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In Heavy Fog

Article #45 • Written by Alan Bellows

On a Saturday morning in July of 1945, Army Air Corps bomber pilot Lt. Colonel William Smith was trying to fly his B-25 bomber through a steadily increasing fog. He was on his way to Newark airport to pick up his commanding officer when he appeared above New York Municipal airport (now La Guardia airport) about 25 miles to the east of his destination. He was requesting a weather report.

Municipal tower reported extremely poor visibility over New York, and urged him to land, but Lt. Colonel Smith requested and received clearance from the military to continue his flight. "From where I'm sitting," the tower operator warned, "I can't see the top of the Empire State Building." Despite the advice from the Municipal tower, Smith plunged into the soupy fog with his two crewmen, bound for Manhattan.

Partway through their flight, the pilot quickly became disoriented because he was unable to see the ground below, and he lost his way. Despite Manhattan regulations that forbade aircraft from flying below 2,000 feet, Smith made the decision to drop below 1,000 feet in an attempt to untangle his bomber from the densest part of the fog. When his plane emerged from the thick, his visibility indeed improved. All around his aircraft, silhouettes of skyscrapers towered above Smith and his crew... and the New York Central Building was directly ahead.

Smith reacted quickly and banked hard, pushing the lumbering bomber to its stress limits to try to avoid the collision. His plane just missed the New York Central Building, flying past its west side with little room to spare. Dozens of skyscrapers lay beyond the first one, leaving a forest of fog-shrouded towers in the plane's path. Smith tried to gain altitude as he weaved between the ghostly shadows of buildings, forcing the bomber to maneuver at its operational extremes.

When the Empire State Building emerged from the fog right ahead of his craft, Smith banked his plane and pulled back as hard as he was able, but the bomber lacked the maneuverability to dodge the large tower looming over it. At 9:49 a.m, in the middle of a desperate, climbing turn, the ten-ton B-25 slammed into the 79th floor of the Empire State Building.

Inside, workers for the War Relief Services of the National Catholic Welfare Conference had already started work when their offices were suddenly engulfed an an explosion of flaming, high-octane fuel. The burning gasoline traveled through hallways, stairwells, and elevator shafts, reaching as far as four floors below the point of impact as the building shook. A publicist working in the offices was propelled out of a window from the explosion, and ten others were caught in the inferno.

Fire and debris rained upon the surrounding area, mostly onto nearby structures. One of the bomber's engines completely penetrated the Empire State Building, and fell from the opposite side. The other engine flew into an elevator shaft and severed the cable of an elevator car carrying two women, sending it into free fall.

Catherine O'Connor, who was working in the offices at the time of the crash, later recounted her experience:

"The plane exploded within the building. There were five or six seconds-- I was tottering on my feet trying to keep my balance-- and three-quarters of the office was instantaneously consumed in this sheet of flame. One man was standing inside the flame. I could see him. It was a co-worker, Joe Fountain. His whole body was on fire. I kept calling to him, 'Come on, Joe; come on, Joe.'" He walked out of it.

Doris Pope, also in the building at the time, initially suspected that World War 2 had been brought to American soil:

"That day, as we were getting ready to take our coffee break, we heard this terrible noise, and the building started to shake. … As we looked out our third-floor window, we saw debris fall on to the street. We immediately thought New York was being bombed."

Helen J. Hurwitt, who had been working in an office across the street, recounted:

"My husband and I were in a building directly opposite the Empire State Building. … Large plate-glass windows looked out onto 34th Street. The floor we were on was pretty high. At some point, we heard a horrendous noise and rushed to the windows. We were horrified to see a B-25 half in and half out of the Empire State Building."

The 4-alarm fire brought every available piece of fire-fighting apparatus to the scene. As the building was evacuated, firemen spent about an hour extinguishing the flames. The two women who had been in the free falling elevator were found alive, owing to the elevator's hydraulic emergency braking system which had slowed the car down slightly, and to the cushion of broken, coiled cables which had piled up at the shaft's bottom. Sadly, one of the women was fatally wounded, and died shortly after she was found. The surviving woman, Betty Lou Oliver, currently holds a world record for surviving the 75-story free fall.

