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Air Crash

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1785 Jun 15
Two Frenchmen attempting to cross the English Channel in a hot-air balloon were killed when their balloon caught fire and crashed, in possibly the first fatal aviation accident.
Links: France, Air Crash, Balloon     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1912 Jul 1
Drama critic Harriet Quimby (b.1875) took a passenger up in her new Blériot monoplane from Boston to fly over Dorchester Bay at the Harvard-Boston Aviation Meet. As she descended for landing, the plane went into a dive and, without seat belts, she and her passenger were thrown out into the shallow water of the bay, where they struck the muddy bottom and were crushed to death. Quimby was the first American to receive a pilot's license (1911) and was the first woman to solo across the English Channel (1912). Her interest in flight was piqued at an aviation meet in 1910.
Links: USA, Air Crash, Massachusetts, Women, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1927 Apr 26
US Navy officers Cmdr. Noel Davis and Lt. Stanton Wooster were killed when their aircraft crashed near New York while trying to take off with a huge load of fuel for a final test flight prior to an attempt to cross the Atlantic.
Links: USA, Air Crash, New York, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1927 May 8
French pilots Charles Nungesser and Francois Coli took off from Paris in their airplane named L’Oiseau Blanc (the White Bird), in an attempt to cross the Atlantic. Pilots and plane vanished during the flight.
Links: France, Air Crash, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1928 May 24
The dirigible Italia crashed while attempting to reach Spitzbergen. Nine men survived the initial crash. In 2000 Wilbur Cross authored "Disaster at the Pole," a revised edition of the 1960 version of the disaster led by Italian aviator Umberto Nobile. The Russian film "Krasnaya palatka" (1969), starring Sean Connery, detailed the Nobile expedition and attempted rescue. This movie was released in North America under the title "The Red Tent."
Links: Arctic, Italy, Russia, Air Crash, Film     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1931 May 14
Denys Finch-Hatton, British adventurer and lover to writer Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen), died when his plane crashed shortly after take-off from Kenya’s Voi airport. In 2007 Sara Wheeler authored “Too Close to the Sun: The Audacious Life and Times of Denys Finch Hatton.”
Links: Britain, Air Crash, Kenya     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1935 Oct 30
The US Army Air Corps held a competition to see which company would build the country’s next-generation of long-range bombers. Boeing’s “flying fortress” crashed shortly after takeoff and Martin and Douglas won by default.
Links: USA, Air Crash, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1937 May 6
At 7:25 p.m. the giant German airship (dirigible or zeppelin) Hindenburg burst into flames and crashed to the ground as it attempted to dock with a mooring mast at Lakehurst Naval Air Station in New Jersey. Carrying 36 passengers and 61 crew, Hindenburg left Frankfurt on May 4 for its first transatlantic voyage of the 1937 season. A total of 36 died when the fire ignited the 16 hydrogen-filled cells and destroyed the zeppelin in only 34 seconds. This included 13 passengers, 22 crew members and one of the ground crew. The airship was 803 feet long and had private rooms for 50 passengers. It had an 11,000 mile range. A newsreel film of the Hindenburg Disaster was made. The true cause of the disaster remains a mystery, although crash investigators considered claims that Hindenburg was lost due to sabotage or an accidental charge of static electricity.
Links: USA, Germany, Air Crash, New Jersey, Tragedy     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1942 Oct 23
Ralph Rainger (41), pianist and song writer, was among 12 people killed when their DC-3 crashed after being clipped by a B-34 bomber flown by Army Lt. William Wilson, who had wanted to thumb his nose at Louis Reppert, a flight school buddy and co-pilot of the DC-3. An Army court-martial panel later exonerated Wilson, who had been charged with manslaughter. Rainger’s songs included “Love in Bloom” and “Thanks for the Memories,” which Bing Crosby made a hit in 1934.
