What to Know
- The FAA says the chopper pilot made a Mayday call just before going down in the Atlantic Ocean off Gilgo Beach around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday
- A commercial flight heading to JFK heard the call for help and notified FAA controllers at a Westbury facility
- The two people on board the downed chopper were rescued and put on a Coast Guard boat; they were not believed to be hurt
A small helicopter carrying two people, including the only son of WWE owner and chairman Vince McMahon and U.S. Small Business Administrator Linda McMahon, made a controlled emergency landing in the Atlantic Ocean, off Long Island's Gilgo Beach Wednesday morning, prompting a major emergency response, according to Suffolk County officials.
Shane McMahon, 47, who left the family business in 2009 and returned to WWE in 2016, was on the Robinson R44 that went down in the water about a half-mile off shore around 10:25 a.m., according to officials at the scene and the Federal Aviation Administration.
Authorities said the pilot made a mayday call just before the emergency landing.
A commercial flight heading to John F. Kennedy International Airport heard the call for help and notified FAA controllers, the agency said. McMahon and the other passenger ended up in the water but both had life vests. A kayaker rescued one of them; NYPD divers helped the other. They weren't hurt.
Shane McMahon later Tweeted a statement of thanks.
The FAA described the incident as a crash, but video from the scene showed the red helicopter resting on pontoons, apparently not submerged. The four-seater Robinson R44 is designed to land in the water, Coast Guard officials say, and the pilot deployed the pontoons to allow the aircraft to land safely.
A Coast Guard official on scene said the helicopter, which had taken off from Westchester County Airport, had some sort of mechanical issue that prompted the ocean landing. The FAA is investigating.
The type of chopper is often used for training, taking photographs and tours.
The National Transportation Safety Board has records of 221 crashes involving Robinson R44s dating from 1993 to the present. Two hundred and three people died as a result of those crashes.
In the last five years, the U.S. has seen 39 crashes involving that type of chopper, according to federal data.