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July 28th 1945


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At 8.55 am Lieut. Colonel William F Smith, Deputy Commander of 457th Bomb group, takes off from Bedford Mass. bound for Newark New Jersey.


He, together with Staff Sgt. Christopher Domitrovich, is flying a B25 Mitchell Bomber. Also onboard is a hitch hiker, Albert Perna, a naval aviation machinist's mate.


He flying with them to console his parents over the death of their other son who has just been killed in the ongoing war in the Pacific.


There has been peace in Europe for three months. Smith's wife waves him goodbye believing that with his war in europe behind him, William has a danger free flight ahead of him.


Less than an hour into the flight, Bill Smith is radioed by La Guardia Airfield, New York, a city in Fog.


The message says "We are unable to see the top of Empire States. Suggest you land here."


Smith disregards the warning.


Inside the Empire State building, being at Saturday, many offices are empty, but on the 79th floor , in the Offices of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, twenty people, mostly female clerks, are arranging aid for War refugees.


The bomber is only one minute from La Gardia, when it dissappears into fog.


In the city New yorkers run out of shops and Cafes, as they hear the roar of the plane swallowed in fog.


The plane drops in and out of the fog, watched from below by anxious New-Yorkers, but watching from above is Lieut Frank Covey, from the Army Airforce who looks down from the Biltmore Hotel to see the Mitchell flying at the height of the 22nd storey of the New York Central Office building.


Shortly after the Mitchell was seen to bank to try and avoid the Empire State building but , with an impact that shook the whole of Manhattan, the plane struck the skyscraper between the 78th and 79th floor. It punched a hole 18ft x 20ft. There was a muffled explosion and a sheet of flame flew from the building. Then came a moment of silence before a thuderous roar signalled the fuel tanks going up. Flames shot 100 feet on the air, and burning fuel run down the outside of the tower.


One engine became detached and fell down a lift shaft, The other punched its way through 7 walls before emerging on the far side of the building, eventually falling on a penthouse below.


The left wing headed for Madison Avenue.


Inside the offices, six girls had no time to move, they were drenched in burning fuel and died sat at their desks. Three more where overtaken by flames as they ran for a door, but the rest reached a fireproof stairwell. Paul Dearing was working in the same office. Seeing the flames coming for him he jumped out a window, landing a few floors lower, but the fall killed him.


The two crew were burnt, after they were catapulted into the inferno. The Naval hitch-hiker was found a few days later at the foot of a lift shaft.


On the floor below (a storage area) a Janitor was killed.


Above on the 86th, were 60 sightseers. After breaking windows to let in fresh air, guides managed to lead the sightseers down 86 flights of stairs. Passing the 80th, they heard screaming, but nobody stopped to help.


On that floor Daniel Nordan and Arthur Palmer shared an office. They were blown out of their seats, but managed to knock a hole through a wall into the next office. They made it out, carrying with them a badly burned female lift operator.


Another lift operator, Betty Lou Oliver had a more miraculous escape. she was just opening the doors of her lift at the 75th Floor when the blast came through the lift shaft, and blew her clear across the corridor. She was found and given first aid by two Air Cargo Transportation staff. They took her to another lift shaft and gave her into the care of another female lift operator.


Just as the doors closed the lift cable, badly damaged, snapped and the lift car fell earthwards.


On the ground floor, Coast guard, Maloney was waiting for a lift, so he could get up the building to help survivors. He heard the screams from the girls as it crashed passed him. He ran down to the basement, expecting to find corpses. Instead he found that automatic safety devices had slowed the car, both girls were alive, although Betty Lou's legs were smashed.


Leaving this pair in the care of Firemen, Maloney started to climb upwards, with him was a priest.


On reaching the 79th Maloney realised there was only work for the priest.


Had the accident happened during the week , 25,000 people would have been inside the building. As it was, only 14 died, with 26 injured.



Edited by antarmike
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