A Manahawkin man used his professional piloting experience to land a small, rented plane on a Bay Head beach as it rapidly lost power Sunday afternoon, police said on Monday.
Christopher McMenamy, 31, who is a commercial pilot flying DC-10s, had rented the Cessna Skyhawk II from an airport in Princeton, said Bay Head Lt. Geoff Barger. McMenamy was shooting aerial photography before he had engine trouble and landed on the beach near East Avenue and Johnson Street at about 3:40 p.m., said Barger.
"He had to land somewhere and glided onto the beach as best he could," Barger said.
The pilot and his passenger, whose name is not available, were not injured, Barger said.
The plane was moved south down the beach to Williams Place and then onto East Avenue, Barger said.
"That was the easiest place to take a plane off the beach" given the width of the wing span, he said. "We didn't want to take the wings off the plane.
"And that was the best spot to move it off the beach because there are a couple of empty lots there where there used to be houses," said Barger, referring to damage wrought by Superstorm Sandy.
The wings are still on the plane but are a bit damaged, Barger said.
The Federal Aviation Administration examined the plane on Williams Place and is likely still investigating the cause of the engine failure, Barger said.
A Patch reader reported in the Comments section and on the Patch Facebook page that the plane nearly hit he and his daughter.
"This is the first I am hearing of this," Barger said. "And, if that was true, I'm not sure what else the pilot could have done. He had to land somewhere. It was coming down.
"Once the plane landed, it rolled down the beach about 40 yards" parallel to the shore line, Barger said.
On Sunday night, Bay Head police reported on their Facebook page that just after the plane landed, it hit a cinder block on the beach and flipped.
The pilot and his passenger had disembarked from the plane, which was upside down on the beach, and walked to an ambulance where they were checked, said Bay Head Assistant Fire Chief Joe Todisco at the firehouse on Bridge Avenue in Bay Head.
The Bay Head Police Department, on its Facebook page, reported on Sunday night: "At approximately 3:40 PM this afternoon, a small plane made an emergency landing on Bay Head beach between Johnson and Chadwick Streets. The Cessna Skyhawk II reported engine trouble while flying north along the coast and glided to a landing. While taxiing the aircraft to a safe location, the landing gear struck a cinder block on the beach, causing it to flip over. Pilot and passenger were uninjured and the plane was removed from the beach and taken to a safe location to be examined by FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) investigators."
State police and local police, fire and first aid squads from Bay Head, Mantoloking, Point Beach and Point Borough assisted at the scene. A crew removed the plane through an entry point on the beach at Williams Place in Mantoloking, Todisco said.
Initial information given to Patch that the plane had been low on fuel and that the wings were removed by authorities to facilitate moving it were not correct.
Patch will update this story as more information becomes available.