A helicopter crash-lands in midtown, killing the pilot and jolting New Yorkers.

A helicopter crash-lands in midtown, killing the pilot and jolting New Yorkers.
A helicopter crash-lands in midtown, killing the pilot and jolting New Yorkers. Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Kenneth Adams saw a very strange modern vision at the scene of the midtown helicopter crash on Monday. 

After what sounded like “thunder” amid the rain and fog, some people began running toward the Seventh Ave. building, cell phones out to record. Others were running away in fear, not knowing what had happened.

Adams, a 64-year-old maintenance worker from Bed Stuy, understood about the latter.

“It reminded me of 9/11,” he said.

The Agusta A109E helicopter had taken off from the 34th Street heliport a little after 1:30 on Monday, according to city authorities. By a quarter to two, the privately owned craft had crash-landed on a skyscraper roof. The pilot, who Mayor Bill de Blasio said apparently worked shuttling around executives, died in the event. 

Questions about why a helicopter was taking off in bad weather soon replaced ones about terrorism. 

“This could have been a much worse incident,” said de Blasio.

Still, for some who were there, it felt scarily familiar. Adams says he had worked at a nearby midtown building on 9/11, up on a high floor, high enough to see the second plane hit. He remembers sleeping in the building that night with colleagues on cots, calling his wife to say he was fine.

“We live in scary times,” he said.

Some evacuees from 787 Seventh Ave. felt similarly. Liz Willis, who runs a newsstand in the shadow of the building, said she had one customer after the crash who told her the building shook and he ran to get out — so quickly he forgot his umbrella.

Naturally, Willis, 73, had some for sale.

A few hours after the crash the news had filtered around, even to the non-English speaking tourists, that one person was dead but there wasn’t further danger in the area. Onlookers kept pointing their phones up to the building’s distant roof, encased in fog. Others got bored with that and snapped shots of the Batman figurine strapped to the front of an FDNY truck facing the wrong way on the street.

It ended up being another strange and dangerous incident involving the things that fly around the city. There are others. Just a block away from the crash is the flying drone and camera store DJI Customer Experience. On Monday afternoon, customers were inspecting the merchandise and asking about flight rules over Manhattan.

Employee Marc Gonzalez said there have been mishaps. Just months ago, he said the store made a sale to someone who was told very clearly about the prohibitions on flying over parts of the city. Gonzalez, 21, says the customer made the purchase, left, and soon crashed the drone and was arrested.

Gonzalez had heard the noise of the helicopter go down on Monday and walked out to see what he could see, but it wasn’t much.

“Eh, it’s New York,” he said. “Every day.”