What to Know
A helicopter crashed onto the roof of a high-rise office building in midtown Manhattan Monday afternoon
The pilot of the plane, identified by an airport manager as Tim McCormack, was killed in the crash with no one else believed to be on board
Officials are still unsure how the aircraft ended up flying over Midtown, or why it was flying in the poor weather conditions
The National Transportation Safety Board descended on the site of the deadly midtown Manhattan helicopter crash, with agency crew seen canvassing the debris-littered rooftop Tuesday morning, less than 24 hours after word of an aircraft into a building sent chills down the spines of every New Yorker.
The NTSB is leading the investigation into the crash-landing on the 54-story roof, which killed the pilot, identified by a senior official as Tim McCormack, and is expected to provide preliminary updates at a news briefing later Tuesday. Meanwhile, any witnesses who may have taken video or photos of the crash are asked to contact NTSB investigators at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Officials are still unsure how the aircraft ended up flying over Midtown, or why it was flying in the poor weather conditions — which could have disoriented McCormack, the senior official said. Both Mayor de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said it was not clear if the chopper had permission to be flying in Midtown, given the flight restrictions usually in place in the area.
O'Neill said the chopper was airborne for about 11 minutes before crashing. According to law enforcement sources, the aircraft could be seen flying erratically in the sky, making dramatic dips and turns before vanishing into the clouds. Investigators say there is no indication of terrorism.
Questions Remain Why Chopper Pilot Flew in Bad Weather
At the time of the crash, the ceiling height was around 600 feet — meaning it's likely the top of the building was enshrouded in clouds, according to the National Weather Service. The Federal Aviation Administration said the aircraft was an Agusta A109E helicopter, and that air traffic controllers did not handle the flight.
Tim McCormack was identified as the pilot by a manager at Linden Municipal Airport, a senior official told News 4. He had just dropped off a passenger at the East 34th Street heliport and may have been making his way back to the chopper's base in New Jersey when he crashed onto the AXA Equitable Center on Seventh Avenue and West 51st Street shortly before 2 p.m. Monday.
He was the only person on board — and by many accounts, McCormack, who had two stepdaughters, three grandchildren and a legacy of service, including with East Clinton Fire Volunteer Fire Department in Clinton Corners, he died trying to save the lives of others.
“My brother Tim was a professional pilot with years of experience in private transport as well as being a flight instructor. From my point of view, Tim put other peoples lives first with what happened today by putting the helicopter on the roof of a building, which took great skill, and in my opinion he saved many lives by doing such," his brother Michael said. "It is a true act of heroism.”
The skyscraper that was hit and neighboring buildings were evacuated as a precaution — with multiple people saying they felt the building they were in shake. Video posted to social media showed people standing outside in the rain, some after being forced to evacuate in narrow stairwells that took as long as 30 minutes to get down.
Wanda Tucker, who works in the building, told News 4 she was on her way back from lunch when a co-worker asked if she felt the building shake. She said she didn't — then seconds later, an announcement blasted over the loudspeakers advising everyone inside the building was being evacuated.