All told, fourteen men and women were killed in the accident, including Lt. Colonel William Smith and his two crewmen, nine office workers killed from the fire, and the woman who died in the elevator. Joe Fountain, the man who had been caught in the fire but managed to walk out of it, died of his wounds several days later. In addition, twenty-six people were injured.

The impact left a hole in the north face of the Empire State Building eighteen feet wide by twenty feet high. Photographer Ernie Sisto captured this incredible image from the 90th floor, where he had two other newsmen dangle him out the window by his legs so he could get the shot past the ledge. Later in the day, a news broadcast by Mutual Broadcasting Company included interviews with eyewitnesses, as well as an audio recording of the crash which had been accidentally captured by a nearby recording studio.

Investigation showed that the structural integrity of the Empire State Building was not compromised by this accident, but the cost to repair the damage was on the order of a million dollars. For more information, you might check your local library for old copies of New York daily newspapers on microfilm; this was front page news in New York City on July 29, 1945.

Article written by Alan Bellows, published on 10 November 2005. Alan is the founder/designer/head writer/managing editor of Damn Interesting.

Article design and artwork by Alan Bellows.
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56 Comments
thatsmyname
Posted 10 November 2005 at 08:09 pm

Wow, somehow I never heard about this.


JustAnotherName
Posted 11 November 2005 at 03:57 pm

On 9/11 I was driving home from an early Doctors apoointment. When I heard a plane had slammed into the World Trade Center, I called home and told my Mom to turn on the TV. I was laughing, not realizing what had really happened. I thought it was a small prop plane and then pictured King Kong. (It was the KK part that was making me laugh.)

My Mom had said "Do you remember I told you about the Empire State Building and the plane that hit that?" She was quite miffed that I would laugh at a disaster. I said turn on the TV and I'll explain when I get home. I gave her my explanation while looking in horror at the gaping hole and thinking "Who could fly a plane into the WTC on a beauty of a day like that!" I walked away from the TV and my Mother screamed that another plane had hit the other building. I had to sit there and watch my Mom cry for the next two hours wishing I had never called home.


J
Posted 13 November 2005 at 01:55 pm

I am amazed thast I had never heard about this either. Strange what parts of history can escape us at times


albryan
Posted 15 November 2005 at 06:53 pm

I met the widow if this pilot in a hospital in 1994. She filed the first successful lawsuit against the federal governement--or so she claimed.


godsgrandson
Posted 16 March 2006 at 04:52 am

I'm sure I've read that it was this incident that lead to all skyscrapers having to be built with extra strength specifically to stop them crashing if hit by a plane. Unfortunately they were talking about small prop planes.


NewEvolution
Posted 27 March 2006 at 08:42 pm

This is the first thing that came to mind when I was walking to class the morning of 9/11. I mentioned it to some other students and it seemed like I was the only one who'd heard of it before. I'm pretty sure I saw it in a book published in Ripley's Believe it or Not series on disasters.

Wonder if those responsible for 9/11 got their idea from this, or if it's just a coincidence.


tom
Posted 12 July 2006 at 08:56 pm

But, what was the name of the plane?


kwiksand
Posted 12 July 2006 at 11:26 pm

tom said: "But, what was the name of the plane?"

911-TOCOME

The guy who named it was like Nostradamus+


wiggle
Posted 13 July 2006 at 04:04 am

This event was a-part of the "loose change" video that showed up on google videos most popular list as being more proof that 9/11 was staged.

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6092407206488176378&q=Loose+Change


another viewpoint
Posted 13 July 2006 at 06:06 am

...too bad they don't build skyscrapers like that anymore.

If they did...the WTC towers would still be standing. We probably wouldn't have ended up spending billions of dollars for a war in Iraq and gas prices might still be under $2 per gallon.


1c3d0g
Posted 13 July 2006 at 06:46 am

thatsmyname: that's pretty ignorant. Everybody heard of this some time or another.

another viewpoint: there's a pretty big difference between a 15 ton bomber flying at ~275 MPH and a 100 ton commercial airliner flying at ~540 MPH slamming into a building... :-/


HarleyHetz
Posted 13 July 2006 at 06:57 am

Interesting story, but it's nothing more than coincindence. My mother lived in New York at the time as well, and I remember her mentioning it that September afternoon when we talked about the terroist attacks.


cmanda
Posted 13 July 2006 at 07:17 am

I have never heard about this either.

