Pilot may lose license over landing plane on public beach

By Aman Ali

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A pilot who landed a small plane on a public beach in New York City and later bragged he was simulating action seen on an Alaskan adventure TV show may lose his license, the FAA said on Wednesday.

Police said Jason Maloney, 24, of Cornwall, New York, made the unusual landing on Rockaway Beach in Queens Monday night despite being discouraged several times to do so by an air traffic controller.

Maloney told authorities he got the idea to land his single engine plane on the shore from watching the Discovery Channel’s “Flying Wild Alaska,” a reality show about a family navigating tough flights through Alaskan terrains.

No injuries were reported and no charges have been filed against Maloney, a medical student at Georgetown University.

FAA spokesman Jim Peters said the agency is investigating and is considering all forms of discipline against Maloney, ranging from no action to taking away his pilot license.

“We could seek suspension of his private pilot’s license, revocation or a civil penalty,” Peters said.

According to FAA records, Maloney has been a private pilot certified to fly single engine planes for almost two years. He took off from Republic Airport on Long Island Monday and had two passengers on board.

The Web site LiveATC.net, which monitors air traffic, posted a recording of Maloney’s in-flight conversations with an air traffic controller at John F. Kennedy Airport. In it, Maloney asked if he is allowed to fly below 500 feet.

“Just let us know if we’re up in your grill, you know?” Maloney said in the recording.

He then asked if he was allowed to make a landing at JFK, and the controller said he was not authorized to make that call. That’s when Maloney asked, “This might be crazy though, but are we allowed to land on the beach?”

The controller repeatedly told Maloney no because such landings should only be done in emergencies. A few minutes later, Maloney contacted the controller again with new information.

“My engine might be running a little teensy bit rough,” he said. “I’m going to make a precautionary landing. Is that all right with you?”

The controller replied, “Landing will be at your own risk.”

Maloney then said he was a paramedic and was going to land the plane on the beach because he had a sick passenger on board. That prompted air traffic to send police and ambulances to respond to the beach landing.

After he emerged from the plane, police said, Maloney told authorities “What’s the big deal? It happens all the time in Alaska.”

A detective replied, “Welcome to New York.”

Imitation may be the sincerest flattery, but it’s not necessarily the safest, said the Discovery Channel.

“While we are pleased that the pilot in New York landed safely, the bush pilots shown in Flying Wild Alaska are highly skilled professionals who are trained to operate aircraft in one of the most remote regions of America,” said the show’s executive producer Christo Doyle.

(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Greg McCune)

Pilot may lose license over landing plane on public beach