What we know about Tim McCormack, pilot killed in helicopter crash in Manhattan

MIDTOWN, Manhattan (WABC) -- Friends of the pilot who was killed when his helicopter crashed into a Midtown Manhattan skyscraper are convinced he deliberately aimed for that rooftop to keep others safe.

The real estate company that used the helicopter confirmed Monday that the pilot was 58-year-old Tim McCormack, of Clinton Corners, New York.

American Continental Properties said McCormack had flown for the company for the past five years. It said in a statement that "our hearts are with his family and friends."

He was also the brother of Dutchess County Republican Chairman Mike McCormack. New York GOP Chairman Ed Cox and incoming Chairman Nick Langworthy issued the following joint statement:

"We were deeply saddened to learn the pilot who was killed in yesterday's horrific helicopter crash, Tim McCormack, was the brother to our beloved Dutchess County Republican Chairman Mike McCormack. Tim's life was cut way too short, but it's clear he lived his last moments just as he did every day, committed to protecting others. On behalf of the entire NYGOP, we offer our deepest condolences and prayers to the McCormack family."

FAA records said he had been certified in 2004 to fly helicopters and single-engine airplanes. He was certified as a flight instructor last year.

Authorities say the helicopter was being used for executive travel, flying in rain and heavy clouds when it hit AXA Equitable building at 787 Seventh Avenue.

"He was a very competent, well-liked, respected individual who I think did his best in a bad situation and in the last moment may well have moved to spare the people on the ground," said Paul Dudley, manager of the Linden airport where the helicopter was based.

He said McCormack was a highly experienced pilot.

"He was no kid," Dudley said. "He was a veteran helicopter pilot in this area. Something had to overwhelm him, mechanical or weather."

Dudley, also an experienced pilot, said McCormack probably chose that building not because it was tallest, but because the large roof would contain the debris.

"Remember, he didn't crash into it sideways, he came down on top of it, at least that's what we know so far," Dudley said. "So I think in his last moments, he did what he could to make the best of it and not make it a bigger tragedy."

McCormack had been a professional pilot since the early 2000s, and Eyewitness News first met him in 2014 after the windshield of another chopper he was flying shattered during a mid-air bird strike.

There were passengers on board that day, and McCormack was able to wrest control of the helicopter and land it safely.

"It was pretty much like an explosion going off in your cockpit, a little bit of a pandemonium kind of thing, you know, you have to gather yourself and we headed over to 30th Street," McCormack said at the time.

FULL: 2014 interview with pilot killed in NYC helicopter crash
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Lucy Yang interviews Tim McCormack, the pilot killed when his helicopter crashed in Times Square, in 2014.

No one else was on board the helicopter that crashed Monday.

McCormack served as a volunteer for the East Clinton Fire District in Dutchess County for about 25 years, 10 of them as a chief.

"Chief McCormack was extremely respected by not only the members of the department, but throughout the county of Dutchess and all fire services therein," East Clinton Fire Chief Don Estes said. "Tim will be exceptionally missed by his department members, not only for his leadership but his wonderful sense of humor."

Flags were lowered to half-staff and buntings were on display at the firehouse following his death.

Fellow firefighters honored McCormack and his years of service at a vigil Tuesday night.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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