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Small Aircraft Makes Emergency Landing At Sunken Meadow State Park

KNIGS PARK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- No one was injured when a small aircraft made an emergency landing on the shoreline at Sunken Meadow State Park on Suffolk County's north shore.

The pilot of the Cessna 152 plane was teaching a student to fly when they were forced to land at around 10:50 a.m. Friday, WCBS 880's Sophia Hall reported. Officials reported the aircraft landed around 300 yards east of the parking lot, on the beach.

Witness Tim Bent said he was working out on the beach when he noticed the plane flying very low overhead.

"I didn't think too much of it. I didn't realize that he was gonna try and land, and then apparently he did. I did not see that part of it. Then all these police officers showed up all of a sudden everywhere," Bent said. "When I saw him, he had a tail wind, but he landed into the wind, so apparently he knew what he was doing, cause he hit it right on the money. There's tracks coming down the beach. That was pretty skillful."

The two men inside the plane told the authorities they were having engine troubles.

"I decided to land on the beach, save my life, that's it," pilot Robert Keletii told CBS2's Vanessa Murdock.

Sunken Meadow Plane Emergency Landing
Small plane makes emergency landing on beach of Sunken Meadow State Park on March 11, 2016. (Credit: Sophia Hall/WCBS 880)

Keletii was just minutes out of Republic Airport, giving a lesson in the north practice area when the engine failed at 3,000-ft.

He radioed for help.

"He talked to me. He declared mayday, mayday, mayday, then that was it. I was able to get that he had two souls on board before he went down," an Air Traffic Controller explained.

Keletii said this has never happened to him in 35 years of flying.

"He did what he was trained to do. Found a place to land, did it safely on the beach," Long Island Aviators Co-Owner, John Cronley said.

Cronley also owns the plane which is registered out of Farmingdale, Long Island, CBS2 reported.

Keletii had roughly 2 minutes to glide from 3,000-ft to safety.

The student was on his first lesson, and will be going back up on Saturday.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.


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