Queens Assemb. Clyde Vanel, 2nd man unhurt in emergency plane landing on Shoreham Beach
A Queens assemblyman, piloting a small plane, made an emergency landing on Shoreham Beach in a scene caught on video by a startled bystander Friday afternoon.
Assemb. Clyde Vanel (D-Cambria Heights) said in a statement that he was performing practice maneuvers in his private plane when he experienced engine failure.
"As per my training, I landed the airplane at the nearest safe location, while attempting to minimize damage to persons or property," Vanel said in a statement.
The single-engine Beechcraft V35 made an emergency landing on the beach in Shoreham about 2:15 p.m. due to a reported engine issue, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Police said they responded to the beach to a report of an unoccupied plane. They later located Vanel and another man who was onboard and they declined medical treatment.
The plane took off from Brookhaven Calabro Airport in Shirley about 12:53 p.m. and reached altitude of 3,700 feet, according to FlightAware.
Caelyn Canace of Shoreham was walking her dog on the beach when she heard sounds of an engine struggling and saw the plane flying along the shoreline toward her.
She captured the low-flying plane on cellphone video and thought about hiding behind a boulder for safety, but within seconds, the plane skidded on the beach about 20 yards away from her and its nose came to rest in the water.
"You look at this plane and it was heading straight at me. It just fell within 30 seconds," she said. "Every possible scenario was going through my mind and the next thing I know the plane goes completely down to the beach."
She said she rushed to the pilot, who had a small cut on his chin, and later drove him and the other man back to the airport in Shirley.
"They were in shock. We were all in shock," she said. "I was thinking I might die if this plane hit me."
Vanel's assembly biography says he is an attorney, entrepreneur, private pilot and community advocate. He was first elected in 2016 and represents the 33rd Assembly District including Cambria Heights, St. Albans, Hollis, Queens Village, Bellerose and parts of Floral Park.
"I am thankful I was able to walk away without injury," Vanel said. "The FAA's training on emergency procedures works. For all my fellow pilots, follow emergency procedures. It will save your life."