Philip Ippolito, Made Miracle Landing On George Washington Bridge In 1965, Is Dead
From SNCA reader Jason Smith comes word that Philip Ippolito who on December 26, 1965 at age 19, made an emergency landing on the George Washington Bridge, died on December 19, 2021, at age 75.
Ippolito died of a heart attack in his home in Suffolk County, NY. He lived with a long time girlfriend and had no children. Survivors include his older sister Rose and a younger sister, Janice. A brother Robbie died in 2019.
In 1965 Ippolito was a flying novice, having logged only 85 hours of flight time. With his plane in distress, Ippolito made the risky decision to land on the bridge. Along with his passenger Joseph Brennan, the two suffered only minor injuries. Ippolito decided against touching down in the Hudson River because Brennan could not swim. The FAA later tried unsuccessfully to revoke Ippolito’s pilots license.
You can read the amazing full story which we covered in 2015 by clicking here.
In 1974 the New York Times caught up with Ippolito to find that he had founded Eastern Air Services a charter-flight and flight instruction service with his brother. By then, Ippolito had 10,000 hours of flying experience. Reading the comments of our readers in our original story about the landing, Phil Ippolito, was a very good flight instructor.
Ippolito’s’ sister Rose said, “Phillie impressed everyone he met with not only his knowledge but his unequaled humor. He’d tell me stories and had me roaring with laughter.
After Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger made his miracle landing on the Hudson in 2009, a Tribeca neighborhood newspaper ran an article comparing Sullenberger’s landing to Ippolito’s feat.
Soon afterwards, Ippolito received three voicemails from someone wanting to know details of how Ippolito made his landing.
Ippolito called back and his inquirer turned out to be actor Robert De Niro.
De Niro with actor Joe Pesci became so interested after reading about Ippolito’s adventure the pair rented a helicopter to take them to the bridge. Seeing the bridge from the perspective Ippolito had decades earlier gave De Niro and Pesci a deep appreciation for the skill necessary to safely land the plane.
During their phone conversation De Niro told Ippolito he didn’t know how Ippolito could pull off such a difficult maneuver. Ippolito’s simple reply was, “You can do anything when you’re scared shit!”