On This Day in Aviation History


Lynyrd Skynyrd Tour Plane Crashes in Mississippi: October 20 in Aviation History

1995: Space Shuttle Columbia lifts off on STS-73.

1987: A US Air Force A-7D Corsair II crashes into a Ramada Inn in Indianapolis, Indiana, killing 10 people. After reporting engine failure on approach, the pilot continued to lose altitude until forced to eject, sending the aircraft to bounce off the roof of a bank, then off of a hill and then into the hotel, where all the fatalities occurred in its lobby. Airport rescue trucks were on the scene within a minute and had the fire under control in under four minutes.

1986: The presidential aircraft of southeast African nation of Mozambique, a Tupolev Tu-134, crashes in South Africa, killing President Samora Machel and 33 other passengers. The aircraft (registered C9-CAA) crashes into hills after the pilots fail to follow proper instrument procedures for landing at Mbuzini. Though an investigation of the crash would show no indication of any sabotage or intentional grounding, many people such as Nelson Mandela claim that Machel was murdered. Ten people survived.

1977: A Convair 240 carrying the band Lynyrd Skynyrd runs out of fuel and crashes in a Mississippi forest, killing lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines and his sister, backup singer Cassie Gaines, plus a manager and both pilots. The surviving musicians are seriously injured and would decide to break up the band. Earlier in the year, the band Aerosmith had considered using the same aircraft for touring, but declined after witnessing the pilots passing a bottle of whiskey back and forth during the aircraft inspection.

1934: The MacRobertson Air Race from England to Australia begins at RAF Mildenhall with 20 aircraft of various sizes and shapes competing for a $75,000 prize sponsored by Sir Macpherson Robertson, a wealthy Australian candy manufacturer. A twin-engined de Havilland DH.88 Comet flown by C. W. A. Scott and Tom Campbell Black would be the winner, completing the course in exactly 71 hours.

1922: Lt Harold Harris bails out of his crippled Loening PW-2 over Dayton, Ohio, landing safely in the first ever successful parachute landing from a troubled airplane.

1920: Sadi Lecointe, in a Nieuport Delage, set a world speed record flying at 187.99-mph.

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