Celebrities That Died In Plane Crashes – Kobe Bryant attends the LA premiere of ‘Just Mercy’ at Cinemark Baldwin Hills on Monday, January 6, 2020 in Los Angeles. (Photo: Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP) Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP
Editor’s note: The title of this post has been updated. The original title was not appropriate in light of today’s news.
Celebrities That Died In Plane Crashes
Six-time NBA champion and perennial All-Star Kobe Bryant died along with his daughter in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California on Sunday, TMZ reports. Bryant is 41 years old and Gianna “Gigi” Maria Honore is 13 years old.
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Bryant’s death marks the latest chapter in an unfortunate saga of notable athletes and celebrities who have died in plane crashes over the past century. Here is a list of some of the most important tragedies.
Five people were killed Sunday morning when a private helicopter crashed while flying to the Mamba Academy near Thousand Oaks for basketball practice, TMZ reports. Bryant was known to use a helicopter to travel. As a Los Angeles Laker, he was known for flying from Newport Beach to Staples Center in his Sikorsky S-76 helicopter, TMZ noted.
Firefighters work at the scene of a helicopter crash that killed former LA Laker Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Sunday, Jan. 26, 2020, in Calabasas, California. Mark J. Terrill/AP
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One half of the country music duo Montgomery Gentry and Troy Gentry died in a helicopter crash in Medford, New Jersey.
Montgomery Gentry’s Troy Gentry (right) was killed in a helicopter crash in Medford, New Jersey on September 8, 2017. The pilot also died. Gentry and Eddie Montgomery can be seen performing here in February. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Field Concerts)
The Hall of Fame pitcher died when the private plane he was flying off the coast of Florida crashed into the Gulf of Mexico.
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During the recruiting process, Oklahoma State’s basketball coach was a passenger in a private plane that crashed in Arkansas.
The Yankees pitcher died when the private plane he was co-piloting crashed into a Manhattan apartment building.
The R&B singer was among nine people when the private jet crashed shortly after takeoff in the Bahamas, where Aaliyah was filming a music video.
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John Jr., his wife Carolyn, and Carolyn’s sister Lauren were killed in a private plane crash near Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.
The two-time US Open golf champion was killed after takeoff from Orlando, Florida, when the Learjet he was traveling in failed to depressurize.
A commercial airliner crashes near the airport in Warsaw, Poland, killing 87 people, including 14 crew members.
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The New York Yankees catcher and team captain was killed while flying a private Cessna plane with a friend and flight instructor in Akron, Ohio. The friend and the flight instructor survived the crash.
Three members of the legendary Southern rock band – Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines and Cassie Gaines – died when their plane ran out of fuel and crashed in Gillsburg, Mississippi. 12 others survived the accident.
The Pittsburgh Pirates Hall of Famer died in a crash between San Juan, Puerto Rico and Nicaragua on his way to help earthquake victims in the Central American country.
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‘The Day the Music Tide’: Singer Richie Valens and JP “The Big Popper” Richardson are killed near an airport in Clear Lake, Iowa.
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Singer Patsy Cline, who died in a Piper Comanche accident in 1963 (from the Fall 2022 issue
), was not the first or last famous musician to die in a plane crash. Here are some notable cases.
The famous swing-era bandleader disappeared in the English Channel on December 15, 1944, while the single-engine UC-64-A Norseman was a passenger. The plane took off from Twinwood Airport, 50 miles north of London, en route to Paris, where Major Miller, 40, had arranged to bring his army band to the continent to entertain American troops. He never came. There are many theories about what happened. One says that a British bomber returning home after bad weather dropped his bomb load while hiding his target and accidentally knocked the Norse out of the air; Another speculated that the Norwegian’s wings had frozen, causing the plane to crash into the canal. Miller, pilot John Morgan and another passenger, Colonel Norman Beisel, were never seen again.
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Immortalized by Don McLean’s “American Pie” song, “The Day the Music Tide,” on February 3, 1959, a Beechcraft Bonanza crash claimed the lives of 22-year-old Buddy Holly (“Peggy Sue”) and Richie Valens. (17) and JP. Richardson (“The Big Popper,” he’s 28). Shortly after taking off from the airport in Clear Lake, Iowa, on a flight to Fargo, North Dakota for a show in nearby Moorhead, Minnesota, the single-engine plane encountered bad weather and crashed into a corn field. All were killed, including 21-year-old pilot Roger Peterson. Valens, who had his big hit “La Bamba,” sat on a plane with guitarist Tommy Alsup after winning a coin. Waylon Jennings, a member of Holly’s band at the time, stepped in for the ailing Richardson. The trial blamed pilot Peterson for being unprepared for the weather he encountered on the flight.
On March 5, 1963, country singer Patsy Cline, 30, and three others died in a Piper Comanche crash. Klein was returning to his home in Nashville, Tennessee, after a performance in Kansas City, Kansas. The pilot was his manager, Ramsey “Randy” Doris Hughes. Bad weather made travel difficult and forced several stops along the way. After taking off from Dyersburg, Tennessee, in rain, clouds and overcast skies, the plane crashed into the ground in a rural area 75 miles west of Nashville. Killed were Klein, Hughes, and musicians Harold Franklin “Hankshaw” Hawkins and Lodi Estelle “Cowboy” Copes. Crash investigators have blamed pilot error.
Country singer Jim Reeves, 40, died in a crash similar to Klein’s, in which case Reeves was flying his own plane. The singer, known for hits like “Four Walls,” took off on a plane from Batesville, Arkansas, to Nashville on July 31, 1964. Reeves was at the controls of his single-engine Beechcraft 35-B33 Debonair. His only passenger was his manager Dean Manuel. Reeves flew into heavy rain over Brentwood, Tennessee, and was apparently disoriented. The plane hit the ground at high speed. A search that included country stars Marty Robbins and Ernest Tubb took 42 hours to locate the wreckage.
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Soul singer Otis Redding, 26, died on December 10, 1967 in a chartered Beechcraft 18, twin-engine accident. Redding and his band members, Bar-Cas, flew from Cleveland Airport to Madison. , Wisconsin, with pilot Richard Fraser. The weather was bad with cold rain and fog. While approaching Madison, the plane crashed into Lake Monona. The exact cause of the crash has not been determined, but Beechcraft may have had engine problems. Of the seven passengers, only one of the musicians, 20-year-old Ben Colley, survived. (The opening band for Redding that night in Madison was a local outfit called the Grim Reapers, with future Cheap Trick guitarist Rick Nielsen.) Four months after Redding’s death, his single “(Sittin’ on) the Dog of the Bay” reached No. 1 on the charts. It was his first #1 hit.
Singer/songwriter Jim Gross, 30, was a rising star when he performed his final concert at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana, on September 20, 1973. He had chart success with “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” and other songs and was working on a third album. Exhausted from the road, he was eager to move on to the next and final stop on the tour in Sherman, Texas. He was the pilot of a leased Beechcraft E18, Robert N. Eliot, unable to get a taxi, had to walk the three miles to the airport. Shortly after takeoff from Natchitoches Regional Airport, the plane crashed into a beacon tree. Six people died in the crash, including guitarist Maury Muhlesen, comedian George Stevens, road manager Dennis Rust and Grosz’s agent Kenneth D. Cortez. Pilot error on investigation.
Members of the country rock band Lynyrd Skynyrd (“Sweet Home Alabama,” “Free Bird”) were on board a chartered twin-engine Convair CV-240 on October 20, 1977. The band’s fifth album,
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, released just three days ago. The plane crashed en route from Greenville, South Carolina to Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
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