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Body recovered after WWII airplane crashes in Hudson River

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NEW YORK — A vintage World War II plane flying in the New York City area crashed in the Hudson River on Friday evening, officials said.

The New York City Police Department recovered a body, presumed to be the pilot, from the river and near the downed plane, an NYPD spokesman said.

A distress signal was sent before the crash, 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 Friday evening 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.