Audio reveals pilot couldn’t ‘see a thing’

Dramatic audio captured the final frantic minutes aboard a small plane that crashed in Westchester County, New York, as the pilot declared an emergency after developing engine trouble — and chillingly said, “I can’t see a thing up here.”

Pilot Boruch Taub and his passenger, Benjamin Chafetz, were killed when the single-engine Beechcraft A36 crashed about 1.5 miles from the Westchester County Airport on Thursday.

The Cleveland residents were heading from JFK Airport to the Cuyahoga County Airport in Richmond Heights, Ohio, when the pilot reported engine trouble at about 5 p.m.

The nearly nine-minute recording reviewed by The Post from reveals how quickly the flight deteriorated — beginning when the plane was flying at 3,700 feet and climbing to 8,000 and heading north.

“New York Departure, N19MT, can we stop our climb at 6,000?” the pilot says.

The controller informs him that he can level off at 6,000 briefly but that he’d have to climb to 8,000 in about 10 to 15 miles.

Pilot Boruch Taub declared an emergency after reporting that the single-engine Beechcraft A36 had a broken cylinder and was losing oil pressure.
Yeshiva World News

Location of the crash in Westchester County
The Beechcraft A36 was headed from JFK Airport to the Cuyahoga County Airport in Ohio before it crashed a short distance from Westchester County Airport.
Chopper2/CBS New York

It took the plane 19 minutes to reach 6,000 feet, according to data from flight-tracking site FlightAware.

“All right, I’m just not getting the performance we were expecting and I’m not certain why,” Taub says. “I can’t understand why. We’re climbing at about 200 feet per minute, so 8,000 would take a long time.”

The pilot complains about the lack of “vertical speed” and then tells the controller that he has identified the problem as a “dead cylinder” in the Lycoming six-cylinder engine.

“So we would like to go to Westchester,” he says.

“Are you declaring an emergency?” the controller asks.

Plane crash victim Binyamin “Ben” Chafetz
Binyamin “Ben” Chafetz, of Beachwood, Ohio, was the passenger killed on the small plane that crashed Thursday night near White Plains, New York.
LinkedIn / Benjamin Chafetz

Chopper 2 is checking out the aftermath of a small plane crash in Westchester County that left two people dead. Read more: Watch more coverage on CBS News New York:
Wreckage from the Ohio-bound flight that crashed on Jan. 19.
Chopper2/CBS New York

“Not at this time,” Taub replies, but just seconds later adds: “I am declaring an emergency. My oil pressure is dropping.”

The controller instructs the pilot to “fly wings level” at 5,000 feet and informs him that the cloud base is 300 feet — suggesting that the visibility was poor during rainy conditions.

Taub was cleared for the ILS (Instrument Landing System) on the 6,549-foot-long Runway 16 at Westchester County Airport.

“I flew that ILS a couple of weeks ago,” he says.

Moments later, the emergency took on added urgency.

“Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!” the pilot declares.

“Understand. The airport is just behind you now. You wanna start a left turn if you can. I’m seeing a right turn,” the controller says. “You’re set up perfectly for a left base to Runway 16, 11 o’clock, just under 2 miles.

“You look beautiful for the left base for Runway 16,” he adds.  

But the pilot appears to be having increasing difficulty.

“If you can keep giving me vectors. I can’t see a thing out here,” he says.

In one of the final transmissions, the controller says: “You wanna correct back to the left for the runway at your 10 o’clock.”

He adds, tragically, “Radar contact lost.”

 Dead pilot Boruch Taub
Boruch Taub, of Cleveland Heights, Ohio, was at the controls of the doomed plane.
Facebook / Boruch Taub

The two victims, prominent members of Cleveland’s close-knit Orthodox community, were flying back to Ohio after attending a funeral.

Shortly before the crash, Chafetz managed to send a text message to a WhatsApp temple prayer group, apparently believing he was giving a private farewell to his wife.

“I love you and the kids. I am sorry for everything I have done. … We lost engines. Call and have community say Tehillim,” the Jewish Chronicle reported, referring to the Hebrew term for the Book of Psalms.

“Ben definitely sounded in distress, but he said to pray, because I don’t believe he ever gave up for a second; I don’t believe that Ben or Boruch would ever give up. I think his love, his humility and his faith came through with those texts,” Rabbi Nissim Abrin with the Bais Avrohom community told FOX 8.

Map showing the path of the doomed flight
The wreckage was located in woods behind an office park in Armonk, a hamlet in the town of North Castle, about 1.5 miles from Westchester County Airport.

“We were hoping for the best, bracing for the worst, and unfortunately, when the news was confirmed, we plunged into, you know, shock and grief,” he said.

“They were both devoted husbands, loving husbands, fathers and very proud of their families,” Abrin added.

Chafetz, who is survived by his wife, Smadar, and seven children in Beachwood, Ohio, owned web development company 121eCommerce.

Taub owned Masterworks Automotive & Transmission in Cleveland Heights.

The Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are investigating the crash.