January 2, 1945: British admiral Sir
Bertram Ramsey were among those who died when
a Lockheed Hudson climbed, banked, and dived into the ground on taking off from Toussus-le-Noble en route to Brussels, Belgium.
January 4, 1910: French aviation pioneer Leon
Délagrange (36), who made the first passenger-carrying flight in January 1908, was killed when
the port wing of his Blériot XI collapsed and folded.
January 5, 1941: English aviatrix Amy
Johnson was killed during World War II when her transport plane crashed into the River Thames.
It was never determined whether her plane was shot down or simply developed engine trouble.
Her body was never recovered. In 1930, she flew solo from Great Britain to Australia.
January 6, 1977: Natalie "Dolly"
Sinatra (82), mother of Frank Sinatra, was one of four people who
died in the crash of a Gates Learjet which flew into a mountain shortly after
taking off from Palm Springs Municipal Airport in California.
January 8, 2000: Former
Grinderswitch bassist Joe Dan
Petty (52) was killed in the crash of his private plane
near Macon, Georgia. Petty had also worked as a guitar tech for the
Allman Brothers Band.
January 8, 2003: A US Airways
Express Beech 1900 turboprop commuter plane crashed and exploded
shortly after taking off from Charlotte Douglas Airport in North
Carolina. All 21 people aboard were killed. The plane had trouble
with guidance equipment in the tail, causing it to flip over, and
dive to the ground where it clipped a hangar and burst into flames.
The crash was the first to involve deaths aboard a passenger or cargo
airliner in the U.S. in more than a year. According to the Federal
Aviation Administration, it was the third time in a decade that a
year went by without a fatality on a commercial plane. Four of the
people killed were Ralph Sylvia
(62), a retired nuclear power executive; Keith Coyner, vice president of product
development for General Nutrition Companies; Michael Otto Sullivan (44), vice president
of sales for Cape Software; and Steven
Krassas, a Fannie Mae financial services consultant.
January 9, 1998: Richard Graff, co-founder of the American
Food and Wine Institute, died when his Cessna crashed into a power
pole and greenhouse as he was attempting to land at the Salinas
Airport. The plane burst into flames upon crashing.
January 10, 1959: Animal activist
Michael Grzimek died when his Dornier Do 27
collided with a Griffon vulture over the skies of Tanzania. Together with his father
Bernhard Grzimek, he fought for the animals in the Serengeti. Their film about
the Serengeti won an Oscar in 1960.
January 11, 1938: Pan
American's first pilot, Captain Edwin
Musick, was among the six people killed when a Pan Am
Sikorsky S-42 seaplane exploded in mid-air as the crew was attempting
to dump fuel in preparing for an emergency landing at the Pango Pango
airport in American Samoa.
January 11, 1980: Lousiana
State University football coach Robert "Bo"
Rein died when his Cessna Conquest plane veered off
course, flew over the Atlantic, ran out of fuel, and crashed into the
sea. The cause of the incident was never explained.
January 12, 1937: Explorer
Martin Johnson was one of five
killed (out of 13 aboard) when a Western Air Express Boeing 247
crashed into Stone Mountain while attempting to land at Burbank
Airport in rain and fog.
January 13, 1954:
Dorothy Beecher Baker (55), a Hand of
the Cause of the Bahá’í faith, and Chester Wilmot,
an Australian-born radio correspondent died along with 33 others when their BOAC
Comet crashed into the sea off the island of Elba after a mid-air explosion. The
flight, which originated in Singapore had just taken off from Rome, Italy on its
way to London, England.
January 15, 1943: Major
Eric Mowbray Knight, author of
Lassie, Come Home, was one of 35 people killed when their
Douglas C-54 Skymaster blew up over Dutch Guiana (now Suriname) and
crashed in the jungle 30 miles from Paramaribo. The plane, on a
secret mission to the Casablanca Conference, may have been the victim
of war-time intrigue. For more details and a list of the people
killed in the crash, see http://www.lassie
January 15, 2000: Former CIA
director Stansfield Turner (76)
was seriously injured and his wife, Eli
Karen Gilbert, killed in the crash of a tourist plane in
Costa Rica. Three other passengers died and 13 others were injured
when their Taxis Aereos Czech-made twin-engine plane crashed shortly
after taking off from the Tobias Bolanos airport west of San Jose,
Costa Rica. The plane fell on a house but did not injure the people
January 16, 1942: Actress
Carole Lombard (33), her mother,
her press agent, and 19 other people were killed when their Trans
Continental & Western DC-3 airplane crashed near Las Vegas,
Nevada, as they were returning from a war-bond promotion tour.
Carole's death was the first war-related female casualty that the
U.S. suffered during World War II. Off course because the captain of
the plane was in the back talking to Lombard and the first officer
was up front flying all alone in instrument conditions, the plane
clipped a rocky ledge on Mt. Potosi, flipped into the face of a
cliff, and exploded. Carole, best known for such comedies as
Nothing Sacred, was married to Clark Gable. The Red Rock
Ranch, where her plane crashed, was owned by Chet Lauck and Norris
Goff, who played “Lum and Abner” on radio. It is now a state park.
