Famous People Who Died in Aviation Accidents

Date/Time Person Location Aircraft Details Notes
Feb 15, 1970 Carlos Cruz
featherweight champion boxer
Members of the Puerto Rican women's volleyball team
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic Compania Dominicana de Aviacion
HI-177  cn:47500
Lost an engine on takeoff. Circled back to the airport and crashed into the sea. All 102 aboard killed.

details in database

May 9, 1970
Walter Reuther
63, UAW labor leader
Pellston, Michigan Gates Learjet 23
During an instrument landing the plane broke through clouds, hit trees and burst into flames short of the runway. Reuther's wife and 4 others also killed. details in
Jul 31, 1970
George Paul
23, champion bull rider
Kemmerer, Wyoming Beech C50
Struck a mountain slope in VFR conditions. Pilot fatigue. Paul hadn't slept the night prior to the flight. 1 killed.  
Oct 2, 1970
Wichita State College football team Silver Plume, Colorado, Mt. Trelease Golden Eagle Aviation
Flight 108
Martin 404
N464M  cn:14151
Aircraft entered a mountain valley route from which it could neither climb over or execute a course reversal.  Pilot error. 32 of 40 aboard killed. details in
Oct 4, 1970
Curtis Turner
46, race car driver
Mahaffey, Pennsylvania Aerocommander 500-B
Crashed into mountains 20 minutes after takeoff.  Turner, who was piloting the plane, was under the influence of alcohol. Turner suffered a severe heart attack prior to the accident. 2 killed. details in
Nov 14, 1970
Marshall University football team Near Huntington, West Virginia Southern Airways
Flight 932
Douglas DC-9-31
N97S  cn:47245
Crashed short of the runway. Improper procedures by crew.  Used autopilot throughout landing. Call-outs not made. All 75 aboard killed. 41 from the Marshall University team.

details in
May 28, 1971
Audie Murphy
46, WW II hero and movie actor
Roanoke, Virginia Aero Commander 680
Crashed in mountains in heavy thunderstorms. Continued VFR flight into adverse weather conditions. Entered instrument weather at too low an altitude to clear mountain. All 5 aboard killed.

details in
June 30, 1971 Georgi Dobrovolsky, 43
Viktor Patsayev, 38
Vladislav Volkov, 35

In space Soyuz II A valve opened as the descent module separated from the orbital module depressurizing the space craft.  The crew died within 45 seconds.  
Jul 24, 1972 Lance Reventow
36,Woolworth heir and formula one race car driver
Aspen, Colorado Cessna U206
Died when the plane he was riding in crashed in a storm over the Rocky Mountains after the pilot flew into a blind canyon. 4 killed.  
Aug 28, 1972 Prince William Henry Andrew
30, Windsor of Glouscester
Near Wolverhampton, England Piper Cherokee Killed while taking place in the Goodyear Air Race near Wolverhampton. The plane crashed and exploded shortly after taking off after losing height suddenly. Both aboard killed.  
Oct 13, 1972 Old Christians Rugby Team
Near San Fernando, Chile Uruguayan Air Force - TAMU
Fairchild Hiller FH-227D
T-571  cn:572
Crashed in the Andes. Flew into mountain wave leading to loss of control. Found 72 days after crash. Resorted to cannibalism to stay alive by eating the dead. 29 of 45 aboard killed. The movie and book "Alive" based on this crash. details in
Oct 16, 1972
c 09:00
Hale Boggs
58, Louisiana U.S. Rep.
Nick Begich
40, Alaska U.S. Rep.
Off the Alaskan coast Cessna 310C
Disappeared while approaching the Chugach mountain range on a flight from Anchorage to Juneau. Cause unknown. 4 killed. details in
Dec 8, 1972
George Collins
47, Illinois U.S. Rep.
Dorothy Hunt
52, wife of E. Howard Hunt of Watergate fame

