The Day a B-25 Struck the Empire State Building

On a Saturday, 28th of July, 1945, a lone B-25 Mitchell bomber was on a routine personnel transport mission from Bedford Army Air Field to Newark Airport. On approach, the pilot requested clearance to land, but was advised of zero visibility. Proceeding anyway, he lost situational awareness in the fog, and entered a right instead of left turn after passing the Chrysler Building.

 At 9:40 a.m., the aircraft impacted into the north side of the Empire State Building, between the 78th and 80th floors, carving an 18-by-20-foot hole in the building. One engine shot through the South side opposite the impact and flew as far as the next block, dropping 900 feet and landing on the roof of a nearby building.The other engine and part of the landing gear plummeted down an elevator shaft of the Empire State Building. The resulting fire was soon extinguished, and is still the only fire at such a height to ever be brought under control.

Fourteen people were killed. The crew, and 11 people who were on the 78th to 80th floors at the time of impact. One person aboard the bomber were not found until two days later, when search crews discovered his body had gone through an elevator shaft and fallen to the bottom.

Elevator operator Betty Lou Oliver, who was injured when the B-25 impacted. Rescuers decided to transport her on an elevator that unknown to them, had weakened cables. She survived a plunge of 75 stories, which still stands as the Guinness World Record for the longest survived elevator free fall.

Despite the damage and loss of life, the building was open for business on many floors on the following Monday.

To this day, a missing stone in the facade serves as evidence of where the aircraft crashed into the building.


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