January 17, 1996: Ibrahim Abacha, the eldest son of
Nigeria's military ruler, and 14 others were killed when their HS-125
jet crashed in Nigeria.
January 20, 2002: Staff Sgt.
Dwight J. Morgan (24) of
California died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan. His death was
the focus of the May 6, 2002 episode of the WB Network's 7th
Heaven, where the Reverend Camden of the TV show officiates at a
memorial service attended by his real family.
January 22, 1973: Alexander Onassis, son of Ari Onassis,
died the day after being critically wounded when his Piaggio airplane
crashed shortly after taking off from the Athens Airport. As it took
off, it inclined to the right, spun around in circles, and then
smashed its nose, tail, and wing before stopping.
January 25, 1962: Montana
governor Donald Nutter (47) was
killed when his plane crashed during a snow storm.
January 26, 1928: Actor
Earl Metcalfe (38) died when he
fell from an airplane over Burbank, California.
January 26, 1947: Opera singer
and actress Grace Moore (46) was
one of 22 people killed when a KLM Royal Dutch DC-3 stalled and crashed
while taking off from the Copenhagen, Denmark airport.
January 27, 1952: Former
secretary of war Robert Patterson
as well 29 others were killed when an airliner hit apartments at
Elizabeth, New Jersey. Seven people died on the ground.
January 27, 1967: Astronauts
Virgil "Gus" Grissom (41),
Edward White (37), and Roger Chaffee (32) were killed when a fire
broke out during a simulation launch of their Apollo 1 spacecraft.
The fire was caused by a short circuit in a 100% oxygen atmosphere.
January 27, 2001: Ten people
associated with the Oklahoma State
University basketball team were killed when their
twin-engine King Air 200 plane took off, banked hard right, and
crashed in snowy weather near Byers, Colorado. Two basketball
players, Daniel Lawson and Nate Fleming, and six staffers and
broadcasters were among those killed.
January 28, 1986: Astronauts
Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith
Resnik, Michael Smith, Gregory
Jarvis, and Francis
Scobee were killed when the Space Shuttle Challenger
exploded within seconds after its launch. Also killed was Christa McAuliffe (38), a teacher who was
going aboard as a civilian. The explosion was caused by a defective O
ring which allowed fuel to leak and ignite.
January 29, 1948: British air
marshal Sir Arthur Cunningham,
commander of the Royal Air Force in the Western Desert during World
War II, was one of 31 who died when a British South American Airways
Avro Tudo IV crashed into the Atlantic Ocean while approaching
Bermuda while en route to Havana, Cuba. There was some controversy
about this crash because BSAA's founder, ex-RAF air vice-marshall
Bennett, claimed that a known wartime saboteur was seen standing near
the plane shortly before take-off but prime minister Atlee blocked
January 30, 1974: A Pan Am Boeing 707
crashed on Pago Pago in American Samoa due to windshear. 94 people died
including artist Elton Bennett (64) and his
January 31, 1956:
General John Noyes, head of the Alaska National Guard, died at
Nome, Alaska as a result of a plane crash.
January 31, 1957: During the
final test flight of the new Douglas DC-7B airliner over the San
Fernando Valley, the plane ran almost head-on into a U.S. Air Force
F-89J Scorpion jet fighter which was on a similar test flight. The
pilot of the Air Force jet died as the aircraft plummeted into La
Tuna Canyon in the Verdugo Mountains. Having lost its left wing, the
DC-7B went into a high speed dive, began breaking up about 700 feet
about the ground, and crashed into a Pacoima, California churchyard,
killing all four crew members. The plane exploded into hundreds of
flaming pieces that flew across the adjacent junior high school
playground where three students were killed and 74 more injured.
Among those killed were Roland
Owen, the pilot of the Air Force jet, and Archie R. Twitchell (50), co-pilot of the
DC-7B and an actor who appeared in 70 films, including Sunset
Boulevard, I Wanted Wings, and Among the Living. One of
the three students killed in the accident was the best friend of
singer Richie Valens, who died in an airplane crash two years later.
January 31, 2000: An Alaska
Airlines MD-80 jet carrying 88 people crashed on its way from Puerto
Vallarta, Mexico to San Francisco, California. It went down near
Anacapa Island 20 miles off shore of Los Angeles. No one survived the
crash. Pilots reported problems with the stabilizer trim and asked to
be diverted to Los Angeles shortly before the plane plummeted into
the ocean. Among the dead were the following: Financial talk show
host, Cynthia Oti, of San
Francisco's KSFO-AM radio; guitarist Dean
Forshee; Jean Gandesbery, author of Seven Mile Lake, and her
husband Robert; missionaries Joe and Linda Knight, founders of
Mission to Mexico; Seattle Times wine columnist Tom Stockley and his wife Margaret;
Morris Thompson, retired president of Doyon Ltd., the U.S.'s largest private landowner, and
former commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. He also hosted
“Dialogue with Doyon” on Alaska Public Radio. His wife, Thelma, also died.