Volume 42, Issue 1 (January 1997)
Fatal Air Transport Accidents Involving Athletic Teams from the United States
Team sports at multiple levels of competition have steadily grown more popular and more economically significant in the United States and Canada during the past 150 years. Year-round competition across these large countries requires continual, reliable, and safe transportation of teams and their supporters, often by air, with the potential albeit small for loss of athletes, coaches, and entire teams in air crashes and other accidents. This paper reviews potential and actual accidents involving United States athletic teams from the 1930s to the present, including four fatal air charter crashes from 1960 through 1977. Common factors in crashes included inclement weather, component failure, human factors, and overloading or misloading aircraft. The safety of commercial and charter aviation has been significantly improved. However, weather, human factors, and ongoing maintenance and inspection of aircraft for safety remain significant problems which call for continued vigilance.