Aviation News

July 29, 2009

Pilot Gets Lost, Wreaks Havoc at JFK

Map of John Prendergast's excellent adventure.
Map of John Prendergast's excellent adventure.
Map of John Prendergast's excellent adventure.

Map of John Prendergast's excellent adventure.

A retired Navy pilot flying his home-built plane from Virginia to Long Island made a wrong turn along the way, leaving him smack in the middle of Kennedy Airport’s bustling airspace and perilously close to an inbound 747, according to a New York Post report.

After flying north up the Jersey shore, 69-year-old John Prendergast planned to turn northeast over the Atlantic to Robert Moses State Park, where he would turn back to the northwest towards Republic Airport (FRG) in Farmingdale. It seems, however, that he made his northwest turn too soon, over Long Beach, leading him straight into JFK airspace.

While circling over the eastern end of the field for some time – without ever making radio contact with controllers – at one point Prendergast was directly in the path of an EVA Air 747 inbound from Atlanta. Eventually an NYPD chopper was able to contact him on an emergency frequency and escorted him to his intended destination of Republic Airport (FRG) in Farmingdale. “I don’t know what he’s doing – he’s going everywhere,” said one controller, warning traffic that there was an “unknown aircraft” in the area.

Prendergast was flying an experimental Vans RV-7A, registration N5025G, a two-seat, Mazda-powered aircraft he built himself, according to FAA records.

The FAA says it is investigating, but so far Mr. Prendergast has not yet been charged with any offense.

Listen: JFK Tower Recording of the Incident

[mp3_embed playlst="http://nycaviation.com/newspage/wp-content/uploads/2009/07/n5025g.mp3"](Courtesy of our friends at LiveATC.net)