TAIPEI, Taiwan - Liao Chien-tsung, pilot of the ill-fated TransAsia flight that tragically crashed on Wednesday morning, saved many lives by suddenly changing the plane's course to avoid densely populated areas moments before the crash, according to witnesses.
Aviation records show that the pilot took three major turns within 108 seconds to avoid hitting major structures in Taipei, one expert said.
Liao, who was killed in the crash along with co-pilot Liou Tzu-chung, appears to have altered the trajectory of the plane in order to save the plane's occupants and the people on the ground.
The doomed plane, footage of which was captured on dashcams as it crashed, had its left engine lose power, leading the plane to spin out of control.
Although the plane was supposed to be set on autopilot at that point in the flight according to sources, captured images clearly show the plane was not moving on its predetermined flight path.
It is believed that this sudden switch to manual mode was done in order to land the plane in the river and avoid hitting tall buildings.
The decision to land the plane in the river in between Taipei and New Taipei City ended up saving the lives of many on the ground as well as inside the plane.
Foreign media outlets such as CNN called the manoeuvre a "miracle" and "unbelievable."
Many people posting on online forum PTT left messages showing their respect for the two pilots, and regarded them as heroes.
One message from Kai0601 said "This pilot is great! He will be remembered as saving many people, including our friends and relatives.
If Liao's family wouldn't mind, I would be willing to pay his children's full school fees."
"This is a way to pay tribute to a hero," the netizen commented.
It was later discovered that the blogger Kai0601 is a Taiwanese businessperson, surnamed Su.
It is understood that Liao's parents ran a night market stall while raising Liao and his younger brother.
After graduating from high school, Liao entered the R.O.C. Air force Academy (CAFA) and then proceeded to become a commercial pilot.
Liao left behind a 9-year-old son.
As the TransAsia flight crashed in the river separating Taipei and New Taipei cities, several jurisdiction issues have come into play.
Yesterday many netizens including National Taiwan University (NTU) Law Professor Lee Mao-sheng openly criticised New Taipei City Deputy Mayor Hou You-i for closing a nearby watergate.
Taipei City Deputy Mayor Teng Chia-chi later stated that he ordered the closing of the watergate in order to prevent flammable fluid leaking from the crash site from flowing further downstream.
As a consequence, water levels at the site of the crash were raised.
The river's water level was seen as a crucial element in the deaths of many passengers as the plane landed on its side with half of the plane's seats submerged under the water.
Rescuers spent three hours helping survivors out of the wreck through the exposed emergency exit door.
Teng claimed that the whole city's emergency response team was on site doing their jobs, and no one should be to blame.