Famous People Who Died in Aviation Accidents

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Date/Time Person Age Notability Location Aircraft Details Notes
Aug 27, 1990
Stevie Ray Vaughan
35 American singer, songwriter, blues guitarist Elkhorn, Wisconsin
Bell BHT-206B helicopter N16933
Crashed into terrain after taking off in fog. Pilot error. Failure of pilot to attain adequate altitude before flying over rising terrain. All 5 aboard killed. PHOTO
Mar 9, 1991 Jim Hardin
47 Former baseball player for the Baltimore Orioles, pitcher Key West, Florida Beech 35-C33A
Unable to maintain airspeed, stalled and went into a spin following propeller failure due to faulty maintenance procedures. All 3 aboard killed.  
Mar 16, 1991
Reba McEntire band

  American country singing group San Diego, California Hawker Siddeley DH-125-1A/522
Seven members of the Reba McEntire band killed. Hit rising terrain at the top of a mountain after taking off. Pilot error. All 10 aboard killed. PHOTO
Apr 4, 1991 H. John Heinz III
53 Pennsylvania U.S. Senator Merion, Pennsylvania Piper Aerostar 601/
Bell 412SP
While inspecting the nose gear of the Piper, helicopter blades struck the underside of the plane. All 5 aboard both planes killed. Two children in a school yard also killed.  PHOTO

Apr 5, 1991

John Tower

Manley "Sonny" Carter Jr.



Texas Senator

U.S. astronaut

Brunswick, Georgia Atlantic Southeast Airlines
Flight 2311
Embraer 120RT N270AS 
While on approach the aircraft rolled left and crashed in a nose down attitude. Malfunction of the left engine propeller control unit. All 23 aboard killed. PHOTO

Jul 31, 1991

Al Loquasto
48 Italian-American racecar driver Fogelsville, Pennsylvania Piper PA28-236
The wings of the plane separated from the fuselage after the VFR rated pilot, Loquasto, flew into a violent thunderstorm.  
Oct 25, 1991
Bill Graham
60 American rock promoter Vallejo, California Bell 206B helicopter
The helicopter struck a transmission tower and exploded shortly after taking off into high winds and rain.  Pilot error. Graham, companion Melissa Gold and pilot Steve Kahn killed. PHOTO
Apr 1, 1993
Alan Kulwicki
39 American race car driver Blountville, Tennessee Fairchild SA227-TT
The Hooters restaurant private plane crashed while attempting to land. Pilot error. Failure of pilot to follow anti-icing procedures. All 4 aboard killed.  
Apr 19, 1993
George Mickelson
52 South Dakota Governor Zwingle, Iowa
Mitsubishi MU-2B-60
Crashed into silo. Fracture of the propeller hub resulted in separation of the propeller blade and damage to the engine, leading to loss of control.  All 8 aboard killed. PHOTO
Apr 27, 1993 Zambian national soccer team   Sports teem Off Libreville, Gabon Zambia Air Force
de Havilland Buffalo
Crashed into the sea after an engine fire. All 30 aboard killed including 18 members of the team.  
Jul 12, 1993
David "Davey" Allison
30 American race car driver Talladega, Alabama Hughes 369HS helicopter 
The helicopter piloted by Allison, crashed while attempting  to land in the infield of Talladega Speedway.  Pilot's failure to properly compensate for the tailwind condition, coupled with the pilot's lack of experience in the airframe.   
Aug 3, 1993
Dr. Alwyn Gentry

Theodore Parker III

American botanist

American ornithologist
Near Guayaquii, Ecuador Private plane The aircraft crashed into a cloud covered mountain peak while performing an aerial reconnaissance survey for Conservation International. Four of 7 aboard killed.  
Dec 15, 1993
Rich Snyder
41 President of the In-N-Out Hamburger chain Santa Ana, California Charter plane
Israel Aircraft Industries 1124A
The aircraft followed in a Boeing 757 for landing, became caught in its wake turbulence, rolled into a deep descent and crashed. All 5 onboard killed.  
Mar 23, 1994 Robert Richards
38 KSDK TV weatherman Chesterfield, Missouri Piper PA-23-180
Committed suicide by taking off and deliberately diving the plane vertically into the ground.  He was despondent over news media accounts of an extra marital affair and attempted suicide twice prior to the suicide.  
Apr 3, 1994 Frank Wells

Beverly Johnson


President of Disney

pioneering rock climber and adventurer, documentary film maker
Lamoille, Nevada Bell 206-B2 helicopter
The accident occurred while on a skiing trip. The helicopter lost engine power while attempting to take off crashing in the Ruby Mountains.  Snow accumulation in the engine while on the ground resulting in a flameout.  Four of 5 aboard killed.  
Apr 6, 1994 Cyprien Ntaryamira

