A helicopter chartered for a photo shoot plunged into the East River Sunday evening, killing all five of its passengers in a terrifying crash that was caught on video.
The pilot escaped and emerged from the frigid water, yelling for help after the 10-minute flight.
When I was a TV reporter I used to fly in our station's chopper occasionally. It was always a thrill for me because it was new and exciting. Have a bird's eye view of the city was something I'll never forget. But riding with seasoned pilots and photographers gave me a sobering perspective. They burn out quickly because of numerous close calls. They told me harrowing stories of losing power, losing control and near misses. One cameraman, who had a nervous breakdown shortly after a rode with him, said he'll never forget the time he and his pilot emerged from a fog bank and came just feet away from slamming into a hotel.
The men and women who fly these choppers often take a big risk. Not only with their physical safety, but with their mental health as well.