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by John Kremer

Hot Times, Cool Places

Celebrities Air Deaths: August

August 1, 1938: British aircraft designer Frank Barnwell was killed in a plane crash while testing an airplane of his own personal design at the Bristol Civil Airport in England. Barnwell had designed the Bristol Scout (1914), Bristol Fighter (1916), and many other airplanes for the Bristol Aeroplane Company. His three sons all died while flying in World War II. His brother Harold was also killed while flying in 1917.

August 1, 1943: Medal of Honor winner Lloyd Hughes (22), an American B-24 bomber pilot, attacked enemy oil refineries in Romania even though his plane was severely damaged by anti-aircraft fire and leaking gasoline. Only after completing his bomb run did he attempt to land but it was too late: his plane exploded on landing.

August 1, 1977: Francis Gary Powers (48), the American pilot of a U2 spy plane shot down over the Soviet Union in 1960, and his cameraman were killed when his Bell 206 Jetranger helicopter crashed in Balboa Park on the way back from covering a brush fire. At the time, he was a helicopter pilot for KNBC television in Los Angeles, California.

August 2, 1920: Actor Ormer Locklear (28) died in a plane crash during the filming of The Skywayman at the De Mille Airfield in Los Angeles, California. During night filming, Ormer took the plane into a dive but because the crew forgot to cut the lights before he got down to the oil rigs around the airfield he wasn't able to see in the dark in time to pull out of the dive.

August 2, 1947: British envoy Paul Simpson (44) along with all others aboard died when their Avro Lancaster plane crashed on a glacier on 17,600 foot Tupungato mountain in the Andes. The plane, operated by British South American Airways, had been on its way from London to Santiago, Chile.

August 2, 1979: Thurman Munson (32), New York Yankees catcher, died when his Cessna 501 Citation jet crashed short of the runway in Canton, Ohio while he was practicing takeoffs and landings. His two passengers survived the crash.

August 2, 1985: Philip “Don” Estridge and his wife Mary Ann were among 137 people who were killed when a Delta Air Lines Lockheed L-1011 jumbo jet crash-landed as a result of wind shear at the Dallas, Texas airport. 27 people, however, survived the crash. Estridge headed up the skunk works that launched the IBM-PC in 1981. He was responsible for deciding that the PC would be made from off-the-shelf parts and that the design specifications would be made public, thus paving the way for PC clones and the current dominance of the Microsoft-Intel computers built upon that base.

August 3, 1976: U.S. representative Jerry Litton of Missouri died in the crash of a private plane as it was taking off. The plane crashed the night Litton had won the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in 1976.

August 3, 1993: During a tree-top reconnaissance flight in Ecuador, leading field biologists Alwyn Gentry (48) and Theodore Parker III (40) were killed when their plane crashed into a mountain peak which had been hidden by clouds.

August 4, 2000: Former Georgia state senator and member of the Board of Regents Thomas Allgood Sr. (71), his wife Thelma, and the pilot were killed when their Piper Malibu Mirage crashed and exploded when taking off from Daniel Field in Augusta, Georgia.

August 6, 1945: Major Richard Ira Bong, the leading U.S. fighter ace during World War II, was killed near Los Angeles, California while test-flying a Lockheed P-80 jet.

August 7, 1913: American aviator Samuel Franklin Cody (52), who made the first registered flight in Britain in October 1908, and his passenger died in a crash at Ball Hill near Newbury, Berkshire, England.

August 7, 1989: A de Havilland DHC-6-300 Twin Otter airplane carrying Congressman Mickey Leland (45) of Texas and 15 others disappeared during a relief inspection flight over Ethiopia. The wreckage with no survivors was found six days later. The crash into a mountain occurred under bad weather conditions.

August 9, 1974: Band members Bill Chase (39), John Emma, Wally Yohn, and Walter Clark were killed when their chartered plane crashed as they attempted to land at the Jackson, Minnesota airport in bad weather.

