15 years ago on August 8th, 2009
A small plane collides with a sightseeing helicopter over the Hudson River, killing all nine people involved
The collision occurred at approximately 1,100 feet above the Hudson near 14th Street just before noon and was caused by a series of compounding events, most serious of which is the freedom to fly the Hudson River corridor by sight and using personal judgment to avoid collisions. The small plane had been in contact with air traffic controllers at Teterboro Airport during the beginning of the flight, then headed south following the Hudson River past Manhattan. In later recordings of radio traffic, the pilot was heard to have switched to an incorrect radio frequency and was not in contact with Newark air traffic control, which also meant he was unreachable to warn of an impending collision.
Just before noon and in clear weather, the pilot of the small plane crashed into the rotors of a sightseeing helicopter operated by Liberty Helicopters that had recently lifted off from the 34th Street helipad. Both aircraft dropped into the water, killing the three family members aboard the plane and the pilot and two groups of tourists aboard the helicopter.
This collision, as well as a small plane that was crashed into an apartment building in 2006 are often cited by those seeking greater restrictions on the visual flight rules above the Hudson and East rivers, where numerous aircraft are allowed to fly unsupervised around the largest city in the country, occasionally crashing into the water, into buildings, or into each other.