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Fear of Flying Site

School-Related Airplane Crashes
and Other Incidents

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I developed this page in response to a question from a school administrator who was preparing an emergency preparedness plan for the 200 schools in his district. He wanted some real-life examples of air crashes that affected schools. You never know what might drop out of the sky. There are many more incidents where someone on the ground was injured or killed because of an airplane crash. As always, I've only begun to add material to this page. If you know of any other such incidents, send email to John Kremer. Thanks for your continued support.

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.

April 4, 1991: Senator John Heinz of Pennsylvania and six others were killed when a helicopter collided with Heinz's plane over a schoolyard in Merion, Pennsylvania.

May 23, 1996: Two Marines were killed when their AH-1 W Cobra helicopter crashed near a school and burst into flames. The helicopter had just taken off from the Bell Helicopter Textron factory in Hurst, Texas, before crashing ten minutes later near a high school in Hutchins, Texas.

June 23, 1999: A twin-engine Cessna 402 made an emergency landing on Hayvenhurst Avenue in Van Nuys, California. As it landed, it hit two school buses approaching the intersection of Hayvenhurst and Parthenia Street from different directions. The crash tore the wing tips and fuel tanks from the plane while wrecking the front ends of both buses. The 42 children in the buses escaped with minor injuries. One of the drivers was seriously injured. The pilot walked away unhurt.

August 9, 1961: 35 students, two teachers, and three crew members were killed when their Viking airliner crashed as it approached the Sola Airport near Stavanger, Norway. The students from the Thornton Heath school in Croydon were flying to a camping holiday in the Norwegian highlands.

August 17, 1998: After running out of gas just as it was approaching the Santa Monica Airport in California, a Cessna 177 clipped power lines, crashed landed on a junior high school athletic field, and flipped over against a baseball backstop. Of the four people aboard the plane, one was in critical condition, another in fair condition, and the two others suffered only minor injuries.

August 23, 1944: When a U.S. Air Force B-24 hit a school in Freckelton, England, 76 people were killed, including many on the ground. It was the worst school-related air accident in history.

August 29, 1998: On Saturday morning, a homemade, single-engine airplane crashed into a clump of trees only 180 feet from a playing field at Guy B. Phillips Middle School (Chapel Hill, North Carolina) where 42 middle-schoolers were playing football. It was the second airplane crash that year at nearby Horace Williams Airport. Since 1981, six airplane crashes have been associated with Horace Williams Airport where 12 people have died (all passengers).

September 10, 1995: You're not safe even sitting on your back porch. When a plane carrying 11 members of a skydiving school crashed into a house and exploded, everyone aboard the plane was killed. Vincent Harris, owner of the house, was also killed in the explosion near Shacklefords, Virginia.

October 3, 1997: A Glendale Police Motar 318 helicopter made an emergency landing after losing power over the Burbank, California high school. They landed safely in a vacant lot. No one was hurt in the incident.

October 5, 1996: Parachuting into a high school football game to deliver the game ball, a man was thrown off course by a gust of wind that caused him to spin wildly. In landing, he hit two people of his crew. A woman on the ground died; her husband suffered a fractured elbow, and the parachutist broke his pelvis.

November 6, 1997: An Air Force F-16C jet fighter crashed near a school playground in Sidney, Texas, while the students and teachers watched. The pilot was able to eject safely and no one was hurt in the incident. The plane was part of a training flight from the Fort Worth naval base when the crash occurred.

November 21, 1998: The pilot was seriously injured and his wife was killed when their Cessna 210 crashed into the Castlemont High School cafeteria in Oakland, California, as a basketball game was being played just yards away. No one in the school was injured.

December 9, 1999: Six people from the College of the Ozarks including a professor, an administrator, their spouses, a pilot, and a student co-pilot were killed when their college-owned Cessna Citation crashed on approaching the school's airfield in Branson, Missouri. It was foggy and rainy at the time.

December 21, 1997: The pilot of a Cessna 150 and a 17-year-old neighbor out for a pleasure ride were killed when the plane's engine lost power and the plane crashed in a field near the East Vincent Elementary School. The plane had taken off from the Pottstown-Limerick Airport in Pennsylvania.


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