All Bodies Recovered from Hudson River Collision Wreckage

Two bodies were recovered late Tuesday from inside the wreckage of the Piper PA-32R-300 Lance that collided with a tour helicopter over New York's Hudson River. That means officials have now accounted for all nine killed in the accident that occurred at midday last Saturday in clear skies. The instrument-rated pilot of the Piper, 60-year-old Steven Altman, departed from nearby Teterboro Airport moments before the collision, after stopping to pick up his brother and his nephew. There was some confusion between Altman and the Teterboro tower controller as to which route the Piper would take toward its destination, Ocean City in southern New Jersey. Ultimately, Altman said, "Tell you what, I'll take down the river." That placed the Piper inside the Hudson River VFR corridor, a narrow strip of VFR airspace that extends from the surface to 1,100 feet, and from the New York side of the river to the east and the New Jersey side to the west. Altitude readouts for the Lance show it flying at just that height or about 100 feet lower until the collision moments later. The helicopter, a Eurocopter AS350 operated by Liberty Helicopter Tours, had departed from the 30th Street Heliport and was in a climbing turn southbound as part of its planned 12-minute tour. Along with the pilot, New Zealander Jeremy Clarke, 33, were five tourists from Bologna, Italy. The right wing of the Piper separated after it contacted the rotor disc of the helicopter and both aircraft spun into the water with nonsurvivable impact. Though the busy Hudson River corridor has been the scene of many aircraft accidents over the years, the accident last Saturday is the first collision in memory.

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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