WW2 Plane Crashes Into Hudson River Between New York And New Jersey

Police divers are now searching for the wreckage.

A vintage World War II plane crashed into the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey killing the pilot.

The P-47 Thunderbolt crashed on Friday during a promotion for the American Airpower Museum, which is celebrating the 75th anniversary of the P-47 this weekend, the Associated Press reported.

<strong>NYPD divers near the site the plane went down</strong>
NYPD divers near the site the plane went down

Scuba divers recovered the body of 56-year-old William Gordon, of Key West, Florida, about three hours after the crash.

Investigators will now try to determine what caused it.

Gordon was a veteran air show pilot with more than 25 years of experience, according to promotional material for a Key West air show last month. The website for the air show says Gordon was an "aerobatic competency evaluator" who certified performers to perform low-level aerobatics.

Scott Clyman, flight operations pilot for the American Airpower Museum, called Gordon "an extraordinary pilot who understood the powerful message our aircraft represent in telling the story of American courage and valour."

"The FAA will determine the reason for the inflight failure but we know this much. Bill was a nationally respected pilot and we were lucky to call him one of our own," Clyman said in a statement.

<strong>Search and rescue boats at the scene</strong>
Search and rescue boats at the scene

The single-seat P-47 crashed on a part of the river near where a US Airways commercial jet carrying 155 people splash-landed safely in 2009 in what became known as the Miracle on the Hudson.

A witness to the crash, Hunter College student Siqi Li, saw smoke spewing from the plane and thought it was doing a trick.

"It made kind of a U-turn, and then there was a stream of smoke coming from it," Li told the Daily News. "It was tilting down toward the water. I thought they were doing some sort of trick. I didn't realise it at first, but it was a plane crash."

The Federal Aviation Administration said the aircraft, which went down near the George Washington Bridge around 7.30pm, was among three planes that had departed from Republic Airport in Farmingdale, on Long Island, just east of New York City. The other two aircraft returned to the airport and landed safely.

Museum spokesman Gary Lewi said the plane was kept at the museum and was taking part in an air show at nearby Jones Beach this weekend.

The P47-Thunderbolts were the heaviest single-engine fighter planes used by Allied forces in World War II. They first went into service in 1942, with the 56th Fighter Group based on Long Island.

The one that crashed in the river flew periodically, including to other air shows, Lewi said.