A description on the Bellport Country Club golf course website calls it “a hole that nightmares are made of.”
Not so for the pilot who landed his single-engine Cessna on the 12th hole rough Monday morning — managing to miss the green-side bunkers and the left-side water hazard — after experiencing what the Federal Aviation Administration described as a midair engine failure over the Great South Bay.
The right wing of the four-seat plane struck a tree during the 6:15 a.m. landing, Suffolk police said.
The pilot, a 37-year-old Bayport man alone on the plane, was treated at the scene for minor injuries, officials said.
“Bottom line is that this guy did some really good flying in a bad situation and caused no injuries on the ground, saved the aircraft and is alive,” said South Country Ambulance Chief of Department Gregory Miglino Jr.
Video footage taken by Bellport resident Aaron Leibowitz, who does maintenance at the golf course, showed the Cessna with minor impact damage to its right wing. The video showed the plane stopped and sitting on its tricycle landing gear — near a cart path bordering the 12th green.
Leibowitz said in a telephone interview Monday that he and a co-worker were cutting the fairway grass when they saw the plane approach.
“He [the pilot] tried to land on the 16th fairway but he couldn’t so he tried to make a sharp right to avoid a building and landed right off the 12th green on the right side.”
Leibowitz noted the building is a small one-story house that is used for storing equipment.
The FAA said the pilot declared an emergency about seven miles out of Long Island MacArthur Airport and was offered to land at Bayport Aerodrome, a nearby grass airfield. Both MacArthur and the Aerodrome are owned and operated by the Town of Islip.
In a brief statement the FAA said: “A Cessna C172 made an emergency landing at the Bellport Golf Course at about 6:15 a.m. today. The pilot reported that the aircraft engine had failed. The FAA will investigate.”
FAA records indicate the plane, manufactured in 1973, is registered to YWP Air Inc., with an owner listed in Bayport. Calls to a phone number registered to the owner reached an answering machine — and calls to that number were not immediately returned Monday.
Authorities said officers from the Fifth Precinct and volunteers from the Bellport Fire Department also responded to the scene on Colonial Lane and Country Club Road.
Leibowitz said he and his co-worker saw the single-engine plane approach from over Great South Bay, bank to avoid a building on the 16th hole, then land successfully “right off” the green at the 12th hole.
“He kind of skimmed the high grass and landed sort of in the rough or approach to the 12th green,” Leibowitz said.
The course was closed at the time of the landing.
Leibowitz said the 13th, 15th and 16th fairways are near the Great South Bay.
The 12th? It’s tucked in the midst of those, bordered by a water hazard. The course website description of Hole 12 reads: “Definitely the hardest Par 3 on the course. . . . Dead into the wind. Uphill. Over water. Huge false front. Reeds looming. Deep bunkers surrounding the green. Yikes. A hole that nightmares are made of.”
Leibowitz said by the time he and the co-worker got to the hole, the pilot had already landed the Cessna.
“He got out and was standing outside the plane and was on the phone saying how his engine gave out on him over the water,” Leibowitz said.