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NTSB cites wind, pilot error in crash that killed Lidle

11/7/2006 - MLB Cory Lidle New York Yankees + more

WASHINGTON -- A light wind was cited by federal
investigators Friday for blowing a small airplane carrying Yankees
pitcher Cory Lidle off course and into a New York City high-rise on
Oct. 11.

The National Transportation Safety Board said the wind, coupled
with the pilot's inability to turn sharply, forced the aircraft
away from its intended path over the East River and into the
building.

The airplane, which also carried flight instructor Tyler
Stanger, struck the building and fell 30 stories to the street
below. Investigators do not say whether they determined who was at
the controls of the Cirrus SR20.

The report issued Friday said the airplane was flying along the
East River between Manhattan and Queens when it attempted a U-turn
with only 1,300 feet of room for the turn. To make a successful
turn, the aircraft would have had to bank so steeply that it might
have stalled, the NTSB said in an update on the crash.

Lidle and Stanger were making an aerial tour of Manhattan before
flying back to California.

Though Stanger was an experienced pilot, Lidle was not.

Investigators found no problem with the propeller and engine,
nor did they find any evidence of a fire or other damage while the
airplane was in flight.

If the pilot used the full width of the river to turn, he would
have had 2,100 feet, the NTSB said. Instead, the pilot was flying
closer to the middle of the river, leaving a smaller margin for
error, the staff report said.

Two days after the accident, the Federal Aviation Administration
ordered small, fixed-wing planes not to fly over the East River
unless the pilot is in contact with air traffic controllers.

Small planes could previously fly below 1,100 feet along the
river without filing flight plans or checking in with air traffic
control. The FAA said the rule change -- a temporary one -- was made
for safety reasons.

The NTSB's update outlined factual information about the crash,
but did not conclude what the probable cause of the crash was. The
full board will likely vote on a ruling at a later date.