (a) refers to purposes of AIR navigation and para (b) refers to AIRPORT ops.)3-FAR 91.3(a) places ALL responsibility for the ops on the PIC. Insurance may pay for damages (plane/beach/EPA cleanup/recovery) but may also have recourse against BOZO for his deliberate act. I don't know why Mark Fraser is so determined to take this off-subject. The PLANE is not the problem. The FYING-CLOWN...is the problem. IMO

Posted by: George Horn | April 14, 2011 1:03 PM    Report this comment

Cont'd: FAR 91.13(a) may be FAA's best opportunity for action. Jason Maloney, 24, of Cornwall, N.Y could likely be held responsible for endangerment of persons by operating (aircraft operations/air navigation) in a reckless manner. A 709-ride isn't what's needed... what's needed is permanent industry-wide recognition of who Jason Maloney, 24, of Cornwall, N.Y is...when he attempts to show up to rent/borrow/operate airplanes.

Posted by: George Horn | April 14, 2011 1:17 PM    Report this comment

My last 5000 hours flight time was flown in Alaska.Half of it was"off airport"all of it"Bush Alaska".My company 135 duty record tracked t/o's and landings.I accumluted nearly 40,000 t/o's and landings on beaches,gravel bars,sand bars and short airstrips.I was trained by skilled and experienced pilots.Alaska has 33,000 miles of coastline,the second highest tide fluctuations in America.Some beaches are as good as a paved runway,many are more demanding of knowledge/experience.You must know/expect,each beach has variables/changing conditions.Our 206's had 29 inch main tires!As the tides move in and out sand stays more firm nearest the tide line and softer up the beach from the tide line.A warm sunny day dries out the exposed beach making it soft,an overcast day may keep the beach damp/firm.One can learn alot from watching others,even Tv but,that takes observation,study from other sources and most of all JUDGEMENT!The guy that landed on Rockway Beach definately lacked judgement.He obviously did'nt think about other resources besides "The Discovery Channel"!Listening to the ATC recording,he seems to have a total disregard for proper phrasiology/etiquette.I couldn't believe his arrogance!Even worse,to request low altitude manuevers in big city airspace,bothering controllers with such disrespect.Then,so blatantly obvious,when being denied permission to land on the beach,he facetiously lied about engine roughness and an airsick pax!Do not suspend,REVOKE his license for good!

Posted by: ricky sueltenfuss | April 14, 2011 1:25 PM    Report this comment

Some time ago, I witnessed an incident that bore some similarities to The Rockaway landing. I had dropped our aircraft at a small airport in northern Ct., and my partner picked me up in a Cessna 150 belonging to the flight school where he instructed part-time. Well after dark, as we approached the traffic pattern at FRG, a Nassau PD helo (not in his juristiction) told the tower that he needed to follow a Warrior that was entering the downwind and that he intended to hover-taxi with him to his tie-down. My partner recognised the A/C as belonging to his school and later joined the heated conversation with the policeman and the pilot. The helo had lifted off from the Tobay Beach helo pad (about 10 west) and when he climbed above the barrier dune, he was almost struck by this idiot buzzing the beach at 100'. He felt that this was a clear danger to the public and, being a sworn law officer, it was his duty to pursue this guy, no matter where he ended up. He told us later that he was half hoping that the pilot was a wise guy, and he would have felt justified in cuffing him. He was, however, very contrite and the P.O. decided to file a complaint against him in the A.M. at the local FSDO. I always hoped that the fact that the complaint would come from someone official would have meant that this guy would have been slapped down hard! Very few get caught when they do stupid stuff like this, but when they do, they need to be made examples of!! This, to me, is the ONLY issue!

