Friday, May 27, 2016

Republic P-47D Thunderbolt, PT-17 Inc., N1345B: Fatal accident occurred May 27, 2016 in New York, New York

Kathryn's Report:

PT-17 INC: 

FAA Flight Standards District Office:  FAA Teterboro FSDO-25

14 CFR Part 91: General Aviation
Accident occurred Friday, May 27, 2016 in New York, NY
Aircraft: REPUBLIC P 47D, registration: N1345B
Injuries: 1 Fatal.

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed. NTSB investigators may not have traveled in support of this investigation and used data provided by various sources to prepare this aircraft accident report.

On May 27, 2016, about 1930 eastern daylight time, a Republic P-47D, N1345B, ditched in the Hudson River following a reported loss of engine power. The commercial pilot was fatally injured and the airplane was substantially damaged. The experimental, exhibition-category airplane was registered to a corporation and was operated by the American Airpower Museum under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91 as an aerial observation flight. Day, visual meteorological conditions prevailed at the time of the accident, and no flight plan was filed. The local flight originated from Republic Airport (FRG), Farmingdale, New York, about 1900.

The accident aircraft was part of a three-ship formation and the pilot was participating in a photo shoot. During the flight, the pilot made a distress call to Newark air traffic control tower and subsequently ditched the airplane in the Hudson River, south of the George Washington Bridge.

The airplane impacted the water and sank. Attempts by first responders to rescue the pilot were unsuccessful. The wreckage was recovered from the river the following day and was transported to the West 30th Street Heliport, New York, New York. An initial examination of the wreckage revealed that the airframe was generally intact. The engine remained attached to the airframe. A cursory examination of the engine revealed that the number 18 cylinder on the Pratt and Whitney R-2800 radial engine was damaged, consistent with an in-flight occurrence. Oil was present on the exterior of the engine. 

The airframe and engine were retained for further examination.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with airplane single engine land, airplane multi-engine land, airplane single engine sea, rotorcraft-helicopter, and instrument airplane ratings. He also held a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) airframe and powerplant mechanic certificate. The pilot held a FAA second class medical certificate and reported 6,400 total hours of flying experience on his medical certificate application that was dated August 5, 2015.

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email,  and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email

Air show pilots performed an aerial salute (pictured) on Saturday to their comrade Bill Gordon.
Bill Gordon

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork)– People paid tribute to the beloved and respected pilot who was behind the controls in the moment a World War II fighter jet slammed into the Hudson River Friday evening.

Jones Beach air show viewers remembered pilot Bill Gordon at the American Airpower Museum in Farmingdale on Saturday, CBS2’s Raegan Medgie reported.

The air shows is usually the kick-off to Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start to summer. However, after yesterday’s tragic death of Gordon, part of the show honored the warbird pilot by keeping a spot empty in the sky.

Among the intricate routines that decorate the sky during the show was a missing man formation to honor one of its own. Those who saw the show called it beautiful and moving.

“He lived and breathed aviation,” pilot Scott Klyman, who flew with Gordon, told CBS2.

“Warbirds were always his passion… as it is for all of us here who love doing what we do,” Kylman said.

Gordon was killed yesterday during a photo-shoot over the Hudson River when something went terribly wrong. The 56-year-old was a veteran pilot with over 25 years of experience.

“What we know of Bill, he did everything right. When he realized he was facing a catastrophic situation, he quickly got the aircraft down in the safest place possible away from many structures and population,” Klyman said.

The missing man formation was done for a second and final time over the American Airpower Musuem where Gordon stored his P-47 Thunderbolt and P-40 Warhawk.

Arnold Wadley is a private pilot and familiar with Gordon’s flying, calling it “pretty moving” and saying “he does a good show that makes you think about the sacrifices veterans made to keep our country free.”

As the missing man formation left a hole in the sky for the experienced aviator, it also left a hole in the aviation community.

“We are proud to have called him one of our own,” Klyman said. “This loss is crushing to all of us here and many outside New York area. We’re going to miss him so much.”

Gordon’s team did not perform today. They’re expected to be part of the air show on Sunday.

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The former chief pilot and chief mechanic at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome in Red Hook was found dead Friday after the vintage World War II plane he was flying crashed into the Hudson River between New York City and New Jersey.

