B-25 Strikes Empire State – July 1945

A U.S. Army Air Force  B-25 Mitchell bomber crashed into the Empire State Building on Saturday July 28, 1945.  Fourteen people were killed.

Flying from New Bedford, Massachusetts, to LaGuardia Airport in New York City, with two pilots and a passenger aboard, the B-25 encountered heavy fog over the New York metropolitan area and was instructed to land at Newark Airport instead.

The altered flight plan crossed over Manhattan; and the crew was specifically warned that the Empire State Building was not visible. Seeking improved visibility, the B-25 flew relatively low. Seeing the Chrysler Building in midtown, the pilot swerved to avoid the building but flew straight into the north side of the Empire State Building, near the 79th floor.

The plane’s jet fuel exploded, sending flames all the way down to the 75th floor and leaving an 18 x 20 foot hole the in the building’s side. One engine from the B-25 crashed through the building, landing in a penthouse across the street. Other debris struck nearby buildings. The second engine snapped an elevator cable – an emergency auto brake saved a woman from crashing to her death.

Because it was the weekend, relatively few workers were in the building. In addition to the B-25 pilot, copilot and passenger, eleven office workers died by fire or violent ejection from the building by the the crash.

 

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