Posted by: Steve Tobias | April 14, 2011 2:38 PM    Report this comment

Paul, One item not addressed, is the flight below 500 feet. Even though the controller said "below 500 feet", it is still the pilots responsibility to maintain clearance from people, property,etc. on the ground. Until he set up for a landing, he'd be in violation. IMO, it is clear the pilot was going to land on a beach one way or another. He tried to make a case with a teensy rough engine and a sick passenger, but his previous remarks clearly show his intentions. I think this pilot is on a collision course with the FAA(judge, jury and executioner) from which he will not survive. Landing on a beach is not a big deal. Washington State maintains(wind sock) a beach runway near Copalis, Wa., with closure in winter. Many private pilots use it during the summer, flying Pipers,Cessnas, homebuilts and many other aircraft. The public also use it as a walking beach.

All I can say is that the Warrior pilot let testosterone guide his actions. The controller was very tolerant in his responses. IMO

Posted by: Keith Blair | April 14, 2011 3:02 PM    Report this comment

We need to keep in mind that "below 500 ft" is beneath the floor of the NY Class B airspace and that the controller, who is working JFK arrivals and/or departures, was providing traffic advisories. This is done at his discretion, based on workload. I admire this gentleman's patience and professionilism. It sounded from his tone (to me, at least), that he knew that he was being played, but he managed to remain communicative. Perhaps he sensed that this was an unstable person he was dealing with. If it was me, I think that I would have said...YES, you are up in my grill-Please get lost!!

Posted by: Steve Tobias | April 14, 2011 3:27 PM    Report this comment

Keith, the 500 foot requirement there is a gray area. When you fly that stretch of beach, if you're just offshore, you'll meet the 500-foot distance okay except for the occasional swimmer or surfer whose offshore, maybe.

I think that might be taking the regulations too literally to no good effect. The same is true when you fly down the Hudson corridor and pass over the GW bridge. The 1100-foot floor of the corridor will put you within 300 or 400 feet of parts of the bridge.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 15, 2011 5:25 AM    Report this comment

Perhaps a silly question: what about a barf bag? Do commercial flights make emergency landings to allow a passenger to throw up? Maybe a good way for getting off at a place other than a hub.

Posted by: William Reyer | April 15, 2011 6:44 PM    Report this comment

Perhaps a silly question: what about a barf bag? Do commercial flights make emergency landings to allow a passenger to throw up? Maybe a good way for getting off at a place other than a hub.

Posted by: William Reyer | April 15, 2011 6:45 PM    Report this comment

Is it actually illegal to land on this beach? I'm only a student pilot, but as best I know, landing on beaches in general is not against any regulations, but may more commonly be a violation of some local ordinance. It seems to me that the pilot's intention was to let ATC know what he was up to so they wouldn't raise the alarm when he dropped off radar, but he shot himself in the foot by faking an emergency situation. Landing on the beach may have been a REALLY BAD IDEA, but if he had simply declared his intent, let ATC know he was going to ignore their advice to the contrary, and landed, he'd be guilty only of terrible judgment and really embarassing radio technique. I do think he should face enforcement action for the fake emergency, and a 709 ride to demonstrate proper radio technique w/in a TRACON. I think he should also be responsible for the costs of the unnecessary emerency response to the beach. Finally, if he was in my flying club, we'd have voted him out for life already.

Posted by: Mark Consigny | April 16, 2011 6:10 PM    Report this comment

ANYTHING can be declared illegal if you draw enough attention to it. Big city governments will throw "reckless endangerment" at anything; that way you basically have to prove your innocence. Emergencies on the ground means you are no longer dealing with the FAA...

Posted by: Mark Fraser | April 18, 2011 10:08 AM    Report this comment

After a quick look on the Web, I don't find the regulations for Rockaway Beach but it's common in such parks to have beach access for vehicles only in certain places. I don't know if that is true here.

Would you want unlimited access on a beach sustained by a fragile dune line? Because if you do, I can guarantee people will drive everything on it and tear it to shreds. So, we've reached this accommodation to limit access as a tradeoff to preserve the beach. We'll see what Rockaway has.