On 9/11 the first word-of-mouth report I heard was that a plane had hit the Empire State Building (not the Worl Trade Center). How strange that I never knew that the Empire State Building was actually hit by a plane in 1945.


cmanda
Posted 13 July 2006 at 07:24 am

1c3d0g said: "thatsmyname: that's pretty ignorant. Everybody heard of this some time or another.


another viewpoint: there's a pretty big difference between a 15 ton bomber flying at ~275 MPH and a 100 ton commercial airliner flying at ~540 MPH slamming into a building… :-/"

Wow, definitely harss. I think maybe a lot of younger people may not have heard of thie before. No need to make such a blanket statement.


schuylercat
Posted 13 July 2006 at 07:33 am

The story itself was more interesting on a personal level than a historical one – the women falling in the elevator, the man standing ablaze in the fire. Planes fly into buildings occasionally – it just happens (911 being a rather different story, however). My dad flew B-24’s in those days, and he and I discussed this a lot – “pilot error” was his astute diagnosis, and history seems to bear that out. Smith had no business flying at that altitude in that airspace in those conditions.

The most damned interesting this about the story is the picture – every time I think of holding an old 15 pound Speedgraphic press camera and dangling over the ledge of the 90th floor to get that shot…pretty creepy. And there was another pic I recall (now I’ll spend a ton of time looking for it) showing the B-25 sticking out of the building like a lawn dart.

Historical confluence or not, I’ve seen a lot of parallels drawn between this and 911 – having read whichever Tom Clancy book it was that depicted a Japanese pilot flying a 747 into congress as an act of political defiance, that seems a more likely source of inspiration…but then again I’m not a terrorist shopping for ideas (no matter WHAT my wife says).


LL
Posted 13 July 2006 at 08:11 am

My Speedgraphic camera weighs about 5 pounds not 15. Still would be nerve wracking henging over the edge for me, but the old camera's weight would be the least of it.


another viewpoint
Posted 13 July 2006 at 08:38 am

1c3d0g said: there's a pretty big difference between a 15 ton bomber flying at ~275 MPH and a 100 ton commercial airliner flying at ~540 MPH slamming into a building… :-/"

get a life dog boy...In 1945, even a 15 ton bomber penetrated the Empire State Building...but the damage to the building (and loss of life) was minimal. Most likely due to the way the structure was overbuilt. Since that time, we've put men on the moon and brought them home safely...there's been countless improvements in engineering and material science. Using best designs and materials at the time the WTC was built MIGHT have reduced the devastation the took place on 911.

Anything is possible in this world as long as you carefully develop specs and standards...stick to them and don't always go with the low bidder. You get what you pay for. A couple thousand persons, sadly, paid the ultimate price for shortsightedness, cutting corners and doing things cheaply.


kc0dxh
Posted 13 July 2006 at 09:38 am

Please don't confuse a B25 with a modern passenger jet. It's the same as confusing a Piper Cub and a B25.


just_dave
Posted 13 July 2006 at 09:56 am

tom said: "But, what was the name of the plane?"

It was named "Old John Feather Merchant", Army 0577, based at Sioux Falls Army Air Base in my home town, Sioux Falls, SD. There's an historic marker near the airport that tells some of the story:

BOMBER RAMS SKYSCRAPER

Following victory in Europe during World War II, the Sioux Falls Army Air Base became a reception center for airmen returning to be redeployed to the war in the Pacific. A twin-engine B-25 bomber, Army 0577, was added to the base fleet. Christened Old John Feather Merchant, the bomber was outfitted as a VIP ferry plane.

On July 28, 1945, Army 0577 was returning to Sioux Falls from the East Coast when the pilot became lost in a blinding fog. Traveling 250 mph, the 12-ton bomber slammed into the 78th floor of New York's Empire State Building, then the world's tallest building. The point of impact was 975 feet above street level. Highly flammable aviation fuel exploded, unleashing a deadly fireball inside the skyscraper.

Killed in the tragic collision were the plane's 3 occupants and 11 people at work in the building. Concluding that fault for the accident was largely that of the pilot, the Army thereafter required more intensive transitional training for pilots returning from overseas combat duty.

