Just because you see something on TV doesn't mean you should try it at home. Or in the air, for that matter.
But that's what one private New York pilot did this week when he made a non-emergency emergency landing on a beach after seeing it on the show "Flying Wild Alaska."
Here's the jaw-dropping audio between pilot Jason Maloney and a local air traffic controller:
The New York Times details the exchange and Maloney's story, which doesn't seem to add up:
Mr. Maloney soon requested permission to cruise along the Rockaways shore and sounded quite relaxed, even uncharacteristically so by pilot standards. Twice, upon receiving authorization to fly below 500 feet along the shoreline, the pilot replied, “Roger,” but stretched it out and pronounced it, “rod-jaaah,” according to the recording. He also told the controller, who was nearby at Kennedy Airport monitoring outgoing flights, “Just let us know if we’re up in your grill, you know?”
At some point, [passenger] Ms. Protter became sick, and Mr. Maloney made an unusual request to the controller. He said he wanted to bring a “pastor” to Kennedy “who’s doing some medical mission work. Where would I drop them off at your airport?”
“That would be up to the Port Authority,” the controller replied, referring to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs the airport. Whether Mr. Maloney contacted the Port Authority on another frequency, or what he meant by “medical mission,” was unclear. Mr. Maloney’s family declined to comment on the matter on Tuesday, and his passengers did not respond to voice and e-mail messages.
A short while later, Mr. Maloney presented his next idea to the controller.
“Hey tower, I’ve got a question for you,” he said. “This might be crazy, but are we allowed to land on the beach?”
“I don’t think so, unless it was an emergency,” the controller replied. The recording was posted to the Web by LiveATC.net, which tracks air communications.
“I’m a paramedic,” Mr. Maloney said. “Is there anybody I can ask?” (Mr. Maloney is studying medicine at Georgetown University; his grandmother, Helen Maloney, 82, called him “the most wonderful person that I know” and said he builds homes for Habitat for Humanity.)
The controller told him that all the beaches are public and that only emergency landings would be allowed. Mr. Maloney asked if there were any private beaches nearby, and the controller said he did not believe so.
Mr. Maloney then had another concern: “You know, tower, my engine might be running a little, teensy, teensy bit rough. A little teensy bit rough.”
The controller asked if he needed help, and Mr. Maloney said, “You know what, we should be fine, but I’m going to make a precautionary landing. Is that all right with you?”
“Landing will be at your own risk,” the controller replied.
“We got that,” Mr. Maloney said. “We’ve got a sick passenger, so we’re not going to declare an emergency, but we’re going to land on the beach.”
“Well, then that would be an emergency,” the controller said. “Hold there, they’re going to be sending police.”
When confronted by police after the landing, Maloney responded, "What’s the big deal? It happens all the time in Alaska.”
That prompted one of the most appropriate retorts I've heard in a long time: "Welcome to New York."