The pilot in yesterday’s fatal chopper crash had made another emergency landing in the city five years ago following a bird strike.
Veteran helicopter pilot Tim McCormack, 58, was killed when his chopper mysteriously crash landed into a 54-story building at 787 Seventh Avenue just before 2pm Monday.
Old news coverage has revealed McCormack was working for tour company Helicopter Flight Services in October 2014 when he had to make an emergency landing at the West 30th Street Heliport after a bird apparently struck the windshield of his Bell B407 chopper, shattering its passenger-side window.
‘It was pretty much like an explosion going off in your cockpit, a little bit of a pandemonium kind of thing, you know, you have to gather yourself and we headed over to 30th Street,’ McCormack told WABC after the ordeal.
The pilot, who had more than a decade of flying experience, said he never lost control of the aircraft despite the missing front window and not being able to hear anything.
Veteran helicopter pilot Tim McCormack, 58, was killed when his chopper mysteriously crash landed into a Manhattan skyscraper on Monday. Old news coverage revealed that McCormack was forced to make an emergency landing in Manhattan five years ago following a bird strike
McCormack was working for tour company Helicopter Flight Services in October 2014 when he had to make an emergency landing at the West 30th Street Heliport after a bird struck the windshield of his Bell B407 chopper, shattering its passenger-side window (pictured)
McCormack is seen during a news interview after the terrifying ordeal. ‘It was pretty much like an explosion going off in your cockpit, a little bit of a pandemonium kind of thing, you know, you have to gather yourself and we headed over to 30th Street,’ the pilot told WABC
McCormack was chauffeuring six female tourists around the city on a picturesque day with perfect flying conditions when the unsettling ordeal went down.
They had flown over downtown, Coney Island and Yankee Stadium before the bird hit.
McCormack said his frightened passengers began screaming and crying, forcing him to stay calm under pressure as he found a place bring the chopper down safely.
Everyone emerged from the aircraft shaken but uninjured, save for a minor scratch suffered by the woman sitting by the window that shattered.
McCormack, a volunteer firefighter for 25 years, submitted to a drug and alcohol test, which is required following any flight accident.
Unlike the situation five years prior, it remains unclear what lead to McCormack’s emergency landing on Monday.
Sources say he radioed that he was in trouble moments before going down, and witness video showed the aircraft appearing to take a nose dive as it hovered over the east river shortly after takeoff from the 34th Street helipad.
The airport manager at the helicopter’s home base in Linden, New Jersey, confirmed McCormack was the pilot.
Paul Dudley told the New York Times that McCormack was hired to fly for the helicopter’s owner, Daniele Bodini, who he said commuted between the city and upstate New York.
The Agusta A109E helicopter was privately-owned by American Continental Properties, which said McCormack had flown for them for the past five years.
Officials said on Monday that McCormack had taken off from the 34th Street heliport 11 minutes before he crashed with the helicopter onto top of the 750-foot tall building, setting its roof ablaze.
They said the pilot had been waiting out the bad weather but ultimately decided to fly the 19-year-old aircraft, and may have been heading to its home airport, which is southeast of the city.
He is believed to have taken a route around the southern tip of Manhattan, where Battery Park, is located before veering toward Midtown somewhere between 40th and 49th streets.
McCormack and his helicopter then ended up crashing into the top of the building located between 51st and 52nd streets along Seventh Avenue, northwest of the launch pad.
The pilot, whose father and grandfather were Poughkeepsie firefighters, was reported as deceased within 45 minutes of the crash.
Witness Wendy Slater recorded video of the aircraft appearing to take a nosedive over water moments before it crashed. Wet conditions created very poor visibility on Monday afternoon
Firefighters are seen tending to the charred wreckage strewn across the roof after the crash
The aircraft burst into flames on impact, but firefighters got them under control within minutes
McCormack served for ‘many years’ as the Chief of the East Clinton volunteer fire department, according to the message inscribed on a plaque pictured on his Facebook page, which lists him as being divorced.
The station shared a tribute to their deceased chief on Monday, writing: ‘Tim was a dedicated, highly professional and extremely well trained firefighter. Tim’s technical knowledge and ability to command an emergency were exceptional. Chief McCormack was extremely respected by not only the members of the department, but throughout the Dutchess County fire service. Tim will be exceptionally missed by this department’s members, not only for his leadership but for his wonderful sense of humor. Rest in Peace Brother.’
McCormack, who served with the department from 1994 to 2019 and was chief for 10 years was previously a member of the LaGrange Fire Department.
He recently shared a post on social media on May 25 commemorating the 343 firefighters who died during the September 11th attack in 2001.
He would often share images taken from the cockpit of his aircraft, joking on October 16, 2017 about making a ‘long flight’ from Newark International Airport in New Jersey to LaGuardia International Airport in Queens.
The Clinton Corners, New York resident had received his instructor certificate for ‘Rotorcraft-Helicopter’ one year ago in June, the Daily Voice reported.
A true New York native, McCormack graduated from Arlington High School in Lagrangeville. He was listed as having graduated in 1980 by Old Friends, a website used for connecting with former classmates.
