Pilot wanted to end it all in style: Frank Corder always talked of a White House crash. His family thought he was joking
Wednesday 14 September 1994
His last journey was simply the fulfilment of that fantasy, inspired by the 1987 landing of a small aircraft in Red Square by Mathias Rust. What it was not - at least as far as friends and relatives can guess - was an attempt on the lives of President Clinton and his family.
It was a brother, John, who best remembered the remarks about suicide and the Rust exploit. 'He said, 'If I'm going to check out, that's the way I'm going to do it. I'm going to crash a plane into the White House'. We all thought it was a joke.'
That Corder, 38, was driven to suicide has surprised no one. In the past year almost every part of his life had come apart. A trucking business he owned had failed, he had been profoundly upset by his father's death last year, and his 10-year marriage was disintegrating.
He also had repeated alcohol and drug problems and last year he spent a week in a hospital, where his wife worked as a nurse, undergoing an alcohol detoxification programme. He had had many drinking-related brushes with the law and was on probation when he died. 'When he goes in the dumps, he'd crawl in the bottle,' the brother told reporters.
A cousin, Dee George, meanwhile confirmed his suicidal tendency. 'Frank has been down on drugs and alcohol before,' she said. 'He told me that sometimes . . . he just wished he had a gun.'
There was also a yearning for better things and fame. Friends said Corder would share wild dreams about fortune and notoriety, including an ambition to run an airline. Joseph Kessler, manager of the airfield from which the Cessna was stolen, said: 'He had that champagne taste with a Pepsi-Cola wallet.'
His interest had been nurtured by his father, who was a small-aircraft mechanic. Although Corder had hoped to gain a flying licence, the lessons he had been receiving stopped because of his abuse problems.
Questions were still being asked in Washington, meanwhile, over how Corder was able to penetrate the air space around the White House so easily. There were reports that the small aircraft was spotted on radar by air traffic controllers at nearby National Airport, but that no one had alerted the Secret Service.
Carl Meyer, of the Secret Service, said agents knew nothing about the aircraft until they saw it descending towards the White House. 'We just didn't have a good sense what was involved here. Or, was it a diversion, was something going to come?'
- 1 Autistic adults could take pure MDMA to 'reduce social anxiety'
- 2 Before you complain about your GP, this is what you need to know about actually doing the job
- 3 Father of 12 accused of raping, beating, starving and abusing his own children in US 'cult'
- 4 Britain's Got Talent 2015: Jamie Raven divides Twitter as fans expose mind-boggling magic trick
- 5 Charlie Charlie Challenge explained: not a Mexican demon being summoned — it's gravity
People are criticising Fifa World Cup sponsors with corrupt corporate logos
Natalie Portman tells Harvard graduates: 'Accept your lack of knowledge'
British tourists complain impoverished boat migrants are making holidays 'awkward' in Kos
Fifa corruption live: Sebb Blatter warns 'more bad news may follow' as he clings to power
Skull found in Spain could be the world's first-ever murder victim
EU referendum: David Cameron's rules are a 'democratic disgrace', says French-born Scottish politician set to be denied a vote
SNP fury as HS2 finds 'no business case' for taking fast train service to Scotland
Australian man punched in the face for defending Muslim women from abuse on train
A nation of inequality: How the UK is failing to feed its most vulnerable people
David Starkey 'tells Amal Clooney to shut up and stop over-promoting human rights'
EU referendum: David Cameron to deny EU migrants and under-18s the chance to vote
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...
£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...
£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...
£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...