Street closures for UN General Assembly

Pilot’s quick thinking saves lives after helicopter has apparent mechanical failure

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COPIAGUE, N.Y. — A flight lesson on Long Island went terribly wrong this morning. But thanks to a quick thinking pilot two people were able to walk away from a helicopter crash after apparent mechanical failure.

Witnesses say they saw and heard the engine in the helicopter sputtering as it flew low overhead Wednesday morning before it completely gave out.  When they got to the crash scene they couldn't believe everyone was able to walk away unharmed.

"As I was waving like this, the next thing it completely stalled," said Laura St. Angelo. "I saw his face in complete fear.  I'm not even going to make that face. God bless him that he's alive."

Just before noon witnesses say the helicopter crashed in the middle of Buena Vista Boulevard and East Alhambra on the border of Copiague and Lindenhurst.

"It wasn't like a car accident crash.  It was just like a sad silent thud.  Boom," said St. Angelo.

A flight instructor and teacher were returning from a lesson when the FAA says the pilot reported mechanical issues with his aircraft.
Surveillance video shows the chopper sliding across the street just seconds after it touched down.
But the pilot was ready to deal with the nightmare situation.

"It's called an auto-rotation.  It's using the energy already in the rosters as gently as possible," said Frank Delia of Academy Aviation, which runs the flight school.

But on the ground neighbors couldn't believe their eyes as the helicopter came barreling toward their block.

"I saw the helicopter coming down and I got scared a little bit because it was coming to my house," said Daniel Morales.

The chopper itself totaled but the only damage to the neighborhood a shredded streets sign warning drivers to slow down.

"I'm very happy with what the pilot did and I hope that they're investigation comes out the same," said Delia.

The FAA will here perform a full investigation, but at this point the crash seems to be the result of a mechanical failure.