Chicago, Illinois United Air Lines
Flight 553
Boeing 737-222
N9031U  cn:19069
Crashed while making a non-precision instrument approach. Pilot error. Failure to exercise positive flight management. 43 of 61 aboard killed. details in
Dec 31, 1972
Roberto Clemente
38, baseball player, Pittsburgh outfielder
San Juan, Puerto Rico American Express Leasing
Douglas DC-7CF
Crashed after taking off after losing power in the No. 2 and 3 engines. Overloaded, poor maintenance. Clemente was on a relief mission to deliver supplies for earthquake victims in Nicaragua. All 5 aboard killed. details in
Jan 22, 1973 Alexander Onassis
son of Aristotle Onassis
Athens, Greece Piaggio Rolled to the right and nose-dived into the ground after attaining a height of 100 ft. during takeoff.  
Jul 20, 1973
Robert Smithson
35, American artist
Amarillo Texas Beech E55
The plane stalled and crashed after the pilot's attention was diverted from flying the aircraft. Smithson was photographing his sculpture site from the air. 3 killed.  
Sep 20, 1973
Jim Croce
30, singer
Natchitoches, Louisiana Beechcraft E18S
Crashed into trees at the end of the runway while taking off after not gaining altitude. Pilot failed to see/avoid objects, obstructions.  Also killed were his publicist Kenny Cortese, singer Maury Muehleisen, road manager Dennis Rast, comedian George Stevens and pilot Robert Elliot.  All 6 aboard killed.

details in
Nov 30, 1973
Bruce Yarnell
37, Actor
Near Gorman, California Beech 23
Yarnell who was piloting the plane, used poor judgment in continuing a VFR flight into adverse weather conditions resulting in spatial disorientation and loss of control of the aircraft. He was attempting to return to Van Nuys airport when the accident occurred. All 3 aboard killed.  
Aug 09, 1974
Bill Chase
39, jazz rock musician
Jackson, Minnesota Piper PA-30 Comanche
Crashed short of the runway while attempting to land in heavy rain.  Pilot error. Improper IFR operation. All 6 aboard killed.  
Feb 14, 1975
Jerry Pettis
59, California U.S. Rep.
Cherry Valley, California Beech V35B
Crashed his plane while on a flight from Palm Springs to San Bernardino. Continued VFR flight into adverse weather conditions. 1 killed.  
Feb 20, 1975
Bobby Shane
"Robert Schoenberger"

29, pro wrestler
Tampa Bay, Florida Cessna 182J
The small plane crashed into Tampa Bay after the pilot became disoriented in clouds and darkness while attempting to land.  Shane drowned in the back seat of the plane.  Wrestlers Gary Hart, Dennis McChord and Buddy Colt, who was piloting the plane, survived.  
Jun 24, 1975 Wendell Ladner
27, basketball player, N.Y. Nets forward
New York, New York Eastern Air Lines
Flight 66
Boeing 727
N8845E  cn:20443
Crashed while landing at JFK in a storm. Windshear.  113 of 124 aboard killed.  details in database
Sep 3, 1975
Irv Medlinger
48, MLB player
Wheeling, Illinois Piper PA-24
Inadequate maintenance of the aircraft caused engine failure and a forced landing resulting in destruction of the aircraft. 2 killed.  
Nov 29, 1975
Graham Hill
46, race car driver
Tony Brise
23, race car driver
Hertfordshire, England Piper Aztec
Piloted by Hill.  Crashed after getting lost in fog. All 6 aboard killed. details in
Dec 26, 1975
Myrna Ross
36, American actress
Rollinsville, Colorado Star Aviaiton
Mitsubishi MU-2B
Crashed into mountains. Continued VFR flight into adverse weather conditions. All 9 aboard Killed.  
Jul 30, 1976
Joel Rakotomalala
47, Prime Minister of Madagascar
Tananarive, Madagascar Helicopter Crashed into the sea. All 4 aboard killed.  
Aug 3, 1976
Jerry Litton
39, Missouri U.S. Rep.
Chillicothe, Missouri Beech 58
A broken crankshaft in the left engine caused a loss of control and the plane to crash during takeoff.  6 killed including Litton's wife and 2 children.  
Sep 3, 1976
Orfeon University Choir
Lajes, Azores, Portugal Lockheed C-130
cn: 4408
Crashed into a hill 1 mile short of the runway in heavy rains from hurricane Emmy. All 68 aboard  killed. details in database
Oct 6, 1976
Cuban National Fencing Team
Off Bridgetown, Barbados Cubana
cn: 45611/48
Explosion of a terrorist bomb in the cabin led to an unontrollable fire and incapacitation of the crew which caused the plane to crash into the ocean. All 73 aboard killed. details in database
Jan 6, 1977
Natalie "Dolly" Sinatra
82, mother of entertainer Frank Sinatra
Near Palm Springs, California Gates Learjet 24B
After leaving Palm Springs Municipal Airport, the plane never changed heading and flew into a mountain. Crew error. 4 killed. details in database
Jan 18, 1977 Džemal Bijedić
60,  Premier of Yugoslavia
Sarajevo, Yugoslavia Gates Learjet Crashed into a Lisin Mountain during a snowstorm. All 7 aboard killed.  
Mar 19, 1977 Jose Carlos Pace
32, Brazilian champion race car driver
Near Mairiporã, Brazil Piper Killed along with colleague and pilot Marivaldo Fernandes while traveling to a ranch in western Sao Paulo. All 3 aboard killed.  
Mar 27, 1977
Eve Meyer
48, June 1955 Playmate of the month, film producer
Tenerife, Canary Islands Pan Am/KLM
Boeing 747
19643/11 / 20400/157
Two jumbo jets collided on the runway after the KLM captain took off without clearance. 583 out of 644 killed. details in
May 2, 1977
Edward Cole
 67, GM president creator of the Corvair.
Mendon, Michigan Beagle 206S2
The plane, Cole was piloting, crashed after he flew VFR into adverse weather conditions and suffered spatial disorientation. 1 killed.  
May 16, 1977
Michael Findlay
 33, horror film director
New York New York Sikorsky S61L helicopter 
While boarding the helicopter the gear collapsed due to a fatigue fracture, decapitating Findlay and killing 3 other passengers. details in
Aug 1 1977
Francis Gary Powers
47, newscaster
Encino, California Bell 206B Jetranger helicopter
Flying for Channel 4 news, the helicopter ran out of fuel returning from covering a fire.  Powers was famous for piloting the U2 aircraft that was shot down over Russia in 1960. 2 killed. details in
Oct 20, 1977
Ronnie Van Zant
29, lead singer for Lynyrd Skynyrd Band
Near Gillsburg, Mississippi L & J Company
Convair CV-300
N55VM  cn: 003
Ran low on fuel and crashed into a wooded area. Malfunctioning engine that used excessive fuel. Three other band members killed. 6 of 26 aboard killed including Cassie & Steve Gaines.

