Tragedy on the Hudson: A vintage World War II plane crashed in the river Friday night, killing the pilot. Witnesses say smoke came from the single-seat P-47 Thunderbolt fighter as it made a U-turn before crashing into the water near the George Washington Bridge. It was submerged within seconds. Divers recovered the body of the pilot, 56-year-old Bill Gordon, around three hours later, the AP reports. The plane, which was based at Long Island's American Airpower Museum, had been taking part in a photo shoot with two other planes to promote this weekend's Bethpage Air Show.
Some witnesses say they thought the plane was performing an acrobatic stunt—until it went into the water. "It suffered some sort of catastrophic failure and the pilot decided to put it down in the Hudson," museum spokesman Gary Lewi tells the New York Daily News. "It's a tragedy." The museum had planned to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the P-47 this weekend. The crashed plane, known as "Jacky's Revenge," flew periodically to air shows, Lewi says. Gordon, former Chief Pilot of the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome, was an experienced pilot who had flown a variety of different vintage aircraft. (Read more New York City stories.)