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Profile: William Franklin Smith Jr.
William Franklin Smith Jr. was a participant or observer in the following events:
Crash by a US Army B-25 bomber on July 28, 1945. [Source: NPR]A B-25 bomber crashes into the Empire State Building in New York City, causing 14 deaths. Lieutenant Colonel William Franklin Smith Jr. is piloting the B-25 Mitchell bomber on a routine personnel transport mission from Boston to LaGuardia Airport. He asks for clearance to land, but is advised of zero visibility. Proceeding anyway, he is disoriented by fog and starts turning right instead of left after passing the Chrysler Building. At 9:40 a.m., the plane crashes into the north side of the Empire State Building, between the 78th and 80th floors, carving an 18-foot hole in the building where the offices of the National Catholic Welfare Council are located. One engine shoots through the side opposite the impact. It flies as far as the next block where it lands on the roof of a nearby building and starts a fire that destroys a penthouse. The other engine and part of the landing gear plummet down an elevator shaft. The resulting fire is extinguished in 40 minutes. It is the only fire at such a height that is ever successfully controlled. Fourteen people are killed in the incident and one person is injured. Despite the damage and loss of life, the building opens for business on many floors the following Monday. The crash helps spur the passage of the long-pending Federal Tort Claims Act of 1946, allowing people to sue the government for the accident. [National Public Radio, 7/28/2008]
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