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Officials probe Rockaway plane landing

A single-engine aircraft landed safely in the Rockaway

A single-engine aircraft landed safely in the Rockaway surf near Beach 56 Street without injury to the pilot and two passengers on board. NYPD Aviation and Harbor Units responded to the scene. The cause of the mishap is under investigation. (April 4, 2011) Photo Credit: NYPD

Maybe it was a sick passenger. It could have been engine trouble, or something else.

Whatever it was that led a wisecracking 24-year-old pilot with two passengers to land a single-engine Piper on a Rockaways beach Monday evening, authorities want some answers.

The plane was hauled off to Boston Wednesday for inspection while investigators with the Federal Aviation Administration continued to analyze the final moments before Jason Maloney of upstate Cornwall put the plane down.

No one was injured in Monday's emergency landing. Passengers were identified as Clark Oler, 22, and Chelsea Protter, 21, both of Huntington.

A man who identified himself as Oler's father said his son had no comment Wednesday. A woman reached at Protter's home said "No" and hung up when asked to comment.

Maloney was home in Cornwall Wednesday when, according to published reports, he was rushed to St. Luke's Cornwall Hospital.

During his unusual communications with air traffic controllers at Kennedy Airport on Monday, Maloney said his plane was experiencing engine trouble, saying in radio communications, "You know tower, my engine might be running a little teensy, teensy bit rough," according to recordings on the website Maloney then announced he was going to be making a "precautionary landing" on the beach. The plane took off from Republic Airport in East Farmingdale.

"Yeah, we got a sick passenger, so we're not going to declare an emergency but we're going to land on the beach," Maloney said. The air traffic controller responded, "Well, then that would be an emergency."

Earlier, Maloney said to the air traffic controller, "What if I want to hide from you?" and "You let us know if we're up in your grill."

The NYPD questioned Maloney on Monday and released him. FAA Spokesman Jim Peters said the pilot's flying record will be investigated.

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