Plane Crashes into New York City!

You have GOT to be kidding me...

I am seriously stumped, shocked, bumfazzled.

Let's just get this out of the way - who cares that the pilot was Cory Lidle from the Yankees? With all due respect, and my condolences to his family for their loss - but that we are discussing the Yanks, and the rider in Lidle's contract which would allow the Yanks to not fulfill the financial obligations of his contract should he die while piloting an airplane!

(He finished the season, btw, so was paid fully anyway.)

But why are we talking about it? Who cares who it was? It could have been Barney the purple dinosaur.

What is provocative is that an AIRPLANE flew into a BUILDING in NEW YORK CITY.

Let's not divert our attention too far from that fact alone, eh?

Let's explore just for a moment. A plane takes off from an area airport - happens to be in Jersey, west of the city. Flies east, hits NYC, starts following the East River north, and after about 15 minutes (total) in the air, smashes into a building on the Upper East Side.

So an AIRPLANE "attacked" NYC successfully, again. Whether it was driven by terrorists or not is IRRELEVANT - I hope everyone sees that. It COULD have been driven by terrorists - why shouldn't it have been? The fact that the pilot was a Yanks pitcher who sat the bullpen during the short-lived playoffs is no more or less important to the story than if the pilot had been a hardened "evildoer" trained in terrorist camps. An AIRPLANE flew into a BUILDING in NYC. These are the key points, period.

I ask - how is it possible? I mean - a private plane, flying near Manhattan. Does that seem like a good idea at all? A private plane flying REALLY LOW near Manhattan. Does this sound like an even better idea? The plane impacted at the 30th floor of a 50-story building - that means the plane was just 250-300 feet off the ground.

(Try to resist asking why, assuming as the news sources are noting, that technical failure is the cause of the crash, the pilot did not go for the abundant water beneath him but rather banked TOWARDS the buildings. It is hard to uinderstand - but for our discussion here, ultimately, irrelevant.)

So a little private plane ripping up the East River, just feet from the east side of Manhattan, flying 300 feet above the water - this didn't fire some alarms? After all the boisterous chat about amping up our resources, technology, manpower, the creation of Homeland Security, the billions of dollars justified by increasing our ability to protect our nation - I wouldn't have been surprised if Transformers rose out of the river, or the Metlife building starting firing missiles, or a synthetic net sprung from Central Park, covering all of Manhattan in a protective sheathe. I mean - let's see those billions at work! Show me robots, show me invisible fences - whatever you got! But don't, please don't you dare let another airplane fly casually into the city in the middle of the day and crash into a building.

Did you know the Empire State Building suffered a blow from a military plane back in 1945?

Listen - maybe airplanes flying over and around New York City (and other cities) is just not a good idea.

How disruptive would it really be to world travel if the city and surrounding areas became a no-fly zone. I mean come on - La Guardia can go north of the city, JFK can go south of the city. Jersey airports can take their pick - just no one fly over or around (within a certain distance).

What? It adds 75 seconds to a flight? 240 seconds? For what? Peace of mind that an airplane is not going to fly into your apartment building. Hmmmm...

Or maybe you Homeland Security / FAA / NSA / etc dudes just need some new ideas.

You know when you go into the tunnel - it takes over your radio? Why not hijack every radio within a certain range of no-fly or limited fly-zones with specific instruction on where and how to fly away.

Obviously, for planes that are not lost but are instead on a purposed mission, a friendly radio message may not do the trick - how about extending the idea - figure out a way to hijack the controls for remote control - planes within a certain distance from a no-fly, get their system hijacked - maybe it leads them to a specific location, maybe it just increases their altitude. Come on - with the mobile technology of today, most planes being armed with autopilot systems - don't tell me we can't figure out how to hijack a plane's controls...

Speaking of altitude - why aren't there minimum altitude requirements? (are if there are requirements - why aren't they higher? Or if they are higher, why aren't they enforcerd?) Flying at 300 feet over the East River sounds like lighting a cigarette while fueling your car.

