Body recovered after WWII airplane crashes in Hudson River

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Search crews on the Hudson River in New York after a WWII era plane crashed into the water.

NEW YORK (CNN) — A vintage World War II plane flying in the New York area crashed in the Hudson River on Friday, killing one person.

The body of a 56-year-old man, presumed to be the pilot, was recovered in the river near the downed plane, the New York Police Department said.

Police identified the victim as William Gordon, from Key West, Florida.

A distress signal was sent before the one-seater plane crashed, a police spokesman said.

The P-47 Thunderbolt was one of three aircraft that departed Republic Airport on Long Island, according to Kathleen Bergen, spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration.

It was unclear whether the plane was in the area for an air show at Jones Beach State Park on Long Island.

The NYPD, New Jersey State Police and local police and fire departments responded to the scene, which was closer to the New Jersey side of the river. Divers were sent into the water.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been requested on site to recover the plane from the Hudson River and scrap it, said Sgt. Jeff Flynn of New Jersey State Police.

According to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, the Thunderbolt was a feared ground-attack aircraft.

“U.S. Army Air Forces commanders considered it one of the three premier American fighters, along with the P-51 Mustang and P-38 Lightning. The United States built more P-47s than any other fighter airplane,” the Smithsonian said.

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