By COLlive reporter
A pilot once barred from active duty in the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary because of his Chassidic customs is now being lauded as a hero for averting disaster.
Jack Rosenberg was flying a small plane on Thursday afternoon and told an air traffic controller he had a “rough engine.” Moments later, he reported that he had a complete engine failure.
The Cessna plane had originated out of LaGuardia Airport and but couldn’t make it back, 1010 WINS reported. Rosenberg was given priority treatment to try to land at Teterboro Airport, but did not reach it.
Tryin to avoid hitting any people on the ground, Rosenberg attempted to land in in an empty soccer field on Third Street in Cresskill, New York, and then the plane careened into some trees.
“Where they landed on the very edge of the field, in my opinion, they did a really good job of averting a tragedy by getting over there,” commented Cresskill Police Chief Edward Wrixon.
John McCarthy, a local resident who was walking his dog, said the pilot’s decision to move the plane away from nearby homes and the swim club was a heroic move.
“It came down over the high school and somehow got going around this way and ended up in a tree over there with an amazing move,” he said told CBS2.
The two people aboard the plane were taken to Hackensack University Medical Center in Hackensack. They were last listed in serious condition, but with non-life threatening injuries, an official reported.
When Rosenberg become fully certified for the Coast Guard Auxiliary, he was told he could not wear his yarmulke on duty. Coast Guard Uniform regulations disallowed the wearing of religious apparel, except during religious services.
Rosenberg was not allowed to embark on missions despite completing his training and certification and passing a federal security clearance review.
New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind said he was instrumental in getting the Coast Guard to change its uniform policy, accommodating Rosenberg’s desire to serve his country.
“I have known Jack (Yaakov Yosef) Rosenberg for many years,” Hikind said following the news about the crash. “He has long gone out of his way to help anyone in need. What happened last night was nothing short of miraculous and is a testament to the skill and dedication of Rosenberg and his co-pilot.
“I just spoke to Rosenberg’s wife and members of his family this morning to convey my wishes for a speedy recovery. He broke both legs and was in surgery for over nine hours. This is a dedicated volunteer, a devoted father to seven kids.
“A few years ago, when Rosenberg was told he could not serve in the Coast Guard Auxiliary because of his yarmulke, he contacted me. Thankfully the Coast Guard did the right thing then. Today, we were proven right.”