A small plane that made an emergency landing on the...

A small plane that made an emergency landing on the side of the eastbound Southern State Parkway near Route 109 on Tuesday is recovered. Credit: Jessica Hill

Authorities have disclosed who was in the single-engine plane that made an emergency landing Tuesday on the Southern State Parkway in East Farmingdale: a man from Nassau County and another from New York City.

On board the 1975 Piper Cherokee were Benson V. Mathew, 42, of Hicksville, and Anthony Q. Lanni, 24, of the Bronx, Trooper Brittany Burton, a spokeswoman for the New York State Police, said Wednesday. She didn't know who was flying the plane when it landed. Police have said they considered it a crash landing.

Lanni and Mathew were transported to a hospital for evaluation. An update on their medical condition wasn’t available Wednesday. Neither man returned phone messages seeking comment.

The plane had been returning to nearby Republic Airport when a radio call from the aircraft reported it had engine failure and was “going down on the highway,” according to a recorded cockpit radio transmission. 

The plane went down about 11:45 a.m. near the eastbound ramp of Exit 33, leading to the closure of that part of the parkway for several hours. It landed just south of the airport, with residential neighborhoods on either side.

An investigation into why the plane was forced to land short of Republic is unfinished, but on Tuesday, responders saw that the grounded Piper was leaking oil onto the ground, Burton said. 

The plane had taken off at 9:56 a.m. from Republic on a course toward the North Shore. It flew in circles numerous times, including above Cove Neck, Oyster Bay and Huntington Bay, and eventually headed back toward Republic, according to the website FlightAware.com.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board are involved in the investigation. 

Shem Malmquist, a professor at the Florida Institute of Technology, and a pilot and crash investigator who isn't involved in the case, said “it’s definitely tough” to land a plane safely without injuries, but also “there’s a lot of luck involved.”

A pilot must dodge potential power lines, traffic, lighting as well as navigate curves in the roadway, and, for example, avoid a wingtip catching something like a fence post or a light pole, he said.

“It’s the last minute, in the heat of the battle,” he said, “it might be hard for someone to notice it.”

Plus, a pilot must land before the plane goes down on its own.

“Really a good job,” Shem said of the pilot's actions Tuesday. “Impressive. … That requires skill and luck, but a lot of people will say luck is a byproduct of skill.”

Since 1967, when the current tracking methods were begun, there have been 3,193 landing accidents nationwide involving any type of civilian, single-engine plane, according to Shawn Pruchnicki, a professor of aviation studies at Ohio State University, who reviewed the NTSB database for Newsday. Overall, since that year, there have been 126,429 accidents in all phases of flight involving a civilian, single-engine plane, Pruchnicki said the database shows.

Pruchnicki said he’s not surprised at the relatively low number of aviation accidents.

“We’re flying smaller airplanes more hours collectively than all of the airliners collectively per day,” he said.

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