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Aircraft strikes Manhattan building; Yankees pitcher, instructor dead

Published: Wednesday October 11, 2006

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A small, fixed-wing airplane struck a building on Manhattan's upper East side around 2:45 PM Eastern Time.

The plane was registered to thirty-four year old New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle, who was set to return to Florida after his team was bumped from the playoffs. Lidle's passport was reportedly found on the street below the crash, and Yankees manager Joe Torre confirmed the plane's registration.

At last report, CNN confirmed that Lidle and his flight instructor were killed in the crash. No residents in the building that was hit were injured.

A month ago, the New York Times did a story on Lidle's passion for flying.

"He is Cory Lidle, who has been a major league pitcher for nine years and a pilot for seven months," Tyler Kepner reported for the Times. "He earned his pilot’s license last off-season and bought a four-seat airplane for $287,000. 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," Kepner wrote. "Lidle, acquired from the Philadelphia Phillies on July 30, said his plane was safe."

Crash triggers air defense

Early reports that an additional three people were killed inside the building proved untrue. The structural integrity of the building was not believed to be at risk.

The building has been identified as a 50-story tall residential apartment complex, known as the Belaire Condominiums, located at 524 East 72nd Street and York Avenue.

Flames could be seen coming out of two floors, and four apartments were said to be heavily engulfed in flames.

The FAA indicated that it was a two-engine plane flying under "visual rules" – not in contact with any tower. CNN reported that the plane had taken off from Teterboro Airport in Bergen County, New Jersey.

Officials indicated that there was no reason to assume terrorist activity.

Admiral Tim Keating, commander of US Northern Command, told CNN that fighter aircraft were scrambled by NORAD to fly over several cities within a half-hour after the crash, but wouldn't divulge how many or in what cities.