WWII airplane crashed during promotional flight

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Crews searched the Hudson River for the plane on Saturday morning.

Crews searched the Hudson River for the plane on Saturday morning.

(CNN) — Pilot William Gordon, who was flying the vintage World War II plane that went down in the Hudson River in New York, will be remembered with a flyover at the American Airpower Museum Saturday.

Gordon, 56, was flying the museum’s P-47 Thunderbolt in a photo shoot to promote the Bethpage Air Show Friday when the plane went down.

He had been scheduled to participate in the show.

“The pilot was a friend to us all and we send our deepest sympathy to his family and our friends at the American Air Power Museum,” a statement from the event said. “The Bethpage Air Show will continue as planned, but with heavy hearts.”

Gordon, from Key West, Florida, will be honored with a “missing man” formation flyover, according to the American Airpower Museum.

“Bill Gordon was an extraordinary pilot who understood the powerful message our aircraft represent in telling the story of American courage and valor died after bringing the P-47 Thunderbolt to a forced landing in the Hudson River,” said museum flight operations pilot Scott Clyman.

“The FAA will determine the reason for the inflight failure but we know this much. Bill was a nationally respected pilot and we were lucky to call him one of our own.”

The plane crashed into the Hudson River after Gordon sent a distress signal, a spokesman for the New York Police Department said.

The Army Corp of Engineers and the NYPD have started recovery efforts to lift the Thunderbolt out of the Hudson River, police said.

The FAA is investigating the cause of the crash.

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.

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