Juvenal Habyarimana

President of Burundi

President of Rwanda
Kigali, Rwanda Dassault Facon 50
Shot down by a missile while on approach to Kigali airport.  
Sep 18, 1994 Omalie Aimuanmwosari
  Nigerian soccer player Tamanrasset, Algeria Oriental Airlines
BAC One-Eleven 
After circling for almost an hour and a half and aborting four landing attempts in adverse weather conditions, the aircraft ran out of fuel and crashed.  Five of 39 aboard killed.  
Oct 25, 1994 Lt. Kara Hultgren
29 First American female fighter pilot Off San Diego, California F-14 Tomcat Killed while attempting to land her fighter jet on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln.  
Dec 13, 1994 Bryan Kerchalt
23 Bass Masters Classic winner Morrisville, North Carolina American Eagle
Jetstream 3201
After a suspected engine flameout the pilot attempted a go-around, stalled the plane and crashed.  Pilot error.  Fifteen of 20 aboard killed. PHOTO
Jan 4, 1995 Eduardo Mata
52 Mexican conductor and composer Cuernavaca, Mexico Piper Aerostar Piloted by Mata, the small plane crashed shortly after taking off from Cuernavaca Airport after an engine failed.  
Mar 14, 1995
Silvio Oltra

37 Argentine race car driver San Nicholas, Argentina Bell 206-B3 Helicopter
Struck power lines while taking off.  Menem was piloting the helicopter.  
Apr 27, 1995 Sylvester J. "Steve" Wittman 91 American aircraft designer and racer Stevenson, Alabama Wittman O&O
Crashed after aileron wing flutter caused Wittman to lose control of the aircraft. The flutter was caused by the separation of fabric on the wing as a result of improper installation. Wittman and his wife both killed.  
Mar 2, 1996 Mamonas Assassinas
  Brazilian rock group São Paulo, Brazil Learjet 25
All eight aboard, including five members of the band were killed.  
Mar 22, 1996
Robert Overmyer
59 U.S. astronaut Duluth, Minnesota Cirrus VK30 experimental
Lost control, rolled inverted and crashed while flying a small test plane for Cirrus Design Corp. He was not able to free himself in time to use his parachute.  
Apr 3, 1996
Ron Brown
55 U.S. Secretary of Commerce Near Dubrovnik, Croatia Boeing 737-T43
Strayed off course and hit a hill 16 kms SE of Dubrovnik in poor weather. Crew used unapproved approach procedure. All 35 aboard killed. PHOTO
Apr 11, 1996
Jessica Dubroff
7 Trainee pilot attempting to cross the United States Cheyenne, Wyoming Cessna 177B Cardinal
Stalled after taking off into a thunderstorm and deteriorating weather. Engaged in transcontinental record. Overloaded. Pilot error. The training pilot and father of Dubroff killed. PHOTO
Apr 16, 1996 Charlie Hillard
62 American aerobatic champion Lakeland, Florida Hawker Siddeley FB-60
Veered off the runway and nosed over while attempting to land in a crosswind.  Pilot's improper use of brakes and ailerons while landing in crosswind. 1 killed.  
Apr 18, 1996
Brook Berringer
22 University of Nebraska quarterback Raymond, Nebraska Piper J3C-65 Cub
Crashed into an alfalfa field.  Loss of engine power due to fuel starvation due to a partially closed fuel lever.  Pilot error. Berringer was piloting the plane. PHOTO
May 11, 1996
Walter Hyatt

Rodney Culver

American singer, songwriter
Football player. San Diego Chargers running back
Near Miami, Florida ValuJet
Flight 592
An in-flight fire caused by illegally transported oxygen generators lacking safety caps caused an uncontrollable fire and loss of control of the aircraft. The plane crashed into a swamp in the Everglades.   All 110 aboard killed.

Jun 19, 1996 Hellevi Rombin 62 Beauty queen. Miss Universe 1955 Los Angeles, California Beechcraft MusketeerC-23 Engine failure caused by improper maintenance  
Jul 15, 1996 Royal Netherlands Army Fanfare   Netherlands army band Eindhoven, Netherlands Lockheed C-130 Hercules Ingested birds during the approach to land. Twenty-three out of 37 band members killed.  
Jul 17, 1996
Marcel Dadi

Sylvain Delange

Rico Puhlmann


French country and western guitarist
French artist

Off East Moriches, New York Trans World AL
Flight 800
Boeing 747-131
N93119  cn:20083
An explosion in the center fuel tank of the aircraft caused the plane to break-up in mid-air and crash into the Atlantic Ocean. All 230 aboard killed.
Nov 23, 1996
Mohamed "Mo" Amin
53 Famous Kenyan photographer Off Moroni, Comoros Ethiopian Airlines
Flight 961
Boeing B-767
Three drunken hijackers caused the plane to run out of fuel and crash 500 yards off shore. One-hundred -twenty-seven of 175 people aboard were killed.  
Mar 2, 1997 Lars Bergstrom
67 Swedish sailboat, sailplane designer Near Sarasota, Florida Windex 1200
Home-built experimental motorized sailplane
Bergstrom was killed while he was performing stall tests in preparation for an air show. 
Jun 6, 1997 Jeffrey Ethell
49 American aviation author Tillamook, Oregon P-38
Ethell, who was piloting the plane failed to maintain minimum control speed after loss of power in one engine, which resulted in a loss of aircraft control and collision with terrain.  
Aug 10, 1997
Marie-Soleil Tougas

