This plays out like one long acid trip.
A private pilot who made an unscheduled landing on a Long Island beach just south of John F. Kennedy airport is under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration. The 24 year old pilot claims to have made the landing because of a rough running engine and a sick passenger. A recording of the rather unorthodox communication between the air traffic controller at JFK and the pilot indicate the landing may have been intentional.
The single engine Piper Cherokee departed the Republic airport on Long Island and ended up on Rockaway Beach. In the audio captured by LiveATC.net, the pilot can be heard making several comments to the air traffic controller that would make most pilots cringe.
“Just let us know if we’re up in your grill you know” he told the controller at JFK at one point after being advised of nearby traffic.
In the beginning of the recording (listen here), the pilot asks the controller if he can fly low over the shore. With JFK airspace beginning at 500 feet above the ground, it isn’t uncommon for transitioning aircraft to fly low over the shoreline to transition under the busy airspace.
After setting the tone for the rest of the conversation with a drawn out “rahhhjahhhh” instead of “roger,” the pilot then makes an unusual request asking how to drop off a passenger at JFK.
Eventually the pilot makes the request that may interest the FAA in their investigation.
“Hey tower, I’ve got a question for ya” he says. “This might be crazy, but are we allowed to land on the beach?”
After the controller says he doesn’t think so – giving permission for pilots to land on the beach isn’t really part of his job – he adds that it’s only possible in an emergency. The pilot then makes the declaration that he’s a paramedic, perhaps thinking it matters, and the controller patiently explains why it’s illegal to land on the beach.
“You know tower, my engine might be running a little teensy, teensy bit rough” the pilot says shortly after, “I’m going to make a precautionary landing, is that all right with you?”
The pilot adds that he also has a sick passenger and after landing on the beach, the controller directs a police helicopter to assist him.
According to the New York Times, the pilot, identified as Jason Maloney, asked the detective on the scene: “What’s the big deal? It happens all the time in Alaska.” Maloney later told police he watched the television show “Flying Wild Alaska.”
“Welcome to New York” replied the detective.
Photo of Rockaway Beach: Théo La Photo/Flickr