Aircraft Crashes into NYC Building – Owned by Yankee Pitcher Cory Lidle

***Bumped to top, title modified ***

UPDATE: Bizarre news via CNN Alerts: “New York Yankees manager Joe Torre says the plane that crashed into a building in Manhattan is registered to team pitcher Cory Lidle.”

UPDATE: ESPN reports Lidle is dead.

A small plane piloted by New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle crashed into a 50-story condominium tower Wednesday on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, killing at least four people, authorities said.

Lidle died in the crash.

UPDATE: That story was timestamped 5:02 EST. Now, at 5:10, the story is less decisive:

A small plane with New York Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle aboard crashed into a 50-story condominium tower Wednesday on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, killing at least four people and raining flaming debris on sidewalks, authorities said.

Federal Aviation Administration records showed the single-engine plane was registered to Lidle, and FBI reports show that Lidle’s passport was found at the scene. The FBI believed Lidle was the only person aboard the plane and the other three deaths occurred inside the building.

Presumably, this at least alleviates concerns about terrorism. Whether this was an accident or a bizarre suicide attempt is unknown at this point.

A sidebar to the story notes that many athletes have been killed in airplane crashes:

Individual athlete air crashes
• Feb. 14, 2000: Tony Bettenhausen, Jr., race car driver/owner, near Lexington, Ky.
• Oct. 25, 1999: Payne Stewart, golfer, Mina, S.D.
• July 12, 1993: Davey Allison, race car driver, Talladega, Ala.
• Jan. 1, 1993: Alan Kulwicki, race car driver, Bristol, Tenn.
• Jan. 11, 1980: Bo Rein, LSU football coach, Atlantic ocean
• Feb. 9, 1979: Thurman Munson, NY Yankee catcher, Canton, Ohio
• Nov. 29, 1975: Graham Hill, race car driver, Hertfordshire, England
• Dec, 31, 1975: Roberto Clemente: Pittsburgh Pirate outfielder, San Juan, Puerto Rico
• Aug. 31, 1969: Rocky Marciano, heavryweight boxing champion, Newton, Iowa
• Feb. 13, 1964: Ken Hubbs, Chicago Cubs second baseman, near Provo, Utah
• March 31, 1931: Knute Rockne, Notre Dame football coach, Bazaar, Kan.
Team air crashes
• March 14, 1980: 14 members of U.S. Olympic boxing team, near Warsaw, Poland
• Dec. 13, 1977: 14 members of University of Evansville basketball team, Evansville, Ind.
• Nov. 14, 1970: 37 members of Marshall University football team, near Huntington, W. Va.
• Oct. 2, 1970: 14 members of Wichita State football team, Silver Plume, Col.
• Feb. 15, 1961: 18 members of U.S. figure skating team, near Brussels, Belgium
• Oct. 29, 1960: 16 members of the Cal Poly San Luis Obispo football team, near Toledo, Ohio

Allison’s death was in a helicopter, I believe.


A small aircraft flew into a New York City high-rise, setting fire to a residential area. NORAD has scrambled fighter jets as a precaution in case this is the beginning of a series of terrorist attacks.

An aircraft has crashed into the middle of a brick luxury high-rise residential building on Manhattan’s Upper East Side at 72nd Street and York Avenue, police officials said.

Aircraft Crashes into NYC Building Photo The building is very close to the East River. There was no word on casualties as firefighters battled the flames that shot up from several windows in the middle of the building. The Federal Aviation Administration has said a “general aviation” aircraft had hit the building.

A North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) spokesperson, which monitors air traffic, told CNN that it had not been tracking the aircraft.

Witness Sarah Steiner told CNN that fires were burning on the ground. “It looks like the plane just flew into someone’s living room there.” (Watch the orange flames ravage the apartment — 1:50) “It looks as if the aircraft didn’t go into the building but fell down,” she said. “It may be part of the debris burning on the ground.”

My strong guess is that this is an accident rather than a terrorist attack. Then again, that was my initial reaction when the first plane hit on 9/11.

FILED UNDER: Obituaries, Sports, Terrorism, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Bandit says:

    His words and actions had seemed pretty unstable for months. His pitching sucked too.

  2. ranman says:

    I hope this was an accident, but I doubt it. The NTSB will want to determine his emotional state prior to the crash, did he have a connection to anyone in the building, who was in control of the aircraft at the time of impact, was he on any medication or under medical care. This crash may involve mechanical failure, however this type of aircraft is very reliable so it’s a mystery. I had “aviation accident investigating” in college and my gut feeling is that this was no accident. Lock-up your planes because the copycats are watching the news.

  3. Anderson says:

    Hey, if Joe Torre didn’t feel the need to commit seppuku by airplane, I think Ridle should’ve been off the hook as well.

    Very unfortunate for him, not to mention whoever’s apartment he smashed into.

  4. Jeff says:

    Davey Allison was indeed killed in a helicopter crash after it took off at the infield at Talladega if I remember correctly. I really haven’t followed NASCAR much since he died – I was a Kulwicki fan before I was an Allison fan too.

    Allison’s wife was from the same town that is my dad’s hometown. He came in to the local dirt track for the charity race the Shriners had Memorial Day weekend – flew in by private plane to the local airport (I was in HS with the daughter of the airport administrator at the time.)

    He also donated auction items the years he couldn’t make that race and his father-in-law (the long time police chief of the college in my dad’s hometown) donated a jacket Davey had given him after Davey’s death for a charity fundraiser.

  5. Ugh says:

    He was flying on VFR, anyone know if it was foggy or cloudy in NYC today?

  6. Jeff says:

    According to, 60 and light rain right now. Pictures from earlier looked cloudy.

  7. Ugh says:

    One of the biggest problems in civil aviation is VFR (visual flight rating, IIRC) pilots flying into IFR (instrument flight rating, again IIRC) weather. If you’re certified IFR, you know how to fly the plane without being able to see outside (e.g., through bad weather, fog, clouds, at night), but VFR goes only on sight, which if you lose you can end up in a complete free fall and not even know it until it’s too late (I believe this is what happened to JFK Jr.).

  8. >A sidebar to the story notes that many athletes
    >have been killed in airplane crashes:

    Obviously the TSA needs to begin profiling professional atheletes.