Plane hit on the 20th floor about 1/2 way up the Nations Bank building in downtown Tampa - it's a 40 story building. When the plane hit the wings snapped off - it was a rented plane from St. Pete, FL. It was reported the tail # is N237IN.
You can't have an "I" in a tail number. The tail number was N2371N, a Cessna 172R. It hit the 15th floor, and the Coast Guard is saying that it took off without a clearance from tower. I guess that's why they might have been following it.
If you look at the picture of the building, you can see that the windows on either side of the hole are undamaged within the approxomite wingspan of the 172. There is substantial damage on the floor above, though. That tells me the kid was in a pretty steep bank when he hit. Could be he was just buzzing the downtown and didn't see that he was turning into a building? He obviously knew enough about the plane to start up and take off, but maybe he didn't know what a blind spot high-wing aircraft have in a bank.
I live in Tampa and have been watching the local news reports all night. The pilot was a 15-year-old pre-solo student. He had a dual lesson scheduled for late Saturday afternoon from St Pete-Clearwater airport. His instructor sent him out alone to preflight the aircraft. It seems the student started up, taxied out, and took off, solo, without talking to anyone. In other words, he stole the airplane. The tower, obviously, became aware of his actions and asked a H-60 Coast Guard helicopter, which happened to be awaiting takeoff. to give chase.
The helicopter rejoined with the student pilot over MacDill Air Force Base (which just happens to house US Central Command -- which is running the Afghanistan operation) and tried to get the student pilot to land at Peter O'Night airport in south Tampa. The pilot ignored the visual signals and then proceeded to fly directly into the tallest building in Tampa with the Coast Guard H-60 in chase.
The good news is the only injury/fatality was to the student pilot, and the building damage will be relatively minor.
This was a very tragic incident for all involved. But I suspect it may turn out to be just a unique way for a disturbed teenager to commit suicide.
what a moron. steals a cessna, breaks a few windows, and kills himself...no one else. so much for his "statement." i don't think 15 year olds should be able to create such "devastation"....if that's what you would call it. all over a girl that wouldn't give him her number?? good riddance.
What I'm most concerned about this incident is the effect it will have on general aviation. Just hours after the crash, I saw someone on MSNBC or CNBC, talking about how little control we have on these airplanes. He also stated that there are jets at small airports, and that these jets could do a lot of damage. He stated that we have to do more screening to see who gets a pilot license, much as we limit licenses of those who haul hazardous materials in trucks.
Of course, what anyone fails to comment on, is that Timothy McViegh (sp?) didn't have a hazardous materials license either and look what he did. Nor do they mention that anyone can drive their car onto a busy sidewalk and kill dozens, or load it up with explosives and park it in the mall parking lot.
Unfortunately, because general aviation is such a small part of the transportation system, I'm afraid that more kneejerk reactions by the government will result in more restrictions to general aviation flying.
Get ready to watch our freedoms being slowly taken away.
I agree with the message of tristar_driver from above. Some guy on MSNBC last night was trying to kill GA. He was talking about security issues with private airstrips and even fly-in communities. To some merit though, MSNBC did have some other "aviation expert" come on and try to tell the people the truth about general aviation.
My main point here is to submit a new idea as to why this possibly happened. This idea is coming from a CFI, me. This kid could probably fly the airplane fine. But lets put a Coast Guard helicopter chasing him into the picture and things get a little more interesting. I now that sometimes even little things, completely distract students and even some certificated pilots. Maybe, the kid just thought he would go for a little joyride and take the heat when he got back with the airplane. He had been receiving instruction for one year (at least), maybe he thought it was time for him to solo. My idea here is that -- he takes off, Coast Guard helicopter comes up, gets the kid thoroughly distracted and next thing you know, the airplane winds up in the building.
I just thought I would add this idea to the large number that are out there already.
What do you guys think? Is this a possibility or am I just spouting off?
Teen Who Crashed Plane Supported Attacks, Police Say
Tampa, Fla. (AP) -- The 15-year-old who crashed a small plane into the Bank of America Building in downtown Tampa wrote a note expressing sympathy for Osama bin Laden and support for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, police said Sunday.
The short, handwritten suicide note found in Charles Bishop's pocket said he acted alone, Tampa Police Chief Bennie Holder said.
