Famous People Who Died in Aviation Accidents
1940s

Date/Time Person Location Aircraft Details Notes
Aug 31, 1940 Ernest Lundeen
62, Minnesota U.S. Senator
Near Lovettsville, Virginia Pennsylvania Central Airlines
Douglas DC-3
NC21789
cn:2188
Flying through a thunderstorm in turbulence the plane nosed over and plunged to earth. Lightning strike disabled crew and caused loss of control. All 25 aboard killed. details in
database
Jan 5, 1941 Amy Johnson
37, pioneer woman aviator 
Oxford, England Airspeed AS10  Oxford Mk II While ferrying an aircraft for the RAF from Prestwick to Kidington, she became lost in poor weather and parachuted into the Thames River and drowned. Her body was never recovered. 1 killed.  
Feb 20, 1941
20:00
Sir Fredrick Grant Banting
49, Canadian co-discoverer of insulin
Near Gander, Newfoundland Lockheed Hudson MK III bomber
T9449
Crashed into trees at the side of a lake, 10 miles out of Gander en route to England. Double engine failure. Banting died of his injuries a few days later. Three out of 4 aboard killed.  
Feb 26, 1941
11:50
William Byron
45, Maryland U.S. Rep.
Jonesboro, Georgia
Eastern Airlines
Douglas DC-3
NC28394
3204
The aircraft crashed into a hill in pine woods, near Chandler Field, while attempting to make an instrument landing approach in rain and fog. Pilot error. 9 of 16 aboard killed. details in
database
Dec 11, 1941
John Gillespie Magee Jr.
19, American pilot and poet
Roxholm, England
VZ-H Spitfire V Magee was killed when his VZ-H Spitfire V collided with an Oxford Trainer from Cranwell Airfield during World War II. 1 killed.  
Jan 16, 1942
19:23
Carole Lombard
33, movie actress
real name Alice Jane Peters
Near Las Vegas, Nevada Trans Con. & Western Airways
Flight 3
Douglas DC-3
NC1946  cn:3295
Flight 3, crashed into Mt. Potosi. Lombard was returning from a war bond promotion. The aircraft drifted off course for reasons unknown. All 22 aboard killed including Lombard's mother and press agent.

details in
database
Feb 8, 1942
 
Dr. Fritz Todt
50, chief designer of the German autobahn. Third Reich minister for armaments and munitions.
Rastenburg, Germany Junkers 52 The aircraft crashed after exploding shortly after taking off.
 
