On the morning of July 28, 1945, a B-25 Mitchell bomber on a routine personnel transport out of Massachusetts encountered heavy fog and became disoriented as it passed over New York City on its descent into Newark Airport.
At 9:40 a.m., it smashed into the north side of the Empire State Building.
The impact blasted a fiery hole through the 78th and 79th floors. One of the bomber’s engines shot completely through the building, tumbling out the other side and destroying a sculptor’s penthouse studio across the street.
All three crew aboard the bomber were killed, along with 11 people in the building.
Lift cables were snapped by the blast, sending elevator operator Betty Lou Oliver plummeting 75 stories to the basement in seconds.
When rescuers pulled her from the tangled wreckage, she was somehow still alive (and the holder of a new record for longest elevator fall survived).