February 1, 1966:
Nicholas Piantanida died during his descent after setting a new
balloon flight record.
February 1, 2003: All seven astronauts
were killed with the space shuttle Columbia broke apart as it re-entered the
earth's atmosphere. The seven astronauts were Col. Rick
D. Husband (45); Dr. Laurel Salton Clark
(41); Col. Ilan Ramon (48), the first
Israeli in space; Dr. Kalpana Chawla (41),
the first India-born woman in space; Capt. David M.
Brown (46); Lt. Col. Michael P. Anderson
(43); and Cmdr. William C. McCool (41).
February 3, 1959: The Day The Music Died.
Rock Hall of Famers Buddy Holly (22), the
Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson) (29), and
Ritchie Valens (17) as well as the pilot
Roger Peterson died when their Beechcraft
Bonanza plane crashed just outside Clear Lake, Iowa, during a stormy winter
night. Holly was famous for many hits including “Peggy Sue.” The Big Bopper had
one big hit, “Chantilly Lace.” And Valens was best known for his hit, “La Bamba.”
February 3, 2004: Saxophonist
Cornelius Bumpus (58), who played for the
Doobie Brothers and Steely Dan, died of a heart attack during an airplane flight
February 6, 1958: Eight members of the
Manchester United soccer team were among 23
people (out of 44 aboard) who were killed when a British European Airways
Airspeed Ambassador airliner crashed while taking off from the Munich, Germany
airport during a snowstorm. A German inquiry laid the blame on ice accumulation
on the wings, while an English inquiry laid the blame on drag due to slush on
February 8, 2000: Popular radio host
Bob Collins of WGN in Chicago died when two
small aircraft collided over Zion, Illinois. Collins' plane, a two-seat Zlin
aerobatic plane, crashed into the roof of the Midwestern Regional Medical Center
blowing out windows in the top floor and injuring two people while the other
plane, a four-seat Cessna 172, cracked down on a nearby street. Collins and his
passenger as well as the student pilot in the other plane were killed in the
February 11, 1985: Ben
Abruzzo, a crew member on the Double Eagle II, the first balloon to
cross the Atlantic Ocean nonstop, was killed along with several passengers when
his twin-engine plane crashed shortly after taking off from the Albuquerque, New
Mexico airport. An investigation showed that the probable cause of the crash was
an external luggage compartment door which had been left open. The best idea
from aircraft data was that he had pulled back on the gas of the closest prop to
the door and then inadvertently feathered the wrong prop, thus rendering both
engines inoperative. Before his death, Abruzzo was also a member of the first
team to fly a balloon nonstop across the Pacific Ocean.
February 12, 2009:
Beverly Eckert (57), widow of business executive Sean Rooney (who
died on 9/11 while working at the World Trade Center), died along with 49 others
when Continental flight 3407 crashed into a house in Clarence Center, New York.
February 13, 1964: Ken
Hubbs (23), Chicago Cubs 2nd baseman and 1962 Rookie of the Year, was
killed in an airplane crash near Provo, Utah.
February 14, 1975: U.S. representative
Jerry Pettis (59) of California died in a
private plane crash near Banning, California.
February 14, 1998:
Minor Judson "Buddy" Ward, former president of the Atlanta
Journal-Constitution, died when his single-engine Piper struck power lines
and crashed in a grapefruit grove west of St. Lucie, Florida.
February 14, 2000: Former Indy car driver
and CART team owner Tony Lee Bettenhausen Jr.
(48), youngest son of a famous auto racing family, his wife Shirley, and two
associates died in a private plane crash on a Kentucky farm 30 miles from
Lexington. The likely cause of the accident was ice on the wings and the
inexperience of the pilot. The plane plunged thousands of feet, crashed, and
February 15, 1918: Dancer
Vernon Castle (30) died is a plane accident in
Fort Worth, Texas.
February 15, 1961: The entire
U.S. Olympic figure skating team of 18 died
when a Belgian Sabena Boeing 707 crashed near Brussels, Belgium. 72 passengers
were killed as well as a farmer on the ground. Among the Olympians killed were
figure skaters Dona Lee, William Hickox, Laurie Hickox, Laurence Richon Owen,
Maribel Vinson Owen, Maribel Y. Owen, Dudly Richards, Diane Carol Sherbloom, and
February 20, 2003: Pakistan's air force
commander, Air Chief Marshal Mushaf Ali
(55), his wife and four top officers were killed when an air force F-27 twin
turboprop Fokker plane crashed in foggy weather in mountains near Kohat,
Pakistan (near Pakistan's northwest border with Afghanistan), killing all 17
aboard. It was later rumored that Ali was an arms supplier and protector of
Osama Bin Laden and the al-Qaeda network.
February 21, 1941: Sir
Frederick Banting (49), co-discoverer of
insulin, died of internal injuries and exposure after his transAtlantic flight
from Labrador crashed. The Lockheed Hudson had developed engine trouble due to a
faulty temperature gauge. Several others died in the accident.
February 22, 1943: Novelist
Ben Robertson was killed and singer-actress
Jane Froman injured when their Pan Am Boeing
314 flying boat crashed while attempting to land at Lisbon, Portugal. Froman's
leg was so severely broken that doctors wanted to amputate it. She never walked
right again after the accident. During the flight a woman changed seats with her
and that woman was killed.
February 24, 1989: Nine passengers were
sucked out of the back of a United Airlines Boeing 747 and fell to their deaths
in the Pacific Ocean when a 40 foot hole blew open in the fuselage while the
plane was flying 100 miles south of Hawaii (en route to New Zealand). 27 other
passengers were injured in the accident resulting from a cargo door separation.
Amazingly, the pilot was able to land the plane despite the aerodynamically
impared fuselage. Months after the incident, passengers, crew and the captain
started talking about a strange occurrence. Apparently they all felt the
presence of angels who helped to hold the
plane in the air. Some describe looking out the window and seeing a hand holding
up the wing. [While this incident doesn't really fit under celebrities, it was
interesting enough to include here because of the reported presence of angels.]
February 24, 2003: Juma
Mohammed Mohammedi, Afghanistan's minister of mines and industry;
Sun Changshen of the China Metallurgical
Construction Company; four other Afghan officials, and the two-member crew were
killed when their Cessna 402 plane crashed in the Arabian Sea shortly after
taking off from the Karachi, Pakistan airport.
February 25, 1960: Nineteen members of
the US Navy Band were killed when the plane
the were in collided in mid-air with a Brazilian airliner in dense fog near Rio
de Janeiro in Brazil.
February 26, 2004: Macedonia president
Boris Trajkovski was killed in a plane crash
February 27, 1941: U.S. representative
William Byron of Maryland was killed in a
private plane crash near Jonesboro, Georgia.
February 28, 1966: Two astronauts,
Charles Bassett II (35) and
Elliot See, Jr. (39), died when their T-38 jet
crashed on taking off from Duluth International Airport in Minnesota. They had
loaded the cockpit with gifts from family members they had visited in Duluth.
The fits made it difficult to rotate the control stick aft when they needed to
in order to avoid veering off the runway and crashing.