Famous People Who Died in Aviation Accidents
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Date/Time Name / Group Age Notability Accident Location Aircraft Details Notes
Jan 11, 1980
Robert "Bo" Rein
34 Louisiana State University football coach Over the Atlantic Ocean Cessna 441 Conquest
The plane veered off course and flew out over the Atlantic running out of fuel and crashing into the sea.  Cause unknown.  
Mar 14, 1980
Anna Jantar

U.S. Olympic boxing team

Polish singer

Sports team
Near Warsaw, Poland Polskie Linie Lotnicze 
Flight 007
An engine disintegrated after power was applied during a go-around severing the rudder and elevator controls. All 87 aboard were killed including 22 members of the team. PHOTO
Jun 23, 1980 Sanjay Gandhi
34 Son of Indira Gandhi Delhi, India Pitt Special stunt plane Killed while flying a stunt plane that was not properly tested and which he was not familiar with. 2 killed.  
Nov 18, 1980 Krishnan Nair "Jayan" 41 Indian film star Madras, India Helicopter Killed while performing his own stunt jumping from a motorbike to a helicopter.  
Dec 4, 1980 Francisco Sá Carneiro
45 Portuguese prime minister Lisbon, Portugal Cessna 421 A parliamentary inquiry in 1995 concluded the crash was the result of sinister elements.  
May 22, 1981
Boris Sagal
58 American film director. Father of actress Katey Sagal (Married with Children) Near Portland, Oregon Bell 206B
Segal was decapitated, when he accidentally walked into the tail rotor of a helicopter while on location filming a movie. PHOTO
May 24, 1981
Jaime Roldos Aguilera
41 President of Ecuador Guanchanama,
Beech Super King Air 200
Crashed in poor weather.  Rumored to not been an accident but deliberately engineered. All 9 aboard killed.  
Jul 31, 1981
General Omar Torrijos

52 Leader of Panama Coclecito, Panama Panamanian Air Force The plane crashed under suspicious circumstances. Possible sabotage. All 7 aboard killed.  
Oct 5, 1981 Jud Strunk
44 American country western song writer, singer, comedian Carabasset, Maine Fairchild M-62A
WW II vintage open cockpit airplane
The plane, piloted by Strunk, crashed while attempting to take off with full flaps. PHOTO
 Mar 19,1982
Randy Rhoads
25 Lead guitarist for Ozzy Osbourn Leesburg, Florida
Beech Bonanza F35
The plane crashed into a house after a wing clipped Ozzy Osbourne's tour bus. The pilot was fooling around and attempting to to buzz the bus.  All 3 aboard killed including the pilot and Rachel Youngblood, the band's hairdresser. PHOTO
Apr 7, 1982 Harald Ertl
33 Ausralian formula one race car driver Giessen, Germany
Light aircraft He was killed while flying his family to their holiday home in northern Germany. His wife and son survived. 1 killed.  
May 17, 1982 John Felten
48 American singer, sang with the Diamonds Mount Shasta, California
Beech A24R
Crashed into Mt. Shasta en route from Reno, Nevada to Grants Pass, VFR flight into IFR conditions. Oregon. Felten's wife Linda and the pilot were also killed.  
Jul 23, 1982
Vic Morrow 57 American movie actor Valencia, California Bell UH-1B Huey helicopter
The helicopter crashed while filming the movie "Twilight Zone", decapitating Vic Morrow and killing 2 child actors, Myca Dinh Le and Rene Chen. Special effect explosion hit the tail rotor causing the helicpoter to crash. PHOTO
Jul 28, 1982 Keith Green
28 Christian singer and minister Lindale, Texas Cessna 414
Shortly after taking off, the plane nose dived into the ground.  Overloaded by 200 lbs. Green, along with his two children and 9 others aboard killed.  
Nov 23, 1982 Grady Nutt
47 Christian humorist, comedian Vinemont, Alabama Beech 95-B55
The plane crashed while attempting to take off.  All 3 aboard killed.  
Jun 2, 1983
Stan Rogers
33 Canadian folk singer Cincinnati, Ohio Air Canada
Flight 797
Douglas DC-9-32
In-flight lavatory fire of unknown origin. Landed safely but passengers died of flash fire and smoke inhalation. 23 of 46 aboard killed. PHOTO

Jun 27, 1983
Maxie Anderson

Don Ida

American balloonists Bavarian Alps Balloon During a balloon race, explosive bolts misfired, causing the gondola of their helium balloon to plunge to the ground.  
Sep 1, 1983
Lawrence McDonald
  Georgia U.S. Rep. Near Sakhalin Island, Russia Korean Airlines
Flight 007
Boeing 747-230B
Shot down by a Soviet Air Force fighter after the plane drifted into Soviet airspace. Crashed into international waters in the Sea of Japan. All 269 aboard killed.  
Nov 27, 1983
Jorge Ibarguengoita

