Famous People Who Died in Aviation Accidents

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Date/Time Name / Group Age Notability Accident Location Aircraft Details Notes
Oct 5, 1930
Lord Thompson
55 British air minister Beauvais, France Airship R-101
The airship crashed into a hill after losing altitude in a rainstorm.  Overweight and underpowered. Forty-eight out of 56 aboard killed.  
Mar 31, 1931
Knute Rockne
43 Notre Dame football coach Bazaar, Kansas Trans Cont. & Western Airways Flight 599
Fokker F-10A Tri-motor
One of the plane's wings separated in flight after penetrating a rainstorm and the aircraft crashed into a wheat field. A structural design flaw caused wing-aileron flutter which led to the wing separation. All 8 aboard killed. PHOTO
May 14, 1931 Denys Finch Hatton
43 English professional hunter.Hatton was the character played by Robert Redford in the movie Out of Africa. Voi, Kenya de Havilland Gypsy Moth Lifted off the ground, stalled and crashed.  
Sep 5, 1932 Al Wilson 36 American actor, producer, stunt pilot Cleveland, Ohio Curtiss Model D replica Collision with autogyro at the Cleveland Air Races.  
Apr 4, 1933
Rear Admiral William Moffet
64 Naval aviator Off Barnegat, New Jersey Goodyear-Zeppelin U.S.S. Akron (airship) Killed when the airship USS Akron crashed into the Atlantic after penetrating a thunderstorm. PHOTO
Jul 17, 1933
Steponas Darius
Stasys Girėnas
Lithuanian- American aviators Kuhdamm, Germany Bellanca CH-300 Pacemaker
Difficult weather conditions and engine defects caused the plane to crash while on a record setting flight.  
June 24, 1934 Jimmie Wedell
34 American airplane designer and speed racer Patterson, Louisiana de Havilland Gypsy Moth
Wedell was at the controls of the plane. The crash was most likely due to structural failure.  
May 6, 1935 Bronson M. Cutting
46 New Mexico Senator Macon, Missouri Transcontinental and Western Air
DC-2-112 NC13785 
Crashed while attempting to make an emergency landing after running out of fuel. Four of 10 aboard killed. PHOTO
Jun 24, 1935
Carlos Gardel
44 French Argentine actor, singer Medellin, Colombia Servicio Aero Colombiano
Ford Tri-motor C-1
Collision with another Tri-motor as it was taking off.  Alfredo Le Pera, his lyricist, also killed. Seventeen of 20 aboard  killed. PHOTO
Aug 15, 1935 Will Penn Adair Rogers
Wiley Post

American humorist

Walakpi, near Point Barrow Alaska Lockheed Orion Explorer
After making a forced landing in fog, the plane took off, rose about 50 feet and crashed into shallow water. 2 killed. PHOTO

Sep 17, 1935 Len Koenecke
31 Baseball player
Dodgers, Giants
Over Canada airspace Charter plane After being thrown off an American Airlines flight for being drunk, Koenecke boarded a charter flight.  A fight broke out between the pilot, Koenecke and another passenger.  After Koenecke grabbed for the controls, the pilot hit him over the head with a fire extinguisher killing him. PHOTO
Nov 8, 1935
Sir Charles Kingsford Smith
38 Australian aviator. WW I ace. First to cross the Pacific from the US to Australia Off the southern coast of Burma near Aye Island Lockheed Altair
Disappeared off the coast of Burma while attempting an England to Australia speed record. Both Smith and his mechanic were killed.  
Mar 6, 1936 Adolf II 53 Prince of Schaumburg- Lippe Ford Tri-motor Zumpango, Mexico
While making a turn at low speed, the aircraaft stalled and crashed into a volcano. All 14 aboard killed.  
Dec 7, 1936
Jean Mermoz
35 French aviator Over the south Atlantic, off Dakar, Senegal Latecoere 300 ''Croix du Sud'' Tri-engine The last message from the aviator was "we have switched off the rear engine." The plane and crew of four were never found.  
Dec 9, 1936 Juan de la Cierva

Arvid Lindman

Spanish pioneer of rotary flight
Prime Minister of Sweden
Croydon, England KLM
Douglas DC-2
The aircraft crashed into houses while attempting to take off in heavy fog.  All 16 aboard killed.  
Jan 12, 1937 Martin Johnson
52 American explorer and documentary film maker Saugus, California Western Air Express
Boeing 247
Crashed into Stone mountain while attempting to land at Burbank Airport in fog and rain. Pilot error. Descended without knowing his position. Five of 13 aboard killed.  
Mar 22, 1937 Mary Du Caurroy Tribe Russell 71 Dutchess of Bedford Over the North Sea de Havilland Gypsy Disappeared over the North Sea on a solo flight. Her body was never found.  
Jul 2, 1937 Amelia Earhart
39 Aviator. First female aviatior to fly solo across the Atlantic Off Lea, New Guinea Lockheed 10E Electra
Disappeared en route from Lae to Howland Island. Most likely ran out of fuel and ditched into the ocean. Her navigator Fred Noonan also killed. PHOTO
Nov 16, 1937 Grand Duke Ernest Ludwig
Duchess Eleanore
of Hesse
Princess Cecilie


Royalty Ostende, Belgium Sebena
Junkers 52/3m
The airliner crashed into a factory chimney on approach, in fog, after being diverted from Brussels to Ostende. All 11 aboard killed.
Jan 11, 1938 Captain Edwin Musick
44 Pan American's first and chief pilot Pango Pango, U.S. Samoa Pan American Airways
Sikorsky S-42 seaplane
Exploded in mid-air as the crew dumped fuel in preparation for an emergency landing. All 6 aboard killed. PHOTO
Aug 31, 1938 Frank Barnwell

58 British aircraft designer Whitchurch, England Experimental Designed Bristol aircraft. He was a poor pilot and banned from flying any Bristol aircraft. He was killed while test flying his home built plane.  
Sep 6, 1938 John Hindmarsh 31 British race car driver, aviator Near RAF Benson, England Hawker Hurricane I Flew into a hill during a nightime flight.  
Oct 28, 1938 Ramón Franco
42 Spanish aviation pioneer Mallorca, Spain Cantz Z-506/73-1
Crashed killing all aboard, cause unknown.  
Mar 18, 1939 John "Jack" Kylstra

A.G. von Baumhauer

Boeing's chief engineer

Dutch helicopter designer
Adler, Washington Boeing 307Stratoliner
Crashed after the tail broke off of the aircraft.  All 13 aboard killed.  

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