The pilot was the only one aboard the Agusta A109E that crashed into the rooftop of 787 Seventh Avenue in Manhattan today. Officials originally called it a “hard landing” that started a small fire that was quickly extinguished. The pilot, identified as Tim McCormack, died in the accident.
By Tuesday evening, the Associated Press was reporting that the pilot had radioed air traffic control that he was lost and was trying to return to the East River heliport from which he’d recently departed. McCormack was not instrument rated, and was reported to be in one of the Special Flight Rules Areas set aside for rotorcraft operations in the city.
Residents of NYC are, of course, always concerned about terrorism, so governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters, “If you’re a New Yorker, you have a level of PTSD from 9/11 … So as soon as you hear an aircraft hit a building, I think my mind goes where every New Yorker’s mind goes.” He reinforced the belief of first responders that it had been an accident.
According to NBC News, Shauna Farrell was on the 36th floor of the building “when a window fell through and we heard a loud whizzing sound of a motor. We ran down. I think we were the first floor to evacuate, actually, because we felt it so quickly. There was already FDNY on the scene. We were kind of just running away from the building as quickly as we could.”
Weather at nearby La Guardia airport (KLGA, just 6 miles to the east) was marginal, with low visibilities and rain showers in the area, and variable strong winds out of the northeast.
According to The New York Times, one city official felt the ship might have hit something on the roof. “The aircraft came down between structural metal supports and or mechanical equipment on the roof. So it did appear he was trying to bring it down in a clear area, but there wasn’t enough clearance to do so.”
“This wasn’t a landing. It was a crash. He knew it was going to be ugly,” said another official.
This is a developing story. We will update when more information becomes available.