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Series Of Small Plane Crashes Prompt Schumer To Arrange Safety Seminar

FARMINGDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- After a string of small plane crashes in the New York area, the NTSB is hosting a small plane safety seminar -- the first on Long Island.

Every day, dozens of small planes lift off from Republic Airport in Farmingdale. As CBS2's Alice Gainer explained, the airport is surrounded on all sides by neighborhoods, hotels, and a busy mall where shoppers worry about the planes just hundreds of yards away.

"There are a lot of lives around here, and like any plane crash it would be a disaster," one shopper said.

The fears are not unfounded. Pilots in both of the last two small plane crashes last month took off from Republic Airport. One was badly hurt after crashing his malfunctioning plane on the streets of Bayonne, New Jersey after just missing homes and businesses.

The other pilot and a passenger were killed when they crashed into trees at Gabresky Airport in Westhampton Beach.

The threat to the public prompted Senator Chuck Schumer to arrange a small pilot training seminar -- run by the NTSB -- later this year.

Teachers at SUNY Farmingdale's flight training school based at Republic Airport believe the extra training could help the recreational flyer.

"The most important part of being a proficient, good pilot is recurrent training. You have to stay current, you have to fly," Dr. Michael Canders said.

Student pilots said they're always conscious of the threat to neighbors when practicing their flights near the airport.

"It is an issue and a threat, especially because on Long Island there are congested areas," John Pelosa said.

Recreational pilot Paul Delmore said pilots are already well trained, and the threat is being overblown.

"There's a threat from everyone. There's a threat from walking across the parking lot," he said.

A spokesman for Senator Schumer told CBS2 that any pilots who sign up for the seminar will qualify for a discount on insurance.



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