October 11, 2006

Corey Lidle, Thurman Munson and 9/11

planecrash, originally uploaded by jkeller.

I'll always remember the shock I felt when I heard that New York Yankees' great
Thurman Munson had died.

I was on duty aboard the USS Spruance in the middle of the night, somewhere in the middle of the Black Sea. I pulled a page from the news teletypewriter --no Internet in those days--to see a headline that pole-axed me "YANKEES THURMAN MUNSON DIES IN PLANE CRASH". I couldn't believe it. Thought it was some sick joke. Thurman Munson, the figure of health, the heart and soul of those great teams, was dead?

My shipmates on duty were briefly sad, sympathetic, but to them, Thurman was just some guy that they had heard of. To, me it was as if JFK had died. It was so sudden, awful.

Munson died behind his personal aircraft, a Cessna Citation jet. He bought it so that he could see his family in Canton, Ohio more often.

All these years later, this afternoon I am told that a small aircraft has crashed into a plane 20 blocks north of my office building. We in my company lived through 9/11, and, even more than most others, our thought turned to the possibility of a terrorist attack. A thought that, thank God, was quickly disproved.

It then came out that this small plane was flown by Corey Lidle, a New York Yankees' pitcher. Unlike Thurman, he was not a great athlete. His uniform number will not be retired.

But by all accounts he was a decent guy. He worked very hard to get his pilots license this past February. But why in the name of God did he want to be flying anywhere near Manhattan skyscrapers?

I love to fly as a passenger, and can understand why athletes, or anyone, can get the bug to fly airplanes. But I'd like my NY baseball players to get another hobby.

The dramatic photo of today's fire was taken by jkeller, from his apartment on Roosevelt Island, and was found on flickr. Good job.


Anonymous said...

Good Post. I was on summer vacation and bringing back a copy of the NY Times when Thurman died and had a Don McLean American Pie moment when I read the page one article. Lidle's death was also sad, he probably was just overexcited and made an error. I can't believe that we need to allow small planes to fly on essentially touring runs over Manhattan.

Anonymous said...

Hi Phantom, I've not figured out why he was flying so close to the skyscrapers either. I heard on some other blog that the day he crashed, was his sons birthday. How sad is that? He was a good guy, just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Great post UI...

Anonymous said...

One of my friends flies small aircraft, and has flown in the same manhatten area in which Lidle did. He said that Lidle flew just as he was instructed... when you enter the fly zone that is in the New York harbor, you are supposed to circle the Statue of Liberty, which Lidle did. then, you can go about your business. No, you can't fly above Manhatten, but you can fly in the fly zones above the rivers that are nearby. However, Lidle had, because he was uninformed, chosen to fly down a fly zone which rapidly drops in allowed altitude. He must have, at that point, been told through the radio that he was soon going to be entering a No-Fly Zone. Because of the attacks on 9/11, security has been built up, and should you fly into a No-Fly Zone without cause, you can, and most likely will, be shot down. Lidle must have panicked, as he didn't have the flying capabilities to make a sudden sharp turn in order to turn around. My friend also said that, had Lidle explained the situation over the radio, they would have probably allowed him to turn around in the No-Fly Zone, and continue on his way. However, he must not have known this, and panicked to try and turned, and in his recklessness, he crashed into a building.