NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — Two people and a dog were helped to shore by bystanders after their small single-engine plane landed in the Quinnipiac River late Thursday afternoon, authorities said.
The couple was flying to New Bedford, Massachusetts, when the plane's engine began to sputter. Sean Scanlon, executive director of Tweed New Haven Airport, told reporters the pilot radioed the control tower and was instructed to land at Tweed. However, the pilot felt it wasn’t possible and landed in the river instead.
Authorities said the couple was shaken up but uninjured. The bystanders brought the couple to shore by boat.
Hours after the surprise landing, the top of the airplane was visible above the water. Department of Energy and Environmental Protection officials said the plane was resting on oyster beds and will have to be moved, likely by using airbags and a crane, to a nearby dock where the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and National Transportation Safety Board can conduct an investigation.
A small amount of fuel has leaked from the 1988 Beechcraft plane but DEEP officials said the environmental impact appears to be minimal.
Jonathan Perlich, co-owner of the Quinnipiac Marina on Front Street, told the New Haven Register he saw the plane land in the water at 4:56 p.m., thinking it was a seaplane at first.
“He came in nice and easy,” he said of the pilot.
Rick Fontana, New Haven's director of emergency operations, told the New Haven Register the couple began their ill-fated trip in Wellington, Florida. They had stopped in Woodbine, New Jersey, before making the river landing in Connecticut.