details in
Dec 13, 1977
Evansville basketball team Evansville, Indiana National Jet Service
Douglas DC-3
N51071  cn:4837
Crashed on takeoff in rain and fog. Aileron and rudder remained locked during takeoff. Improperly loaded luggage. All 29 aboard killed. details in
May 21, 1978
Bruce Geller
47, writer, producer director
Santa Barbara, California Cessna 337D Skymaster
Crashed  in fog into Buena Vista canyon while on a pleasure trip from Santa Monica to Santa Barbara. Misread instruments.  Both aboard killed. Creator of "Mission Impossible"  
Apr 15, 1978
Frank Gifford Tallman
59, movie stunt pilot
Trabuco Canyon, California Piper PA-23
Crashed into Santiago Peak in the Santa Ana Mountains while on a routine ferry flight in turbulence and a rainstorm. Continued VFR flight into adverse weather conditions. 1 killed.  
Feb 19, 1979
Norman Ollestad I
43, American child actor
Mt. Baldy, California Cessna 172
Crashed into the San Bernardino mountains at 7,300 feet while on a flight to Big Bear, CA. 2 of 4 aboard killed. One killed in a fall after the accident. Pilot continued VFR flight into adverse weather conditions.  
Jun  28, 1979 Philippe Cousteau
39, son of Jacques Cousteau
Off Lisbon, Portugal PBY-6A Catalina Crashed while attempting to land and was killed when one of the plane's propellers separated and cut through the cockpit.  
Aug 2, 1979
Thurman Munson
32, baseball player, N.Y. Yankee catcher
Canton, Ohio Cessna 501 Citation
Munson crashed short of the runway while practicing takeoffs and landing. He stalled the plane. Aircraft allowed to get too low and too slow. 1 of 3 killed killed.
Aug 11, 1979
Pakhtakor Tashken Russian soccer team Dneprodzerzhinsk, Ukraine, USSR Aeroflot
Tupolev TU-134A
SSSR- 65735
cn:- 2351516
A midair collision occurred between two Tupolev 134As.  Separation error by Russian ATC. Fourteen players and 3 staff members of the Russian soccer team, Pakhtakor Tashkent, killed.  All 84 aboard killed. details in


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