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Smoke streaks out of the Empire State Building's 78th floor windows shortly after a B-25 Bomber crashed into the east wall of the skyscraper. July 28, 1945. Getty Images
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An injured woman is removed from the Empire State Building after the B-25 Bomber plane crash. July 28, 1945. Getty Images
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A man hovers over a piece debris from the B-25 Bomber near 33rd Street. July 28, 1945. Getty Images
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The view of the Empire State Building after a B-25 Bomber crash. July 28, 1945. Wikimedia Commons
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A B-25 Mitchell Bomber, similar to the one the flew into the Empire State Building. Wikimedia Common
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Workmen clear up the wreckage of the B-25 Bomber that crashed into the Empire States Building at the 78th floor. 1945.Wikimedia Commons
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A view of the hole rammed into the 78th and 79th stories of the Empire State Building by a B-25 Bomber flying in the fog. Part of the wreckage hangs from the 78th story. July 28, 1945.Getty Images
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The redirected route to Newark Airport that B-25 Bomber pilot Lieutenant Colonel William Franklin Smith Jr. was supposed to take before heavy fog overtook his view, forcing him to crash into the Empire State Building. July 28, 1945. YouTube
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A man examines charred documents in an office in the Empire State Building after a B-25 Bomber crashed into the side of the building. July 28, 1945. Getty Images
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Don Maloney, Coast Guardsman, carries a first aid kit as he helps injured woman down stairs at the Empire State Building after B-25 Bomber crashed into the building. July 28, 1945. Gordon Rynders/NY Daily News Archive/Getty Images
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Lost in the fog that hung low over New York City on the morning of July 28th, a B-25 Bomber crashed into the Empire State Building and, flaming, plummeted to the roof of the Waldorf Bldg at 10 East 33rd street. The ill-fated plane smashed through the skylight of the studio of sculptor Henry Hering, ruining the artist's apartment and his art work. Here is the broken skylight, with the Empire State Building in background. July 1945. Getty Images
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After being discharged from the hospital, Betty Lou Oliver, who fell 75 floors in an elevator during the incident, returns to the scene of the tragic accident. Dec. 2, 1945. Getty Images
12 Dramatic Photos Of The Empire State Building Plane Crash
“An English day if I ever saw one.”
Those were some of the last words that Lieutenant Colonel William Franklin Smith Jr. said to his wife before accidentally piloting his B-25 Mitchell Bomber into the side of the New York City's Empire State Building, killing 14 people in the process.
On a routine transport mission from Bedford Army Air Field to LaGuardia Airport, just before 9:40 a.m. on Saturday, July 28, 1945, Smith found himself lost in a heavy fog. With his view distorted, he was instructed to land at Newark Airport instead.
However, as he was flying slow and low to seek better visibility, he made a wrong turn to avoid the Chrysler Building and found himself staring at the Empire State Building, the city's tallest building.
Upon crashing between the 78th and 80th floors of the building's north side, the plane's jet fuel exploded, filling the skyscraper with flames. One of the plane's engines shot through the building to the other side, landing in sculptor Henry Hering's penthouse across the street, destroying about $75,000 worth of art. Other pieces of the plane landed on the street and on top of nearby structures.
As a shocked crowd watched from the street, police, firemen, and rescue workers rushed to the scene to aid those trapped and injured in the building. One of the those injured was Elevator operator Betty Lou Oliver, who was working on the 80th floor when the plane struck.
As rescue workers loaded Oliver into an Elevator for transport, the car's cables snapped and was sent into a 75-floor firey free fall to the building's basement.
Miraculously, Betty Lou survived with only a broken pelvis, back, and neck to complain about. It's said that her Guinness World Record fall was cushioned by broken cables, which piled up in a spring-like spiral on the floor of the shaft. It's also thought that the narrow lift shaft acted as a compressor for air and softened the blow.
Because it's New York City, despite the damage and a giant 18-by-20-foot hole at the top of the building, occupants returned to work the following Monday.