Angel Rama

Marta Traba

Manuel Scorza




Mexican Movelist

Uruguayan novelist

Argentinean art critic

Peruvian poet
Madrid-Barajas, Spain AVIANCA
Flight 11
Boeing 747-283B
While attempting to land the plane impacted a series of hills. Procedural error by crew. One-hundred-eighty-one of 192 aboard killed.  
Dec 07, 1983
María "Fanny Cano" Damián
39 Mexican actress Madrid, Spain Iberia Airlines
The Boeing 727 struck a DC-9 while taking off in fog, snow and poor visibility. The DC-9 wandered on the runway by accident. Ninety-three of 135 aboard both planes killed. PHOTO
Dec 12, 1983 17:30
Rex Dockery
41 Head coach, Memphis State University Lawrenceberg, Tennessee Pipper
On a dark, rainy night, the plane took a nose dive into the ground while attempting to land. Spatial disorientation. A staff and team member were also killed.  
Feb 11, 1985
Ben Abruzzo
54 American hot air baloonist Albuquerque, New Mexico Cessna 421C
Collided with tops of trees after a baggage door opened, diverting the attention of Abruzzo,who was piloting the plane. All 6 aboard killed including Abruzzo's wife.  
Jul 13, 1985 Claudio Cassinelli 46 Italian film, stage and television actor Page, Arizona Helicopter While filming, he was on a helicopter that crashed into the Navajo Bridge due to pilot error  
Aug 12, 1985
Kyu Sakamoto
43 Japanese singer, actor, Was famous for his hit song “Sukiyaki.” Ueno Village, Japan Japan Air Lines
Flight 123
Boeing 747-SR46
Pressure bulkhead failure, improperly repaired 7 years earlier. Worst single aviation accident. 520 of 524 aboard killed.  Sakamoto was famous for his hit song “Sukiyaki.” PHOTO
Aug 25, 1985
Samantha Smith
13 Famous for writing to Soviet leader Andropov about nuclear war. Auburn, Maine Bar Harbor AL
Flight 1808
Beechcraft 99
Crashed short of runway while landing. Pilot error. All 8 aboard killed.  
Sept 1, 1985 Richie Panch
30 American race car driver Rion, South Carolina Piper PA-28-235-B
Flew into heavy rain and squall line and came apart in mid-air.  Pilot error. Poor judgment and planning.  
Sep 16, 1985 Art Scholl
53 American professional stunt pilot Off Carlsbad, California Aerotec Pitts S-2A
Crashed into the Pacific Ocean while performing an inverted flat spin while filming for the movie "Top Gun." PHOTO
Sep 23, 1985 Larry Shue
39 American playwright Grottoes Grove, Virginia Henson Airlines
Flight 1517
Beechcraft 99
The commuter plane he was flying in hit a 2,400 ft. mountain while attempting to land.  Improper IFR procedure and lack of radio equipment.  
Nov 25, 1985
Iowa State University women's cross-country team
  Sports team Des Moines, Iowa Rockwell International 500-S
The aircraft crashed into tree tops and a power pole while attempting to land. Icing of wings. All 7 aboard including 3 team members and 2 coaches killed. PHOTO
Dec 31, 1985
Ricky Nelson

45 American rock and roll singer De Kalb, Texas Douglas DC-3
Crashed into a field after smoke filled the cockpit and cabin. Possible faulty heater. Nelson's fiancé Helen Blair, soundman Clark Russell and members of his back-up group The Stone Canyon Band, Andy Chapin, Rick Intveld, Bobby Neal, and Patrick Woodward also killed. Both pilots survived.  PHOTO

Jan 14, 1986
Daniel Balavoine

Thierry Sabine


French singer and songwriter
French motorcycle racer
Mali AS 350 Eucreuil
The helicopter crashed into a dune during a sand storm. All 5 aboard killed.  
Jan 28, 1986
Ronald McNair
Ellison Onizuka
Judith Resnik, 36
Michael Smith,
Gregory Jarvis,
Francis Scobee
Sharon Christa McAuliffe

Astronauts aboard the shuttle Callenger Cape Canaveral, Florida Space Shuttle Challenger The craft broke up in flight, 73 seconds after launch, due to damage from an exhaust flame, leaking through a defective O ring in the solid fuel rocket. Six astronauts and civilian teacher, Christa McAuliffe, 37, killed. PHOTO
May 24, 1986
Stephen D. Thorne
33, U.S. astronaut
33 U.S. astronauts Near Santa Fe, Texas Aerotec Pitts S-2A
Thorne was killed when the stunt plane he was a passenger in spun into the ground. Short in electrical system distracted the pilot.   
Jun 4, 1986 Bruce Wayne Talbert
53 Radio station KFI traffic reporter Fullerton, California Cessna 177B
Taking off to report traffic, the plane's engine misfired and the aircraft nosed into the ground. The pilot had an elevated blood alcohol.  
Oct 19, 1986
Samora Machel

