Famous People Who Died in Aviation Accidents

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Date/Time Name / Group Age Notability Accident Location Aircraft Details Notes
Jan 7,1950 Moscow VVS ice hockey team   Sports team Sverdlovsk, Ukraine   Eleven members of the team were killed.  
Mar 28, 1950 Laurence Steinhart
57 U.S. Ambassador Ramsayville, Ontario, Canada Douglas C-47 Crashed in flames in a snow covered field. Enigne failure. Five peoplle were killed. One crew member parachuted to safety.  
Aug 26, 1951 Bill Barilko
24 Toronto Maple Leafs hockey player Near Cochrane, Ontario, Canada Fairchild 24 Crashed while returning from a fishing trip at James Bay with friend Henry Hudson.  Wreckage found 11 years later on June 6, 1962. PHOTO
Nov 11,1951 Ronald "Mack" Hellings 35 American race car driver Kern County California Piper PA 20 Pacer   PHOTO
Jan 22, 1952 Robert Porter Patterson
60 Secretary of War under President Rosevelt Elizabeth, New Jersey American Airlines
Flight 6780
Convair 240-0
Crashed into an apartment building during the approach. Official cause unknown. Possibly carburetor icing. All 23 aboard killed including 7 on the ground.  
Mar 18, 1953
Richard E. Ellsworth
42 Brigadier General whose namesake is Elsworth AFB Trinity Bay, Newfoundland Convair RB-36H Peacemaker
Flew into a hill while on a training mission from Lajes, Azores to Rapid City, South Dakota, All 23 aboard killed.  
Sep 1, 1953
Jacques Thibaud
72 French violinist Near Barcelonette, France Air France. 
Lockheed 749C Constellation
Flew into Mt. Cemet in the French Alps.  All 42 aboard killed.  PHOTO
Oct 29, 1953
William  Kapell
31 American pianist Near Half Moon Bay, California British Com. 
Flight 304
Pacific AL
Douglas DC-6
Crashed while on approach to SF airport. Pilot error. Crew failed to follow prescribed procedures for a instrument approach. All 19 aboard killed.  PHOTO
Nov 30, 1953 Kimber "Kim"
59 Former governor of Michigan Battle Creek, Michigan Beechcraft Bonanza Crashed into a TV broadcast tower in fog while piloting his plane. All 4 aboard killed.  
Jan 10, 1954
Reginald "Chester" Wilmot 42 Australian broadcaster, correspondent Elba, Italy de Havilland DH106 Comet
Broke up in midair due to a design flaw. All 35 people aboard killed.  
Jan 10, 1954
Thomas E. Braniff
71 Co-founder of Braniff Airways Shreveport, Louisiana Grummand amphibian While on a hunting trip his plane crashed into a house on the shore of Lake Wallace shortly after taking off. Icing. All 12 aboard killed.  
Jun 30, 1954 R.W. Blackwood

Bill Lyles

Members of the Blackwood Brothers Quartet gospel singers Clanton, Alabama Beechcraft 18 During a practice landing the plane aborted the landing, stalled and  dove into the ground. Blackwood who was piloting the plane forgot to re-trim the tabs from landing to takeoff. All 3 aboard killed.  
Jul 1, 1954 John McBride

53 Alabama Crimson Tide halfback Kelly Air Force Base, Texas Army trainer Killed in an ROTC training flight.  
Oct 30, 1954 Wilbur Shaw
52 President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Decatur, Indiana Cessna Crashed into a corn field and broke into pieces. All 3 aboard killed. PHOTO
Dec 25, 1954 Kenneth Davidson 49 English cricketeer Ayrshire, Scottland Boeing B377 Stratocruiser
Pilot landed too steep and flaired too late. Aircraft hit the ground short of the runway. Twenty-eight of 36 aboard killed.  
Jul 31, 1955 Robert Francis
25 American actor Burbank, California Beechcraft Bonanza The plane he was piloting landed and then took off. The engine sputtered and the plane stalled and spun into the ground, bursting into flames. All 3 aboard killed. Appeared in the Caine Mutiny. PHOTO
Sep 20, 1956
Thomas Gastall
23 Baseball catcher for the Baltimore Orioles Riviera Beach, Maryland Aerocoupe The last message received from the plane was Gastall was trying to make an emergency crash landing into Chesapeake Bay.  His body was found 5 days later. PHOTO
Nov 24, 1956
Guido Cantelli
35 Italian orchestra and opera conductor Paris, France Linee Aeree Italiane
Douglas DC-6B
Crashed during takeoff. Cause undetermined.  Thirty-four of 35 aboard killed.  
Nov 27, 1956 Charlie Peete
27 Baseball outfielder for the St Louis Cardinals Cevilla, Venezuela Linea Aeropostal Venezolana
Fight 253
Crashed into a 6,700 ft. mountain while on approach. Peete  was on his way to play winter ball in Venezuela.  All 25 aboard killed. PHOTO
Dec 9, 1956
Gordon Sturtridge,
Mel Becket
Ray Syrnyk
Mario DeMarco
Calvin Jones
  Canadian football pllayers, the Saskatchewan Rough Riders. Chilliwack, British Columbia, Canada Trans Canada Air Lines
Canadair DC-4M-2 Northstar
Flight 810-9

