Cresskill, NJ – Less than a day after deliberately guiding his Cessna to an emergency landing at the treed edge of a field in order to avoid casualties on the ground, a Chasidic pilot is being described as a devoted community member who is known for selflessness and his willingness to help others in need.
Spring Valley resident Yanky Rosenberg was piloting the Cessna 172 when the aircraft experienced engine troubles. Unable to fly the plane safely to the closest runway, located at New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport, when the engine failed completely, Rosenberg had hoped for an emergency landing in the Hudson but was unable to reach the river, setting his sights on the closest available spot: a Cresskill, New Jersey soccer field.
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With the accident taking place at approximately 5 PM, the field was not empty and instead of aiming for a safer landing in the center of the field, Rosenberg targeted the edge of the field, intentionally landing his plane near the trees.
“I spoke to police and they said it was amazing how they did it,” Rosenberg’s brother, Mendy Rosenberg, founder of Chesed Shel Emes, told VIN News. “People witnessed how he maneuvered the plane very professionally so that no one on the ground would get hurt.”
Rosenberg said that his brother’s actions come as no surprise to him.
“He would have no problem risking his own life to save others,” said Rosenberg. “He always thinks about others before himself.”
Yanky Rosenberg underwent lengthy surgery last night at Hackensack University Medical Center to undergo damage to both of his legs.
“They operated for about six or seven hours,” said Rosenberg. “Both legs needed pins and rods. He just woke up at around noon and they say he is in a lot of pain and they are doing further testing to see if he needs additional surgery.”
Rosenberg said that his brother, who operates a tire business and also learns several hours each day, is always the first to volunteer.
“Whenever we need someone to help us at Chesed Shel Emes, he is always ready to go for it,” said Rosenberg.
When 18 Jewish families were stranded in Killington, Vermont four summer ago after flooding washed out roads to the area, Yanky offered his services as an experienced pilot.
“We had to send food to those families and he was the first one to jump in and volunteer,” said Rosenberg.
A father of seven and a member of Chaveirim since 1999, Yanky was actively involved in a search this past week for five bochurim from New Square who got lost after going for a hike in the Kakiat Park in Ramapo.
“When it comes to search and rescue, he is the guy who takes charge,” said Chaverim of Rockland coordinator Yossi Margaretten. “He basically runs the searches, knows how to communicate well with others and tells everyone what to do calmly.”
Rosenberg, a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, was flying yesterday for the Coast Guard, something his brother Mendy said he did several times per week. Rosenberg joined the Coast Guard approximately ten years ago.
“He was looking to get more hours to become a better pilot, so he joined the Coast Guard,” said Margaretten. “Whenever he has free time he goes up for whatever they need. He is an experienced plot and he obviously did a real job yesterday.”
Rosenberg made news in 2006 when the Coast Guard refused to let him wear his yarmulka while on duty. As previously reported on VIN News, Rosenberg got in touch with both Senator John Kerry and Assemblyman Dov Hikind who intervened on his behalf and the Coast Guard modified its uniform policies, allowing Rosenberg to be part of the auxiliary without compromising on his religious beliefs.
In a release issued today, Hikind praised Rosenberg for his bravery yesterday, describing him as the new Sully Sullenberger, referencing the commercial pilot who made an emergency landing in the Hudson River in 2009, saving the lives of all 155 people on board a U.S. Air Flight out of La Guardia Airport.
“What happened last night was nothing short of miraculous and is a testament to the skill and dedication of Rosenberg and his co-pilot.”
That Rosenberg and the other occupant of the plane, identified as Coast Guard Auxiliary member Erik Pearson, survived the crash is nothing short of a miracle, according to some.
“Usually when a plane like this has a crash, no one comes out alive,” said Margaretten. “This is a person who is always doing for others and it is a neis that he is still here.”
“Hashem was with him and helped him,” added Mendy Rosenberg. “Baruch Hashem, the Aybishter was with him.”
The public is asked to daven for Yaakov Yosef ben Leah Ruchel.
The Coast Guard Auxiliary is a volunteer organization that promotes safety for recreational boaters. Rosenberg has been an auxiliary member since 2005 and Pearson since 2010.