Pilot of doomed helicopter had been flying ‘for years’: father

The helicopter pilot who managed to survive Sunday’s deadly crash in the East River is a former flight instructor from Connecticut who’s been flying “for years,” according to his father.

Richard Vance, 33, was somehow able to escape and scramble to safety as his Eurocopter AS350 went down near 88th street — with all five passengers inside, officials said.

Two wound up dying at the scene and the others were hospitalized in critical condition. They later died at Bellevue.

Vance, a native of Danbury, Conn., was identified by police sources as the sole survivor in Sunday night’s crash, which — according to him — was caused by engine failure.

The helicopter that he was operating is owned by the New Jersey-based company, Liberty Helicopters. It had taken off from the HHI Heliport in Kearny, NJ, which is listed as Liberty’s address in the Federal Aviation Administration’s records.

Vance’s father, Anthony Vance, told The Post that his son had been flying with the company for “a couple years” — but he didn’t know exactly when he started.

According to his LinkedIn page, Vance has been working for Liberty since April 2016.

“He’s a very good pilot,” the elder Vance said, noting how Richard has flown for “a lot of years” with a commercial pilot’s license.

His LinkedIn lists him as working for Northeast Helicopters — described online as “one of the most reputable helicopter schools in the US” — from July 2012 to March 2016. He was employed as an “Assistant Chief Flight Instructor.”

The experienced pilot told authorities that a signal went off in the cabin — notifying him of an “engine failure” — right before the chopper went down.Sources said the chopper Vance was flying on Sunday was chartered for a “doors off” photographic or video shoot, meaning the aircraft flew with its doors removed so those inside could take pictures without the windows getting in the way.

“Mayday… Mayday… Mayday!” Vance said, according to sources.

“East River engine failure!”

The helicopter floated for several minutes before eventually going under, witnesses said.

It’s unclear if Vance attempted to save any of the passengers on board. His dad had yet to speak to him about the crash when the Post reached him for comment.

NY POST

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