December 16, 1960
New York, New York
Two airplanes collide mid-air, killing 136

One of the planes, whose destination was Idlewild Airport (now John F. Kennedy International), was in a holding pattern waiting for permission to land. The second plane, flying into LaGuardia Airport, miscalculated the other plane’s path and ran into the first.

The two airplanes struck each other mid-air raining flaming wreckage and debris. The plane destined for LaGuardia crashed into Miller Field on Staten Island while the plane which had been in a holding pattern struck an apartment and church in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Park Slope. The disaster caused extensive fires which took 72 hours to combat.

Around 136 (sources vary) people died, all 128 aboard the planes and approximately eight on the ground. Stephen Baltz (11) initially survived the crash but died 26 hours later of extensive burns and inhaled flames. Before he died, Baltz recounted: “The plane started to fall and people started to scream. I held onto my seat and then the plane crashed.”

Honolulu Star-Bulletin. December 16, 1960

A memorial for the victims of the disaster, with the nickels and dimes Stephen Baltz had in his pocket at the time of the crash


  • “Two airplanes collide over New York City.” History. November 13, 2009. Updated: August 21, 2018. Accessed: December 16, 2018.
  • “Son’s Death Brings Out Human Kindness.” The Manhattan Mercury [Manhattan, Kansas]. December 19, 1960
  • “Gotham Air Disaster Toll Now 136.” The Indianapolis Star. December 18, 1960
  • “News Quotes.” The Edwardsville Intelligencer [Edwardsville, Illinois]. December 17, 1960

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