Aug 21, 1942 Baron Carl-August von Gablenz
48, founder of Lufthansa Airlines
Mühlberg/Elbe, Germany Siebel Si 204 von Gablenz's plane which he was piloting, crashed after experiencing mechanical failure. 2 killed.  
Aug 25, 1942
13:42
George Edmund
39, the Duke of Kent
Near Dunbeath, Scotland Short Sunderland
DQ-M
cn:W4026
The plane crashed while on a flight to Iceland during WWII. The aircraft was part of the 228th Squadron RAF.  The plane hit high ground at Eagle Rock in the Scottish Highlands in poor visibility. Possible navigation error but exact cause unknown.  All 14 aboard killed.
Oct 23, 1942 Ralph Rainger
41, composer and song writer
Palm Springs, California Douglas DC-3
NC16017
cn:1555
Midair collision with an Army B-34 bomber. The bomber pilot attempted to draw attention to his friend the co-pilot in the airliner and struck the tail of the airliner. All 12 aboard the airliner killed. The bomber landed safely.  
Jan 15, 1943 Eric Mowbray Knight
46, U.S. novelist
Paramaribo, Dutch Guiana Douglas C-54 Crashed into a jungle while on a  secret mission during a WW II military flight on the way to the Casablanca Conference.  All 35 aboard killed.  
Feb 22, 1943 Ben Robertson
U.S. novelist
Tamara Drasin
34, actress, singer
Lisbon, Portugal Pan Am
Boeing 314
NC18603
cn:1990
The flying boat was attempting to land when the left wing hit the water. Actress Jane Froman seriously injured.  25 of 39 aboard killed. details in
database
Apr 18, 1943 Admiral Isorok Yamamoto
42, Japanese naval commander
Kahili, Bougainville
Solomon Islands
Mitsubishi G4M Transport Shot down by U.S. fighters. The allies knew where his plane would be after the Japanese code was broken.  
Jun 1, 1943 Leslie Howard
42, movie actor
Off the coast of France British Overseas Airways
Douglas DC-3
G-AGBB
cn:1590
Shot down by German military aircraft.  All 17 aboard killed.  
Jun 2, 1943 Nile Clark Kinnick Jr.
24, 1939 Heisman trophy winner at the University of Iowa
Over the Gulf of Paria in the Caribbean Sea Navy fighter Rather than land on a carrier and risk a fire, Kinnick ditched his fighter plane into the Caribbean Sea during a training flight after developing an oil leak.  Kinnick and the aircraft were never found.  
Jul 4, 1943 Wladyslaw Sikorski
62, Prime Minister of Poland in exile
Off Gibraltar  B24C Liberator
A-L-523
Crashed into the Mediterranean Sea shortly after takeoff while on a flight to London.  12 of 13 aboard killed. details in
database
Jul 21, 1943 Charles Paddock
43, Olympic track star, Marine Captain, depicted in the film Chariots of Fire
Near Sitka, Alaska   Killed in the line of duty. The Navy plane he was flying in crashed near Sitka killing all 6 aboard.  
Aug 31, 1943
Leonard Supulski
23, Football player for the Philidephia Eagles
Kearny, Nebraska B-17 Flying Fortress
42-5451
Killed on a routine Army Air Corps training flight. 8 killed.  
Sep 21, 1943
John William Ditter
55, Pennsylvania U.S. Rep.
Colombia, Pennsylvania Military plane Single engine Ditter was flying on a Navy plane. The crew dropped flares in heavy rain but ultimately crashed and burned. 2 killed.  
Oct 7, 1943 Prince Christoph Ernst of Hesse-Casse
42
Forli, Itay   Killed in an crash over the Italian Apennine mountains while on active duty.  
Nov 27, 1943 Edward O'Hare
29, decorated war hero.
Pacific Ocean F6F Hellcat His plane was shot down in combat. Namesake of Chicago O'hare Airport  
Apr 12, 1944 Tommy Hitchcock Jr.
44, champion polo player
Near Salisbury, England P-51Mustang Crashed while flying for the Air Force during World War II.  Hitchcock was unable to pull out of a dive as he conducted tests.  
Jul 31, 1944 Antoine de Saint- Exupery
44, French writer
Mediterranean off Marseille, France Lockheed P-38 Lightning Lost over the Mediterranean during a  World War II  mission for the U.S. Air Force.  Probably due to mechanical failure.  1 killed.  
Aug 12, 1944
Joseph P. Kennedy
29, brother of President John F. Kennedy
Blythgurgh, England Consolidated PB4Y-1
32271
Intending to bail out to leave another aircraft to guide a plane via remote control into a German sub pen, the plane blew up before he could exit. 2 killed. details in
database
Dec 15, 1944 Glenn Miller
40, band leader and musician
Over the English Channel UC-64A Noorduyn Norseman Disappeared over the English Channel. Most likely accidentally hit by bombs jettisoned by RAF bombers returning from an unsuccessful raid. 2 killed. details in
database
Jan 2, 1945 Sir Bertram Ramsey
62, British Admiral
Toussus le Noble, France Lockheed Hudson Dived into the ground and crashed shortly after taking off.  
Mar 17, 1945 Robert Hutchins
19 "Wheezer" of the Little Rascals
Merced, California B-26 Marauder Hutchins crashed his plane while attempting to land during a trainin exercise.  
Aug 6, 1945 Maj. Richard Bong
25, WW II Ace
Burbank, California P-80 jet fighter Crashed while testing the P-80 jet fighter.  Highest scoring ace in American history with 40 victories.   
Jan 26, 1947
15:30
Grace Moore
48, singer
Prince Gustav Adolf
41, Swedish crown prince
Copenhagen, Denmark KLM
Douglas C-47
PH-TCR
cn:25479
Crashed during takeoff. Failure to remove the elevator locking pins during takeoff.  All 22 aboard killed. details in
database
Aug 23, 1947
 