August 9, 2010: Former Alaska senator Ted Stevens (86), former chief of staff William Phillips Sr., and GCI vice president Dana Tindall (48) were among five people killed when their DeHavilland DHC-3T float plane crashed into a mountain outside Dillingham, Alaska. Four passengers, including ex-NASA chief Sean O'Keefe, survived the crash. Weather conditions included rain and fog at the time of the crash. The senator and friends were heading to a fishing trip near Lake Aleknagik.

August 10, 1997: Film director Jean-Claude Lauzon (43) and actress Marie-Soleil Tougas (27) died when their Cessna 180 crashed into a mountainside and burned just south of Kuujjuaq, Quebec. High winds and rain may have contributed to the crash. They were returning from a fishing trip. Lauzon is best known in Canada for his French-language films, Un zoo la nuit and Leolo.

August 11, 2002: Nature photographers Galen Rowell (61) and Barbara Cushman Rowell (54) were killed when a small private plane crashed in the eastern Sierra Nevada just south of the airport near Bishop, California. Tim Reid and Carol McAfee of Bishop were also killed in the crash.

August 12, 1942: Actor Phillips Holmes (35) died in a midair collision over Ontario, Canada.

August 12, 1944: The oldest son of Joseph Kennedy, Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. (29), was killed when his Navy B-24 Liberator plane exploded over the English Channel during World War II. According to declassified documents, Kennedy was flying a drone B-24 for the US Navy's Operation Anaconda, a volunteer-only mission designed to take out a V-2 launching site in Normandy. The plane was loaded with about 22K lbs. of explosives and was equipped with radio-controlled servo gear. The idea was to get the plane in the air and radio linked to 2 chase planes. The pilot and radio-control man would bail out over England, and the drone would continue on under remote control by the chase planes, where it would be crash-dived onto the target. For reasons unknown, the B-24 detonated in mid-air with the crew on board. Kennedy was awarded a posthumous Navy Cross, but the circumstances surrounding the mission and his death were understandably classified for many years.

August 12, 1985: Japanese singer Kyu Sakamoto, famous for his hit song “Sukiyaki,” was killed in the crash of a Japan Airlines Boeing 747 into a mountain in Japan. It was the worst single aviation accident ever, killing 520 of the 524 people aboard the plane. The crash was caused by a failed bulkhead which had been improperly repaired seven years earlier.

August 13, 1989: Representative Larkin Smith (45) of Mississippi and the pilot were killed when their Cessna 177RG plane crashed near Janice, Mississippi. The plane spiraled out of control after the non-instrument rated pilot got disoriented when they ran into weather requiring the use of instruments.

August 14, 1958: Six members of the Egyptian fencing team died in a plane crash over the Atlantic Ocean.

August 14, 1998: Jerry Loftis, a pioneer in the sport of sky surfing, died during a jump at the World Free Fall Convention near Quincy, Illinois. His main parachute failed and his reserve chute activated too close to the ground to protect him in his fall.

August 15, 1935: On a flight to the Orient, humorist Will Rogers (56) and aviator Wiley Post (37) died when their Lockheed Orion-Explorer plane crashed near Point Barrow, Alaska, after taking off in bad weather.

August 16, 1987: Nick Vanos, Phoenix Suns center, was among the 156 people who died when a Northwest Airlines MD-80 plane clipped a light pole in a parking lot while taking off from the Detroit, Michigan airport. The plane crashed into an underpass beneath Interstate 94. A four-year-old girl miraculously survived the crash.

August 17, 1988: Pakistani president Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, U.S. ambassador Arnold Raphel, U.S. Brigadier General Herbert Wassom, and 28 Pakistani military officers died in a mysterious plane crash during a return flight from a military equipment trial near Bahawalpur, Pakistan.

August 19, 1935: Alton C. Nordale, an Alaskan territorial legislator, died in a plane crash near Healy River in Alaska.

August 19, 2012: Two Sudanese state ministers as well as 29 other government officials were killed when their airplane crashed as it was landing at an airport southwest of Khartoum.

August 21, 1983: Moments after stepping off a plane at the Manila Airport, Benigno Aquino Jr., the Philippine opposition leader, was shot dead by military forces. The killing ultimately led to the collapse of Ferdinand Marcos's government. In 1986, Corazon Aquino, the slain leader's widow, became president.

