About two weeks ago we documented the story of a private helicopter that slammed into the roof of a Manhattan high-rise, killing its pilot. Today, a new report from Bloomberg offers insight as to the cause of the accident: the pilot had become lost in the clouds and was trying to return to the East River heliport, where he had just taken off.
The NTSB said on Tuesday that the pilot radioed the E. 34th St. helicopter landing pad to say he “did not know where he was.” The pilot was reportedly flying erratically after entering thick clouds when the helicopter hit the roof of 787 7th Ave. at a high speed, descending several hundred feet before striking the roof and breaking into small pieces.
— FDNY (@FDNY) June 10, 2019
The pilot was not certified to fly in clouds but had told others that he thought there was a window in the bad weather that would allow him to fly that day.
The NTSB also said that the route the pilot took was “erratic”. He first flew over the East River before reversing course and then flying north, before flying over Manhattan “zigzagging and changing altitude several times” in an area where helicopters aren’t even supposed to fly.
Footage of the Helicopter moments before it crashed into the top of the building in midtown earlier this afternoon. #helicopter #WORTONIGHT #midtownmanhattan #51ststreet Video credit @ThingsWendySees pic.twitter.com/uXfcA9Qfj2
— WOR NewsTalk Radio (@710WOR) June 10, 2019
A Central Park weather station confirmed that clouds had “blanketed the city” prior to the incident.
The helicopter was owned by a corporation that has ties to New York real estate investment firm American Continental Properties LLC. The fire department identified the pilot as Tim McCormack, who died as a result of the accident.