DEDICATED IN 2001 BY THE
MINNEHAHA COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY
AND THE CITY OF SIOUX FALLS

I do a little blogspot thing on some of the local historic sites for fun. By happy coincedence, I snapped photos of this particular marker last month, and had written some of the post on Monday of this week. I saw the DI article, and decided I should finish it up; you can see photos of the marker and get a little (not a lot) more info here.

One interesting thing is the discrepancy between the Historic Society's and the DI version of the story; the marker says the pilot was returning to Sioux Falls, but the DI version says he was enroute to Newark, NJ, to pick up passengers. The latter is more likely true, as the accident happened with just the pilot and two crewmen on board. The Historic Society has been known to get things wrong before; just because they cast their version in bronze doesn't make it true. ;o)


bryane
Posted 13 July 2006 at 10:30 am

Drakvil
Posted 13 July 2006 at 10:43 am

another viewpoint said: "In 1945, even a 15 ton bomber penetrated the Empire State Building…but the damage to the building (and loss of life) was minimal. Most likely due to the way the structure was overbuilt. Since that time, we've put men on the moon and brought them home safely…there's been countless improvements in engineering and material science. Using best designs and materials at the time the WTC was built MIGHT have reduced the devastation the took place on 911.

Anything is possible in this world as long as you carefully develop specs and standards…stick to them and don't always go with the low bidder. You get what you pay for. A couple thousand persons, sadly, paid the ultimate price for shortsightedness, cutting corners and doing things cheaply."

How quickly you attribute motives to people with nothing to back it up. The ESB was built the way it was built because that was the best they had at the time for making what was one of the tallest buildings in the world. By today's standards the ESB was overbuilt, but by the standards of the day it's just the way they made everything - to compensate for occasional materials failures they couldn't control.

The WTC was built with the same goals in mind - using the best materials available at the time to do the job, make the tallest building in the world. It could not have been made using the techniques and materials that the ESB utilized. Much more likely considerations went into it's design: withstanding high winds on such tall vertical surfaces, surviving earthquakes, people driving cars into the ground floor walls, fires, etc. People don't invest the kind of money it takes to make a building like that and elect to use substandard materials or "cut corners". The liability incurred in a failure of a building that size would completely bankrupt the owners and builders, and the publicity would make them laughingstocks if not outright social pariahs.

Your statement is like calling the car makers of today irresponsible because most cars made today don't come with huge steel bumpers on the front and back like they did in the 50's. Sure, it's cheaper to use plastic bumpers, but can they withstand a 60 MPH head-on collision with a garbage truck?

another viewpoint said: …too bad they don't build skyscrapers like that anymore.

If they did…the WTC towers would still be standing. We probably wouldn't have ended up spending billions of dollars for a war in Iraq and gas prices might still be under $2 per gallon

Really? I'd be willing to bet that the ESB, if it were hit by one 747 at that speed(540 knotts), would not stand long enough for a single person to get clear.


HarleyHetz
Posted 13 July 2006 at 10:58 am

just_dave said: "It was named "Old John Feather Merchant", Army 0577, based at Sioux Falls Army Air Base in my home town, Sioux Falls, SD. There's an historic marker near the airport that tells some of the story:

Thanks for giving the true name just_dave, I didn't pipe in on the guy who said it was 911 TOCOME but I was pretty darn sure that this was BS.

Also excellent points made by drakvil IMHO!

It's nice to find someplace where people actually do a little research before popping off about a subject. Kudos to you both!!


cutterjohn
Posted 13 July 2006 at 11:08 am

I read about this a long time ago, but that picture is still nuts.. Getting a couple people to dangle you out of a window simply for a picture takes considerable trust.

Btw, the WTC was designed with airplane impacts in mind, however, they designed under the assumption that any impact would be with an airplane in a similar situation.. lost in the fog, no instruements, flying at slow speeds.. Not a deliberate ramming made at nearly the maximum speed possible.

Its not that they used substandard materials or didn't forsee an impact, they just just plain didn't forsee it being deliberately done as an attack.


HarleyHetz
Posted 13 July 2006 at 11:16 am

cutterjohn said: "Its not that they used substandard materials or didn't forsee an impact, they just just plain didn't forsee it being deliberately done as an attack."

