Pilot wanted to end it all in style: Frank Corder always talked of a White House crash. His family thought he was joking

FRANK CORDER had talked to friends about going out in style by crash-landing an aeroplane in the grounds of the White House, but no one took him seriously. So on Monday he did it, and the whole country paid attention. He had been drinking heavily and was possibly under the influence of other drugs, a senator briefed by investigators said yesterday.

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?'

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
people

Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando

Sport
Kim Sears is reported to have directed abuse at Berdych
tennis
News
news

Rap music mogul accused of running two men over in his truck

News
Gywneth Paltrow proposed that women seek out a special herbal steam-treatment service
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Toronto tops the charts across a range of indexes
news

World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'

Voices
A mother and her child
voices
Arts and Entertainment
tv

First full-length look is finally here

Voices
The veterans Mark Hayward, Hugh Thompson and Sean Staines (back) with Grayson Perry (front left) and Evgeny Lebedev
charity appealMaverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
News
Tax now accounts for ‘nearly 80%’ of the price of a bottle of whisky
news

Arts and Entertainment
Peppa Pig wearing her golden boots
film

"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star

Life and Style
tech

Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses

Arts and Entertainment
film
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Film director Martin Scorsese
film
News
news

The party's potential nominations read like a high school race for student body president

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Regional Gas Installation Manager - South East England

£36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Regional Gas Installation Manager is r...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service and Breakdown Engineer - South East

£29000 - £31000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Service and Brea...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Recruitment Genius: Engineering Manager - Alconbury

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for an Engineering M...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee