A Pilot has reportedly died after the helicopter he was flying crashed into the roof of an office building on Seventh Avenue and burst into flames. The impact jolted the building located at 787 Seventh Avenue, between 51st and 52nd Streets.
The crash was the second involving a helicopter in less than a month and the latest of several fatal incidents in and around New York City in the past 20 years.
Despite the early morning fog which surrounded the skyscrapers in Midtown Manhattan, the accident revived longstanding calls for greater restrictions on helicopters flying over such a densely populated region.
Immediately after the crash, alerts spread on cell phones as a smoky plume streamed through the fog. Unnerved New Yorker also wondered whether the crash had been deliberate as rekindled memories of September 11, 200, when jetliners commandeered by terrorists destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center.
The crash also recalled an accident in 2006 when a single-engine plane carrying the Yankees pitcher, Cory Lidle smashed into a 42-storey apartment building on the Upper East Side, killing Lidle and his flight instructor.
Police Commissioner, James P. O’Neill said the helicopter had been flying through restricted airspace, adding that investigators would have to establish whether the helicopter had been in contact with air traffic controllers at La Guardia Airport.
After an early review of evidence, investigators believe that the pilot had been stuck on the ground at the 34th Street heliport along the East River because of poor weather but saw an opening and headed for his base in New Jersey by traveling south along the river.
At the time, the investigators said the cloud ceiling was about 700 feet, roughly the same as the height of the office building.
However, shortly after taking off, the pilot changed course, apparently intending to go back to the heliport but instead, the helicopter rose into the clouds and flew at high speed into the roof of the Midtown building.
The pilot was not qualified to fly using only instruments, the official said, cautioning that the investigation was still at an early stage.
A worker on the seventh floor, Andrew Heath said the impact of the crash felt like a small earthquake, adding that what he heard sounded like a manhole cover had exploded.
The helicopter’s home base was an airport in Linden, New Jersey where Paul Dudley, the airport manager identified the pilot as Tim McCormack.
He said Mr. McCormack worked for American Continental Properties, a real estate concern that said he had flown for the company for five years.