McCormack (left and right) reportedly had 20 years of flying experience. The pilot, whose father and grandfather were Poughkeepsie firefighters, served for ‘many years’ as the chief of the East Clinton Volunteer Fire Department, according to a tribute shared on his Facebook
McCormack, of Clinton Corners, New York, recently shared a post on social media commemorating the 343 firefighters who died during the September 11th attack in 2001. The 58-year-old received his instructor certificate for ‘Rotorcraft-Helicopter’ one year ago in June
McCormack is pictured at right with another man in a photo shared to social media in June of 2013
Paul Dudley from the Linden Airport said that McCormack was hired to fly for the helicopter’s owner, Daniele Bodini (pictured), who Dudley said commuted between the city and upstate New York. The Agusta A109E helicopter was privately-owned by American Continental Properties, which said McCormack had flown for them for the past five years.In a statement released by Stu Loeser & Co., American Continental Properties said, ‘We are mourning the loss of Tim McCormack who has flown for us for the past five years. Our hearts are with his family and friends’
The East Clinton Volunteer Fire Department shared a tribute to their late chief on Monday
In a statement released by Stu Loeser & Co., American Continental Properties said, ‘We are mourning the loss of Tim McCormack who has flown for us for the past five years. Our hearts are with his family and friends.’
Video recorded by witness Wendy Slater, who was walking a dog along the East River near 20th Street, showed the aircraft appearing to take a nose dive above water amid rainy skies just before it went down in Manhattan. A source told CBS2 that the pilot reported he was in trouble shortly before the crash.
At time of the crash, winds were coming in from the east at nine miles per hour, and moderate to heavy rain and fog had reduced visibility at Central Park to 1.25 miles.
An FDNY source on the scene following the crash told DailyMail.com: ‘The chopper is obliterated. There is heavy fire damage and wreckage from the aircraft is strewn across [the roof].’
The department later shared chilling images of the charred wreckage, after arriving on the scene within five minutes of reports of the crash and containing the resulting two-alarm fire within 30 minutes.
The damage caused by the aircraft’s impact was reportedly limited to the roof of the building, which immediately caught fire
Smoke was seen billowing from the roof of the 54-story building at 787 Seventh Avenue minutes after the chopper struck
A file image of an Agusta A109E helicopter, like the one that crash landed into the roof of 787 Seventh Avenue just before 2pm Monday, is shown
A mangled piece of debris presumed to be from the helicopter is shown after it plummeted off the roof and onto the street
Emergency crews flocked to the scene and began evacuating the building the plane hit as well as several structures nearby
Hundreds of people were seen evacuating buildings in the vicinity of the crash site as a precaution
The helicopter reportedly took off from the 34th Street heliport 11 minutes before it crashed into the skyscraper. Officials said the pilot had been waiting out the bad weather but ultimately decided to fly, and may have been heading to its home airport, which is southeast of the city, taking a route around the southern tip of Manhattan where Battery Park City is located before veering toward midtown somewhere between 40th and 49th streets. McCormack and his helicopter then ended up crashing into the top of the building located between 51st and 52nd streets along Seventh Avenue, northwest of the launch pad
What we know about Monday’s helicopter crash in Manhattan
1.32pm: Pilot Tim McCormack takes off in an Agusta A109E helicopter from 34th Street heliport
Within minutes: Witness Wendy Slater who was walking a dog along the East River near 20th Street, films the helicopter flying erratically over the water
Within 15 minutes: McCormack sends out a distress call over radio
1.43pm: First 911 calls come in reporting the helicopter crash onto the roof of the building located at 787 Seventh Avenue
Immediately: Evacuations of the building where the crash occurred and surrounding buildings begins
By 1.48pm: FDNY arrived on the scene
By 2.18pm: Most of the fire was extinguished and FDNY were working to contain leaking gas from the aircraft
3.50pm: Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a press conference assuring New Yorkers there is no evidence that this was any kind of terrorist attack
Describing what happened, one witness, Steven Gartner, told ABC News he had ‘heard a buzz and a bang and then the entire building shook’ while he was in his office on the 42nd floor.
Another witness, Shauna Farrell, told the network: ‘We heard a loud whizzing sound of a motor and then we heard a crash and actually felt the crash as well.’
She said people inside the building had ‘run away as quickly as we could’.
Officials revealed what limited details are known about the crash during a press conference at 3.50pm.
Investigators are still working to determine for certain where the helicopter was headed, speculating that it may have been going to its home airport in New Jersey, those the Linden Airport is located South of the island of Manhattan.
A flight restriction in effect since President Donald Trump took office bans aircraft from flying below 3,000 feet within two nautical miles of Trump Tower, which is just a few blocks from the crash site.
This flight restriction may have accounted for the route taken by McCormack around the southern tip of the island, rather than cutting through the airspace about the city after starting his doomed trip from the East Side of Manhattan.
To go into the airspace where the crash occurred, the pilot would have needed approval from La Guardia tower. Authorities are looking into whether that approval was given.
The investigation is being led by the National Transportation Safety Board.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed reporters at the press conference, saying: ‘There is no indication at this time that this was an act of terror and there is no ongoing threat to New York City based on the information we have right now. There is no danger of any kind to New Yorkers at this point.
