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Seaplane makes emergency landing on East River, FDNY says

A seaplane had to make an emergency landing

A seaplane had to make an emergency landing on the East River off Manhattan on Friday July 21, 2017, New York City fire officials said.Authorities received a call at 5:33 p.m. of a plane in the water near East 23rd Street, a fire department spokesman said. (Credit: Newsday / Matthew Chayes)

A Hamptons-bound seaplane had to make an emergency landing on the East River after several failed takeoffs Friday evening, but none of the 10 people on board were hurt, police and fire officials said.

On the last aborted takeoff at about 5:30 p.m., the plane came down hard 300 yards from the Manhattan seaport terminal off East 23rd Street, authorities said.

That time, three struts on the left side of the plane broke, causing the plane to “list heavily,” said FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Michael Gala.

“The plane tried to take off a couple times, went up in the air a little, came down, went up in the air a little higher, came down,” said one of the rattled passengers, Bill Lawrence, a comedy writer from Los Angeles.

The single-engine plane, he said, “went like 20 or so feet in the air — and then it came down hard. . . . Scary when it happened.”

People in nearby vessels raced to the scene to help. One of the good Samaritans described a surreal scene, with the passengers and pilot out standing on one of the pontoons, their life jackets on.

“Just about everybody was very calm,” said Carter Craft, an urban planning consultant from New Jersey. “I asked one guy, ‘Can I give you a lift?’ He said, ‘Can you take me to the Hamptons?’ ”

The rescued passengers were taken by police boat to be evaluated at the nearby Skyport Marina & Seaplane Terminal, but they all refused further medical attention, according to the NYPD and FDNY.

Investigators were interviewing those on board to help determine the cause of the crash, but no foul play was suspected.

The plane was towed to the Skyport dock, which was shut down briefly Friday evening for the investigation.

The fixed-wing Cessna is registered to Virginia-based Tailwind Air Service, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. It was built in 1999 and last certified in July 25, 2016, records show.

A spokeswoman for Tailwind declined to comment beyond saying its plane was “disabled” on the East River and that all occupants evacuated safely.

Lawrence, who said he had planned to have dinner and hang out with family in the Hamptons, was feeling “lucky” despite the interruption.

“Just really grateful it was nothing more than a hassle,” he said. “I’m going to go have a glass of tequila somewhere.”

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