Official says helicopter pilot radioed that he was lost

Posted: Updated:
NEW YORK -

The pilot killed when his helicopter hit a New York City skyscraper in thick fog and rain radioed that he was lost and trying to get back to a heliport but couldn't find it, according to an official briefed on the investigation.

The person wasn't authorized to discuss the radio calls publicly because of the ongoing federal safety investigation and spoke to The Associated Press Tuesday on condition of anonymity.

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Meanwhile, officials say the pilot, Tim McCormack, from Dutchess County, wasn't authorized to fly in limited visibility.

The Federal Aviation Administration says McCormack was only certified to fly under regulations known as visual flight rules, which require generally good weather and clear conditions.

An air safety investigator said Tuesday that an earlier passenger in the helicopter said nothing seemed out of the ordinary during the previous flight.

National Transportation Safety Board investigator Doug Brazy says the short flight had taken the passenger from Westchester County to a Manhattan heliport. Then the pilot left by himself on a planned flight to Linden, New Jersey, after waiting and reviewing the weather. He crashed shortly after during a rainstorm.

Videos taken by a bystander and posted on social media showed the helicopter pausing and hovering south of the heliport, then turning and making an erratic flight back north through the clouds.

Authorities haven't determined why the pilot tried to return to the ground or what caused him to stray over midtown Manhattan.

AP wires were used in this report.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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