Plummeting small plane snagged and saved by power lines
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.