10 Tragic Plane Crashes that Wiped Out Entire Sports Teams

10 Tragic Plane Crashes that Wiped Out Entire Sports Teams

A regretful sense of loss and devastation can be felt across the globe in case of plane crashes. And when such horrific plane crashes involve sports teams, the disappointment that comes with it narrates a harrowing story. Here, we take a look at the distressing plane crashes that wiped out entire sports teams from around the world.

1 – Manchester United (1958)


Flying from a European Cup match against Red Star Belgrade, the plane carrying the “Busby Babes” stopped in Munich to refuel. After refueling, the pilots aborted a couple of takeoff attempts. By the time of the third attempt to take off, it had begun to snow, which caused a layer of slush to form at the end of the runway. When the plane hit that layer of slush, it skidded through the slush. A wing was sheared off when it hit a house and the plane crashed. 23 of the 44 people on board died in the crash. Among the dead were eight of Man U’s players and three members of the team’s staff.

2 – United States Figure Skating Team (1961)


The US Figure Skating Team were on their way to the World Championships being held in Prague. After circling an airport in Brussels, the plane carrying the US team smacked hard into the ground and then exploded. Sixteen members of the US team and another sixteen coaches, officials, and family members all met their doom in the crash. The best theory the investigators came up with was that the plane’s stabilizers had failed. The World Championships were canceled that year, out of respect to those who lost their lives.

3 – Puerto Rican Women’s National Volleyball Team (1970)


Enroute back home from a friendly match against the Dominican Republic, the plane carrying the women’s team crashed into the waters of the Caribbean Sea shortly after takeoff from the airport in Santo Domingo. The crash killed all aboard, including most of the members of the Puerto Rican Women’s National team.

4 – Uruguayan “Old Christians Club” Rugby Team (1972)


The Uruguayan “Old Christians Club” was traveling from Uruguay to play a match in Santiago, Chile. The plane carrying 45 people crashed in the Andes Mountains on October 13, 1972. More than a quarter of the passengers were killed on impact. 27 people who survived the plane crash lived on for several days after the accident. However, an avalanche swept through the wreckage in which they had sheltered, killing eight more people. Eventually, two of the survivors volunteered to trek out to find a way off the mountains and to bring back help. For more than two months, fourteen people survived on the mountainside. The two boys who’d ventured out, were finally able to get off the mountain and find help. On December 23, 1972, rescuers found the remaining survivors and shepherded them to safety.

5 – University of Evansville Purple Aces (1977)


On December 13, 1977, the University of Evansville men’s basketball team boarded a plane bound for Nashville, Tennessee, for their next contest against the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders. Shortly after take-off, the plane lost control and crashed, killing most people on board.

6 – US Boxing Team (1980)


The US Boxing team was traveling from New York to Warsaw to compete in events in preparation for the upcoming Olympic trials. The pilots suspected a potential problem with their landing gear. All of a sudden, the plane was unable to maintain its flight. The plane’s right wing clipped a tree, and the plane hit the frozen over moat of a 19th century Polish fortress. 87 people perished including 14 American boxers, and eight staff members.

7 – Iowa State Women’s Cross Country Team (1985)


While returning from the NCAA Cross Country Championships, the plane carrying members of Iowa women’s cross country team was rerouted and instructed to land at the airport in Des Moines. The plane experienced severe turbulence before all communications ceased. The plane crashed down in a residential neighborhood killing all seven souls – including three members of the team – on board.

8 – Hendrick Motorsports (2004)


Regarded as a staple of the NASCAR circuit, the small plane carrying eight members of the Hendrick Motorsports family was to take a short flight from Concord, North Carolina to the speedway at Martinsville, Virginia, to attend a race. Attempting to land at the Blue Ridge Airport, the plane could not land in its first attempt owing to rain and fog. As the pilot circled around for another attempt, he slammed the plane into Bull Mountain, killing all on board including Hendrick Motorsports team president John Hendrick.

9 – Apex Motorsports (2008)


On March 30, 2008, British race car driver Richard Lloyd and his Apex Motorsports team were traveling to France to prepare their Jaguar for the upcoming race season. Shortly after takeoff though, the plane they were traveling on lost power to its engines and slammed into a house in Farnborough, London.

10 – Chapecoense Football Team (2016)


On  November 29, 2016 a chartered plane with a Brazilian first division football team crashed near Medellin while on its way to the finals of a regional tournament, killing 71 people, Colombian officials said. Six people survived the crash.

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