WBTV helicopter crash

On November 22, 2022, WBTV meteorologist Jason Myers and pilot Chip Tayag tragically died in a helicopter crash. Read ongoing coverage from The Charlotte Observer below.

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Chip Tayag will forever be remembered as a hero, said his friends, colleagues and those who saw or reacted to the crash of the WBTV Sky3 helicopter he was piloting on Tuesday.

Tayag may have saved lives when something still unknown went wrong with the station’s meteorologist by helicopter over South Charlotte Jason Myers on board.

Tayag somehow avoided Interstate 77 and office buildings, crashing into a small patch of grass next to the freeway. Both Tayag and Myers died in the crash.

Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings said Tayag appeared to have used “diversionary tactics” to avoid traffic accidents. He called the pilot a hero.

“It looks like a heroic incident where the pilot tried not to hurt anyone or put others in danger,” Jennings said.

“Notably, Chip’s recent actions may have made a difference saved more people from harm,” NC Attorney General Josh Stein said on Twitter, sending his “deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of Jason and Chip @WBTV_News family on this heartbreaking news.”

The helicopter “went off and he picked it up right off the freeway and avoided it,” a witness told WCNC Charlotte. “It could have hurt a lot of people. It’s a tragic thing, but in that sense he’s done a wonderful job.”

WBTV Chief Meteorologist Al Conklin described Tayag as “a hero, no doubt”.

“Always cheerful and laughing,” says his wife

“Chip was the most selfless and loving person I have ever known,” his wife Kerry said in a statement to WBTV. “…He was always happy and smiling, with that big, beautiful smile that I love to see.”

She described Tayag as “my best friend and the love of my life. I know this breakup is only temporary — no matter how terribly permanent it feels — because I know that one day we will be reunited.”

“A damn good pilot”

Colleagues said they always felt relaxed flying with 57-year-old Tayag, who joined WBTV in 2017 and has flown helicopters for more than 20 years.

“He always made you feel safe” Molly Grantham told viewers while anchoring hours of coverage with a WBTV colleague Jamie Boll Tuesday.

“Chip was a damn good pilot and calmed my anxiety before the first flight,” WBTV reporter David Hodges said on Twitter.

“We trusted Chris with our lives,” said a WBTV host Shevaun Bryan told viewers on Tuesday.

Tayag always came to work “with a smile.” and a positive attitude‘ said WBTV chief photographer Corey Schmidt on air.

He’s “super nice,” Schmidt said during Tuesday’s WBTV broadcast. And “super careful” when it came to the helicopter.

When Boll told viewers he never saw Myers “had a bad day” and that Myers was “always excited to see people,” he was quick to add, “Chip was like that.”

Myers and Tayag shared the same “bright smile,” WBTV host-reporter Caroline Hicks told viewers. “Every day when I saw Chip he said, ‘Hey Caroline, when are we leaving?’ Chip just loved what he was doing.”

From IT to commercial helicopters

Tayag worked as an IT professional in Maryland for nearly 24 years before transitioning to becoming a full-time commercial helicopter pilot, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He also spent about five of his final years in IT as a pilot for a small Maryland company that took photos of motorboats, sailboats, and private property, according to his LinkedIn page.

He then spent a year directing tours of the Annapolis and Baltimore areas and the Chesapeake coast.

Outside of the Norfolk, Virginia area, he spent a few months flying survey routes of pipelines owned by various utility companies.

Tayag then flew south and flew for two tour operators in Myrtle Beach for a number of years before joining WBTV as a contract pilot for news collection for the last five years.

He was full of focus and seriousness about preparing for a flight and piloting Sky3, colleagues said.

WBTV reporter David Whisenant one day showed viewers a picture of him and Tayag in the helicopter. Whisenant laughed in the photo and said he was trying to joke with Tayag.

Look at Tayag, he said. He was concentrating on something, no smile at all, as if he hadn’t heard a word of Whisenant’s attempted banter.

No matter how busy he was at the helipad in front of the station, Tayag stopped what he was doing whenever Whisenant came outside with a visiting school group.

He answered every last question the students asked, no matter how long the visit lasted, Whisenant said.

As Boll said, “Chip would take the time to explain every single part of the chopper if you wanted to.”

In WBTV’s video tribute to Tayag, Schmidt said the two most important things to Tayag are his wife, Kerry, and his faith.

Close members of his family also live in Maryland, North Carolina and Texas, none of whom could be reached Wednesday.

“He loved his wife very much,” Schmidt said. “And his Catholic faith was very important to him, he and I shared that. It makes a day like today a little easier because I know he believed in a higher power. And I hope he is with the Lord today.”

funeral arrangements

Tayag’s funeral is scheduled for noon on Wednesday, November 30, at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church, 7095 Waxhaw Highway in Lancaster, South Carolina, where he and his wife were parishioners, Spectrum News reported. The funeral will take place in Maryland.

Tayag is also survived by his stepchildren, parents, siblings, nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, according to a GoFundMe website, which has raised $40,383 towards his funeral expenses as of Friday morning. This clearly exceeded the $15,000 goal.

This story was originally published November 23, 2022 3:00 p.m.

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Joe Marusak has been a reporter for The Charlotte Observer, covering the people, communities and major news events of the area, since 1989, and was the news bureau editor for the paper. He is currently reporting on breaking news.