Today's Article - The 1945 B-25 airplane crash

This article is for quizzes on Wednesday August 31st...    

The B-25 Empire State Building crash was a 1945 aircraft accident in which a B-25 Mitchell bomber (similar to the one pictured), piloted in thick fog over New York City, crashed into the Empire State Building. The accident did not compromise the building's structural integrity, but it did cause fourteen deaths (three crewmen and eleven people in the building) and damage estimated at $1,000,000 ($13,000,000 in 2014 dollars).
Elevator operator Betty Lou Oliver was injured. Rescuers decided to transport her on an elevator that they did not know had weakened cables. She survived a plunge of 75 stories, which still stands as the Guinness World Record for the longest survived elevator fall.

Oliver was working on the 80th story of the building on July 28, 1945. On that day, due to thick fog a B-25 Mitchell bomber crashed into the north side of the Empire State Building. The plane struck the 79th floor of the building. Oliver's car was on the 80th floor. She was thrown from her car and received severe burns. "I had just started down from the 80th floor... there was a noise... above me... then a great block of machinery came...through the top of my car".

After treating her injuries, first aid workers put her in an elevator to send her down to the main floor, but the cables of that elevator had been weakened by the crash, and broke. As a result, Oliver plummeted 75 stories to the basement.

Oliver survived but again had to be rescued and was later treated at the hospital for serious injuries. The thousand feet (300 m) of elevator cable had fallen to the bottom of the shaft, creating a softer landing surface. The rapid compression of the air also likely helped slow the elevator's fall. This descent still stands as the Guinness World Record for the longest survived elevator fall ever recorded. Five months later, Oliver returned with an elevator inspector, who complimented her "guts" in riding the elevators to the full height of the building on that visit.


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