Seaplane disabled in East River, passengers rescued, FDNY says

Ten people were rescued from a disabled seaplane in the East River on Friday after the aircraft had trouble during takeoff, FDNY Deputy Assistant Chief Michael Gala said.

The pilot tried to take off from the water about 300 yards away from FDR Drive at 23rd Street around 5:30 p.m., but on the third attempt the plane hit the water and the aircraft was damaged, according to Gala. The plane was headed for the Hamptons.

“On the third time it hit the water, fracturing three struts on the left side of the plane, which caused the plane to list,” he said. 

FDNY and NYPD personnel arrived at the scene within three minutes of the first call, according to Gala. All of the passengers aboard the plane were accounted for shortly before 6 p.m., the FDNY tweeted.

The passengers were evaluated at the scene and there were no reports of injuries, the FDNY said. 

Bill Lawrence, a writer and producer best known for his work on “Spin City,” “Cougar Town,” and “Scrubs,” was apparently aboard the disabled seaplane. He posted several photos, including video of the water landing from inside the plane, to his Instagram account during and shortly after the incident.

“Our sea plane. Going to go drink tequila continuously. #Lucky,” he posted along with a photo of him out on the water and the disabled plane in the background.

In another post that also featured his daughter, Lawrence thanked the Coast Guard for their assistance. 

After the rescue, the plane was towed to the marina at 23rd Street and FDR Drive, fire officials said.

The fixed-wing Cessna is registered to Virginia-based Tailwind Air Service, according to Federal Aviation Administration records. It was built in 1999 and last certified in July 25, 2016, records show.

A spokeswoman for Tailwind declined to comment beyond saying its plane was “disabled” on the East River and that all occupants evacuated safely.

The National Transportation Saftey Board is investigating the cause of the incident.

With Matthew Chayes and Ellen Yan