Links: USA, Air Crash, Pop&Rock     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1942 Nov 2
An amphibious PBY-5A aircraft foundered in rough weather, in the waters surrounding what is now the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve in the eastern Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The plane was based at Presqu'Ile, Maine, in the US, and serviced an airfield in the village of Longue-Pointe-de-Mingan, Quebec. Four of the crew escaped the flooding plane and were rescued by local fishermen rowing out from shore in open boats in rough seas. Five others perished, trapped inside. In 1941 and 1942, the US had constructed a series of airfields in Eastern Canada to ferry aircraft to Allied air forces in Northern Europe, as part of the so-called "Crimson Route." Wreckage of the downed plane was found in 2009. In 2012 remains of the other crew members were recovered.
Links: Canada, USA, Air Crash, Maine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1942 Nov 18
An AT-7 Beechcraft military training plane crashed in the Mendel Glacier in California’s Kings Canyon National Park. The 4-member training flight left Mather Field in Sacramento, Ca., and was never heard from again. On Sep 24, 1947, a hiker discovered wreckage of the plane on a glacier in Kings Canyon. On Oct 16, 2005, a climber on the Mendel Glacier discovered a body believed to be one of the crew members. He was later identified as Leo M. Mustonen (22) of Brainerd, Minn. The others were John M. Mortenson (25) of Moscow, Idaho, William R. Gamber (23) of Fayette, Ohio, and Ernest G. Munn of St. Clairsville, Ohio. A 2nd body was found under receding snow in 2007 and was identified Ernest G. Munn.
Links: USA, California, Air Crash, Ohio, Minnesota, Idaho     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1943 Jul 4
A Liberator II aircraft carrying Gen. Wladyslaw Sikorski, Poland’s prime minister and chief army commander, crashed into the sea just 16 seconds after taking off from Gibraltar. In 2008 Poland began an investigation into the crash.
Links: Poland, Air Crash, Gibraltar     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1943
A Vultee BT-13 Valiant disappeared on a flight from San Antonio, Texas, to Chile. Pilot Werner Martinez and Sgt. Tomas Ayala were on ill-fated flight, which crashed in Costa Rica. In 2008 police were led to the crash site after an anonymous caller reported seeing a local resident carrying plane parts in the town of San Isidro de El Guarco.
Links: Costa Rica, Chile, Air Crash     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1944 Mar 24
British Major Orde Wingate (b.1903) died along with nine others in an air crash in northeast India. He was flying in the USAAF B-25H-1-NA Mitchell bomber, 43-4242, of the 1st Air Commando Group. He is known for creating special military units in Palestine in the 1930s, and in Abyssinia, Sudan and Burma during World War II.
Links: Britain, USA, India, Air Crash     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1944 Nov 30
A US Navy reconnaissance plane crashed into the south face of Mount Tamalpais, in Marin County, Ca. 8 Navy fliers were killed.
Links: USA, Air Crash, SF Bay Area     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
1945 Mar 14
Sgt. 1st Class Marvin Steinford, a native of Iowa, was part of a 10-man crew of a B-17 bomber which was hit, while returning to its base in Italy from a mission over Hungary. In 2004 his remains were found in a grave in the town on Zirc in western Hungary, where he had been buried with 26 Soviet soldiers. In 2009 his remains were returned to the US.
Links: USA, Hungary, Air Crash, Iowa, WWII     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1945 May 28
In California the engine of Helldiver aircraft from an aircraft carrier failed and the pilot ditched the plane in a San Diego reservoir. The pilot and gunner swam to shore. In 2009 fisherman spotted the plane and set in process plans to retrieve the plane.
Links: USA, California, Air Crash     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1946 Jul 7
William Durkin (1916-2006) rescued Howard Hughes (1905-1976) from the fiery wreckage of an XF-11 reconnaissance plane that Hughes was testing over Beverly Hills.
Links: USA, Air Crash, Aviation     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1946 Nov
A US Air Force Douglas C-53 Skytrooper carrying four crew members and eight passengers crashed on the Swiss Gauli Glacier. A rescue mission used an aircraft for the first time to land on the glacier and led to the creation of Switzerland's air rescue services. There were some injuries but no fatalities.
Links: USA, Switzerland, Air Crash     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1948 Jan 28
A plane chartered by US Immigration Services left Oakland, Ca., carrying 32 people, including 28 Mexicans. Many were part of the bracero program and had finished their government-sponsored work contracts. 20 miles west of Coalinga an engine exploded, a wing broke off and more than 100 witnesses watched bodies and luggage thrown from the fireball. There were no survivors.
Links: California, Air Crash, Mexico, Migrant     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1948 Mar 12
In Alaska 24 merchant marines and six crewmen were flying from China to New York City, when their DC-4 slammed into Mount Sanford killing all 30. Pilots Kevin McGregor and Marc Millican discovered some mummified remains in 1999 while recovering artifacts to identify the wreckage they had found two years earlier.
Links: USA, Air Crash, Alaska, DNA     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1950 Feb 13
A US Air Force B-36 crashed near the coast of northern British Columbia during a simulated nuclear attack on San Francisco. 12 of 17 men on board survived. A Mark 4 bomb, which lacked a plutonium core needed for a nuclear blast, was dropped over the ocean before the plane crashed.
Links: Canada, USA, Air Crash, Nuclear, Air Force     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1950 Jun 23
Northwest Airlines Flight 2501, a DC-4 propliner operating its daily transcontinental service between New York City and Seattle, crashed into Lake Michigan killing 58 people. This was to date the worst commercial airliner accident in American history.
Links: USA, Air Crash, NYC, Michigan, Tragedy     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1950 Nov 5
A US bomber caught fire and crashed while flying over China’s southern Guangdong province. Its mission was not known. Records and eyewitness accounts indicated that four bodies were buried at the crash site, while the fate of the other 11 on board wasn't clear.
Links: USA, China, Air Crash     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1952 Nov 22
A US military plane crashed near Anchorage, Alaska. All 52 crew members were believed killed. Wreckage was spotted on a melting glacier in 2012. By 2014 the remains of 17 were recovered and identified. The remains of 35 others were not yet recovered.
Links: USA, Air Crash, Alaska     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1953 Oct 29
A British airliner with 11 passengers and 8 crew crashed into Kings Mountain, 10 miles west of Redwood City, Ca., and all aboard were killed. William Kapell (b.1922), genius pianist, died in the crash. He was returning from a tour in Australia when his airplane crashed into a mountain outside San Francisco. A set of his 1944-1953 recordings was released in 1998 by RCA. In 1999 BMG released "The William Kapell Edition," a nine-disk set.
Links: Britain, Air Crash, SF Bay Area, Piano, Classical Music     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1955 Oct 6
A United Airlines plane bound for SF crashed in Wyoming killing 66 people. It was the worst commercial airline crash to date in US history.
Links: USA, Air Crash, Wyoming     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1955 Oct 13
A US Air Force B-47B crashed while taking off from March Air Base in California. Capt. Edward A. O'Brien Jr. (Pilot), Capt. David J. Clare (co-pilot), Major Thomas F. Mulligan (navigator), and Capt. Joseph M. Graeber (chaplain) were all killed.
Links: USA, California, Air Crash     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1955 Oct 14
In SF, Ca., a US Navy attack bomber crashed on the eastern shore of Yerba Buena Island. Pilot Gilbert David Reeve died in the wreck.
Links: USA, Air Crash, SF Bay Area     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1955 Oct 15
Richard Martin Theiler (28) was in the front seat of the Lockheed-Martin T-33A that went missing just after takeoff from the Los Angeles International Airport. In 2009 aviation archaeologist G. Pat Macha and a group of volunteers found the plane underneath 100 feet of water.
Links: USA, California, Air Crash     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1956 Jun 30
A United DC-7 and a TWA Lockheed Constellation collided during a thunderstorm over the Grand Canyon (Arizona) killing all 128 people.
