helicopter on beach
Atlantic City police and workers from Steel Pier Helicopters work to get the helicopter off the Florida Avenue beach Sunday.

ATLANTIC CITY - A helicopter-tour pilot landed on the Florida Avenue beach Sunday evening after he felt the craft moving strangely 400 feet above the Boardwalk, said Bob Conti, the owner of Steel Pier Helicopters.

Pilot Robert Schapiro and his two passengers were not injured, nor were any beachgoers, Conti said, and the 18-month-old helicopter was not damaged.

"Could have been a bird strike, could have been anything," Conti said. "This is the second one we've done in eight years."

Fire Department crews were helping load the helicopter on a truck for transport to Atlantic City International Airport, Conti said. A mechanic will inspect it today or Tuesday.

The company flies hundreds of five-minute pleasure trips, departing from and returning to the Steel Pier. Schapiro landed the helicopter about a mile down the beach from the pier, looking for the closest clear spot when he sensed trouble.

"The pilot did a great job, used his instincts," Conti said. "We don't believe anything went wrong. Even if they have a complete power loss, which this was not a power loss, they can land."

Schapiro has flown for the company for 2½ years and is a flying instructor himself, Conti said. He landed the helicopter at the same speed as a normal landing.

The amused passengers were reimbursed, Conti said.

E-mail Eric Scott Campbell:

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