Charlotte helicopter pilots remember Chip Tayag

Chip was an experienced helicopter pilot for over 20 years and had flown with WBTV for five years.
Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 6:11 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Chip Tayag was the pilot of WBTV’s Sky3, but he was also a loving husband, step father, and uncle to 13 nieces and nephews.

He married the love of his life Kerry three years ago.

In a statement to WBTV, his wife Kerry said:

“Chip was the most selfless and loving person I’ve ever known. We both come from big families, so love of family is something we shared. He was always happy and laughing, with that big beautiful smile that I love to see. He was my best friend and the love of my life. I know this separation is only temporary-no matter how terribly permanent it feels-because I know we will be reunited one day.”

Chip began his career as an IT professional, before making the switch to fly for a living.

He joined the team at Total Traffic and Weather Network in 2017, which is when he became the full-time pilot at WBTV.

He built friendships during his time in the sky, including with Andy Holt, who flies the helicopter for Channel 9.

“It was just him and me you, know, for five years flying here in the same airspace,” Holt said.

He says radio conversations started with business.

“He always put safety first,” he said.

Then, they turned personal.

“You’d get on a scene where you’re on there for a long time and you get into conversation,” he said. “He sent me a picture of his wife, Kerry when they first got married. He was very excited being married. "

Holt says he will remember him for his positivity and talent as a pilot.

That positivity is what Sgt. Craig Varnum is also remembering.

“I mean he loved flying,” Sgt. Varnum, the supervisor for CMPD’s aviation unit, said. “When we flew for the first time together, you know, you could just feel it.”

He flies CMPD’s helicopter known as Snoopy, but he also used to serve as a backup pilot for WBTV.

“I think everybody around him was probably better for spending time with him,” he said. “He was very eager to learn what the local procedures were, just so he could, you know, do everything to the best of his ability. It’s great when you get someone who is that enthusiastic about it, because it kind of snaps you out of your rut and it makes you feel like it’s not a job.”

Years later, he says Chip used his skills to help CMPD track down a suspect, when Snoopy was running low on fuel.

“They called him on the air frequency and said ‘hey can you help us out?’ and he said ‘absolutely’”, he said. “He kept eyes on the suspect vehicle, we were able to catch that suspect, and we couldn’t do it without him.”

While Chip is gone, the way he did things in the sky won’t be forgotten.

“Our call sign is Snoopy One and and we would simply say ‘Snoopy One, we’re three miles west of the airport, headed southbound,’ and that would be it,” he said. “Chip would say that. Then he’d say, ‘hey, you guys have a great day.’ He doesn’t have to throw the ‘have a great day’ on there, but he always did.”