Links: USA, Air Crash, Arizona     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1956 Oct 15
Pan Am Flight 943, enroute to Hawaii from San Francisco crash landed in the ocean. All 31 aboard were rescued by the Coast Guard cutter Pontchartrain.
Links: USA, Air Crash     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1957 Mar 17
In the Philippines a plane crash on Mt. Manunggal in Cebu killed Pres. Ramon Magsaysay (b.1907). 25 of the 26 passengers and crew aboard were killed.
Links: Philippines, Air Crash     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1958 Feb 6
A British European Airways plane crashed in Munich. Among the 21 dead were 7 players of the Manchester United football team.
Links: Britain, Germany, Air Crash     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1958 Aug 14
KLM Flight 607-E, a Lockheed Super Constellation, crashed west of Ireland, killing 99.
Links: Netherlands, Air Crash, Ireland, Tragedy     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
1958 Oct 4
In Minnesota a single engine military Cessna L-19 crashed into Green Lake and took the life of Captain Richard P. Carey, 36, who was returning to the Willmar airfield from Rochester. The pane was recovered in 2005.
Links: Air Crash, Minnesota     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1960 Mar 21
Capt. John Eaheart (32), a US Marine Corps Reserve pilot, crashed in his F9F Cougar fighter jet and disappeared into Flathead Lake, Wyoming, near the home of his fiancée’s parents. His remains were found in 2006.
Links: USA, Air Crash, Montana     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1960 Dec 16
A United Air Lines DC-8 and a TWA Super Constellation collided over Staten Island, New York City. 134 people were killed including 128 people on both planes.
Links: USA, Air Crash, NYC     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1961 Jan 24
A B-52 carrying two nuclear bombs near Goldsboro, North Carolina encountered a violent gust. The giant plane rolled completely over, came upright, and continued rolling inverted a second time before whipping into a vicious flat spin and breaking up. An apocalyptic explosion was stopped only by a tiny last-ditch, low-voltage switch.
Links: USA, Air Crash, North Carolina, Nuclear     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1961 Sep 1
TWA Flight 529, a Lockheed Constellation L-049 propliner, crashed shortly after takeoff from Midway Airport in Chicago, killing all 73 passengers and 5 crew on board; it was at the time the deadliest single plane disaster in US history.
Links: USA, Air Crash, Chicago, Tragedy     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1961 Sep 18
Dag Hammarskjold, Secretary-General of the UN, was killed in a plane crash in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia). He was flying to negotiate a cease-fire in the Congo. Hammarskjold was the son of a former Swedish prime minister. In 1953, he was elected to the top UN post and in 1957 was reelected. During his second term, he initiated and directed the United Nation's vigorous role in the Belgian Congo. Hammarskjold had sent Conor O’Brien (1919-2008), an Irish diplomat, to the Congo where a rebellion was openly being backed by Belgium and secretly by Britain and France. O’Brien ordered in UN troops, but the mission ended in disarray and the UN repudiated the mission. O’Brien recounted his version of the events in his book “To Katanga and Back” (1962).
Links: UN, Air Crash, Sweden, Zambia, CongoDRC, Books     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1961 Nov 8
Imperial Airlines Flight 201/8, a Lockheed Constellation L-049 four-engine propliner, aircraft crashed as it attempted to land at Byrd Field, near Richmond, Va. It was chartered by the US Army to transport new recruits to Columbia, South Carolina, for training.
Links: USA, Air Crash, Virginia, Tragedy     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1962 Mar 15
A US Lockheed Super H Constellation disappeared above the Pacific Ocean and 107 people were killed. The aircraft was transporting 93 Army men and 3 South Vietnamese from Travis Air Force Base, California to Saigon, Vietnam. It was en route to Clark Air Base in the Philippines when it disappeared.
Links: USA, Air Crash     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1962 Aug 23
A Colombian DC-3 plane crashed in the Choco jungle killing over 30 people including two Americans, the first Peace Corps volunteers to die in service.
