Henry Rey was more than 1,000 feet in the air when he said the engine of the small plane he was flying stalled and he was forced to make an emergency landing Saturday at Smith Point County Park.
“There was a power failure. I couldn’t get back to the airport, so I just picked a place to land where there were no people,” Rey of Queens said Sunday. “I lined up with the beach and just landed.”
Rey, 69, put the single-engine Cessna 150 down on a stretch of ocean beach at Smith Point County Park about 10:30 a.m., swooping low over startled sunbathers.
Rey, a certified flight instructor with decades of experience, said he wasn’t panicked when the plane’s engine stalled.
“We were 1,400 feet off the water. And that just gave me enough time to land,” he said.
Witnesses Saturday said the plane silently circled over the water and parking lot before landing on a deserted strip of sand just beyond a crowded swimming area. Rey and his passenger emerged uninjured from the aircraft, which was not damaged by the emergency landing, the pilot said.
Rey was on a training flight with an unidentified female passenger and heading back to Brookhaven Calabro Airport in Shirley, according to the owner of the 25-foot-long, two-seat plane, Adrien Bazelais of Queens.
The Federal Aviation Administration is still investigating the incident. The cause wasn’t immediately known, agency spokeswoman Arlene Salac said in an email.