The plane crashed into Mount Slesse after an engine caught fire and the plane experienced severe icing and turbulence. Five members of the Canadian Football League, returning from an all star game, were killed. Wreckage not found until May 10, 1957.  
Jan 31, 1957
Archie Twitchell
50 American test pilot, actor Sunland, California Douglas Aircraft
Doublas DC-7B

Twitchell, a test pilot for Douglas Aircraft, was killed when the plane he was copiloting crashed and burned on it's first test flight after a midair collision with a U.S. Air Force jet fighter. Twitchell was also an accomplished actor. All 5 aboard the plane, 1 of 2 aboard the jet and 3 on the ground were killed. PHOTO
Mar 17, 1957
Ramon Magsaysay
50 President of the Philippines Cebu, Philippines Philippine Air Force
Douglas C-47
Crashed into Mt. Manunggal while on a campaign tour for reelection. All 24 aboard killed.  
Apr 15, 1957
Pedro Infante Cruz
39 Mexican actor, singer Merida, Mexico TAMSA
B-24 Liberator
An engine failed on takeoff, causing the plane to spiral to the ground killing 2 on the ground as well as all occupants on the plane. Infante was co-piloting the plane. All 3 aboard killed. PHOTO
Feb 6, 1958
Donny Davies

Manchester United football team

Journalist, cricketeer

British soccer team

Munich, Germany British European Airways 
Flight 609
Amb. A5-57
Unable to gain altitude, crashed at the end of the runway in a snowstorm. Controversy as to if the cause was ice on the wings or drag from slush on the runway. Twenty-three of 44 aboard  killed. Eight team members killed. PHOTO
Mar 22, 1958
Mike Todd

Art Cohn

American film director and prooducer
American screenwriter
Grants, New Mexico Lockheed Loadstar
The aircraft crashed in an area of fog snow and thunderstorms.  Liz Taylor, his wife, stayed home ill with bronchitis. The plane was named The Lucky Liz. All 4 aboard including Art Cohn, his biographer were killed. PHOTO
Aug 14, 1958
Egyptian fencing team   Sports fencing team North Atlantic Ocean, 100 miles W. of Ireland KLM Flight 607E
Flight 607E
Lockheed Constellation
Six member of the Egyptian fencing team were killed after the aircraft experienced overspeeding of the outer propeller. All 99 aboard killed.   
Feb 3, 1959
c 01:00
Ritchie Valens,17

Buddy Holly, 22

Jiles "the Big Bopper" Richardson


Rock and roll singers Mason City, Iowa Beechcraft Bonanza
Crashed shortly after taking off into poor weather conditions. The pilot was not IFR qualified and flying VFR. Possibly caused by spatial disorientation, unfamiliarity with the attitude indicator or icing. Valens got to go on the flip of a coin leaving Tommy Allsup behind. All 4 aboard killed, including pilot Roger Peterson. PHOTO
Mar 29, 1959
Barthélémy Boganda
49 President of the Central African Republic Near Bangui Central African Republic Atlas flying boxcar The plane exploded in mid-air while on a flight from Berberati to Bangui. Speculation is the plane was shot down. All 9 aboard killed.  
Apr 29, 1959 Joaquin Blume
25 Spanish gymnastics champion Valdemeca, Spain Iberian Airlines
Crashed into the east slopes of Sierra de Valdemeca after being diverted due to poor weather.  All 28 aboard killed.  

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