Seaplane strikes rock in bay near North Sea

06/24/2010 12:00 AM |

A seaplane crashed in Peconic Bay Thursday.

Four people were rescued from a partially capsized seaplane in Peconic Bay last week after it hit a rock while taxiing to shore, authorities said. No serious injuries were reported.

State Police said one of the 1999 Cessna Caravan’s pontoons, the plane’s flotation devices, hit the rock after it had landed just south of Robins Island off North Sea about 1:30 p.m. Police said the pontoon began to fill with water and the left side of the plane began to sink. The pilot tried to bring the plane to the beach, but could not control its direction, police said.

The pilot, identified only as a man from Vineland, N.J., said he had taken off from the East River just off 23rd Street in Manhattan and had planned to arrive at the beach in the Bayview Oaks section of North Sea.

Coast Guard personnel arrived on the scene about 1:45 p.m. and helped the pilot, who was still inside the plane at the time, to shore. Three passengers, who had been ferried to shore by local residents, were already safely on the beach, State Police said.

The single-engine fixed-wing plane is registered to V1 Jet Management LLC of Manhattan, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, which is investigating the crash. The plane was in about four feet of water, the Coast Guard said.

Capt. Joseph Frohnhoefer, chief operations officer for the Southold-based Sea Tow, the company that pulled the Cessna from the bay, said employees attached inflatable air bags to make the plane steady.

“We rigged the air bags onto the pontoon along with a small air bag on the wing and brought the plane back up,” he said.

Capt. Frohnhoefer said the plane will most likely be able to fly again once it is repaired and cleared by the FAA.

He said that although recovering an aircraft from the water is rare, it is not unheard of. The company pulled a helicopter from Long Island Sound a few years ago.

Police said winds may have been a factor in the accident and they are continuing to investigate.

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