But then we get into responsible restraint. All the evidence suggests that this guy landed an airplane in the surf line, at dusk, on a lark following an invented emergency because...he wanted to.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 19, 2011 1:05 PM    Report this comment

There was no need. He just wanted to. I'd surely like to land my J-3 on the Mall in Washington. Also, on one of the wide boulevards in Miami. That would be a hoot!

But I don't, because it wouldn't be prudent. Here, on a lark, we have a pilot landing in surf, where the likelihood of a flipover or even drowning of his passengers is possible for the sake of what? He wanted to.

Frankly, I'd call that careless if not reckless. It's just bad judgment. Whether he deserves sanction for this is harder to say. But I have a hard time arguing that it was okay for him to do this.

He can argue his own case.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 19, 2011 1:11 PM    Report this comment

I was certainly not arguing that this was OK, more curious than anything. I certainly don't know if this pilot maybe was intimately familiar with this beach, knew that he had a very good chance of a successful landing, and had practiced soft field landings in the Warrior, or if he's just a very lucky moron. Obviously, he's not all that bright, as evidenced by the way he went about it.

I'm learning to fly for fun, and part of the fun is putting the Champ down on unofficial airports, relatives' hayfields, and other non-traditional places, and I'm starting to see a disturbing trend among both the flying and non-flying public to disagree with that, but if done safely there is nothing at all wrong with it.

Unfortunately, the Capitol Mall and any public highway are prohibited by law and regulation, or I'd follow you in, it's not the least bit imprudent, just not allowed. I certainly hope the list of places where it's not allowed doesn't continue to expand until the only place to land an airplane is two miles of lifeless cement. On the one hand, it can be argued that incidents like this make that more likely, but on the other hand, pilots going off on it like it's capital murder make it seem even worse to the general public. For those non-pilots who ask me, I say that this pilot made some questionable decisions and violated some regulations and possibly some local laws, but the authorities and press really over-reacted.

Posted by: Mark Consigny | April 19, 2011 1:53 PM    Report this comment

I did find on the NY Parks Dept. website, the Rockaway Beach rules. Unauthorized motor vehicles are prohibited. So if this dodo did know the beach, he should have known the rules, and on top of everything else, he'll be getting a citation for that.

Posted by: Mark Consigny | April 19, 2011 1:59 PM    Report this comment

Mark,I'm chiming in from thousands of miles away and from a different country so feel free to think I have no right to do so.But I did live and fly in the NY area during ten years.Wouldn't you think that the United States has more appropriate places than the beach in front of JFK airport to exercise one's freedom to land everywhere one pleases? And once again,I think you keep diverting the discussion.If you want to go about doing something questionable just do it but don't try to fool a controller by trying to elicit his complicity in such devious (and,worst of all,amateurish) fashion.But then again,if you want to make this guy the champion of the freedom-to-land-where-you-please and us the villains because we provide ammo to the GA bashing "general public",no argument is going to convince you otherwise.

Lupo Rattazzi,Rome,Italy

Posted by: Lupo Rattazzi | April 20, 2011 6:02 AM    Report this comment

or I'd follow you in, it's not the least bit imprudent, just not allowed."

This is the classic simplistic, compartmentalized reasoning that gets so many pilots into the bent metal or enforcement stage. It's the kind of thinking that leads to the one-size-fits-all rules we all hate. When you contemplate a road or other off-airport landing, it's not just the landing, but the aftermath.

Where to put the airplane? How to control the inevitable crowd. Who's going to clear the crowd when you wish to takeoff? And if I can land my Cub on the Mall, why not a Navajo? I could just stuff it in there. And if I land where I wish, do I just blow off those in the general public who would rather I didn't do that? Do I care that I look like a moron pilot?

The point is the need to understand context. In Alaska, there's no problem landing on Route 3 because it's accepted locally. Not so much on Route 72 in Florida, although it's flat and obstruction-free.

