Helicopter Pilot Was In Restricted Flight Area Before Deadly Midtown Crash
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The helicopter pilot who was killed after crashing on top of a Midtown building Monday afternoon was flying in a restricted flight area.
Around 1:45 p.m., the chopper crash-landed on the roof of 787 Seventh Ave. between 51st and 52nd streets.
The pilot, identified by his employer as Tim McCormack, was a former fire chief in upstate Clinton, New York. With 15 years of experience flying helicopters and single-engine airplanes, he was certified as a flight instructor last year, according to Federal Aviation Administration records.
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Chopper 2's Dan Rice said that building is in a restricted flight zone. There is a two-mile, 3,000-foot flight restriction around Trump Tower in Manhattan.
"So on a clear day, you would know not to be in that area as long as the pilot has done the appropriate checks before he goes flying," Rice said.
At a press conference Monday afternoon, Police Commissioner James P. O'Neill said they were looking into that matter.
"To go into that area, a helicopter would need the approval of LaGuardia tower, and we need to find out if that happened or not here. We do not know at this point," Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
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According to Rice, Monday's rainy and foggy weather conditions meant helicopter pilots have to use the instruments of the helicopter to be able to fly.
It's unknown at this time why the helicopter was in the area, but Rice says chartered and corporate helicopters are made to fly in poor weather conditions.
"The weather itself is not the issue because the helicopter can fly in the rain, it can fly with the low clouds, but you have to be able to avoid the obstacles, in this case, obviously, the tall buildings of Manhattan," Rice said.
Pilots of those kinds of helicopters are able to fly using the instruments.
"There's almost like a highway in the sky where they have their maps and, obviously with the technology today, they can be on an iPad or on an instrument in the helicopter that they can fly according to the compass and certain bearings and there's certain routes you have to fly," Rice said.
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O'Neill said helicopter was privately owned and they believe it may have been used for executive travel.
Sources told CBS2 that McCormack radioed before the crash that he was in trouble.
"To get lost like that, we'll just say for now, it's hard to say why you end up that far into Manhattan, it's hard to tell what that person was going through at the time of the incident," Rice said.
The FAA said the helicopter was an Agusta A109E helicopter and the NTSB will investigate the cause of crash.
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