Last Friday, May 27, saw the loss of American Airpower Museum pilot William Gordon, 56, in a water forced landing of the museum’s Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, 44-90447 “Jackie’s Revenge.” The incident occurred in the Hudson river opposite upper Manhattan during a photo shoot prior to the weekend’s airshow over Jones Beach in Long Island.
By all accounts Mr. Gordon encountered an emergency and handled it well, especially considering the very limited safe forced-landing options that exist over that part of the Hudson River. The recovered airplane clearly can be repaired, and undoubtedly will be. By all rights, Mr. Gordon should still be with us, accepting praise for saving the airplane. How he perished in what appears to be a survivable crash has not yet been disclosed, but the educated speculation is that he was unable to exit the airplane in the water because he was somehow trapped or incapacitated. It was a sad end to a skilled pilot.