An eerie remembrance of Sept. 11 as plane slams into Italian skyscraper

May 01, 2002 |

Raising fears at first of a terrorist attack, a small plane crashed into Milan, Italy’s tallest skyscraper on April 18, killing three people and injuring dozens. The four-seat, twin-engine plane punched into the 25th floor of the 30-story Pirelli Tower, triggering fire on several floors.


Italian authorities dismissed the notion of a terrorist attack, suspecting that the plane had mechanical problems. Air traffic control officials said the 68-year-old pilot had been in contact complaining of landing gear problems minutes before slamming into the building.

The crash, however, sent a shiver the down the collective spine of the much of the world, rattling stock markets in U.S. and Europe, and reviving fears of further airborn terrorist attacks. For instance, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley questioned the Federal Aviation Administration’s recent lifting of the no-fly zone over downtown Chicago and other U.S. cities, except Washington, D.C. He also pushed for smaller airports across the nation to adopt more strict security measures.

Although the plane crash gutted most of the 25th and 26th floors, and caused the 27th floor to collapse onto the 26th floor, the tower is thought to have avoided serious structural damage, as its major load-bearing components are located at the ends, and the plane crashed into the center.

Named after the tire company that once was headquartered there, Pirelli Tower was designed in 1956 by architect Gio Ponti and structural engineer Pier Luigi Nervi, known for his use of reinforced concrete. It is considered one of the world’s tallest concrete skyscrapers. The office building currently houses government administration.

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