Even if they had, it has been my experience as an engineer that no matter how "idiot proof" you make something, somewhere there is a bigger idiot than you expected!!!


Xoebe
Posted 13 July 2006 at 02:49 pm

Don't forget, the 9/11 attackers deliberately hijacked west coast bound flights, so that the fuel tanks would be close to full.

The WTC buildings were steel frame buildings with glass curtain walls. ESB has a steel frame as well, but the walls are structurally integrated into the system. Plus, the interior spaces are gnerally smaller - meaning more support columns - and probably have a thicker plaster and stone wall covering on the interior walls.

The thing is, when steel gets very hot, it has all the structural value of cooked spaghetti. It wasn't the impact that brought down WTC towers, it was the subsequent fire.


tom
Posted 13 July 2006 at 07:24 pm

just_dave said: "It was named "Old John Feather Merchant", Army 0577, based at Sioux Falls Army Air Base in my home town, Sioux Falls, SD.

Thank you sir! I'd been wondering about the name of the plane for years.


HGirl
Posted 14 July 2006 at 03:52 am

Osama: Hey, remember the plane crach in the Empire state building, lets do the same thing with bigger planes and bigger buildings...


Dido
Posted 14 July 2006 at 04:23 am

I thought that one lady who fell 33000 feet held the record. There is an article on this site. What are the difference in records.


1c3d0g
Posted 14 July 2006 at 06:21 am

another viewpoint said: "get a life dog boy…In 1945, even a 15 ton bomber penetrated the Empire State Building…but the damage to the building (and loss of life) was minimal. Most likely due to the way the structure was overbuilt. Since that time, we've put men on the moon and brought them home safely…there's been countless improvements in engineering and material science. Using best designs and materials at the time the WTC was built MIGHT have reduced the devastation the took place on 911.

Anything is possible in this world as long as you carefully develop specs and standards…stick to them and don't always go with the low bidder. You get what you pay for. A couple thousand persons, sadly, paid the ultimate price for shortsightedness, cutting corners and doing things cheaply."

They say when someone starts calling people names it's because they're losing an argument they can't win. Since I don't (and I doubt you as well) have the building plans of neither building in front of me, I'll refrain from posting anything about the Twin Towers' supposed lack of quality.

Anyway. it sounds to me like you're just pissed off that you didn't realise the enormous difference between the airplanes. There's simply no way you can compare them head-to-head: the newer airplanes outweigh the bomber 7 times, are twice as fast, their wingspan is at least twice as long and their widebody construction can inflict far more damage than a (relatively) narrow bomber could do. Additionally, the newer airplanes use Jet A (a kerosene mix), which as we all know, burn at *much* higher temperatures than AvGas (a high-octane gasoline). This is what actually brought down the WTC, the high temperatures melted the structure's steel frame so the building couldn't support the weight on top anymore and came crashing down. :-(

And *I* need to get a life? Puhlease...better get your facts straight before yapping your trap.


Sandra Thurston
Posted 14 July 2006 at 10:04 am

I was just there last month and I must confess that I felt pretty uneasy every time a plane flew by...

http://sandragenteboa.spaces.msn.com/


mestebanez
Posted 15 July 2006 at 06:03 am

An interesting circumstance of the woman who survived to the fall of the elevator, Betty Lou Oliver, is the fact that she worked as elevator girl in the building. When the plane crashed, her elevator was broken and she was injured, so they had to move her to another elevator. It was an incredible irresponsibility to used this elevator without testing it before.
A good explanation of what happened in the elevator is here.


knutars
Posted 15 July 2006 at 11:05 pm

the biggest difference between the b-52 crash described here and the 911 attack is not the sizes and numbers of the aircrafts, buildings and victims, it's about being deliberate or not. check out these videos for a better understanding!


Dido
Posted 18 July 2006 at 05:16 am

Will someone please answer my question? How does this guy hold the record for surviving a 75 story freefall, while that one woman who fell 33,000 feet holds the record for the highest freefall. Someone please answer? ill be thankful.


1c3d0g
Posted 18 July 2006 at 05:57 am

One fell from a building, the other from a plane, what's the difficulty? Obviously the one from the plane holds the record as the highest fall (from *anywhere*) while the one from the building holds the record for the highest fall (from a building).


