A Manhattan man piloting a single-engine experimental aircraft was killed when his plane crashed into Long Island Sound Monday morning, about seven miles north of Mattituck Inlet, officials said.
The body of Zubair Khan, 41, of Leroy Street in Greenwich Village, was recovered from inside the plane by the Town of Southold Police Department's Marine Unit shortly after the 8:50 a.m. crash and was taken to the Suffolk County medical examiner's office, Southold police said. Khan was the aircraft's sole occupant, police said.
Southold police Det. Sgt. John Sinning said the aircraft was submerged but did not sink. The aircraft was towed through Mattituck Inlet hours after the crash, portions of a parachute trailing behind. It was pulled from the water Monday afternoon at Mattituck Inlet marina.
Another aircraft in the area spotted Khan's downed plane and contacted the Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound command center in New Haven, Connecticut. A rescue crew from Coast Guard Station New Haven, Suffolk County Police Marine Bureau as well as Riverhead and Southold emergency medical services responded.
The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash, police said. The Federal Aviation Administration said the Coast Guard confirmed the fallen aircraft was an experimental, amateur-built fixed-wing Raven powered by a Lycoming IO 540 SER engine. FAA records indicate it is registered in New York. Unclear yesterday were the flight's point of origin and destination.
Khan was a vice president of derivatives trading technology at Barclays Capital, according to his LinkedIn page. A graduate of the University of Texas at Arlington, he was a member of the Experimental Aircraft Association and the International Aerobatic Club, a division of the aircraft association.
Khan was a longtime pilot but had recently built his own plane and had been taking it on flight tests, said a friend, Eli Slyder, 38, of the West Village.
Slyder, who spoke outside his friend's apartment, said Khan was a dynamic man who loved to play squash, was a gifted programmer and had a passion for building his airplane.
"He has had his [pilot] license for ages," said Slyder, adding he has flown with Khan out of an airport in New Jersey. "He built his own plane. It was this amazingly beautiful thing. He had been testing it for a couple of months."
A series of YouTube videos, posted under an account bearing Khan's name, showed the pilot testing the aircraft. In a video posted about three weeks ago, Khan had trouble with the nose gear during landing, noting on the video: "Nose gear didn't extend due to limit switch wire unscrewed."
The video shows that the Mastic Fire Department met the plane on the runway upon its landing; Khan appeared uninjured. Fire department officials could not be reached Monday to confirm details of that incident.
Slyder said he met Khan about a decade ago through their mutual interest in squash.
"He's one of the most dynamic, interesting people I've ever met," Slyder said.He added: "I've gotten 20 phone calls from people who've met him once. He's a very, very special person. You'd go to his apartment and there would be these state-of-the-art far-out pieces to build this [plane]. He wanted to build the plane to be twice as efficient. It was a revolutionary design. It was his passion."