NEW YORK – A light wind blowing across New York City played a role in last month's airplane crash that killed Yankees' pitcher Corey Lidle and his flight instructor, federal investigators ruled Friday.
A Cirrus SR20, registered in Lidle's name, crashed into the 30th floor of an Upper East Side luxury condo on Oct. 11, killing both him and instructor Tyler Stanger when the pilot of the plane — either Lidle or Stanger — was unable to turn the plane sharply enough in the wind. The plane fell to the ground, while its engine shot into the building at the point of impact.
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 with a wind of 8 miles-an-hour from the East, the aircraft would have had to bank so steeply that it might have stalled.
The National Transportation Safety Board also reported that the plane had not experienced any damage before the crash.
There was "no sign of an in-flight fire or damage to the airplane," the report said. "No visibility restrictions were reported at any of the surrounding airport weather stations."
Investigators are still investigating the crash, hoping to learn what caused it. Two GPS units, a laptop computer and a memory chip from the plane's display panel were retrieved from the wreckage.
The Federal Aviation Administration has since restricted flight by small aircraft over the East River. Most small, fixed-wing planes are banned from the area unless the pilot is in contact with air traffic controllers.
Lidle and Stanger boarded the same single-engine plane Wednesday afternoon for what was supposed to be a leisurely flight around New York City. They took off from a suburban New Jersey airport, circled the Statue of Liberty and flew past lower Manhattan and north along the East River.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.