Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Cory Lidle 1972-2006
Ugarte: Too bad about those two German couriers, wasn't it?
Rick: They got a lucky break. Yesterday they were just two German clerks. Today they're the "Honored Dead".
Ugarte: You are a very cynical person, Rick, if you'll forgive me for saying so.
Rick: [shortly] I forgive you.
I hope you forgive me but that above dialog from the movie Casablanca was among the first things I thought of when I learned it was Corey Lidle and his flight instructor who died in the plane crash in New York City.

Of course my first thought was whether this was a terrorist act or not. Then when I learned that it was Corey Lidle my thoughts went out to his wife and son and how awful it would be for them to learn of his death watching TV in some airport terminal or having some stranger break the news to them.

Then - honestly - my sympathy for Lidle dried up. At one point I even cynically wondered to what ends George Steinbrenner will go to keep the Mets off the back pages of the NY tabloids.

Sorry. Just being honest.

I didn't know Corey Lidle and again to be honest - I wasn't a fan of him as a player. What I do know is that Lidle was an athlete with a multimillion dollar contract and he died engaging in a hobby that is pretty much relegated to the very rich and that he crashed into a building where the condos go for $1 million a pop.

As I said earlier - I feel terrible for Lidle's wife and child but they will be financially set for life (assuming Lidle had insurance on his plane and his net worth won't be lost to lawsuits from the building owners). What about the regular guys working at the Cirrus factory? I'm much more worried about how this will effect them to be bothered feeling sorry for Lidle.

Lidle reportedly died in a Cirrus SR 20. I saw on ESPN where they reported that his plane cost $187,000. That means he either got a deal on a new one or he bought a used plane (the list price for the base model SR 20 is $250,000). For many people this will be the first they ever heard of Cirrus aircraft and the first impression association will not exactly be a positive one. There could be a number of people trying to decide on buying a plane right now and the questions over what caused this crash may lead them to buy a competitive model to the Cirrus SR 20 and that may lead to layoffs at the company.

I admit my concern over the plight of the Cirrus factory workers is not 100% altruistic. My first exposure to the Cirrus SR 20 was in Outside Magazine and when I saw it I knew that some day I wanted to own one. My hope was that personal airplanes would become more popular and that the price would come down to the point where a guy like me could afford one.

When I was a kid - science promised the dawn of flying cars. Now I'm an adult and I want one (or at least a private plane). Corey Lidle probably wished for a flying car when he was a kid too but he was rich enough to make his dream come true. Are we supposed to mourn him for that?

Yesterday Cory Lidle was an average starter on a baseball team in a city where average just isn't good enough. Today Cory Lidle is the honored dead. Excuse me if I don't shed a tear.

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