Empire State Escape

CEF English language level: B2: Grade level: 10

Saturday, July 28, 1945

It's a very foggy morning. Lt. Colonel William Smith is flying a U.S. Army B-25 bomber over New York City. He needs to get to Newark, New Jersey but is travelling in the wrong direction.

Lt Smith radios the nearest airport, La Guardia (now JFK) for a weather report. Because of the poor visibility they advise him to land immediately.

But Lt Smith wants to complete his mission. 'I think I can make it to Newark,' he says. 'I'll try and fly below the fog.'

It's a fatal mistake.

As Colonel Smith descends he sees the skyscrapers of Manhattan. He swerves to miss them but he is now heading for the Empire State Building. Again he tries to get the bomber to climb and twist away.

But it's too late.

Lucky Break

At 9.48 an elevator operator is working on the 75th floor of the Empire State Building 1945. It's been a busy morning and he needs a cigarette. He steps out of his elevator for a smoke.

Seconds later Colonel Smith's plane crashed into the 79th floor.

The impact cut the cables of the empty elevator. The operator watched as it crashed to the ground. Inside were two women

Miraculously, the women survived.

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