The Empire State Plane Crash


Fifty years prior to the terror attacks of September 11, New York City’s skyline witnessed another aerial disaster. At 9: 52 am July 28 1945, Lt. Col. Bill Smith, a decorated pilot who had flown a B-17 Flying Fortress for the US Army Air Force during the war, plunged through the 34th Street side of the Empire State Building. Under the fog, 24,000 pounds of B-25 bomber, flying at more than 300 mph crashed into the 78th floor.

The photographer for the New York Times, Ernie Sisto hopped into the subway to the building. There, he jumped into an elevator being commandeered by a fire crew to th 67th floor and took a flight of stairs to the 79th. He knew he would get a good picture if he climb up to the parapets… and he did. There, with his legs held down by two newsmen, he crawled out on a harrowing ledge and took this historic photo. It ran on front page of the New York Times.

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