Carl Helsing
Posted 19 July 2006 at 04:54 am

Going thru one of the many 9/11 websites last night I spotted a short movie film of the B-25 still on fire after having penetrated the building wall-I thought I had seen something similar many years ago on a television documentary,and apparently I did.I don't remember the specific site,but it had a wide selection of clear videos .I will probably find it again eventually.My computer dropped the page as I was about to file some video's- ---You might want this for your site,or as information anyway---


j0e
Posted 28 July 2006 at 10:36 pm


July 13th, 2006 at 2:49 pm
Xoebe says:

[snip]
The thing is, when steel gets very hot, it has all the structural value of cooked spaghetti. It wasn't the impact that brought down WTC towers, it was the subsequent fire.

So tell me Xoebe, at what temperature does jet fuel burn at (if burning in perfect conditions) and at what temperature does steel lose just half of its strength? How long would the jet fuel have burned under those same, perfect conditions?


Engineer1
Posted 29 July 2006 at 09:31 pm

There are mountains of documentation on the effects of aircraft crashes. Thousands have been tested in mock and simulated realtime test. The fuel used by the Boeing 757 is type JET A-1. It's temperature is known to burn at a maxium of about 1500 degrees fahrenheit. Steel is known to melt at way above that temperature, about 3000 degrees fahreneit. This of course would be under perfect and control conditions. The WTC was struck by a 125 ton bullet going about 770 feet per second, made of basically out of two metals; aluminum and magnesium with copper and other alloyed metals thrown in. The heat from the impact, friction and compression of air within the aircraft compartment alone would be enough to ignite these metals. Magnesium and Aluminum once started burning burns hotter than jet fuel, about the same temperature of thermite (4000-5000 degrees fahrenheit). The thermite effect would easily melt steel girders. With about 64 tons of burning aircraft metal compacted into the center of one of the WTC towers one would believe structural damage like that occured on 9/11 would be plausible. A simple test would prove this.


GrawneyMan
Posted 30 July 2006 at 06:16 pm

Once magnesium starts burning it doesn't stop without great effort... I've even heard it will continue to burn when completely immersed in water.


Engineer1
Posted 31 July 2006 at 06:11 am

That is exactly why in instances where modern airliners catch fire, and if there is no fire fighting foam (like AFFF), the aircraft will burn completely away leaving very little of the structure except harder metals and ceramics.


life4799
Posted 09 August 2006 at 09:08 am

I'm just a novice trying to understand the science behind 911. Even if the temp that fires created could reach a temp that would melt the steel in the WTC how is it able to displace that much heat into that much steel in an hour that would cause the free fall (falling at the speed of gravity)? Thier are too many physical imporsiblity for me to understand. Again I'm a novice, and anyone that could help me understand that would be helping me out a lot.


Engineer1
Posted 27 August 2006 at 07:40 am

I wouldn't call it a free fall. The structure was weakened through several floors. The weight above pushed on the weakened areas below. Inch by inch, foot by foot the tons of material above began to move downward. Speed increases mass and the faster it moved the greater the mass became. This mass increased until the building structure below could not support the moving mass above and complete failure occured. It was gravity, momentum and weight that brought down the buildings. It's a wonder that the buildings didn't immediately collapse from the impact of a 125 ton explosive bullet.


Janthony
Posted 08 September 2006 at 01:04 pm

GrawneyMan said: "Once magnesium starts burning it doesn't stop without great effort… I've even heard it will continue to burn when completely immersed in water."

The truth of the matter is that when magnesium starts to burn, the ONLY thing that can stop it is the total loss of material to burn. No temperature, substance or technique can stop the immolation. Magnesium can burn underwater because it creates it's own oxygen during combustion, and because of that can burn quite merrily in a total vacuum...say, outer space!


jep
Posted 06 November 2006 at 03:19 pm

Too much nonsense on this page. The statement "speed increases mass" is technically correct but completely ridiculous in this context.

Chemical burning means to react with O2. Magnesium cannot burn without a source of O2. Pure magnesium certainly cannot burn in total vacuum. Pure magnesium cannot "create it's own oxygen" during combustion. I've read that it can burn in the presence of CO2 rather than O2 but I can't confirm that. It might be that if it burns hot enough it can break the CO2 into C and O2 and then burn with the O2 or something.


