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Copyright © 2013
by John Kremer

Hot Times, Cool Places

Celebrities Air Deaths: March

March 1, 1962: Johnny Dieckman, world fly-casting champion, died in a plane crash near Chicago, Illinois.

March 1, 1994: Hershell Friday (72), an attorney and Bill Clinton fundraiser, died when his plane exploded.

March 2, 1996: All five members of the Brazilian rock group Mamonas Assassinas were killed when their plane crashed near Sao Paolo, Brazil.

March 2, 1997: Sailor Lars Bergstrom (62), a leading innovator in sailing, died in a plane crash.

March 5, 1963: Patsy Cline (30), Cowboy Copas (49), Hawkshaw Hawkins (41), and Cline's manager Randy Hughes were killed when their Piper PA-24 Comanche plane crashed near Camden, Tennessee, in adverse weather condisions. Cline was famous for her country hit, “Crazy.” Copas and Hawkins were Grand Ole Opry stars. They had been in Kansas City for a benefit for the widow of a country disc jockey who had died in a car crash. Country star Jack Anglin of the Johnny and Jack duo, was killed on the way to Cline's funeral.

March 9, 2000: Artyom Borovik, a well-known Moscow journalist, and Ziya Bazhayev, president of the Russian Oil Alliance, were among nine people killed when their Yak-40 jetliner crashed shortly after taking off from the Moscow airport.

March 13, 2006: Game show host Peter Tomarken (63), a private pilot, and his second wife, Kathleen, were killed when his Beechcraft Bonanza A36, N16JR, crashed a few hundred feet offshore in Santa Monica Bay while climbing out from the Santa Monica Airport in California. When he began having engine trouble, he tried to return to the airport but crashed several hundred feet from the shore. Tomarken had hosted a number of different game shows, including Press Your Luck, Hit Man, Bargain Hunters, and Paranoia.

March 14, 1915: Pioneer aviator Lincoln Beachey (28) died in a crash during an exhibition flight at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, California.

March 14, 1980: Polish singer Anna Jantar, 22 members of the U.S. Olympic boxing team, and 64 others were killed when a Polskie Linie Lotnicze IIyushin IL-62 airplane crashed while attempting to land at the Warsaw, Poland airport. The plane's #2 engine disintegrated, causing severe damage to two other engines as well as the rudder and elevator control lines.

March 14, 1995: Argentine race car driver Silvio Oltra and Carlos Menem Jr., son of Argentina's president, were killed in a helicopter crash.

March 15, 1998: Israeli air force general Tal Shmuel Eldar (45) was killed in a helicopter crash.

March 16, 1991: Seven members of the Reba McEntire band were among ten people killed when their Hawker-Siddeley plane failed to clear a mountain top and crashed near San Diego, California.

March 17, 1957: Ramon Magsaysay (50), president of the Philippines; Gregorio Hernandez Jr., Secretary of Education; and Jesus Paredes Jr., Executive-Secretary of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, and four others died when their converted army airplane (C-47 class) crashed into a tree at the top of Mt. Manunggal while returning to Manila after a campaign trip to Cebu City. Nestor Mata, a newspaper reporter, was the sole survivor.

March 18, 1939: Boeing's chief engineer Jack Kylstra and 12 others (including a KLM delegation) were killed when their Boeing 307 Stratoliner production prototype broke up after failing to recover from a spin near Adler, Washington.

March 19, 1977: Formula One driver Jose Carlos Pace (32) died in a plane crash.

March 19, 1982: When their Beechcraft Bonanza F35 plane buzzed the tour bus of heavy metal star Ozzy Osbourne, lead guitarist Randy Rhoads (25), Rachel Youngblood, and the pilot were killed as the plane crashed into a house in Leesburg, Florida.

March 20, 1998: John Bauer (47), chief executive officer of Dynaweld Inc., died in a plane crash.

March 21, 1942: Carl August Freiherr von Gablenz (48), founder of Lufthansa Airlines, was killed in an airplane crash.

March 21, 1987: Dino Martin (35), son of singer Dean Martin and a member of the Dino, Desi, and Billy pop group, was killed in the crash of an Air National Guard F-4C Phantom fighter jet in the San Bernardino Mountains of California. While flying inverted at 560 mph, his plane hit a wall of granite after entering a cloud. His pop group had one hit, “I'm a Fool.” His WSO (weapons systems operator) was also killed in the crash.

March 22, 1958: Mike Todd, his biographer Art Cohn, the pilot, and co-pilot were killed when his Lockheed Lodestar private plane, “The Lucky Liz,” named after Todd's wife, Elizabeth Taylor, crashed in bad weather in the Zuni Mountains of New Mexico. During their flight, ice had developed on their wings. The ice put too heavy a load on the engines, thus causing the crash. Todd had been on his way from Burbank to New York City to attend a Friars Club award meeting to receive the Showman of the Year award.

March 22, 1996: Col. Robert Overmyer, an astronaut who commanded one of the last successful flights of the space shuttle Challenger, died when the small plane he was test flying went into a spin and crashed near the Duluth, Minnesota airport. He was not able to free himself from the plane, a small-engine VK30 prototype, in time to use his parachute.

March 23, 1994: St. Louis weatherman Bob Richards of KDSK-TV died in a plane crash. He committed suicide after being publically humiliated on the Steve & D.C. radio show when they played tapes of his phone conversations with his girlfriend (he was married at the time).\

March 27, 1977: When a KLM Boeing 747 and a Pan American Boeing 747 jet collided on the runway of the Tenerife airport in the Canary Islands, 582 people were killed, including 249 on the KLM jet and 333 of 394 on board the Pan American jet. It was the deadliest air crash in aviation history. The collision was caused by the confusion in the airport after a terrorist's bomb exploded inside the airport terminal. Among those killed was Playboy playmate, actress, and producer Eve Meyer.

March 27, 1968: The first man in space, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, was killed in the crash of his MiG-15UTI while on a training mission east of Moscow, Russia. His body apparently was found two hours later frozen and reeking of alcohol.

March 29, 1959: The president and founder of the Central African Republic, Barthelemy Boganda (49), died when his plane exploded in mid-flight. Foul play was likely.

March 29, 2001: Eighteen people were killed when a Gulfstream corporate jet owned by Hollywood producer Andrew Vajna (Die Hard with a Vengeance, Total Recall, Rambo) crashed as it attempted an instrument landing at the Aspen, Colorado airport on a misty snowy night. The plane crashed into a small hillside, jumped a culvert, and smashed through a fence. Among the 18 dead were Mirwais "Mir" Tukhi, an assignment editor at Fox 11 TV station in Los Angeles; Marissa Witham (22), an assignment desk researcher at the same station; Robert New (mid-30s), who had been president of UniCapital Corporation before it went bankrupt; Mario Aguilar, a businessman and aspiring actor; and Ori Greenberg (23), an aspiring director who won a directing award at the Moxie!/Santa Monica International Film Festival.

March 31, 1931: Notre Dame football coach Knute Rockne (43) was one of eight killed when a Trans Continental & Western Airways Fokker F10A plane crashed during a heavy storm near Bazaar, Kansas. One of the aircraft's wings separated in mid flight. In his 13 years of coaching the Notre Dame football team, they won 105 games, lost 12, tied 5, and won 6 national championships.

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