A private plane that crashed, killing its pilot and seriously injuring the lone passenger, a doctor from Morristown, was sent to a closed airport with a nonexistent runway, according to a preliminary investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board.
The crash occurred in Hicksville, New York, on Long Island Aug. 16 around 7:47 a.m. The plane left Westhampton Beach, New York and was making its way to Morristown, the NTSB reported. The were two occupants: the pilot and a single passenger, Carl Giordano, 55, of New Vernon.
A review of the communication between the pilot, a 59-year-old commercially licensed aircraft operator and air traffic control revealed the plane was flying around 6,500 feet when the pilot reported “having a little bit of a problem,” the report said.
The pilot reported to air traffic control he would need to “take it down,” meaning land the plane, and was provided with landing options, including LaGuardia and JFK airports, along with the Westchester Airport and the Republic Airport in Farmingdale, New York.
The pilot then told air traffic control Republic Airport was closest to his location, but he may not make it there, the report said. Air traffic control then gave information on “Bethpage strip,” and told the pilot the airport was closed, but there was a runway there.
The pilot made his way toward that strip, the report said, but told air traffic control he was unable to see the runway while heading in the direction and descending.
Radio and radar contact were eventually lost, and the passenger, Carl Giordano, told investigators he heard a loud “pop” and a flicker of light came from the engine area, followed by an “oil smell,” the report said. The engine then sputtered, Giordano said, and lost power. The pilot attempted to restart the plane but was unsuccessful.
Giordano, 55, is from the New Vernon section of Harding Township and is a surgeon in Morristown. He sustained a broken jaw and other minor injuries. The pilot died as a result of the crash.
The plane was found inverted and burned on the tracks of the Long Island Rail Road when emergency responders arrived. The propeller assembly separated from the engine during the accident sequence, the report said, and the right wing was found under the grade crossing cantilever arm.
The investigation revealed the Bethpage Airport runway is now occupied by industrial buildings. The plane crashed approximately 500 yards from the northwest end of the former runway.