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20 Sports Teams Killed in Airplane Crashes

Updated April 10, 2019 158.8k views20 items

There have been a surprisingly large amount of sports teams who met their ends in airplane tragedies over the years, likely due to the high amount of time teams spend traveling. One of the most famous incidents involved the Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571, a chartered flight carrying an entire rugby team that went down in the Andes in 1972. It became the basis for a best-selling book and later a film called "Alive." 

However, it wasn't only the Uruguayan Rugby Team that perished on an airplane; there are numerous other teams that have suffered catastrophic losses in the same fashion, including the clubs and organizations mentioned in the list below. From amateur teams to professional to Olympians, this list will identify the teams that have, unfortunately, perished during the course of their flights.

  • The Munich air disaster occurred on February 6, 1958, when British European Airways flight 609 crashed on its third attempt to take off from a slush-covered runway at Munich-Riem Airport, West Germany. On the plane was the Manchester United football team, nicknamed the "Busby Babes," along with supporters and journalists.

    23 out of the 44 on the aircraft perished; including eight footballers: Geoff Bent, Roger Byrne, Eddie Colman, Duncan Edwards, Mark Jones, David Pegg, Tommy Taylor, and Billy Whelan; coach Bert Whalley, trainer Tom Curry, and club secretary Walter Crickmer.

  • Oklahoma State Cowboys Basketball

    The Oklahoma State University men's basketball team plane tragedy occurred on January 27, 2001, when a plane carrying the Oklahoma State Cowboys basketball team went down near Strasburg, Colorado. The pilot had become disoriented in a snowstorm.

    10 people associated with men's basketball team (including two players and 6 coaches) perished. 

  • 20 members of the Old Christians Club, an Uruguayan rugby union and field hockey club, lost their lives in what's known as the Andes Flight Disaster on October 13, 1972. More than a quarter of the passengers perished, and several others quickly succumbed to cold and injury. Of the 27 who were alive a few days after the incident, another eight were terminated by an avalanche that swept over their shelter in the wreckage.

    The last 16 survivors were rescued on 23 December 1972, more than two months after the tragic occurrence.

  • On December 13, 1977, 29 players, staff, and fans lost their lives.​​​​​​