B-25 Empire State Building crash

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B-25 Empire State Building crash

Crash by a U.S. Army B-25 bomber on July 28, 1945
Accident summary
DateJuly 28, 1945
TypeControlled flight into terrain (building)
SiteEmpire State Building, New York City
Crew3
Fatalities14 (11 in building and 3 crew)
Aircraft typeB-25 Mitchell
Aircraft nameOld John Feather Merchant
OperatorU.S Army Air Forces
Registration41-30577
Flight originBoston, Massachusetts
 
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Coordinates: 40°44′54.36″N 73°59′08.36″W / 40.7484333°N 73.9856556°W / 40.7484333; -73.9856556 (Empire State Building)

B-25 Empire State Building crash

Crash by a U.S. Army B-25 bomber on July 28, 1945
Accident summary
DateJuly 28, 1945
TypeControlled flight into terrain (building)
SiteEmpire State Building, New York City
Crew3
Fatalities14 (11 in building and 3 crew)
Aircraft typeB-25 Mitchell
Aircraft nameOld John Feather Merchant
OperatorU.S Army Air Forces
Registration41-30577
Flight originBoston, Massachusetts

The B-25 Empire State Building crash was a 1945 aircraft accident in which a B-25 Mitchell piloted in thick fog crashed into the Empire State Building. While the structural integrity of the building was not compromised, fourteen people died (three crewmen and eleven in the building), causing damage estimated to be $1,000,000 USD ($13,000,000 current dollar adjustment).[1][2]

Contents

Details

On Saturday, July 28, 1945, Lieutenant Colonel William Franklin Smith, Jr. was piloting a B-25 Mitchell bomber on a routine personnel transport mission from Boston to LaGuardia Airport.[3][4] Smith asked for clearance to land, but was advised of zero visibility.[4] Proceeding anyway, he became disoriented by the fog, and started turning right instead of left after passing the Chrysler Building.[5]

At 9:40 a.m., the plane crashed into the north side of the Empire State Building, between the 78th and 80th floors, carving an 18 ft (5.5 m) x 20 ft (6.1 m) hole in the building[6] where the offices of the National Catholic Welfare Council were located. One engine shot through the side opposite the impact and flew as far as the next block, landing on the roof of a nearby building and starting a fire that destroyed a penthouse. The other engine and part of the landing gear plummeted down an elevator shaft. The resulting fire was extinguished in 40 minutes. It is still the only fire at such a height that has ever been successfully controlled.[6]

Fourteen people were killed: Smith, the two others aboard the bomber (Staff Sergeant Christopher Domitrovich and Albert Perna, a Navy aviation machinist's mate hitching a ride[7]), and eleven people in the building.[2] Elevator operator Betty Lou Oliver was injured. Rescuers decided to transport her on an elevator which they did not know had weakened cables. She survived a plunge of 75 stories, which still stands as the Guinness World Record for the longest survived elevator fall.[5]

Despite the damage and loss of life, the building was open for business on many floors on the following Monday. The crash helped spur the passage of the long-pending Federal Tort Claims Act of 1946, as well as the insertion of retroactive provisions into the law, allowing people to sue the government for the accident.[8]

See also

References

  1. ^ Jennifer Rosenberg. "The Plane That Crashed Into the Empire State Building". about.com. http://history1900s.about.com/od/1940s/a/empirecrash.htm. 
  2. ^ a b "Empire State Building Withstood Airplane Impact". JOM (monthly publication of The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society). 2001. http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM/0112/News/News8-0112.html. 
  3. ^ "750th Squadron 457th Bombardment Group: Officers - 1943 to 1945". Archived from the original on 19 April 2009. http://www.457thbombgroup.org/New/750thSquad.html. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  4. ^ a b Joe Richman (July 28, 2008). "The Day A Bomber Hit The Empire State Building". NPR. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92987873. 
  5. ^ a b "Longest Fall Survived In An Elevator". guinnessworldrecords.com. http://web.archive.org/web/20060317041607/http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/content_pages/record.asp?recordid=53746. 
  6. ^ a b Molnar, Matt. "On This Day in Aviation History: July 28th". NYCAviation. http://nycaviation.com/2009/07/28/on-this-day-in-aviation-history-july-28th/. Retrieved 2009-07-28. 
  7. ^ "B-25 Empire State Building Collision". Aerospaceweb.org. http://www.aerospaceweb.org/question/history/q0311.shtml. Retrieved April 8, 2012. 
  8. ^ Joe Richman (July 28, 2008). "The Day A Bomber Hit The Empire State Building". NPR. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92987873. Retrieved July 28, 2008. "Eight months after the crash, the U.S. government offered money to families of the victims. Some accepted, but others initiated a lawsuit that resulted in landmark legislation. The Federal Tort Claims Act of 1946, for the first time, gave American citizens the right to sue the federal government." 

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