At 9:40 am on this date in June of 1945 while on a personnel transport mission from Massachusetts to Newark, a B-25 bomber crashed into the Empire State Building creating a 20’ hole near the 80th floor of the building. Fourteen people were killed in the crash yet somehow the building sustained no structural damages, in fact most floors reopened several days after the incident.

Prior to the World Trade Center the tallest building in New York was the Empire State Building. The Empire State Building was opened in 1931 with a constructed height of 1,250’ and a total height, counting the antenna erected at the top of the spire, of 1,454’. This antenna was affixed to the top of the spire eight months after the building was completed and was used for experimental television transmissions by the National Broadcast Company, NBC. But this was not the “intended” purpose of this spire; the intended purpose is still argued depending on the research you do.

Naysayers will tell you this addition was added so that the building would become the tallest building in the world topping the Chrysler Building under construction at the same time. Somehow during the height of the Great Depression there was a “race for the sky” and after numerous revisions of the original plan the developer was satisfied that it would take more than an antenna on other skyscrapers to top the height of the Empire State Building. However others will tell you that the addition of the spire was an effort to dock airships to the top of the building. The 106th floor would be a docking station for these airships, a set of stairs led up to this level from the 102nd floor for passenger to embark while those exiting would be taken to an outside balcony on the 103rd floor.

In September of 1931 a privately owned airship docked for a period of three minutes as they fought 40mph winds. This would be the one and only docking on the spire of the Empire State Building. In December that NBC took over the top floor and spire of the building.

So while as someone who loves history I find this story fun to research, what does it have to do with fire/rescue? We would have to fast forward to June of 1945 to find this answer.

At 9:40 am on this date while on a personnel transport mission from Massachusetts to Newark, a B-25 bomber crashed into the Empire State Building creating a 20’ hole near the 80th floor of the building. As a result of the impact one engine travelled through the building, down one block landing onto a rooftop and starting a fire. The second engine traveled down an elevator shaft in which elevator operator Betty Lou Oliver was working. It took a day to recover Ms. Oliver by cutting her out of the mangled steel and cables, but she was found alive. Ms. Oliver somehow not only survived the 75 story fall but she still owns the record in the Guinness Book of World Records.

Fourteen people were killed in the crash yet somehow the building sustained no structural damages, in fact most floors reopened several days after the incident.

After 9/11/2001 the Empire State Building once again became the tallest building in New York and held this distinction until the completion of One World Trade Center.

- Fire Chief Jeffrey Dorhauer/Osage Beach Fire Protection District