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Tourist Helicopter Pilot Makes Emergency Landing in River, Evokes Memories of "Miracle on the Hudson"

The passengers suffered minor injuries and refused medical attention

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Michael Campbell, the pilot of a helicopter carrying four tourists, made a controlled landing in the water after the engine lost power near Manhattan's West Side. Brynn Gingras reports.

    A helicopter carrying a family of Swedish tourists on a sightseeing tour of the city lost power shortly after takeoff Sunday and made an emergency landing in the Hudson River, authorities said, and the 22-year-old pilot who guided them all to safety is being called a hero.

    Pilot Michael Campbell made a safe, controlled landing in the river near 79th Street by the New York City Marina shortly before noon, a city official said. He, along with his two adult and two teenage passengers, were not hurt. They were pulled out of the submerged chopper and taken by jet ski to the 79th Street Boat Basin in Riverside Park, where all refused medical treatment.

    Campbell said he does not think his actions was exceptional.

    "I'm not a hero, I'm just a tour pilot," said Campbell, who flies for New York Helicopter Charter. "There are many great pilots on the river that would have done the exact same thing."

    Bystanders said Campbell made a split-second decision that may have saved his and his passengers' lives.

    "Whoever that pilot is has to be a remarkable pilot with nerves of steel," said Stefan Kaplan.

    Campbell said his uncle was also a tour pilot and that he's been flying since he was 17. He is the youngest person flying tourism charters over the city. 

    His quick-thinking bravery reminded some officials of the January 2009 day pilot Chesley Sullenberger landed a US Airways jet in the river after a bird strike cut power to its engines. All 155 people aboard survived.

    "Another miracle on the Hudson here?" said FDNY Deputy Chief Thomas McKavanagh. "I'd say so, a smaller version, but absolutely. The pilot did a terrific job considering he'd lost his engine power."

    Other aviation incidents over the waterways surrounding Manhattan have been deadly.

    In 2011, a helicopter crashed into the East River. Two passengers were killed at the scene, and a third died a month later.

    In 2009, a collision between a tour helicopter and a small plane over the Hudson River killed nine people.