Helicopter Small Airplane Crashes into New York City High-Rise

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Photo from CNN.

***Scroll to see updates***

Fox News is covering it now. It happened in the Upper East Side. According to Drudge, the address is 524 E. 72nd Street at York, near East River. It’s not believed to be terrorism related.

Update: According to Shepard Smith of Fox News, the FAA is holding a press briefing right now and says that it was a small aircraft but they don’t know what kind.

Also there are reports of people being trapped and possibly one person killed.

Update II: Again from Shep Smith: the FDNY confirms that people are trapped and two people are dead.

Update III: The FAA is now reporting that it was a fixed wing aircraft flying under visual flight rules or VFR.

Update IV: John Scott is speculating that the plane stalled, which means that the air flow going over the wing of the plane may have been interrupted, causing it to lose altitude suddenly and spiral downward. The way to solve this problem is to push the yoke down to get air over the wing of the plane to bring it out of the stall. If this is what happened, the pilot may have brought it out of the spiral, just in time to hit the building. Who knows. It’s just speculation.

Update V: The FBI’s joint terrorism task force is responding but the FBI still says that there’s no indication that terrorism was involved.

Update VI: According to an eye witness, there’s a point of impact against the building and a streak of black going down the side of the building indicating that the plane hit the building and fell down.

Update VII: Witnesses described the plane doing aerobatics and then leveling off. It sounds like the plane may have been having problems.

Update VIII: Flights have been restricted within a one mile radius around the crash scene.

Update IX: Ms. Underestimated has video of the Fox News coverage.

Update X: NORAD has scrambled fighters over several US cities. This is still believed to be an accident, but NORAD wants to make sure everything is covered.

Update XI: Allahpundit reports that there are two bodies and luggage on the ground in front of the building. More indication that it was an accident.

Update XII: NYPD confirms two dead.

Update XIII: A witness said a wing was sticking out of the tree in front of the building. She also said that at least 10 apartments were on fire and that people were screaming as she worked to get out of the building. Also a man had to be tackled by the police as he tried to get in to save his pregnant wife. Oh my.

Update XIV: Floors 42 and up, the top eight floors, are cleared of all people. Thank God. Now we’re waiting to hear about the floors immediately above and below.

Mary Katharine Ham is also covering this.

Katie Favazza is as well.

So is Suitably Flip.

Update XX: 4HD WNBC.com reports that the plane was a Cirrus SR20.

I found this on a Cirrus SR20 owner’s website about the plane:

A pilot with 800 hours in the SR22 noted that in his experience it is not nearly as docile as the Cessna 172 and Piper Arrow that he had trained on. A CFI (“certificated flight instructor”) who now flies the $3 million Pilatus PC-12 says “The Cirrus is a plane designed to go fast. You shouldn’t be flying it slow. It is trickier to handle in a stall than a 172 or the Pilatus.”

Once in a spin the SR20 and SR22 are virtually impossible to recover, according to the test pilots. Remember that spin testing in certification is done with a special tail parachute for breaking the spin that can then be cut away inflight. NASA puts this best:

“Because unrecoverable spins may be encountered during initial aircraft stall/spin flight tests, spin test aircraft are commonly equipped with emergency spin-recovery parachute systems, which can be deployed to terminate the spinning motion and reduce the aircraft angle of attack to below stall conditions. The parachute is then jettisoned by the pilot and conventional flight resumed.”

http://oea.larc.nasa.gov/PAIS/Concept2Reality/spin_technology.html (contains some photos of spin-recovery parachutes)

This is very important information since this aircraft was flying very low near high-rise buildings.

Update XXI: According to Fox News, the plane was registered to Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle.

Update XXII: From Fox News: we now have confirmation that Cory Lidle was on the plane and has been declared dead.

Apparently, Cory just got his pilot’s license and had about 200 flight hours. With what we learned about the instability of the Cirrus SR20, it sounds like he lost control. It was meant to be flown fast. And he was low and probably slow. Perhaps he was flying too slowly and stalled the plane. As a result, not enough air was making it over the leading edge of the plane’s wings and it may have stalled. From what we have learned from the above information, it would have been impossible to come out of the spin in New York City at only 800 feet above sea level – if that information is correct. (I corrected a bunch of typos. Sorry. I was typing too fast for my fingers to keep up)

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Update XXIII: Lidle was the subject of a September 8th New York Times article in which he addressed the risk of his flying (hat tip Drudge):

A player-pilot is still a sensitive topic for the Yankees, whose captain, Thurman Munson, was killed in the crash of a plane he was flying in 1979. Lidle, acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies on July 30, said his plane was safe.

“The whole plane has a parachute on it,” Lidle said. “Ninety-nine percent of pilots that go up never have engine failure, and the 1 percent that do usually land it. But if you’re up in the air and something goes wrong, you pull that parachute, and the whole plane goes down slowly.”

It sounds like he never pulled the parachute, at least from what we know right now. Then again, he was awfully low and too close to buildings. The parachute probably wouldn’t have helped him.

Update XXIV: This is heartbreaking. Cory’s wife and son were on a flight from New York to LA when the crash took place. So while the rest of the world was reeling from the shock of Cory’s death, his wife and son had no idea. A priest was supposed to meet them in LA to break the news to her.

Update XXV: Was Lidle trying to avoid a mid-air collision? See for yourself.

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