A small plane crashed into a high rise building on 72nd street on the east side on Manhattan this afternoon. According to reports, the plane not only belonged to Yankee pitcher Corey Lidle, but he was apparently on board and killed as well. Lidle's passport has been recovered. There may have been another Yankee on the plane too but this is not official. (My first thought is that Lidle played high school ball with Jason Giambi.) Intial reaction here in my office brought back memories of 9.11. For Yankee fans, this tragedy also brings back thoughts of Thurman Munson who was killed in a plane crash in the summer of 1979. It is foggy, almost a bluish gray, in mid-town Manhattan and it is raining as night falls. This is absolutely stunning, terrible news.
5:30 p.m. The Mayor is giving a press conference. He has not released any names. Bloomberg said that the two people on the plane were the instructor and a student with about 75 hours of flying experience. According to the Mayor, the plane was small and flimsy and that it pretty much burned-up. The crash does not seem to have caused major damage to the building. Apparently the plane took off from Teterborough airport in New Jersey, circled around the Statue of Liberty a few times and then headed up the East River. Radar lost contact with it around the 59th Street Bridge. They still do not know why it turned toward Manhattan Island at 72nd street.
He earned his pilot's license last off-season and bought a four-seat airplane for $187,000. It is a Cirrus SR20, built in 2002, with fewer than 400 hours in the air.
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."
"He was probably my best student," Stanger said in a telephone interview. "He learned very, very quickly, and a lot of it is desire. He had huge desire.
"Really, anyone can learn how to fly. If you can drive a bus, you can fly an airplane. But to learn quickly takes money and time. Of course, Cory had plenty of money, and it was the off-season, so he had the time."
..."On the mound, he has to hold in all the emotions and keep completely focused. It's the same thing flying: If you're in an emergency, you can't waste any time worrying. You have to take command of the situation. A lot of people I fly with don't have that mentality. Cory does."