Small aircraft crashes into NYC skyscraper; Update: Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle piloted the plane?

Right off the East River, on 72nd Street. It looks like an apartment building; the fire is small, perhaps confined to one apartment unit thus far. Fox and CNN are carrying it live.

No clue what’s going on yet. It is, in fact, overcast here today.

Update: The AP says it’s a small plane. Police sources say it’s small but multi-engine.

Update: AP says it’s the Bel Aire building.

Update: It has to be an accident. The UN and Chrysler Building are only 30 blocks south. Why target an apartment complex when you could hit them instead?

Update: It’s a three-alarm fire. People are trapped inside, according to the FDNY.

Update: “‘There’s huge pieces of debris falling,’ said one witness who refused to give her full name. ‘There’s so much falling now, I’ve got to get away.'”

Update: Two confirmed dead. FAA says it’s a fixed-wing aircraft, not a helicopter.

Update: The FBI tells CNN that two joint-terrorism task force teams are on their way to the scene. A witness on Fox says she saw the plane dip and lose altitude; it could have been a stall.

Update: The building is 50 floors; the plane went in at around. The job for the FDNY is getting people out above the impact zone. One witness is telling the local Fox affiliate that the plane hit the building and then pieces of it slid down the side into the street.

Update: Here’s the building, I think.

Update: Live video at WNBC4-NY. You can see the black streak on the building where the plane slid down.


Update: It’s a four-alarm fire now. One witness says the plane was doing “acrobatic” maneuvers. Over Manhattan? A reporter on WNBC4 says the plane took a “hard, 90-degree turn” into the building.

There are two bodies on the ground on 72nd Street — as well as luggage. Would terrorists have packed?

Update: The FDNY says it was a helicopter. The FAA begs to differ.

Update: Norad has deployed several fighter jets over U.S. cities as a precautionary measure.

Update: Multiple “U.S. sources” tell Fox the crash appears to be an accident.

Update: The FDNY says it wasn’t a major impact and that fighting the fire should be “routine.” In fact, the flames are substantially extinguished. No injuries to any firefighters but no word on the occupants. The structural integrity of the building is also supposedly “excellent,” according to WNBC4.

The plane apparently didn’t hit the building hard enough to penetrate deeply. A terrorist would have accelerated and driven into it as hard as he could, no?

Update: The local news stations are covering this wall to wall. It’s like a vet with PTSD flipping out at the sound of a car backfiring.

Update: An eyewitness tells WNBC4 that the plane nosedived straight down into the building — again, not the way you’d want to do it if you’re looking to do maximum damage. Sounds like the engine cut out. Pretty clearly an accident.

Update (Ian): Just in case you haven’t noticed, today is 10/11.

Update: Four dead, according to WNBC4: two in the plane, two inside the building.

The aircraft was a Cirrus-20.

Update: The Truthers are already accusing the FDNY of covering up.

Update: The plane was flying at roughly 800 feet when it made a “radical turn” and crashed. That’s around the same altitude Flight 11 was at when it hit the North Tower.

Update: The plane was registered to an individual from Lakeland, Florida. No name yet.

Update: “Firefighters shot water streams of water at the flames from the floors below and put the blaze out in less than an hour.”

Update: WNBC4 just mentioned that Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle apparently applied to buy the plane in July. Wait — hold the phone. Lidle did actually purchase the plane, they’re saying now.

Was Cory Lidle flying the plane? Trying to impress his date by doing a little acrobatics over Manhattan? Standby.

Update: Fox is reporting that Lidle was indeed flying the plane. CNN quotes first responders as saying the pilot might have made a distress call before the crash.

WNBC4 says an official has confirmed that a member of the Yankees was onboard the plane. Now sources are saying that Lidle’s passport was found on the street.

Update (Ian): CNN is repoting near miss before crash.

Update: Kim Priestap googled around and found some potentially important info about the Cirrus-20: it’s notoriously hard to pull out of a spin.

Update: Karol spots a newspic of Alec Baldwin throwing a tantrum because he’s been inconvenienced by a fatal plane crash in the middle of Manhattan.


Update: Tom Tomorrow links this post and snarks that no one’s going to win a blog Pulitzer for being the fastest to transcribe what’s on their TV. True, but no one’s going to win a blog Pulitzer anyway. And it does come in handy for the 90% of the readership that are at work and looking for information.

Update: Ace uncovers the Truth about October 11th.