The high school freshman had few friends and no apparent terrorist ties, Holder said.
"Bishop can best be described as a young man who had very few friends and was very much a loner," Holder said. "From his actions we can assume he was a very troubled young man."
Bishop crashed the Cessna 172R into the 42-story Bank of America building after taking off without authorization and ignoring signals to land from a Coast Guard helicopter that pursued the plane. Bishop was the only fatality.
Holder said there is no indication Bishop specifically targeted the building or "had any intention of harming anyone else."
Investigators on Sunday interviewed the boy's family and said they would search his personal computer for evidence.
Bishop, of Palm Harbor, was told to check the plane's equipment before the start of a flying lesson Saturday, police said. He took off without waiting for an instructor who was supposed to accompany him.
A Coast Guard helicopter pilot motioned for the boy to land but couldn't get a response, and a pair of military jets scrambled to intercept the small plane arrived after the crash.
"There was no doubt he died on impact," said Fire Department Capt. Bill Wade.
Fire department officials said damage to the building was limited to the office where the plane hit and small areas of adjoining floors. Most of the building was expected to be open Monday, though there was concern about chunks of the facade falling to the sidewalk below.
Though terrorism was quickly discounted, images of the plane blasting a hole in the side of a skyscraper were chilling reminders of the World Trade Center attacks. Until it was pulled in early Sunday, the plane's tail had dangled from the 28th floor of the 42-story Bank of America building.
In Palm Harbor, police unrolled yellow crime scene tape outside the apartment complex where Bishop lived with his mother, while a stream of detectives and FBI agents interviewed family members Sunday.
Julia Bishop, the boy's mother, told a camera crew to "get out" when they attempted to film her as she opened her door for investigators.
Bishop's grandmother had taken him to the National Aviation Academy flight school at St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport for a 5 p.m. flying lesson on Saturday, said Marianne Pasha, a Pinellas County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman.
A Coast Guard helicopter caught up to Bishop over Tampa after he had traveled about 20 miles, and the crew signaled for him to land.
Pilots said he ignored them, then plane crashed into the building.
As a precaution, two F-15 fighter jets were scrambled from Homestead Air Reserve Base, 200 miles away, but they arrived after the crash, said Capt. Kirstin Reimann at the North American Aerospace Defense Command.
Only a few office workers and the staff of a club were in the building at the time of the crash. None was injured.
Sheriff's Sgt. Greg Tita said there was no record of the ninth grader running into problems with the law in the past.
Derek Perryman, a classmate of Bishop's at East Lake High School in Palm Harbor, about 25 miles west of Tampa, said Bishop often talked about planes with a friend in their journalism class.
After the Sept. 11 terrorist, he said, Bishop read a paper to the class. "It was real expressive about how he felt, how disappointed he was," Perryman said.
Another classmate, Ross Stewart, 15, described Bishop as a "teacher's pet."
"I knew he was an honor student. He got straight A's," Stewart said. "He seemed to like his classes. He liked school. He was a happy kid. He was never really down about anything. He smiled a lot."
Neighbors said Bishop, who had moved from the Boston area a year earlier, kept to himself.
"He rode my bus to school. He sat in the front row. He always had sunglasses on for some reason," said David Ontiveros, 14. "He never talked to anybody."
The Bishops briefly lived in Massachusetts several years ago, some former neighbors recalled Sunday.
Bev Pinkham, who lived near them in Norwell, Mass., just outside Boston, said Bishop "was just an ordinary quiet kid."
"One day he came over and said my flower gardens were beautiful," she said. "Other than that, he was very quiet."
Michael Cronin, an attorney for the National Aviation Academy, said Bishop had been taking flying lessons since March 2001 and had logged about six hours of flight time.
He said the boy often cleaned planes in exchange for flight time and was very familiar with operations at the school. Cronin said students do preflight equipment checks on their own, then have their accuracy verified by an instructor. Bishop was a year shy of being able to fly alone and two years too young to earn a pilot's license.
President Bush was briefed on the incident and the White House officials had been in touch with Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge and the Federal Aviation Administration, said White House spokesman Scott McClellan. Two other small planes had crashed Saturday, one on a Colorado hillside near Boulder, and another in a vacant field near Los Angeles.