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Copyright 2013
by John Kremer

Hot Times, Cool Places

Celebrities Air Deaths: May

May 1, 1928: U.S. representative Thaddeus Sweet of New York was killed in a private plane crash near Whitney Point, New York.

May 4, 1949: 18 members of the Torino soccer team, 6 trainers, 3 journalists, and 3 crew members were killed when their Avio Linee Italiane Fiat G212CP plane hit a wall surrounding the sanctuary of Superga's Basilica and crashed into a mountain near Turin, Italy. The team had been returning from a game in Lisbona when the visibility was reduced because of heavy thunderstorms. Considered one of the strongest soccer teams in the world, the Torino F.C. team had won the Italian championships in 1946, 1947, and 1948.

May 11, 1996: San Diego Chargers running back Rodney Culver and his wife Jane and singer-songwriter Walter Hyatt (46) were killed in the crash of a ValuJet DC-9 in the Florida Everglades. All 110 people on board were killed in the crash caused by a fire generated from oxygen generators lacking safety caps, which were being illegally transported aboard the plane. The pilot, Captain Candi Kubek, was the first woman commercial jetliner captain to die in a U.S. plane crash.

May 13, 1948: Kathleen Kennedy Hartington, John F. Kennedy's sister, was one of ten people killed when their Skyways de Havilland Dove 1 plane crashed in the Ardeche mountains during a storm. Kathleen had been flying to a family reunion on the Riviera.

May 14, 1931: Denys Finch Hatton (45) and a servant were killed when their plane stalled and then crashed in a firey explosion. Hatton, a professional hunter, was the lover of Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa. Robert Redford played the role of Hatton in the 1986 Academy Award-winning film by the same name.

May 19, 1999: Inventor Juergen Staudte (61), who helped develop quartz crystals for digital watches and other timing devices, was killed in an airplane crash near Tucumcari, New Mexico.

May 22, 1981: Boris Sagal, movie director and father of Katey Sagal, was decapitated when he walked into the tail rotor of a Bell 206 JetRanger after getting off the helicopter at Government Camp, Oregon, while filming a new movie. He had directed such movies as Masada, Ike, and The Omega Man.

May 24, 1981: Ecuador's president Jaime Roldos Aguilera (40) was among those who died in an airplane crash.

May 24, 1986: Astronaut Stephen Thorne (33) died in When his Pitts S-2A plane crashed near Alta Loma, Texas.

May 24, 2001: Astronaut Patricia Hilliard Robertson (38), a crew support astronaut for the International Space Station, died of burns she sustained two days earlier when the two-seat Gideon Wittman Tailwind W8 plane she was in cartwheeled and crashed into trees near Wolfe Air Park in Manvel, Texas.

May 25, 1928: Italian explorer Umberto Nobile crashed in the polar regions shortly after crossing the North Pole in his airship. Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen died trying to rescue his friend.

May 25, 1979: Lenny Stogel, promoter of the original Cal Jam concert held in 1974 at Ontario Motor Speedway, was killed in the crash of an American Airlines DC-10 at it was taking off from Chicago, Illinois. 271 people on the plane plus two on the ground were killed with the DC-10 crashed after the left engine fell off severing key control lines and a section of the left wing. Stogel was associated with The Cowsills in the late 60's.

May 25, 1998: Vietnam army chief of staff Dao Trong Lich was killed in a plane crash.

May 28, 1971: World War II war hero and movie actor Audie Murphy (46) was killed along with four others when their private Aero Commander 680 plane crashed into the side of a mountain near Roanoke, Virginia. They had been flying into a heavy thunderstorm at the time of the crash. The Audie L. Murphy Memorial Website: Murphy was the most decorated soldier of World War II and star of Red Badge of Courage, A Time for Dying, and other movies.

May 28, 1995: Bosnia's foreign minister and five other people were killed when Serb forces downed their helicopter.

May 30, 1998: John K. Whitney (70), co-founder of Gaymar Industries, died in a plane crash.

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