Links: Colombia, USA, Air Crash     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1963 Jan 24
In Maine a B-52 bomber encountered turbulence strong enough to snap off the vertical stabilizer, causing it to crash onto the side of Elephant Mountain. Seven crew members died. Gerald Adler survived along with the pilot, Lt. Col. Dan Bulli, after spending 20 hours on the mountainside.
Links: USA, Air Crash, Maine     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1964 May 7
A disturbed man entered the cockpit of a Pacific Airlines flight and killed pilot Ernie Clark (52). All 44 people aboard the Fairchild F-27A died as the plane crashed in San Ramon, Ca.
Links: USA, Air Crash, Murder, SF Bay Area, Mad Man     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1966 Jan 24
The Kangchenjunga, a Boeing 707 flying from Mumbai (Bombay) to New York, crashed on the southwest face of Mont Blanc, France, as it descended towards a scheduled stopover in Geneva, Switzerland. All 117 people on board died.
Links: France, Air Crash     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1966 Jul 24
Oakland-born golfer Tony Lema (32), while flying with his wife Betty to an exhibition match in Chicago, Illinois, crashed on the seventh hole of a golf course in Lansing, Illinois, after their chartered twin-engine Beechcraft Bonanza ran out of fuel. All four people on board were killed.
Links: USA, Air Crash, Illinois, SF Bay Area, Golf     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1967 Sep 3
Muhammad Bin Laden (b.1908), a Yemeni immigrant to Saudi Arabia, died in a plane crash. He made a fortune in the construction business and left King Faisal in charge of some 55 of his children.
Links: Air Crash, Saudi Arabia     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1968 Jan 21
An American B-52 bomber carrying four hydrogen bombs crashed at North Star Bay, Greenland, killing one crew member and scattering radioactive material. Reports began to surface later and in 1995 the Danish government paid a $15.5 million settlement to some 1,700 exposed workers.
Links: USA, Air Crash, Denmark, Nuclear, Greenland     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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1968 Feb
An Indian army transport aircraft crashed on the Dhakka glacier in Himachal Pradesh state. 102 people were killed. Trekkers stumbled upon its wreckage in 2003 after finding the partially frozen body of a soldier on the glacier.
Links: India, Air Crash     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1968 Aug 10
In West Virginia 35 people were killed in the crash of a Piedmont Airlines Fairchild FH-227 at Kanawha County Airport.
Links: USA, Air Crash, West Virginia     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1968 Sep 19
Marine Capt. Robert A. Holt and Capt. John A. Lavoo were killed when their F-4B Phantom jet crashed during combat a mission over Quang Binh Province. Their remains were identified and returned to the US in 1999.
Links: USA, Vietnam, Air Crash     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1969 Feb 11
A Lockheed SP2E Neptune crashed in the Santa Ana Mountains of Orange County, Ca., while on night training. 7 seamen were killed.
Links: USA, California, Air Crash     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1969 Apr 27
Gen. Rene Barrientos (b.1919), military president of Bolivia, died in a helicopter crash.
Links: Bolivia, Air Crash     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
1969 Aug 31
Boxer Rocky Marciano died in a light airplane crash in Iowa, the day before his 46th birthday.
Links: USA, Air Crash, Boxing, Iowa     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1969 Sep 9
Allegheny Flight 853 collided with Piper Cherokee above Indiana. 82 were killed.
Links: USA, Indonesia, Air Crash     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1970 Feb 15
A Dominican DC-9 crashed into sea at Santo Domingo and 102 people were killed.
Links: Air Crash, Dominican Rep.     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1970 Feb 21
The PFLP-GC, a Palestinian terrorist group, planted a parcel bomb on Swissair Flight 330 that blew up on a flight from Zurich to Tel Aviv. All 47 aboard were killed.
Links: Switzerland, Air Crash, Israel     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
 
1970 Jul 3
A British Dan-Air charter, flying a Comet 4 turbojet, crashed near Barcelona and 112 were killed.
Links: Spain, Britain, Air Crash     Click to see the source(s) for this event 
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