‘We do not know the cause of this incident. There were no other injuries that we know of at this point and time.’
He added: ‘This could’ve been a much worse incident and thank God no one else was injured in this absolutely shocking incident.’
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was on the scene shortly after the crash and said that no one in the building was hurt.
‘There was a helicopter that made a forced landing or an emergency landing on the roof of the building for one reason or the other,’ he said.
‘People in the building said they felt the building shake. It was hard landing.’
Cuomo said there is no indication the crash was intentional.
‘If you are a New Yorker you have a level of PTSD from 9/11,’ Cuomo said. ‘As soon as you hear an aircraft hit a building, my mind goes where the mind of every New Yorker goes.’
The map above shows the location of the crash in relation to New York City’s busiest tourist attractions
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is pictured arriving on the scene shortly after the crash. ‘This could’ve been a much worse incident and thank God no one else was injured in this absolutely shocking incident,’ De Blasio said at a press conference
De Blasio and other city officials addressed reporters at a rainy press conference just before 4pm
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is pictured near the scene of the crash. He said there is no indication that it was intentional or terrorism-related
The FDNY tweeted that a fire on top of the building was extinguished and that a fuel leak from the chopper is under control
Witnesses reported hearing a loud boom before flames erupted from the roof of the building.
Shauna Farrell was in a meeting on the 36th floor when she felt the impact, which sent her and her colleagues running for the exits.
‘We ran down. I think we were the first floor to evacuate, actually, because we felt it so quickly,’ Farrell told ABC News.
‘There was already FDNY on the scene. We were kind of just running away from the building as quickly as we could.’
Laura Esquival, a hostess at the Ruth’s Chris Steak House across the street from the crash site, told CNBC: ‘I saw people running out. They were escorting everyone out.’
A witness reported hearing a loud boom before flames erupted from the roof of the building located at 787 Seventh Avenue
First responders blocked off the surrounding area shortly after the crash was reported, working to clear traffic and pedestrians
President Trump tweeted that he had been briefed on the crash and praised first responders for their efforts
The Federal Aviation Administration issued the following statement on Twitter: ‘We are gathering information about an accident involving a helicopter that crashed into a building in Midtown Manhattan.’
The agency said they will be releasing more details throughout the day as the investigation continues.
President Trump tweeted that he had been briefed on the situation and praised first responders for their efforts to control the situation.
‘THANK YOU for all you do 24/7/365! The Trump Administration stands ready should you need anything at all,’ he wrote.
There does not appear to have been any significant damage to the structure of the 750-foot-tall building, which houses the AXA Equitable Center. Other tenants include BNP Paribas, Stifel, New Mountain Capital, Sidley Austin LLP, Willkie Farr & Gallagher LLP, UBS, and Citigroup.
The building is also home to the critically-acclaimed French restaurant La Bernardin, which announced that it will not be open tonight due to the today’s crash.
Pedro Rodriguez, a pastry line cook at Le Bernardin, said workers got an announcement telling everyone to exit, and he later heard from people around him that there was a fire on the roof.
The evacuation wasn’t chaotic, Rodriguez said, but he was rattled because he immediately thought of the September 11 attacks.
‘It’s scary when something like this happens,’ he said.
Alex Jacobs was working on the seventh floor when he heard alarm bells go off and an evacuation announcement. He and his coworkers, who hadn’t heard or felt an impact, took the stairs to a fire exit.
‘It’s really unfortunate. I just hope everyone’s okay,’ he said.
The deceased pilot, McCormack, is believed to be the only victim of the collision. Medical personnel are pictured at the scene
Firefighters are seen awaiting orders as the situation on the roof of the building was assessed after the crash
Onlookers documented the chaotic scene despite the rainy conditions, sharing countless photos and videos on social media
McCormack had been involved in at least one previous emergency landing, in 2014, WABC reported at that time.
McCormack was flying a Bell 407 helicopter when a bird struck the aircraft, breaking part of the windshield, and forcing him down at the West 30th Street heliport.
While McCormack was alone during the crash that took his life on Monday, back in 2014 he had six female passengers on board with him. None of the passengers, or McCormack, were injured at that time.
While those six passengers were panicked, screaming and crying as McCormack searched for a landing spot, he never lost control of the aircraft, citing his 20 years of experience in an interview for enabling him to remain calm amid the mishap.
New York City has a history of both minor and major helicopter wrecks and crash landings.
Last month, a helicopter crash landed in the Hudson River near a busy Manhattan heliport. The pilot escaped mostly unscathed.
Last year, five people died when a sightseeing helicopter crashed into the East River. Three people died in another crash into the same river in 2011. In 2009, nine people died in a collision between a sightseeing helicopter and a small plane, not far from the scene of Monday’s tragedy.
McCormack had been involved in at least one previous emergency landing, in 2014, WABC reported at that time. McCormack was flying a Bell 407 helicopter when a bird struck the aircraft, breaking part of the windshield, and forcing him down at the West 30th Street heliport. A file photo of a Bell 407GX helicopter is shown