Plum­met­ing small plane snagged and saved by power lines

The Buffalo News - - NATIONAL NEWS - By Michael Gold

NEW YORK – A small plane car­ry­ing three peo­ple had made six at­tempts to land in the thick fog around New York City on Sun­day night and was head­ing for a sev­enth be­fore it ran out of fuel above Long Is­land.

The plane, a Cessna 172, was not go­ing to make it to an air­port, and as it hur­tled in­stead to­ward a res­i­den­tial area in sub­ur­ban Val­ley Stream, a dis­as­ter seemed im­mi­nent.

The air­craft first clipped the roof of a church, then sev­eral power lines, lo­cal of­fi­cials said, be­fore be­com­ing en­tan­gled in the ca­bles like a fly in a web, sus­pended 1 foot above the front lawn of a brick home.

When the Nas­sau County po­lice ar­rived at the scene, they found the plane dan­gling from the util­ity ca­bles, nose down, hov­er­ing as if freeze-framed a se­cond be­fore tragedy. The pi­lot and two pas­sen­gers, mostly un­harmed, were sit­ting on a nearby curb.

The emergency land­ing, if it can be called a land­ing, was per­haps not on the scale of the “Mir­a­cle on the Hud­son,” but it was a mirac­u­lous one nonethe­less. The plane was in­tact, as was the house it stopped in front of, according to De­tec­tive Vin­cent Garcia, a Nas­sau County po­lice spokesman.

The power lines, the po­lice said, had likely kept the in­ci­dent from turn­ing into a dis­as­trous wreck.

“The wires pre­vented the plane from ac­tu­ally strik­ing the ground,” Nas­sau County Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Patrick Ry­der said Sun­day night.

By Mon­day morn­ing, the Cessna had been ex­tri­cated from the power lines, Garcia said. It was sit­ting in the front yard of a house in Val­ley Stream, a vil­lage of about 37,000 peo­ple, 2 miles north­east of John F. Kennedy In­ter­na­tional Air­port in Queens.

The po­lice iden­ti­fied the two pas­sen­gers as Hongjoo Na, 29, and Jum­woo Jung, 26, and the pi­lot as Dongil Kim, 27. All three are from Queens.

The three men had man­aged to climb out of the plane be­fore emergency work­ers ar­rived, Garcia said. Only Na was in­jured; he had a sprained fin­ger. The men, of­fi­cials said, had been trav­el­ing in a plane they had rented from a flight school and air­craft rental ser­vice in Farm­ing­dale.

The trio had flown to Ni­a­gara Falls on Sun­day, of­fi­cials said, and they were re­turn­ing and at­tempt­ing to land the plane at Repub­lic Air­port, in East Farm­ing­dale. But Kim strug­gled to land in the fog and missed the run­way.

Af­ter four failed ef­forts to land at the re­gional air­port, the plane was di­rected to Kennedy Air­port, where Kim made two more at­tempts be­fore run­ning out of fuel, Garcia said.

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