The NYPD at 7:29 p.m. Friday responded to a plane in distress in the Hudson River, near the 79th St. Boat Basin, a police spokesperson said. Emergency workers found a small, single-seat plane submerged in the water, the plane was secured and rescue divers searching for the pilot found 56-year-old Bill Gordon.

Police divers and Army Corps of Engineers personnel retrieved the wreckage of the plane today. It was loaded on to a barge Saturday and taken to a heliport in lower Manhattan, where investigators from the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board can examine it as part of their investigation.

Gordon, whose body was found about three hours after the crash, remained active at the Aerodrome after serving as chief pilot and chief mechanic for years. He had been a resident of Ancramdale, Columbia County, though the NYPD said he lived in Key West, Florida.

An investigation into the crash is ongoing.

“He was a great guy,” said Michael DiGiacomio, a board member and museum president at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome.

The single-seat P-47 Thunderbolt crashed on a part of the river near where a US Airways commercial jet carrying 155 people splash-landed safely in 2009 in what became known as the Miracle on the Hudson.

As chief pilot at the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, which stages air shows and offers plane rides, Gordon was in charge of other pilots and safety, DiGiacomio said. Gordon, who worked as a commercial pilot, was the Aerodrome's primary pilot for rides and participated in air shows.

Gordon's formal affiliation with the Aerodrome ended several years ago, but he continued to volunteer.

"He was an amazing pilot, one of the best in the business," DiGiacomio said.

Gordon was a veteran air show pilot with more than 25 years of experience, according to promotional material for a Key West air show last month. The website for the April 2-3 air show says Gordon was an "aerobatic competency evaluator" who certified performers to perform low-level aerobatics.

"The FAA will determine the reason for the inflight failure but we know this much. Bill was a nationally respected pilot and we were lucky to call him one of our own," Clyman said in a statement.

Police divers today were expected to begin raising the wreckage of the P-47 Thunderbolt, according to the Associated Press. The tragedy occurred during a promotion for the American Airpower Museum, which is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the P-47 this weekend.

Scott Clyman, flight operations pilot for the American Airpower Museum, called Gordon "an extraordinary pilot who understood the powerful message our aircraft represent in telling the story of American courage and valor."

A witness to the crash, Hunter College student Siqi Li, saw smoke spewing from the plane and thought it was doing a trick.

"It made kind of a U-turn, and then there was a stream of smoke coming from it," Li told the Daily News. "It was tilting down toward the water. I thought they were doing some sort of trick. I didn't realize it at first, but it was a plane crash."

The Federal Aviation Administration said the aircraft 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.

Museum spokesman Gary Lewi said the plane was kept at the museum and was taking part in an air show at nearby Jones Beach this weekend.

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.

A vintage World War II plane was plucked Saturday from the Hudson River as investigators sought an explanation for the stunning wreck that killed its veteran pilot.

Veteran pilot Bill Gordon couldn’t find another miracle inside his cockpit.

The longtime aviator, killed in the Hudson River wreck of a vintage World War II plane, survived a similar terrifying crash during a 2009 upstate air show, his stepbrother said Saturday.

“He just loved flying,” said sibling Fred Schneeberger, 57, of Ancramdale, N.Y. “He died doing what he loved. There’s no question about it.”

Gordon, 56, who recently relocated to Key West, Fla., was flying solo inside a P-47 Thunderbolt fighter when the plane started spewing smoke Friday night south of the George Washington Bridge.

The craft appeared mostly intact 16 hours later when hoisted nose-first out of the river, and Schneeberger expressed surprise that his lifelong friend Gordon had died.

“If anyone could have landed that on the water short of Chesley Sullenberger, I'm here to tell you it's him,” said Schneeberger, of Ancramdale, N.Y. “I rode with him for years.”

Gordon escaped with his life seven years ago when the engine of a World War I-era biplane stalled in mid-air, sending the aircraft crashing into a swamp near the Old Rhineback Aerodrome.

When rescuers reached the plane, Gordon has already escaped on his own and refused medical attention.

“He was the type of guy, when he got into a crisis, his hair didn’t stand up and he didn’t start screaming,” said Schneeberger.