It is foley to whine about the public in the lower 48 not accepting this sort of thing. It simply doesn't and we do the industry no good by shoving it down their throats just to show, as steely-eyed aviators, that we can do it.

Your off-field landing in the relative's hayfield is the diametric opposite. It's considered ahead of time and agreed upon by all, presumably. Almost zero risk. A public beach in the surf line on a lark isn't in the same league, regardless of rules against it.

Knowing the difference is called judgment.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 20, 2011 6:34 AM    Report this comment

Wrong, Paul. You CAN LAND on the Mall in Washington DC if you had an emergency and were within gliding distance. It's much better than crashing into the surrounding buildings! The same with any emergency; you DON'T SECOND GUESS, you act.

The case here was not an emergency, it was a precautionary landing. That makes all the difference in the FARS and on the ground. If the plane is still flying and no one is dying then you don't have authority to stick it down anywhere you please. THEN it's merely a judgment call by the PIC and THEN he should be nailed to the wall for such bad judgment in a non-emergency.

That's the difference.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | April 20, 2011 7:57 AM    Report this comment

Anyone who has flown into Virginia Airport Durban South Africa knows the scene. The airport is situated next to the beach. Sea on the right of runway 05, airport buildings on the left and a row of trees between the runway and the sea. Landing is difficult at best because as you drop below the tree line the crosswind disappears and the aircraft's do some fancy dancing before landing. A Senior (as in old) Captain was heard complaining about how “these young pilots can’t fly to save themselves” and that there was a load of “deadpan useless flyers”. Cutting a long story short he was there to test fly a PA28 that he wished to purchase. Everyone (and I mean everyone) watched him take off performing the usual dance as the craft catches the crosswind and then his landing with the same manoeuvres as everyone else did. Shame, he was well known and he could never live that down. And I remember this after 40 years!

This young pilot Jason will never forget what he did and this will make him a better pilot no matter what the rest of you think. I do believe he has suffered enough and we as pilots should be there to support him not condemn him.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | April 20, 2011 8:04 AM    Report this comment

Mark Fraser - If you have an emergency in DC airspace, you'd best glide the opposite direction of the Mall. That's one case in which it doesn't matter how right you are under the FAR's, that's not going well for you. The Potomac would be a better choice, but if you can glide to the Mall, you should be able to hit Reagan National.

I think some people have me wrong here, I'm not defending anything this guy did, and the more I learn about this, the more I think a 5 year suspension of pilot priviliges and a long, tough 709 ride are in order here. I just get a bad feeling from some of the comments by pilots, in that I think it can add to the hysteria of non-pilots. If you were face to face with this guy I'd say let him have it, but comments for public consumption should be a little more measured, and that includes blogs like this which are visited by many non-pilot enthusiasts.

Posted by: Mark Consigny | April 20, 2011 9:35 AM    Report this comment

The thing about exercising restraint in criticizing someone who has probably made a boneheaded error in judgment is that you risk not getting the message across so that other similarly impressionable pilots won't make the same error.

As pilots, we want the PIC authority thing to be sacrosanct, thus we tend to carry the notion that criticizing a fellow pilot is verboten to ridiculous extremes. The danger is that this distorts the ability to judge ahead of the fact.

I'll give you an example: For many years in IFR, we've done a yearly feature called Stupid Pilot Tricks. It's basically the 10 dumbest accidents we could find. (There's never any shortage of these to pick from, believe me.)

One of the ones I recall is a Cherokee pilot who decided to land, impromptu, in a farmer's soybean field. He hit a muddy spot, tore off the nosegear and opened a fuel line, causing a small fire.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 20, 2011 10:24 AM    Report this comment

If my memory is accurate on this one, he told investigators he'd actually had an emergency of some sort, but his girlfriend had a different story: He had landed to drop her off near her house.