Roy Chadwick
54, English aircraft designer
Lake District, England Avro 688 Tudor II Avro's chief designer, Chadwick was killed when the Avro Tudor II prototype he was testing crashed on takeoff.  Incorrectly installed aileron controls.  
Oct 24, 1947 Jeff Burkett
rookie punter for the Chicago Cardinals football team
Bryce Canyon, Utah United Airlines
Flight 608
Douglas DC-6
NC37510
cn:42875/17
A design flaw allowed vented gasoline to be drawn into the heater air intake scoop.  The plane exploded and crashed.  Burkett stayed behind because of an emergency appendectomy and was returning to his team in Chicago.  All 53 aboard killed.  
Oct 28, 1947 Earl Snell
52, Governor of Oregon
Near Lakeview, Oregon Beechcraft Bonanza Crashed in the Fremont Naional Forest, near Dog Lake, in a private plane.  All 4 aboard killed including the state's Attorney General and Senate President.  
Jun 17, 1948
01:41
Earl Carroll
55, U.S. theatrical impresario
Berryl Wallace
actress
Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania United Air Lines
Flight 624
Douglas DC-6
NC37506
cn: 42871
Flight 624 crashed after an in-flight fire in the cargo hold. Carbon dioxide extinguishers leaked into the cockpit incapacitating the crew.  All 43 aboard killed. details in
database
Sep 25, 1948
15:07
Joe Lynam
31, pro wrestler
Bend, Oregon Navy surplus aircraft
NC62389
The plane struck Horse Ridge, 500 feet from the summit, just after taking off from Bend in rain and fog.  
Apr 20, 1949
Robert Coffey Jr.
31,Pennsylvania U.S. Rep.
Albuquerque, New Mexico P-80 Shooting Star Jet Fighter Crashed on takeoff while on a cross country proficiency flight.  
May 13, 1949 Kathleen Kennedy Cavendish
28, sister of President John Kennedy
Mount Coron, France Skyways
de Havilland Dove 1
G-AJOU
cn:N 04058
Crashed in a storm.  All 10 aboard killed.
May 4, 1949
17:04
Torino soccer team Superga, Italy Avio Linee Italiane
Fiat G212CP
I-ELCE 
cn:5
The left wing struck a wall while trying to land in rain, low visibility and thunderstorms. All 31 aboard killed.  
details in
database
Oct 1, 1949
21:00
Buddy Clark
37, singer
Los Angeles, California Twin engine Cessna
T-50
The aircraft ran out of gas and clipped trees and power lines as it crash landed onto Beverly Boulevard. Clark was the only one of 5 aboard killed when he was thrown from the plane.  
Oct 28, 1949
Marcel Cerdan
33, French boxing champion
Ginette Neveu
30, French violinist
San Miguel Island, Azores Air France
Lockheed Constellation
F-BAZN sn 2546
Flew into a mountain after two failed attempts at landing at the Azores. Cerdan, former middleweight champion, was en route to fight Jake LaMotta in New York.  All 48 aboard killed.  Ironically, Jake LaMotta's son was killed in the Swissair crash in 1998. details in
database
Nov 1, 1949
George Bates
58, Massachusetts U.S. Rep.
Michael Kennedy
52, New York U.S. Rep.
Helen Hokinson
46, cartoonist for the New Yorker
Arlington, Virginia Eastern Air Lines
Flight 537
Douglas C-54B
N555LD
cn:18365
Midair collision with a U.S. Air Force P-38 fighter. Fighter pilot survived, tried for causing accident and cleared. All 56 aboard killed.

details in
database

 

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