August 23, 1947: English aircraft designer Roy Chadwick, Avro's chief designer responsible for the Lancaster bomber and other aircraft, was killed when his Avro Tudor 2 prototype crashed on take-off during a test flight.

August 25, 1985: Samantha Smith (13), her father, and six others were killed when their Bar Harbor Airlines Beechcraft 99 crashed while trying to land at Auburn, Maine. Samantha was the girl made famous for writing a letter to Soviet leader Yuri Andropov and getting invited to visit Russia.

August 25, 2001: R&B singer and actress Aaliyah Haughton (22) and eight fellow passengers were killed when their Cessna 402-B airplane crashed and exploded on impact right after taking off from the Abaco Island airport in the Bahamas where she had just completed a music video. The cause of the crash was thought to be engine failure although some ground personnel indicated that the plane was overloaded with luggage. Alliyah and most of the other passengers were killed instantly. Several others survived the crash but died a few hours later. Other passengers included makeup artist Eric Foreman, Virgin director of video production Douglas Kratz, and Background Records's Gina Smith and Keith Wallace.

August 26, 1977: Hugh Killebrew (58), owner of Heavenly Valley Ski Resort in South Lake Tahoe, California, and Paul Pfosi (42), the ski school director, were killed when two private planes collided in midair. The pilot of the other plane was able to land safely without major injury.

August 27, 1990: Blues guitarist and Grammy winner Stevie Ray Vaughan (35) died when the Bell BHT-206-B helicopter he was riding in crashed into a hill near East Troy, Wisconsin. Four others, including three members of Eric Clapton's entourage and the chopper pilot, were killed in the crash, which occurred under heavy fog. Vaughn's album, Couldn't Stand the Weather, went platinum in 1984.

August 37, 2006: Taking off in the early morning hours at the Lexington, Kentucky Blue Grass Airport, a Bombadier Canadair CRJ-100 jet operated by Comair ran off the end of an unlighted 3,500-foot runway designed for smaller planes instead of using the well-lit 7,000-foot runway designed for commercial flights. The plane exploded in flames upon crashing when it wasn't able to lift off (it needed at least 5,000 feet to take off). Only one person of the 50 aboard the plane survived. First officer James Polehinke was pulled from the wreckage by police. Among those who died were a newlywed couple taking off on their honeymoon (former minor-league baseball player Jon Hooker and his bride Scarlett Parsley).

August 29, 1995: Two members of Meat Loaf's music video film crew were killed when their helicopter struck some power lines and crashed in Sequoia National Forest in California.

August 29, 2001: Australian television personality and lead singer for the Skyhooks, Graeme “Shirley” Strachan (49) was killed when he crashed a Bell 47 helicopter on Mount Archer near Kilcoy, Australia, during his first solo flight while training to earn his helicopter pilot license. Better known as “Shirl,” Strachan was the host of Our House on Channel 9 since it started up in 1993. He was best known, of course, for being the frontman for Skyhooks in the mid 1970s. While some observers claimed that the winds had been too strong for flying at the time of the crash, Graeme Gillies, owner of Blue Tongue Helicopter Services, which provided the helicopter, disputed those observations.

August 31, 1940: U.S. senator Ernest Lundeen of Minnesota and 24 others were killed in the crash of a Pennsylvania Central Douglas DC-3 plane. While flying through a thunderstorm, lightning hit the plane, disoriented the crew, and caused them to lose control. The plane nosed over and plunged to the earth.

August 31, 1969: Rocky Marciano (45), the former heavyweight champion boxer, and two others died in the crash of a Cessna 172H airplane near Newton, Iowa. It had been a dark and stormy night. He was one day short of celebrating his 46th birthday.

August 31, 1983: U.S. Representative Lawrence McDonald (48) of Georgia and head of the John Birch Society, Tae Kwon Do master Hyong Ung Hong, and 267 others were killed when their Korean Airlines Boeing 747 drifted off course and was shot down by a Russian SU-15 air force jet.

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