So here's the balance to strike. He clearly made a bad call and tried to cover it with the emergency card which we, as pilots, tend to accept without question. But should there be a limit to our tolerance and has our friend at Rockaway Beach exceeded that limit?

At one end of the spectrum you have people accepting the emergency without question and even blaming the cops for not saving the airplane. At the other end, where I am, is to insist that as pilots, we really need to do better than this.

I happen to believe you should have a right to land just about anywhere, anytime, within reason. But to protect that right, you (a) have to do it correctly without screwing it up and (b) don't jive me with some BS about an emergency.

If we discuss these things in an open forum, maybe we can prevent one--just one--future boneheaded judgment call. If so, it's worth wounding someone's ego a little.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 20, 2011 10:36 AM    Report this comment

Boneheads exists. They can be pilots, cops, or passengers. You can't "prevent" boneheads. All you can do is be thankful that most are harmless.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | April 20, 2011 11:00 AM    Report this comment

Paul, we're on the same page here. My issue was with some of the reactions that basically said the very notion of landing on a beach, any beach, ever, was just crazy and anyone who would even consider it should never be allowed on an aircraft again. That now appears to be pretty close to the truth in regard to this landing on this particular beach, it's that distinction which I felt needed to be made. I have friends who fly into our little grass strip with 182's, Arrows, etc., and also to other private strips and even some open fields (with permission and prior arrangement), and I know that if they ever had an accident or incident there would be a lot of people who would right away spout off with "what was he thinking", when in fact it's a calculated risk and they do it safely nearly every week. I guess it's that element who think every pilot should fly as if they're operating a 737 full of pax that kind of irk me, since I hang with the low & slow, NORDO, seat of the pants crowd.

Posted by: Mark Consigny | April 20, 2011 11:15 AM    Report this comment

Me thinks that we should be grateful that this is not the cowboy times Jason would have been physically lynched.

How many of the above writers have had an embarrassing moment, made a real mess up and for some unknown reason made it through and survived? For those who have not experienced a bad moment then careful you could be next. For those that have had those moments shame on you. You know what its like.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | April 20, 2011 11:29 AM    Report this comment

On the recording I never heard the pilot declare an emergency. Don't you actually have to say the words? I had to crank my gear down once while in the pattern. I told the tower what I was doing and asked for an extended downwind. He asked if I was declaring an emergency and I told him no, I was just cranking and needed more time.

Posted by: Bill Cassels | April 20, 2011 11:55 AM    Report this comment

No, you don't have to say the words to have the emergency be in effect. I had an emergency declared for me by ATC landing in New Jersey with a rough engine. (I couldn't find a beach,unfortunately, and had to settle for Caldwell.)

ATC can choose to handle you as an emergency if it requires moving other airplanes out of the way to accommodate you, and probably even if it does not.

Posted by: Paul Bertorelli | April 20, 2011 12:52 PM    Report this comment

Agreed Paul you do not need to declare an emergency. Its Aviate, Navigate and then if there is time Communicate. Your first priority is to fly the plane and keep it under control. Next find a place to land and lastly and leastly (I know that's not a word) communicate usually a PAN or Mayday. That is why I said I heard two problems and an emergency declared. The TRACON operator did everything correctly as he should do in an emergency except to offer the pilot options.

We all know what happens the first time you are confronted by and emergency. There is no Mr COOL. Hopefully the training kicks in and you can do something and unfreeze yourself. You then take control of the aircraft and look for somewhere to land. When you find somewhere your focus is now on getting down and landing there. Now to communicate and what to say to who? I believe this chap had a problem and it really threw him. How do I know because I've been there a low time pilot losing engine at 1500ft over wild bush teaming with Lions and wild animals. Found somewhere to land but somewhere I shouldn't have and as for the communications what a mess. Jason did a better job than I did but my experience taught me and I do believe I can now communicate better than I did at that time.

Posted by: Bruce Savage | April 21, 2011 5:07 AM    Report this comment

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