Airplanes and Stem Cells
• A single-engine plane crashed into the driveway of a New Jersey home last night, killing the pilot and barely missing a row of houses. Details are still murky at the moment; the flight originated in North Carolina and was headed for the Essex County airport in bad weather. [WNBC]
• Governor Spitzer is about to sign off on a $1 billion government-financed stem-cell research initiative. Before we get too proud, however (or scream godless pinko), let’s recall that California is spending three times the amount on the same. And their governor used to kill clones personally. [NYT]
• The NYPD has been cracking down on one of its formerly invincible nemeses — diplomats who use their immunity to park wherever they want. The city’s already collected $3 million and is still owed $18 million more, from 77 countries. Worst offender? Egypt ($1.9 million in unpaid tickets). [NYDN]
• Miss New Jersey USA has resigned because she’s pregnant, and you can’t compete while pregnant. (By the way: Why not?) The runner-up, Erin Abramson, is presumed to be running around the living room yelling “I won I won I won I won.” [amNY]
• And a French-born New Yorker got slapped with an insulting “foreigner fee” at Aquagrill; the story is remarkable for marking the first time in the years the Post published a photo of a French person without Photoshopping a weasel head on him. [NYP]
Crimes and Misdemeanors
• Yesterday’s already depressing story — a Brooklyn mother leaped in front of the F train, and survived, shortly after her son was found dead in their apartment — continues in the maximally depressing way possible. The woman has admitted to killing the boy, saying “demons overtook” her. [NYP]
• On the lighter side of the police blotter, Naomi Campbell’s arrest warrant kicks in today, should she fail to appear at Manhattan Criminal Court for a hearing about her latest alleged phone-throwing ways. Campbell has already missed the previous hearing; her lawyer says he’s considering a plea bargain. [ITV]
• This one could have ended badly. A pilot landed his Cessna in the middle of a city park. Paul Dudley was heading to New Jersey’s Linden airport when he heard the engine sputter and decided to land in Brooklyn, coming to a leisurely stop in a field near the Verrazano Bridge. [amNY]
• NBC is cutting costs and cleaning house, laying off about twenty people across its flagship news programs (Today, Dateline, and Nightly News) and reportedly readying to shed twenty more. Dateline, which has been faring worst in the ratings, took the deepest hit. [NYT]
• And the City Council is proposing a law that could send parents to jail on a misdemeanor charge for kids’ drinking. One wouldn’t have to actually serve alcohol to a minor to be liable; turning a blind eye would suffice. Hey, kids — another way to get even with Dad: Rat him out with one drunken phone call! [NYDN]
NTSB Confirmation: Lidle’s Plane Crashed Turning to Avoid LGA AirspaceThe National Transportation Safety Board issued a detailed update this afternoon on its investigation into the October 11 crash of a light plane that killed Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle and his flying instructor, Tyler Stanger. The update fills in some gaps while confirming the broad outline of the tragedy as it has already been reported: The two — and the NTSB still doesn’t know which of them was actually piloting the Cirrus SR-20, and it probably never will, NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway says — were on a jaunt up the East River and attempted a U-turn to the left to avoid restricted airspace around La Guardia.
Planes Over Manhattan Not the Best Idea, Pataki Finally RealizesCory Lidle’s death yesterday was a tragedy. But some good might come from it. A mere five years after 9/11, as New York’s Chris Smith reports, it finally prompted Governor George Pataki to ask the FAA to ban uncharted private aircraft from flying over the city. Smith has Pataki’s statement in Early and Often.
Lidle Tragedy Wakes Pataki From Slumber [Early and Often]
Plane Crash, Gay Bash, and Mary Jo Kopechne
• Not much new was revealed overnight about the plane crash that killed Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle and gave a jolt to the UES. Turns out the hit building’s tenant list is full of semi-boldface names including, weirdly, the Mets’ third-base coach Manny Acta. [NYT, NYDN, NYP]
• In a repellent turn to a repellent story, a suspected racial-bias attack turns out to be a gay bash turns out to be a robbery. Four Sheepshead Bay youths are charged with luring a man via e-mail to a Plumb Beach cruising spot to rob him; the victim broke free, fled, and was struck by a car. Prosecutors say the hate-crime tag still applies. [amNY]
• Rep. Chris Shays, the GOP congressman from Connecticut, achieves the impossible by somehow managing to lower the discourse level of the Foley scandal. How? By bringing up, apropos of nothing, Ted Kennedy’s Chappaquiddick incident. Early and Often’s take here. [NYDN]
• The Columbia Queer Alliance is puzzled by the light attendance of the public-makeout event it staged on the university’s Low Library steps. The turnout reportedly shrank ten times compared to last year’s, despite an effort to involve the shy and the single (who were offered apples to kiss). [Bwog]
• And the Post’s Andrea Peyser unleashes a jaw-dropping attack on “sluttish, revolting monster” Madonna for “raping Malawi” (by adopting an African child). Choice quote: “Madonna has traveled far beyond her… loser antics to grab attention — and flesh.” Don’t worry, a slave auction gets mentioned too. [NYP]
UES Plane Crash: The Latest NewsHere’s what we know about the Upper East Side plane crash. Yankees pitcher Cory Lidle owned and piloted the plane; he died in the crash, and his passport was found on the street near the crash site. The FAA says Lidle had a fuel problem and issued a Mayday shortly before the crash. The FBI says that Lidle was the only person on the plane, contradicting earlier reports suggesting there was at least one passenger. News reports say there’s at least one other fatality, but there are no specifics. There’s no word on injuries within the building, although two apartments are said to have suffered serious damage, and the scar to the building’s façade is self-evident. The evacuation proceeded smoothly; the 50-story tower emptied within minutes.
Some coverage: New York’s Michael Idov reported from the crash scene. CNN has been covering all the latest developments. In September, Lidle discussed his love of flying — and his newly purchased airplane — with the Times. The FAA has the plane’s registration on file. The Yankees Website offers Lidle’s stats. And ESPN has a grim and rather long list of athletes who died in plane crashes.
UPDATE, 6:30 p.m.: 7Online.com is reporting that Lidle was carrying a passenger, a flight instructor, who was the other fatality. In a press conference, Mayor Bloomberg said that the plane left Teterboro airport at 2:30 p.m., circled the Statue of Liberty, and headed north up the East River, in compliance with air-traffic rules. Then the plane lost contact with controllers, he said, and was seen on radar flying near the 59th Street Bridge. A 911 call about the crash arrived at 2:42 p.m. Bloomberg also said no further fatalities were found in the apartment building.
UES Crash: On the SceneThis wasn’t terrorism, but it felt like a terror-attack drill. Everybody passed.
A small aircraft took what MSNBC called “a radical turn” and crashed into the 20th floor of a 50-floor apartment building — the Belaire — on York Avenue and 72 Street.
“Hi sweetie,” said a woman into her cell phone at First Avenue and 68th Street. “Just wanted to say I’m okay.” Her voice was tender but businesslike. What do you do, after all, when a plane hits a building and you survive? You call home and tell people you’re safe. Basic stuff. Up and down First and York Avenues, the same call was being made. The cell networks promptly overloaded, like they did on September 11 — the inevitable comparison point when you see a building hit by plane — but this time only for a few minutes.
Aircraft Hits UES Building
A small plane — or maybe a helicopter; reports conflict — flew into an apartment building at East 72nd Street and York Avenue earlier this afternoon. Details coming….