Helicopter that landed at Bethpage State Park takes off

Officials on the scene where a helicopter made Officials on the scene where a helicopter made a precautionary landing on the Bethpage State Park golf course in Bethpage. (June 3, 2013) Photo Credit: Howard Schnapp

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A helicopter en route from New Jersey to Republic Airport in East Farmingdale made a "precautionary landing" at Bethpage State Park Monday morning, officials said.

The helicopter landed on the 18th fairway on the green course at the park. Police had initially said it landed on baseball fields.

The pilot, who was alone in the craft, told the Federal Aviation Administration and Nassau County police that he set the craft down after running into low visibility due to dense cloud cover in the area.

An FAA spokesman, Jim Peters, said the pilot was flying under visual flight rules and was not instrument-rated -- and said indications are he made the decision to set down as a precaution.

The seven-seat Eurocopter is registered to Papa Charlie Aviation in Dover, Del.

The flight originated in Kearny, N.J., police said, and set down at Bethpage State Park at 6:22 a.m. There were no injuries.

The helicopter later took off from the park at 12:23 p.m., a state parks official said.

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"This was a precautionary landing with one on board," Peters said, adding that, more than likely, the helicopter and its pilot would be required to remain at the scene, meet with FAA officials to go over the circumstances of the precautionary landing and then wait for the weather to clear before proceeding to his destination.

Peters said that, if the explanation given by the pilot is satisfactory, there would be no penalties. "If the situation is how it's explained," Peters said, "he's executing good judgment. It would be like you or me driving in heavy rain and we pull over to the side of the road. . . . It's a good decision."

With Bill Bleyer

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