UPPER WEST SIDE — A sightseeing helicopter landed unexpectedly in the Hudson River Sunday after experiencing engine trouble shortly after takeoff, officials said.
The pilot and four passengers, two of them children, bailed from the New York Helicopters chartered flight into the water around 11:58 a.m., an FDNY official said.
Recreational boaters and a jet skier who'd been spending Sunday afternoon on the water rushed to the chopper's aid, bringing the five survivors to shore at the W. 79th Street Boat Basin on the Upper West Side.
The four passengers, who had taken off from a Wall Street helipad and were all members of the same family, were able to walk on their own after the incident, suffering only minor injuries, FDNY Chief Thomas Kavanagh said. They were brought to St. Luke's Roosevelt Hospital for evaluation.
The pilot refused medical attention, fire officials said.
"New York Helicopters took off from Wall Street and had engine trouble," said Kavanagh.
"It dropped from an unknown height and landed in the Hudson at 79th Street. Good Samaritans in a boat and jet ski moved the passengers prior to our arrival."
He applauded the fast-thinking "very skilled" pilot, Michael Campbell, for making a landing that spared any casualties, according to the Daily News.
"The pilot did a terrific job," Kavanagh said.
A humble Campbell, 22, said the trouble was linked to "a mechanical error."
"I was just doing my job," the young pilot said. "I just did what I had to do."
A man working for New York Helicopter who did not identify himself also praised Campbell as the two got into a van together.
"The pilot did an excellent job," he said, adding that the chopper seemed to be in "OK" condition.
A waiter at the nearby Boat Basin Cafe, Steve Gaillard, said he heard "a funny noise" about noon, looked up and saw the helicopter.
Gaillard said the chopper was flying northbound and was already low, near the water, when it landed about 50 yards away from the marina's boats.
It landed "on its belly," he said, and didn't make a large splash or appear to be smoking.
"It went down fast. In five seconds," said Gaillard, 34. "I've never seen anything like that before."