Police investigate the scene of helicopter crash north of Vineyard...

Police investigate the scene of helicopter crash north of Vineyard Way in Aquebogue on Sunday, Nov. 9, 2014. Credit: James Carbone

A homemade "ultralight" helicopter made an emergency landing on a sod farm behind a residential neighborhood Sunday afternoon in Aquebogue, police said.

The pilot, identified by police as Erwin S. Rodger, 71, of Mattituck, was alone in the helicopter when "it fell from the sky" north of Vineyard Way near Church Lane in Aquebogue about 3:57 p.m., Riverhead Police Officer Christopher James said.

Rodger's aircraft, a Mosquito ultralight helicopter that he had built himself, had a "mechanical issue" and landed in the sod farm. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating, police said.

Witnesses said they found Rodger unconscious outside the small helicopter and covered in gasoline.

Rodger had "no major injuries," police said, but the Riverhead Town Volunteer Ambulance Corp. brought him to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead for evaluation.

Mary Jane Connolly was outside in her backyard on Vineyard Way when she looked up and saw the helicopter "was coming in for a landing. I could tell it was going to be landing on the sod farm."

Connolly alerted her husband, Patrick Connolly, who ran to neighbor Valerie Raynor's home, adjacent to the sod farm. He banged on the door and shouted, "A copter just went down!"

Raynor shouted to her husband to call 911, and she and Connolly ran to the crash site.

The pilot was lying on the ground, Raynor said.

"The man was unconscious," said Raynor, 44. "He was out cold. He was saturated in gasoline." She and Connolly tried to wake him up to no avail. They then decided to move him away from the copter, which had some damage but was still mostly intact.

"He woke up and I said, 'Sir, you went down in your chopper,' " Raynor said. "He asked me, 'What's your name?' "

Fuel was pouring out of the helicopter's engine, Raynor said. She said they asked the man his telephone number, but he said he didn't know it.

"He was disoriented," Raynor said.

"He didn't remember hitting the ground. He didn't remember anything. He jumped up to his feet. He was more concerned about picking up the pieces of his chopper than anything else."

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