A final day of flying: hovering over uptown, South End and a deadly path along I-77


Sky3, WBTV’s helicopter, took off from the news station’s headquarters just west of uptown at 11:19 a.m. Tuesday, records show.

Thirty-eight minutes later, the helicopter, carrying pilot Chip Tayag and meteorologist Jason Myers, would crash into a grassy median off Interstate 77 near Nations Ford Road.

Tayag and Myers died at the scene.

Flight records from RadarBox, a flight-tracking company out of Tampa, Fla., provide a glimpse into the helicopter’s path.

Immediately after taking off, Sky3 climbs to 731 feet and follows Interstate 277 east before skipping over South Mint Street in South End and looping back toward Bank of America Stadium.

It passes the stadium, following South Cedar Street into uptown, then makes a U-turn as it nears West Trade Street. The helicopter backtracks, flies by the stadium again and into South End again, records show.

It is 11:24 a.m.

Just outside of uptown and over South End, the aircraft makes a series of eight turns, mostly over the South Tryon Street area but also stretching back into uptown near South McDowell Street. It flies between 12 mph and 40 mph and reaches an altitude of 1,400 feet, the highest of the entire flight.

At 11:31 a.m. it hovers near Wilcox and South Church streets. Then it flies west, dropping to 600 feet, then 500 feet, then 400 feet as it seemingly heads back to the news station.

The helicopter lands but takes off about 13 minutes later, according to RadarBox. By 11:50 a.m. Sky3 is moving again, climbing to 1,100 feet as it follows Interstate 77 south. It hits 80 mph.

At about 800 feet over the interstate and traveling at 69 mph, it makes two loops – one gradual, one really tight.

RadarBox loses track of the helicopter near Nations Ford Road.

It is 11:56 a.m.

According to RadarBox, Sky3 flew 23 times for a total of 24.9 hours in October, the most recent month of available data. In the past 12 months, the 23-year-old helicopter flew 285.9 hours, for some 15,181 nautical miles.