Helicopter pilot in midtown crash radioed he ‘did not know where he was’

Helicopter pilot in midtown crash radioed he ‘did not know where he was’

The National Transportation Safety Board said Tim McCormack monitored weather conditions for two hours before taking off.

FDNY firefighters responded to the fatal helicopter crash at 787 Seventh Ave. in Manhattan earlier this month. 
FDNY firefighters responded to the fatal helicopter crash at 787 Seventh Ave. in Manhattan earlier this month.  Photo Credit: Gregg Richards/Brooklyn Public Library

After monitoring the weather for two hours, the private helicopter pilot who died in a crash earlier this month seized on a 20-minute window to embark on his ill-fated flight, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

The board, a federal body charged with overseeing transit safety, released on Tuesday its preliminary findings on the June 10 crash that killed pilot Tim McCormack. McCormack, who earned his helicopter pilot’s license in 2004, was monitoring rain and fog that made it difficult to see for two hours from the lounge at the East 34th Street heliport before deciding to fly to Linden Airport in New Jersey, according to the NTSB memo. 

"Prior to departing, [McCormack] mentioned to the staff that he saw a ‘twenty-minute window to make it out,’" the board noted.

Minutes after takeoff, McCormack radioed the East 34th Street heliport requesting a return. McCormack said he "did not know where he was," the NTSB noted.

The copter flew erratically over the East River, where its altitude and speed fluctuated, the report said. The aircraft then made a 270-degree turn and headed to 787 Seventh Ave., where it crashed into the roof, killing McCormack, the memo noted.

The report said the 19-year-old helicopter was last inspected in May.

The NTSB will continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of McCormack, who the board said had 2,805 hours of flight experience.

Ivan Pereira