NEW YORK – A small World War II vintage plane celebrating its 75th anniversary crashed in the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey on Friday, and police recovered a body from the single-seat plane, authorities said.
The plane, a P-47 Thunderbolt, crashed on a part of the river near where a US Airways commercial jet carrying 155 people splash-landed in 2009 in what became known as the Miracle on the Hudson.
New York Police Department Det. Michael Debonis said that scuba divers recovered a body from the plane around 10:30 p.m. Police haven’t confirmed the body is that of the pilot, the only person who was aboard the plane.
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The Federal Aviation Administration said the P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft, which went down near the George Washington Bridge around 7:30 p.m., was among three planes that had departed from Republic Airport in Farmingdale, on Long Island, just east of New York City. The other two aircraft returned to the airport and landed safely.
The American Airpower Museum is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the P-47 Thunderbolt this weekend. Museum spokesman Gary Lewi said the plane is kept at the museum and was taking part in an air show at nearby Jones Beach this weekend.
“Apparently the aircraft suffered an inflight engine failure and the pilot put it into the Hudson,” Lewi said. “I’m told the aircraft is at the bottom of the Hudson.”
The three planes, the P-47, a P-40 and a photo plane, had been flying over the Hudson to shoot promotional material for the Jones Beach air show, Lewi said.
New Jersey state police had previously reported that the pilot of the plane had been rescued and taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries, but they later retracted that statement and said they could no longer confirm a swimmer in the water was the pilot. They said the NYPD was the lead agency on the case.
North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue co-director Jeff Welz told The Jersey Journal that firefighters and the Coast Guard responded after the Friday night crash. He said the plane sank “pretty quickly.”
Welz initially said the plane was in the area for Fleet Week activities, but Lewi said that was incorrect.
The P47-Thunderbolts were the heaviest single-engine fighter planes used by Allied forces in World War II. They first went into service in 1942, with the 56th Fighter Group based on Long Island.
The one that crashed in the river flew periodically, including to other air shows, Lewi said.