Michael Campbell, a young helicopter pilot, became a hero on Sunday when he performed a safe landing on the Hudson River after the charter helicopter, carrying a family of Swedish tourists, lost power mid-flight. Campbell deployed the helicopter’s emergency pontoons, allowing the aircraft to float on the river while waiting for help; there were no injuries.

“All of a sudden, I heard the noises, a big boom. I had about twenty seconds before I hit the ground…I first had to confirm my biggest fear – that the engine was out. I just needed to stay calm – because if I panicked, I knew it wouldn’t be a very good ending,” Campbell told The New York Post.

Deputy Fire Chief Thomas McKavanaugh told reporters that the helicopter lost all engine power after 12 minutes of flight, and commended Campbell on his landing.

“The pilot did a terrific job considering he’d lost his engine power,” McKavanaugh said.

Campbell insists that he is no hero, attributing the safe landing to his training.

“Everybody has an idea of what they would do in this situation; everyone is just as capable, but you never know until you’re truly tested. Yesterday just turned out to be a best-case scenario and I know that with the experience I have and the training I’ve been put through, I was able to perform to the best of my ability and react under pressure,” Campbell told CBS News.

The Bell 206 helicopter is reportedly registered to New York Helicopter, a business that offers tours for tourists, and Campbell has been flying for them for about a year.

Michael Roth, owner of New York Helicopter, commended Campbell on his abilities and stated that his helicopters are checked daily. The reasons for the malfunction are unknown, but the FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board are both investigating.

Sully Sullenberger, the US Airways pilot who famously landed a commercial flight safely onto the Hudson in 2009 congratulated Campbell via Twitter. “Congrats to pilot #MichaelCampbell for safely landing helicopter on the #Hudson. Admirable job!” Sullenberger tweeted along with a link to the story.

When Campbell heard about the comparisons to Captain Sullenberger, he continued to play down his part in the heroics.

“Granted, we saved lives. But any other pilot would have done the same thing at the end of the day,” Campbell told the Post.

Campbell hopes to be back in the air later this week.

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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