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Pilot: Luggage may have cut engine's fuel in NYC chopper crash

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Pilot says luggage may have cut engine fuel The pilot of a helicopter that crashed in New York City's East River -- killing five people -- said a piece of luggage may have inadvertently shut down the engine and caused the aircraft to fall into the water.

Officials said the Eurocopter AS350 chopper, operated by Fly Liberty Charter, left Kearny, N.J., and was on a photo shoot when it plunged into the frigid river after a flight of about 11 minutes.

Before the aircraft struck the water and overturned, the pilot, identified as Rick Vance, radioed to an air traffic controller, "Mayday, mayday, mayday, East River. Engine failure."

A conversation moments before the crash indicates the pilot requested permission from air traffic controllers to fly up the river and over Manhattan's Central Park. The pilot then issued his distress call.



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