Famous People Who Died in Aviation Accidents

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Date/Time Name / Group Age Notability Location Aircraft Details  
Aug 31, 1940 Ernest Lundeen
62 Minnesota U.S. Senator Near Lovettsville, Virginia Pennsylvania Central Airlines
Douglas DC-3
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. PHOTO
Sept 7, 2940 José Félix Estigarribia 52 President of Paraguay Agapuey, Paraguay Potez 25 Died along with his wife in a plane crash.  
Jan 5, 1941 Amy Johnson
37 Pioneer female 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
Sir Fredrick Grant Banting
49 Canadian co-discoverer of insulin Near Gander, Newfoundland Lockheed Hudson MK III bomber
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. PHOTO
Feb 26, 1941
William Byron
45 Maryland U.S. Rep. Jonesboro, Georgia
Eastern Airlines
Douglas DC-3
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. PHOTO
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
Carole Lombard
33, movie actress
real name Alice Jane Peters
33 American movie actress married to Clark Gabel. Near Las Vegas, Nevada Trans Con. & Western Airways
Flight 3
Douglas DC-3
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. PHOTO
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
George Edmund
39 Duke of Kent Near Dunbeath, Scotland Short Sunderland
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 American composer and song writer Palm Springs, California Douglas DC-3
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. PHOTO
Jan 15, 1943 Eric Mowbray Knight
46 American 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

Tamara Drasin

American novelist

Actress, singer
Lisbon, Portugal
Boeing 314
Pan Am
Boeing 314
The flying boat was attempting to land when the left wing hit the water. Actress Jane Froman seriously injured.  Twenty-five of 39 aboard killed. PHOTO
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 English movie actor Off the coast of France British Overseas Airways
Douglas DC-3
Shot down by German military aircraft.  All 17 aboard killed. PHOTO
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
Crashed into the Mediterranean Sea shortly after takeoff while on a flight to London.  12 of 13 aboard killed.  
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 23, 1943 John de Havilland Jr. 24 Son of famous aircraft designer John de Havilland Hatfied,
Hertford shire,
de Havilland Mosquito Mark VI Test pilot for the de Havilland aircraft compllany, collided with another plane during a test. 4 killed.  
Aug 31, 1943
Leonard Supulski
23 Football player for the Philidephia Eagles Kearny, Nebraska B-17 Flying Fortress
Killed on a routine Army Air Corps training flight. All 8 aboard killed.. PHOTO
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. PHOTO
Oct 7, 1943 Prince Christoph Ernst of Hesse-Casse
42 Royalty Forli, Itay   Killed in an crash over the Italian Apennine mountains while on active duty.  
Nov 27, 1943 Edward O'Hare 29 American decorated war hero.Namesake of Chicago O'hare Airport Pacific Ocean F6F Hellcat His plane was shot down in combat.  
Apr 12, 1944 Tommy Hitchcock Jr.
44 American 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. PHOTO
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 Jr.
29 Brother of President John F. Kennedy Blythgurgh, England Consolidated PB4Y-1
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. PHOTO
Dec 15, 1944 Glenn Miller
40 American 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. PHOTO
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.  
May 17, 1945 Robert Hutchins
20 "Wheezer" of the Little Rascals Twelve miles NW of Merced Army Air Field, California North American AT-6D-NT
While attemping to land during a training exercise, Hutchins had a midair collision with 42-49068.  
Aug 6, 1945 Maj. Richard Bong
25 American 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.  PHOTO
Jan 26, 1947
Grace Moore

Prince Gustav Adolf

Gerda Neumann


American opera singer
Swedish crown prince

Danish actress
Copenhagen, Denmark KLM
Douglas C-47
Crashed during takeoff. Failure to remove the elevator locking pins during takeoff.  All 22 aboard killed. PHOTO
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 26 Rookie punter for the Chicago Cardinals football team Bryce Canyon, Utah United Airlines
Flight 608
Douglas DC-6
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. PHOTO
May 13, 1948 Kathleen Kennedy Cavendish 28 Sister of President John Kennedy Mount Coron, France Skyways
de Havilland Dove 1
Crashed in a storm.  All 10 aboard killed. PHOTO
Jun 5, 1948 Glen Edwards 30 American test pilot, namesake of Edwars AFB Near Edwards AFB Northrope YB-49 Broke apart in the air near Edwards AFB. All 5 aboard killed.  
Jun 17, 1948
Earl Carroll

Berryl Wallace

U.S. theatrical impresario

American actress, singer, dancer
Mount Carmel, Pennsylvania United Air Lines
Flight 624
Douglas DC-6
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. PHOTO
Nov 8. 1948 Czechoslovak national ice hockey team   Sports team English Channel   Crashed into the English Channel just off of France killing 5 members of the team  
Sep 25, 1948
Joe Lynam
31 Pro wrestler Bend, Oregon Navy surplus aircraft
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 4, 1949
Torino soccer team   Sports team Superga, Italy Avio Linee Italiane
Fiat G212CP
The left wing struck a wall while trying to land in rain, low visibility and thunderstorms. All 31 aboard killed.   PHOTO
Oct 1, 1949
Buddy Clark
38 American singer Los Angeles, California Twin engine Cessna
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. PHOTO
Oct 28, 1949
Marcel Cerdan

Ginette Neveu

French boxing champion
French classical 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. PHOTO
Nov 1, 1949 George Bates

Michael Kennedy

Helen Hokinson



Massachusetts U.S. Rep.

New York U.S. Rep.

American cartoonist for the New Yorker
Arlington, Virginia Eastern Air Lines
Flight 537
Douglas C-54B
Midair collision with a U.S. Air Force P-38 fighter. Fighter pilot survived, tried for causing accident and cleared. All 56 aboard killed.  

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