Gordon, a 25-year cockpit veteran, died in the Hudson River wreck that occurred as a photographer took publicity shots for a Memorial Day weekend air show on Long Island.

The 13th annual Bethpage Air Show went off as scheduled Saturday, with a half-dozen World War II Navy planes flying in a missing man formation to honor their well-respected colleague.

The P-47 Thunderbolt was loaded onto an Army Corps of Engineering boat on the morning after the wreck and moved to a helipad on the southern tip of Manhattan.

Gordon’s body was found inside the plane by NYPD scub divers about three hours after the craft went down.

Schneeberger said Gordon left behind a son, a daughter and three grandchildren. The pilot was well-known and well-respected throughout the aviation industry.

"You ask anybody who worked with him, he was an airplane mechanic, certified, helicopter-rated, jet-rated, instrument-rated,” said Schneeberger. “This wasn't your backwood woodpecker.”


The pilot of a World War II-era plane from a Long Island museum died Friday night when his vintage plane crashed into the Hudson River, officials said.

The pilot, William Gordon, 56, of Key West, Florida, was identified early Saturday by the NYPD.

Officials said Gordon's plane crashed during an attempted emergency landing after its engine failed.

A major search aided by police boats and divers located the single-seat P-47 Thunderbolt fighter in the river near Edgewater, New Jersey, authorities said. The pilot's body was recovered late Friday night, an NYPD spokeswoman said at about 11 p.m.

An earlier erroneous tweet by New Jersey State Police had a male pilot being rescued with minor injuries and taken to a hospital.

The NYPD said the cause of the crash is being investigated by the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board.

The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt had been displayed at the American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport in Farmingdale, but it departed Friday with another vintage plane and a photo plane for a photo shoot, said museum spokesman Gary Lewi. It was supposed to perform in an air show this weekend, he said.

“Apparently the aircraft suffered an in-flight engine failure and the pilot put it into the Hudson,” Lewi said.

Jeffrey Nager said he and his wife, Carla, were on the terrace of their condo in Edgewater, New Jersey, when they heard a plane sputter, then saw it plummet.

Nager said the pilot attempted to make a controlled landing on the water, about a half-mile from shore,

“I saw an old-time plane essentially going down,” said Nager, a former Great Neck resident. “It was amazing to see. He came very close to the end of our complex. It looked like he was ditching the plane in the river, doing a Sully.”


A vintage WWII fighter plane crashed into the Hudson River Friday night — and the pilot’s body was pulled from the wreckage about three hours later.

The P-47 Thunderbolt suffered a possible mechanical failure at about 7:30 p.m. and went into the river near the Intrepid Museum at West 46th Street, cops said.

“I saw the plane flying really low and I was thinking ‘what is this guy doing?’ ” witness Frank Piazza, 44, told The Post. “Then it bounced two times and then it went straight under — I don’t think he made it.”

Horrified onlookers at the ­Waterside Restaurant in North Bergen, NJ, said the pilot, later identified as 56-year-old Bill Gordon of Key West, Fla., desperately tried to escape.

“He opened the cockpit but he couldn’t get out,” said Johnny Flores, 25. “When he tried to get out it started sinking really fast.”

Witness Joanne Stolfo, of Ridgewood, NJ, said, “It was a very solemn feeling because we knew we were watching someone die.”

Gordon’s body was recovered by NYPD scuba divers at around 11 p.m.

He had been flying in air shows, performing aerobatic maneuvers, for 25 years and was the lead pilot of a team that toured throughout the US and Central America, according to a bio on his webpage.

The one-seater left from Republic Airport in Farmingdale, LI, with another other vintage aircraft and a plane carrying a photographer taking promotional shots for this weekend’s air show at Jones Beach.

The Federal Aviation Administration said that the plane sent a distress call and went down about two miles south of the George Washington Bridge.

The aircraft was owned by the American Airpower Museum at Republic.

A spokesman for the museum, Gary Lewi, said the plane was doing a promotional shoot for this weekend’s air show at Jones Beach.

“It would appear that the aircraft suffered a mechanical problem,” Lewi said. “And [the pilot] elected to put it down in the Hudson.”

The other two other planes returned safely.

New Jersey State Police initially said the pilot was rescued with minor injuries, but later said it was a Good Samaritan swimmer who was trying to help.

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