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Carter's View

A single-engine plane owned and piloted by Cory Lidle, a pitcher with the New York Yankees, crashed into the north facade of the Belaire condominium apartment building at 524 East 72nd Street this afternoon about midway up the building.

CNN said that FBI officials said that Mr. Lidle was the sole person on the plane. He died in the crash and New York City officials said that one other person was reported killed.

The 50-story building has 183 apartments and was evacuated and firefighters were able to bring the fire under control in about an hour.

Television pictures showed roaring flames coming from the middle of the middle of the building on two floors. ran the NY1 (WNYW) photograph, shown at the right.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, the plane was operating under "visual flight rules, which are supposed to apply for flying under 1,500 feet over the East River.

Incredibly, five years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the FAA still permits scores of large planes to fly directly over Manhattan each day rather than limiting them to flying directly over the East and Hudson Rivers.

"In Lidle, Yanks Have Extra Pitcher and Backup Pilot," declared the headline to an article by Tyler Kepner in the September 8, 2006 edition of The New York Times.

The article said that Mr. Lidle "has been a major league pitcher for nine years and a pilot for seven months," adding that "He earned his pilot's license last off-season and bought a four-seat airplane for $187,000. It was a Cirrus SR20, built in 2002."

The article quoted Mr. Lidle as stating that 'The whole plane has a parachute on it....Ninety-nine percent of pilots that go up never have engine failure, and the 1 percent that do usually land it. But if you're up in the air and something goes wrong, you pull that parachute, and the whole plane goes down slowly.'"

News reports of the crash today gave no mention of a plane parachute.

To hit the Belaire, Mr. Lidle had to miss three other nearby high-rises and one large smokestack: Sheldon Solow's black-glass East River Place and River Terrace (just renamed Miraval), both on the north side of 72nd Street, and a dark gray glass residential tower on East 76th Street facing the river.

The Belaire is down the block from Sotheby's and both are just to the north of hospital complexes.
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Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.
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