Authorities say a charter helicopter made an emergency landing on the Hudson River by Manhattan's 79th Street Boat Basin around noon Sunday, and officials were impressed at how the pilot landed the aircraft safely and saved himself and four Swedish tourists from injury.
The two adult passengers and their two teenage children were brought to the hospital as a precautionary measure, but the pilot refused medical attention, according to fire officials.
Fire Deputy Chief Thomas McKavanagh said the helicopter took off from the Wall Street Heliport and lost engine power about 12 minutes into its flight.
Right before the pilot landed, he deployed pontoons, which helped him make the skillful river landing.
"I thought to myself, 'This is not good. I'm down here all the time, I never see helicopters doing that. Just north of the boat basin, the pilot edged the nose up and two yellow pontoons deployed off the runners and the helicopter smacked into the water," an eyewitness said. "Whoever that pilot is has to be a remarkable pilot with nerves of steel because clearly that helicopter was in complete distress."
"He had some kind of control, very skilled pilot. He was able to get this helicopter to land upright, with minimal impact and really did a great job," said McKavanagh.
The helicopter is a Bell 206 registered to New York Charter Helicopters.
There were no injuries and that is thanks in part to some nearby boaters from the 79th Street Boat Basin. They were the first to arrive and pull everyone to safety, including the pilot.
"We took our dinghies and went to see if they needed help, because it doesn't look like a usual landing, so we went there," said Sebastien Bertheled, one of the boaters. "The family went in the other dinghy and we took the pilot to shore."
"Honestly, it was pretty silent. I think he was in shock or something," said Lambert De Monte, another boater.
Meanwhile, fire department employees brought the helicopter to the West 79th Street Boat Basin and secured it to the dock.
The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will make a complete investigation of the incident.