Jean-Claude Lauzon

French Canadian movie actress
French Canadian film director
Near Kuujjuaqn, Quebec Canada Cessna 180K
Flew into a mountainside in strong winds and rain while returning from a fishing trip. Cause unknown.  PHOTO
Oct 12, 1997
John Denver

53 American singer, songwriter Monterey Bay near Pacific Grove, California Rutan Long EZ experimental
Piloted by Denver. Lost control and went into a dive while reaching behind to turn a fuel  transfer switch. PHOTO

Jan 9, 1998
Richard Graff
61 Winemaker, co- founder of Chalone Wine Group Salinas, California Cessna 182P
Crashed while attempting to make an emergency landing at Salinas Airport after loosing engine power.  Loss of power was due to a missing valve keep (maintenance error).  
Sep 2, 1998
Jonathan Mann

Joseph LaMotta

AIDS esearcher

Noted chef, son of boxing champ Jake LaMotta.
Off Peggy's Cove, Nova Scotia Swissair
Flight 111
Crashed into the Atlantic after the crew reported smoke in the cockpit and cabin. A major fire broke out near the cockpit.  All 229 aboard killed. 
Nov 21, 1998
William Gardner Knight 
56 American movie actor Edgewater, Maryland Burgess RV-6
The plane, piloted by Knight, failed to clear trees while attempting to land in the dark and crashed into Beard's Creek. 1 killed. PHOTO

Dec 20, 1998
Phil Stubbs
36 New Zealand ocean rowing champion Auckland, New Zealand Piper PA-18
Piloted by Stubbs, the plane took off, turned to the right and nose-dived into Karekare Beach. PHOTO
Apr 2, 1999 Michael Bell
33 New Zealand boxer Tuatapere, New Zealand South West Helicopters
Aerospatiale AS 350B
Flew into trees in Rowallan forest, while en route on a hunting trip from Clifden to Fiordland. Possible pilot incapacitation. All 5 aboard killed.  
May 19, 1999
Juergen Staudte
61 Inventor of the quartz crystal for digital watches Near Tucumcari, New Mexico Piper PA-23E-250
After losing power in one engine during takeoff, the pilot attempted to return to land. When it was discovered the gear was not down a go-around was initiated.  Soon after, the plane entered a left bank, stalled and crashed to the ground.  

Jul 16,1999

John F. Kennedy Jr.
38 American lawyer, journalist, magazine publisher and son of President Kennedy Off Martha's Vineyard,
Piper Saratoga II 
Piloted by Kennedy, the aircraft went out of control and spiraled into into the Atlantic Ocean SW of Martha's Vineyard. Kennedy, not IFR qualified, lost reference with the ground.  His wife and sister-in-law also killed. VFR flight into IFR conditions. All 3 aboard killed. PHOTO
Sep 18, 1999
Gary Levitz
61 Air racer, furniture executive. Levitz furniture heir Reno, Nevada P-51R experimental
Crashed during the Reno National Championship Air Races after his plane suffered structural failure.  
Sep 25, 1999 Stephen Canaday
49 Songwriter. Former member of singing group Ozark Mountain Daredevils Nashville, Tennessee North American
The vintage WW II plane he was riding in, rolled inverted and crashed into a tree. The pilot failed to maintain speed which resulted in a stall. Impairment of the pilot due to the use of drugs.  
Sep 25, 1999
Mark Hanna
40 British preserver of vintage aircraft Sabadell, Spain Hispano Buchon Hanna was part of a large flying display when his plane crashed and burst into flames while attempting to land.  Hanna died of his injuries a day later.  
Oct 25, 1999
Payne Stewart
42 American pro golfer Aberdeen, South Dakota Gates Learjet 35
The aircraft flew out of control on autopilot for 1,500 miles before crashing in a field . Pressurization failure. All six aboard killed. PHOTO
Oct 31, 1999
Claude Masson
58 Canadian journalist Off Nantucket Island, Massachusetts EgyptAir
Flight 990
Boeing 767
After attaining an altitude of 33,000 ft. the aircraft made several dives before breaking apart and crashing into the Atlantic Ocean. All 217 aboard killed.
 Dec 12, 1999
Peter La Haye Sr.
59 Inventor of implant lenses for cataract patients Gouldsboro, Pennsylvania Westwind 24 turbojet
The aircraft impacted trees and crashed into woods while attempting to land.  The accident was caused by improper assembly of the horizontal stabilizer trim actuator unit by maintenance personnel.  All 3 aboard killed.  

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