Charlie Had.
Posted 27 October 2007 at 06:10 pm

Bill Smith was my mother's 1st cousin. We lived in Mobile, AL at the time and I remember our family going to Birmingham for his funeral. Bill is buried in Elmwood Cemetary, Birmingham. A book was written about the incident. The title is "The Sky is Falling." It contains many photos and more speculation on what actually happened. He was an experienced pilot and had flown many mission in Europe during the war.
Charlie Had.


welshy
Posted 19 December 2007 at 11:31 am

Really? I'd be willing to bet that the ESB, if it were hit by one 747 at that speed(540 knotts), would not stand long enough for a single person to get clear.

The Empire State Building would not have suffered a total collapse like the WTC did.
First you have to understand the construction of both buildings.
The Empire State Building is built like a giant erector set with the steel beams encased in brick and concreate.
The massive weight of the building is supported from the ground up unlike the WTC in which each floor supported itself by way of trusses that connected from the inner core beams to the external wall beams.
The Empire State may have suffered failure on the floors hit and worse case scenario the top may have toppled off, but it would not have totally collapsed.

Also here are a few points to consider:
When the Empire State Building was built the steel used to make the beams was thicker, therefore the beams are stronger.
There are far more beams throughout the structure so if several failed the weight would be distributed.
Concreate is a far better fire retardant than spray on foam.

Lastly, this building was built to last a minimum of 200 years.
I have visited the WTC, Sears Tower, Hancok Tower, Seattle Space Needle, Prudential Center in Boston, Empire State Building, & Rockerfellar Center.

The ESB weighs 365,000 tons, The Sears Tower 220,000, Hancock Tower 180,000.

I suggest you research and understand how each building is built before you comment on how a building would stand up to such a catostrophic event like the WTC endured on 09/11.


DavidN
Posted 24 June 2009 at 08:52 pm

My mother, Ruth V. Norris, maiden name Leiman, was there at the Empire State Building with her best friend Martina Yockel. She was visiting New York from Baltimore, where she was a student at the Towson State Teachers College, (now Towson State University). She was twenty - four years old at the time, and single. She told me the story, that her and Martina had entered the building to go to the observation deck. They were told by the attendant that, do to the severe fog, they would not be permitted to proceed to the top of the building. Very disapointed, they proceeded out onto the sidewalk. Just as they left the building the plane crashed. They ran and ran away, my mother stated that she saw the building swaying from side to side. If the attendant had let them get in the elevator, they might have been killed. I went with my mother in 1972 to New York, on the B & O railroad, (before AMTRAK), one footnote , this was right after Hurricane Agnes hit the entire Eastern Seaboard, so there were lawn mowers and garden sheds, debris, along the tracks. The flood waters had not receded along the Susquehana River in PA. Back to the story, we finally went to the Observation level, and I never thought that she might have had post traumatic stress, but it was fine. I have a small replica of the building that I purchased on the observation deck with my memorabilia collection. She is now deceased, but we did see a special on CNN on the 40th anniversary of the event. I am glad she did get to finally see the view. Note, we did go to the 1964 World's Fair, but did not go into Manhattan. I went up in the two yellow towers from "Men in Black"very scary . I am lucky that my parent's took me with them everywhere. DavidN.


tunatuna
Posted 24 January 2010 at 04:50 pm

Someone is mistaken about where this photograph of the gaping hole was shot. Actually, it's not possible to hang out a window on the 90th floor of the Empire State Bldg and reach out far enough to capture this shot of where the plane hit on the 79th floor. Why? Because the uppermost floor of occupied office space is the 85th floor. The main observation deck is on the 86th floor. the 90th floor is on the uppermost section on the building which is nothing more than an elevator shaft and a stairwell to the 102nd floor. it is stepped back at least 15 or 20 feet from the part of the building where the plane hit. Even if those windows opened (on the shaft; they don't) no one could have leaned out far enough to get a shot looking down to the 79th floor. Therefore, this shot had to be taken from the 85th floor or lower. John F.


