In the fall of 2006, just after the Detroit Tigers eliminated the New York Yankees from post-season play, Yankee pitcher Cory Lidle (right, from Wikipedia) died in a tragic and spectacular plane crash. Lidle, who was a brand new pilot, and his flight instructor were both killed when their small Cirrus SR-20 airplane smashed into a building on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. For obvious reasons, there was panic in the immediate aftermath of the crash. Had the long-feared next wave of airborne terrorist attacks finally begun?
It wasn't that -- just a terrible accident -- but still it was bad enough, with many people injured on the ground apart from the two families suddenly left without husbands and fathers. I was in China by then, but since I'd spent years flying the same kind of plane as Lidle's, I wrote several explanatory items just after the crash. The first was about the knowns and unknowns of the crash -- and whether it was probably a terrorist act (answer: No). The second was about the very unusual place where the accident occurred: an aerial "box canyon," in which pilots had to execute a very steep U-turn to stay out of controlled airspace. The third went further into that "box canyon" airspace issue.