All planes should have to be a minimum of X feet off the ground if they are within the "zone." And what is X? Well, let's see - maybe we should derive it from something practical - I dunno - X should be an altitude at which, if said plane dropped into a dead-dive right for midtown, the number of seconds or minutes it would take to reach it would be greater than our response time to prevent the attack. So if it's going to take 60 seconds to get from X to Ground Zero, pun intended, it better take us 59 seconds or less to realize what is going on and act to resolve the crisis.

So - I are a college student but probably a little absent with the physics of a diving aircraft - but let's rough it. Let's say there was a 10000 foot "floor" in the city zone - all planes must fly at 10K or above. If one hit a deep dive, they could not travel faster than terminal velocity or let's say around 1700 feet per minute - so it would take them more than five minutes to crash a plane into the ground from that altitude.

A satellite projected laser trip-wire indicates an alarm when any aircraft breaks the 10000 foot floor. The alarm is handled by individuals who identify the aircraft via radar, and contact it via radio. Let's say hijacking the plane's controls remotely is not a possibility. OK. The plane is diving and we know where it is, what it is doing, and we are telling it to "pull up," "change your course," "whatever." No response.

OK, so this is not an accident - this is a purposed attack. Or even if it is not purposed - it doesn't matter - at some point, a highly calculated point-of-no-return, the plane crashing into the ground (the City, in this case) is imminent. And the primary goal of our systems are to protect our people, to protect our land, protect our towns and cities. That's when the missile silos that are (or should be) embedded in the East and Hudson Rivers release missiles into the air, destroying the plane and saving the day.

If we don't have a missile that will sufficiently shred the plane into particles small enough to not still render damage to the people below? So then create one.

(Maybe those calculations are completely wrong - but you get the point.)

Sound a little sci-fi? Come on. This all exists - or it nearly exists. I mean, just watch any of the Technology and/or Military shows on the Discovery channel for a couple hours - and that's the stuff we're showing off on public TV, presumably our most top secret projects are under slightly tighter wraps.

I recently conversed with a friend who was nonetheless shocked by the event, but seemingly justified the lack of action by referencing risk-analysis ratios, etc - what is the likelihood of an event ocurring and what is the possible damage that will be caused? The powers-that-be are not focusing energy and resources on little private planes - because it is the big commerical airlines that can really do the damage.

Well, I don't know if that's true - but if it is, it's a fundamentally flawed approach. Do not treat small aircraft and big aircraft as separate threats. Treat aircraft, PERIOD, as a single, unfied threat - and create protocols, systems, and responses that deal with all aircraft equally. That plane crashed into a building maybe a half-mile from the UN Headquarters. If perchance a backpack of C4 explosives had made it on-board, and it was Barney the purple terrorist instead of a baseball player flying it - that little plane could have made a reckoning.

We know there are no absolutes - and we know there is no such thing as "perfect" safe. So long as kamikazes (intentional or otherwise) exist, we, like everyone else in the world, will be vulnerable. But we don't want to hear excuses. We want to see a clear image - supporting the now years of promises - you have made America safer?

Today would still be a tragedy - a pilot and his companion would have died under unfortunate circumstances - and their loved ones (and in this case, Yankee fans alike) would mourn. But if Transformers and Go-Bots came out of the East River when that plane got too close to the City and diverted it, or if the plane came under remote control and was flown to safety, or albeit brazen, even if missiles had blown it to shreds - the nation would have stood at its feet and applauded, and it would have felt just a little bit better, a little more understanding - after all the Code Orange smoke Homeland Security has blown up all our rears.

So, really - see if you can prevent an AIRPLANE from flying into a BUILDING in NEW YORK CITY. We're not talking about hidden bio-chemical-molecular-agents floating through the air secretly and invisibly in a town of 400 somewhere up a mountain off the grid.

No, no.

AIRPLANES. Don't let them fly into BUILDINGS in NEW YORK CITY.