52 Mozambique president Lembombo Mts., South Africa Mozambique Air
Tupolev 134A
Crashed in a storm into high ground while trying to land at Maputo. Pilot error. Navigation error. GPWS ignored. Possible pirate signal disoriented pilot. Thirty-four of 43 aboard  killed.
Oct 22, 1986 Jane Dornacker
39 American rock musician, actress, comedian, and KNBC traffic reporter. Manhattan, New York Enstrom F-28F helicopter
While on the air conducting a traffic report, Dornacker's helicopter crashed from a height of 75 feet into a fence and fell into the Hudson River. She died on the way to the hospital. This was her second crash that year.  Maintenance error. The clutch that was installed in the helicopter was a military surplus part which was not intended for use in a civil aircraft.  PHOTO
Nov 25, 1986 Nancy McCormick
26 WKRC traffic reporter Cincinnati, Ohio Bell 206B
The helicopter crashed after the non-instrument rated pilot entered an area of fog and crashed into rising terrain.  
Mar 5, 1987
Don Yenko
59 American race car builder, designer Charleston, West Virginia Cessna 210M
The plane landed hard, bounced, veered off the runway and hit a dirt bank dove into a ravine and crashed. Pilot error. All 4 aboard killed.  
Mar 21, 1987 Dino Martin
35 Son of entertainer Dean Martin Mount San Gorgonio, California F-4C Phantom jet fighter While performing a maximum takeoff climb, the Air National Guard aircraft, entered clouds and crashed into a wall of granite while inverted at a speed of 560 mph. PHOTO
Aug 16, 1987
Nick Vanos
24, basketball player, Phoenix Suns center
24 Basketball player for the Phoenix Suns, center Romulus, Michigan Northwest Airlines
Flight 255
Crashed into underpass shortly after takeoff. Stalled and crashed on takeoff. Slats and flaps not properly set.  All 155 aboard killed except one survivor. PHOTO
Dec 8, 1987 Alianza Lima soccer team   Sports team Near Lima, Peru Fokker F-27
Crashed into the sea after a fly-by to see if landing gear was down.  Forty-two of 43 aboard killed.  
May 29, 1988
Salem bin Laden
42 Brother of Osama bin Laden Near San Antonio, Texas Spirit Ultralight Took off and crashed into high power lines and fell 115 feet to the ground.  
Aug 17, 1988
Arnold Raphel

Mohammed Zia ul-Hag

U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan
President of Pakistan
Near Bahawalpur, Pakistan Pakistan Air Force
Lockheed C-130B
Crashed 10 minutes after taking off from Bahawalpur.  Act of sabotage. Detonation of a low-explosive device. All 30 aboard killed.  
Sep 30, 1988 Al Holbert
41 American race car driver Columbus, Ohio Piper PA-60-601P
Piloted by Hobert, the plane flew in an erratic manner and crashed into terrain shortly after taking off. Clamshell door not closed.  
Nov 14, 1988 Davis Love Jr 53 American professional golfer Jacksonville Florida Private aircraft The private plane crashed while approaching Jacksonville in fog. All 4 aboard killed.  
Dec 21, 1988
Paul Jeffreys
33 English Musician. Bass player with Cockney Rebel Lockerbie, Scotland Pan American
Flight 103
Terrorist bombing.  Jeffreys was killed along with his newlywed wife Rachel. All 259 aboard killed. PHOTO
Jun 7, 1989
Colorful 11
  Dutch soccer team Paramaribo, Suriname Surinam Airways
Flight 764
Hit a tree after 3 landing attempts in fog.  Running out of fuel the crew could not get an ILS signal and ignored GPS warnings. Of the 187 aboard, 176 killed.

Jun 17, 1989 S. David Griggs
49 U.S. astronaut Earle, Arkansas North American AT-6D
Killed when the single-engine stunt plane he was flying crashed Pilot error Improper planning, over confidence.  
Jul 19, 1989
Jay Ramsdell
25 Commissioner of the Continental Basketball Association Sioux City, Iowa United Airlines
Flight 232
Catastrophic failure of the No. 2 engine which lead to loss of all hydraulics. Crash landed while attempting an emergency landing. One hundred-eleven of 298 killed.
Aug 7, 1989
George Thomas "Mickey" Leland
45 Texas U.S. Rep. Near Gambela, Ethiopia
de Havilland Twin Otter
Crashed into a mountain in thunderstorms and poor weather conditions during a refugee relief inspection flight. Pilot flew into an area of bad weather at low altitude and failed to maintain visual contact with the ground. All 16 aboard killed. PHOTO
Aug 13, 1989
Larkin Smith
45 Mississippi U.S. Rep. Janice, Mississippi Cessna 177RG
Spiraled into the ground. Pilot error. His non-instrument rated pilot flew into IFR conditions and lost control in hazy weather conditions.  

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