johnb3491
Posted 10 April 2010 at 05:50 pm

Engineer1 said: "There are mountains of documentation on the effects of aircraft crashes. Thousands have been tested in mock and simulated realtime test. The fuel used by the Boeing 757 is type JET A-1. It’s temperature is known to burn at a maxium of about 1500 degrees fahrenheit. Steel is known to melt at way above that temperature, about 3000 degrees fahreneit. This of course would be under perfect and control conditions. The WTC was struck by a 125 ton bullet going about 770 feet per second, made of basically out of two metals; aluminum and magnesium with copper and other alloyed metals thrown in. The heat from the impact, friction and compression of air within the aircraft compartment alone would be enough to ignite these metals. Magnesium and Aluminum once started burning burns hotter than jet fuel, about the same temperature of thermite (4000-5000 degrees fahrenheit). The thermite effect would easily melt steel girders. With about 64 tons of burning aircraft metal compacted into the center of one of the WTC towers one would believe structural damage like that occured on 9/11 would be plausible. A simple test would prove this."

I need some coherent, contiguous info here. My understanding is that magnesium is usefull as an incindiary. What is this nearly impossible to extinguish substance doing in aircraft? What is it's purpose?

And 770 mph? That is greater than the speed of sound. The planes were flying horizontal when they struck. In a dive, maybe they could.


Richard Solensky
Posted 14 April 2010 at 03:16 pm

Magnesium is used in aircraft when alloyed with other metals. It is very lightweight, lighter even than aluminum. These alloys are very resistant to corrosion and can be easily cast into a wide variety of shapes. And by the time you get hot enough to ignite the magnesium, a lot of other things in the aircraft will already be burning...

I think you misread the speed. It's in feet per second, not miles per hour. 770 feet per second = 525 miles per hour.


BigRed
Posted 19 June 2011 at 06:59 pm

My grandfather W. Paul Dearing was the unfortunate soul on the ledge below the crash site. My grandmother who died in 1993 hated the book called "The Sky is Falling" as rubbish and sensationalist garbage. Col. Smith served his country with heroic distinction, and nobody in my mother's family ever said a single bad word about him. He was a war hero who made a terrible mistake that anyone could have made. I do not know why my grandfather did not serve in the military in WWII, but he was doing his part for his country by doing his job. It is just mere coincidence that he was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Also, I do not believe as the famous film newsreel of the time stated that he was blown out by the blast. It is believed that he survived the initial blast but may have jumped out the hole in the building out of panic &/or shock. This is the price we pay for freedom from tyranny of those like Hitler & Tojo: our family members gave their lives for the cause of victory. Let freedom ring! Praise be to God-Father, Son, & Holy Ghost!

Rev. Deacon Edward Becker
Independent Anglican Church, Canada Synod
St. George's Pro-Cathedral, Niagara Falls NY
http://www.independentanglicanchurch.ca


Museful
Posted 22 May 2013 at 02:01 am

1c3d0g said: there's a pretty big difference between a 15 ton bomber flying at ~275 MPH and a 100 ton commercial airliner flying at ~540 MPH slamming into a building... :-/"

Yes. On impact the airliner delivers 25x more kinetic energy, not to mention fuel.


randy
Posted 29 November 2013 at 12:40 pm

The WTC was built using the outer walls as support for the inner floors, unlike the ESb which used a full structure throughout, When the heat and explosion compromised the integrity of the imp[act zone the floor dropped onto the floor below and caused that one to fail, and so on and so on.


john
Posted 30 January 2014 at 06:49 pm

carnt believe b4 9/11 you could take a nife under 4 inches on a plane the new wtc looks amazing when complete


Smokey
Posted 29 June 2014 at 03:15 pm

"Climate change" / "Global warming" are government hoaxes. The WTC is not. There is ample energy in a fully loaded jetliner to weaken or melt steel.

Listen to the engineers here. They know what they're talking about.


Robert McHugh
Posted 03 July 2014 at 09:01 am

tom said: "But, what was the name of the plane?"

Only eight years late ...The plane was a B-25D Serial # 41-30577 and was named "Old John Feather Merchant"


Fred
Posted 21 July 2014 at 06:31 am

Dido said: "Will someone please answer my question? How does this guy hold the record for surviving a 75 story freefall, while that one woman who fell 33,000 feet holds the record for the highest freefall. Someone please answer? ill be thankful."

She held the record for surviving the longest freefall IN AN ELEVATOR, not freefall in the sky.


END OF COMMENTS
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