Transcript for Helicopter pilot killed after crashing into New York City skyscraper
And we begin tonight with the harrowing scene playing out this afternoon in New York City. That deadly helicopter crash. The chopper slamming down on top of a building right in the middle of Manhattan. The FAA calling it a crash landing. The chopper erupting into flames on top of a 54-story building. Firefighters had to put the fire out more than 700 feet up in the arp. It all happened in the middle of a wind-swept rain. The tops of the buildings vanishing in the fog. Workers inside the building telling me they heard the whizzing of that chopper and the impact shaking the building. Tonight, this image, after firefighters put out the flames, how little of the chopper was left. New York City's major saying there's no evidence this was an act of terror tonight, but there are many questions. ABC's gio Benitez is on the scene tonight. Reporter: Tonight, panic in New York City. Police and firefighters mobilizing on the ground, encircling the 54-story skyscraper. 73 7th avenue. Reports crash onto the roof with fire on the roof. Reporter: While in a building nearby, a man trains his camera on the plume of smoke billowing off the roof. There was a significant flame coming off the building, right before that, I had heard what sounded like a helicopter. Reporter: Workers inside the tower describing the moment of impact. Shawna Farrell was on the 36th floor in the middle of a meeting. Heard the loud whizzing sound of a motor, and then we heard a crash and actually felt the crash, as well. Looked out the window, we saw a bunch of smoke and debris and then we all just ran. We ran down 36 flights as soon as we could. Keep in mind, she was on 36, she believes there are 50 some-odd floors in that building, so, to feel it that far down the building gives you an idea, perhaps, of the impact of this helicopter making that hard landing. Reporter: Nathan Hutton was on the 29th floor. The only way to describe it, is if someone is standing next to you, and gives you a hard shove and you're kind of like, whoa, what's that? Then one, two, three seconds after, you hear a sound, it sounds like fireworks going off at a distance. Reporter: He describes a harrowing evacuation. You have 30 or 40 floors of people that are all getting Reporter: Taking the At the same time. As soon as we got in the lobby, there are police and firefighters there, everybody out, out. Now it's time to run. Reporter: These images show the wreckage on the rooftop, firefighters shot water 700 feet to extinguish the blaze. The chopper completely obliterated. We had a very strange, very troubling incident this afternoon here in Manhattan. A helicopter crashed into a building here. Reporter: The pilot, identified tonight as time Mccormack, killed. He was the only one aboard the aircraft. Authorities say no signs point to terrorism, but many questions remain. The chopper was bound for mj mj at took off at 1:32 P.M. From the 34th street heliport on the east river, flying over Manhattan. It was in the air for 11 minutes before crashing onto the building, about half a mile from trump tower. Was there other reason why they would be flying in this area so close to trump tower? Yeah, there's a tfr there, a temporary flight reinstruction, and we're checking into that now, too. And to be clear, to into that area, a helicopter would need the approval of Laguardia tower and we need to find out if that happened or not here. We do not know that at this point. Reporter: This video shows a helicopter flying erratically over the east river. They couldn't explain why a chopper was flying at all on this rainy day with so much fence fog. Commissioner, why was that helicopter in the air in weather like this? Not sure. That's part of the investigation. Reporter: There was no helipad on the roof of this building. They were banned in Manhattan after a chopper crashed onto the pan-am building in 1977. Authorities at the time hoping to avoid disasters like the one today, which could have been worse. There were no other injuries that we know of at this point in time to anyone in the building or on the ground, and I want to say thank god for that. This could have been a much worse incident. No question about that. Gio Benitez live from midtown Manhattan tonight. And gio, you're learning more about the pilot at this hour? Reporter: That's right, David. We're told that he was well-regarded, very experienced. That something must have gone horribly wrong for something like this to happen, whether that was mechanical or with the weather. And you can just see all of this fog behind me, David, it has been like what this all day long. Gio Benitez, thank you. I want to get right to Stephen ganyard, a pilot himself, and Steve, many people are likely surprised to learn, and gio's report there, that there are corridors of self-reporting here in New York, where pilots can fly here in Manhattan without air traffic control knowing? . That's right, David. See and avoid. No radar contact, no talking to air traffic control. But the pilots do have the responsibility to stay clear of clouds. Some of the videos we saw today showed this helicopter flying right along the bases of those clouds in and out of those clouds, so, given how nasty the weather was in New York today, I'm quite sure that weather played a role in creating this mishap. All right, colonel ganyard with us, as well. Steve, thank you. The other major story tonight, red sox legend David
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