• A new memorial to American 587's crash, the second-deadliest air disaster in U.S. history, was dedicated Sunday in Belle Harbor. It's a curved granite wall with the victims' names and a line from a poem in Spanish (most of the 265 victims were Dominicans heading to Santo Domingo). On the crash site itself, residential construction is in full swing. [NYT]
• If you lived through the transit strike last year, you kind of hated union boss Roger Toussaint. And that was before you knew he had a secret deal with the MTA while the strike was still going on, as the Daily News reveals today. What a guy. [NYDN]
• A high-powered Manhattan lawyer was found dead near his abandoned BMW in an upstate bird sanctuary — an apparent suicide; the man was out on $225,000 bail on a rape charge he vehemently denied. [NYP]
• The flap over Charlie Rangel's already-infamous "Who the hell wants to live in Mississippi?" continues, with local newspapers there alternately asking the feisty congressman to come visit their fair state and heaving invective on New York. [Gotham Gazette]
• And what's the Post's headline of the day? There are plenty of contenders, from "Mick Jagger Rocks On in Grief" to "Bearied!" but we'll go with Egg Foo Gun, about a handgun smuggled into a hospital in a Chinese-food carton. Well done, Post. [NYP]
The 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.
• 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]
Here'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 wascarrying 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.
This 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.