On September 25, 2013, a small plane crashed just short of the runway of Clow Airport in suburban Bolingbrook, southwest of Chicago, killing the pilot and his passenger. It was not the first time a small plane dropped out of the sky there; in 2008, another small plane made an emergency landing on Weber Road to the east of the airport.
It is a reminder that on any given day that something --a plane, blue ice from a plane, a drone or other aircraft may suffer human or mechanical failure and suddenly change your life or your neighbors lives forever.
It is rare that planes or other aircraft drop out of the sky, but it has been happening since flight began.
This time the small aircraft just missed a Chase bank branch, and nobody was injured in the bank or in the heavy evening rush hour traffic, but another time in history things did not go so well.
On July 21, 1919, a Zepplein owned by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company came down in the Chicago Financial district with horrible consequences. Here is an accounting from the Chicago Tribune of the event:
Shortly before 5 p.m., workers at the Illinois Trust & Savings Bank building were finishing up for the day. The bank had closed to customers earlier, but nearly 150 bookkeepers and clerks were still working at their desks underneath the vaulted skylight of the 21/2 story building at the northeast corner of Jackson Boulevard and LaSalle Street. "A shadow passed over the marble rotunda," the Tribune reported, and more than one bank employee would report seeing a flash of light that they attributed to a photographer's flashbulb. Then a terrifying crash followed. Here's how the Tribune described it:
"It seemed, according to survivors, as if the entire bank was on fire. Breaking through the iron supports holding the glass overhead, the fuselage of the blimp, with two heavy rotary engines and two gasoline tanks, smashed to the floor.
Making matters worse, the area beneath the skylight was caged for security reasons and had just two exits. "Men and girls with clothing flaming fought their way through the exits," the Tribune reported.
"Instantly the tanks exploded, scattering a wave of flaming gasoline over the workers for a radius of 50 feet. A panic ensued."
Thirteen people were killed in the horrible fire that resulted when the Zeppelin crashed through the skylight of the Illinois Trust & Savings Bank on the northeast corner of Jackson and LaSalle.
Anton Cermak, then mayor of Chicago, called for a ban on Zeppelin flights over the city, but it didn't happen. When all was said and done nobody was criminally charged and the Illinois Trust & Savings Bank opened for business the next day.
In a very big bank-like manner, Illinois Trust & Savings Bank announced the following:
"A balloon ... fell through the skylight ... injuring and killing several of our employees. The tellers' cages and other facilities were not affected. The physical damage will be repaired so that the bank will be able to transact business today."
It never hurts to look up.