Young pilot auto-rotated his helicopter safely in the Hudson river

Rich Schultz

Photo: Rich Schultz

A hero helicopter pilot who was flying tourists over the Hudson River on June 30th when his engine suddenly died — and he miraculously landed the craft on the water within seconds, saving everyone — today said he can’t wait to get back up in the air.

“I love flying. It’s one of the best jobs in the world,’’ said Michael Campbell to the NY Post, who at 23 is the city’s youngest tour pilot.

“This happened to me unfortunately, but at the end of the day, after all is said and done, you just get back in the saddle. I’ll fly later this week, and I’ll just continue doing my job.”

Campbell brushed off the notion that he’s a hero and downplayed any comparisons between him and former Capt. Charles “Sully” Sullenberger,’’ who safely landed a packed US Airways jet in the river 2009 in what was known as the “Miracle on the Hudson.’’

Sullenberger apparently thinks differently.

“Congrats to pilot #MichaelCampbell for safely landing helicopter on the #Hudson. Admirable job!” the retired pilot tweeted today.

Campbell was 12 minutes into a 25-minute scenic tour up the Hudson — at an altitude of 1,500 feet — around noon yesterday when the engine on his Bell 206 helicopter cut out off West 85th Street in Manhattan.

Four Swedish tourists — a Stockholm cop, his girlfriend and her two teenage kids — also were on board the 2009 craft.

“Mayday! Mayday! New York 5 is going down. Boat basin. Mayday! Mayday! Mayday! New York 5 is going down,” Campbell radioed to La Guardia Airport traffic controllers, referring to his local aircraft ID, as he struggled to keep the disabled craft from plummeting into the water.

POOL REUTERS

Photo: POOL/REUTERS

“You only have a second to make the right decision. It’s sink or swim,’’ the Buffalo native told The Post from his Woodbridge, NJ, home. “I knew I had to bring it down. I just didn’t want the helicopter to nose over or go under or everyone would be trapped. It’s very tricky.”

Incredibly, the pilot managed to stay in the air long enough — about 20 seconds — to keep the copter upright, inflate its emergency pontoons and glide to a safe landing in the middle of the river.

Campbell said he steered the falling helicopter to around the 79th Street Boat Basin hoping for a quick rescue — and away from land to avoid hurting people on the ground.

His passengers — Jyrki Valiharju, 44, Anna Soderblom, 45, an 18-year-old girl and 14-year-old boy — kept remarkably calm during their terrifying touchdown, he said.

The pilot was plucked off the floating craft’s pontoons by one nearby boater, while his passengers were rescued by others. Sebastian Berthelet, 38, and stepson Lambert De Monte, 16, were about a half-mile away in their 38-foot sailboat and jumped into a dinghy to help however they could.

Original article: New York Post 

 

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