NYC Helicopter Pilot May Have Maneuvered ‘To Spare the People on the Ground:’ Fellow Pilot

By Zachary Stieber

The helicopter pilot who crashed the aircraft on the roof of a building in the heart of New York City on June 10 may have carried out a maneuver to avoid taking other people’s lives, another pilot said.

The pilot who died was identified as 58-year-old Tim McCormack, a former volunteer fire chief. He was taking the chopper from the city to New Jersey when he crashed at 787 7th Avenue, a 52-story high-rise.

Another pilot said that McCormack was highly experienced and may have made a hard landing on the roof of the skyscraper to avoid further casualties.

“He was a very competent, well-liked, respected individual who I think did his best in a bad situation and in the last moment may well have moved to spare the people on the ground,” Paul Dudley, manager of the Linden airport where the helicopter was based, told WABC.

“He was no kid. He was a veteran helicopter pilot in this area,” said Dudley. “Something had to overwhelm him, mechanical or weather.”

helicopter crash
Mist and smoke cover the top of a building near 51st Street and 7th Avenue in New York after a helicopter crash-landed on top of the roof of a building on June 10, 2019. (Mark Lennihan/AP Photo)

Visibility was low at the time of the crash, with steady rain and overcast skies.

Dudley thinks McCormack chose the roof he crashed into because it was large and could contain debris from the crash.

“Remember, he didn’t crash into it sideways, he came down on top of it, at least that’s what we know so far,” said Dudley. “So I think in his last moments he did what he could to make the best of it and not make it a bigger tragedy.”

In a statement, the Clinton Volunteer Fire Department recognized McCormack, who served from 1994 to 2019.

New York City firefighter responds to the scene
A New York City firefighter responds to the scene where a helicopter crash-landed on the roof of a midtown Manhattan skyscraper, June 10, 2019, in New York. (Mark Lennihan/AP)

“Tim was previously a member of the LaGrange Fire Department. 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,” the department stated.

“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.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio said that the investigators were probing the crash.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio making a statement
Mayor Bill de Blasio makes a statement after a helicopter crashed into a skyscraper in New York City on June 10, 2019. (Screenshot/NTD Evening News)

“There’s something mysterious here … why would an experienced pilot take this roundabout route? We do not have an indication that he checked in with LaGuardia Airport tower, which is the protocol,” the mayor said on CNN, reported local paper amNY. “Something strange happened here but we don’t have all the facts yet.”

The building where the chopper crashed sits about half a mile from Trump Tower, where President Donald Trump sometimes stays when he’s in the city.

Trump told reporters at the White House in Washington that he spoke with Gov. Andrew Cuomo about the crash. “It’s a big tragedy. There will be a report in a little while as to what happened and why it happened. But a very, very sad event,” he said.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that there is “no indication” that terrorism was involved.

“There is no indication that that is the case,” he told reporters when asked.

“The only indication was a helicopter had to do an emergency or a hard landing, or crashed onto the rooftop of a building, causing a fire, but there’s no indication of anything more than that.

“If you’re a New Yorker, you have a level of PTSD from 9/11 and I remember that morning all too well,” Cuomo added. “So as soon as you hear an aircraft hit a building, I think my mind goes to where every New Yorker’s mind goes.”