Michael Scarfia, 65, of Great Kills, was identified as the pilot of an Aerospatiale AS355 twin-engine helicopter that went down shortly after noon in West Windsor, N.J., the Advance said.
The copter burst into flames upon impact. Nobody on the ground was injured and Scarfia was the only person aboard the aircraft.
“By diverting his failing helicopter into the cornfield and away from crowded shopping malls, he again showed his bravery and dedication to others,” West Windsor police Lt. Robert Garofalo told the Advance.
Garofalo said it was not immediately clear what had caused the accident, but several people reported seeing a flock of birds appear to make contact with Scarfia's helicopter shortly before the crash.
Witnesses also reported the sound of grinding noises and possibly explosions shortly before the helicopter went down in the field, the Advance reported.
Scarfia did not report any trouble or make any emergency transmissions, the Advance said.