Rulers, celebrities who perished in air crashes

Sabir Shah
Tuesday, May 21, 2024

LAHORE: Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi is among the various heads of state, prime ministers and assessors to the throne who have perished in air crashes since December 9, 1936, when the-then Swedish Premier Arvid Lindman’s plane had crashed into houses in London’s Croydon area, while attempting to take off in heavy fog.

Research reveals that plane crashes have otherwise made people mourn in every corner of the world since September 17, 1908, when the first aviation-related death was recorded in the United States as a cheering crowd of 2,000 witnessed pilot, Orville Wright, co-inventor of the airplane, getting severely injured and a passenger, Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge, dying to become the first active-duty member of the US military to lose life in a crash while on duty.

Here follows a list of rulers who have died in plane crashes:

Exiled Polish Premier Wladyslaw Sikorski’s plane crashed into the Mediterranean Sea near Gibraltar shortly after takeoff while on a flight to London on July 4, 1943), Swedish Crown Prince Gustav Adolf’s plane crashed during take-off at Copenhagen on January 26, 1947, Filipino President Ramon Magsaysay’s plane crashed into a mountain on March 17, 1957, while he was on a campaign, President of the Central African Republic Barthelemy Boganda’s plane exploded in mid-air while on a flight on March 29, 1959; Iraqi President Abdul Salam Arif died mysteriously in a helicopter accident on April 13, 1966. He was reported to have gone down in a thunderstorm; Bolivian President Rene Barrientos’ helicopter struck high tension wires and crashed on April 27, 1967; Madagascar Prime Minister Joel Rakotomalala’s plane crashed into the sea on July 30, 1976); Yugoslav President Dzemal Bijedic’s plane hit a mountain during a snowstorm on January 18, 1977; Portuguese Prime Minister Francisco Carneiro’s plane mysteriously crashed on December 4, 1980; Ecuador President Jaime Aguilera’s plane crashed in poor weather on May 24, 1981; Leader of Panama General Omar Torrijos’ plane crashed under suspicious circumstances, possibly sabotage, on July 31, 1981; the plane of Mozambique’s President Samora Machel met an accident in South Africa on October 19, 1986. Pilot error was reported to be the cause; Prime Minister of Lebanon Rashid Karami was killed when a bomb exploded aboard a military helicopter in June 1987, , the C-130 carrying the then Pakistani President-cum-Army Chief Ziaul Haq, the then ISI chief General Akhtar Abdur Rehman and the then US Ambassador to Pakistan Arnold Raphel blasted 10 minutes after taking off from Bahawalpur on August 17, 1988; President of Burundi Cyprien Ntaryamira and President of Rwanda Juvenal Habyarimana both died in a plane accident near Rwanda on April 6, 1994. Their plane was possibly shot down by a missile while on approach to the airport; on February 26, 2004, the plane of Macedonian President Boris Trajkovski crashed into the mountains of Bosnia and Herzegovina while attempting to land in poor weather; and on April 10, 2010 the military jet of Polish President Lech Kaczynski crashed into a Russian forest and broke-up while attempting to land in dense fog.

Other global celebrities and known figures who perished in aviation accidents include the likes of Charles Stewart Rolls (co-founder of Rolls Royce, July 12, 1910), Lord Thompson (British Air Minister, October 5, 1930), Sir Fredrick Grant Banting (Canadian co-discoverer of Insulin, February 20, 1941), Dr Fritz Todt (chief designer of the German Autobahn, February 8, 1942), Baron Carl-August von Gablenz (founder of Lufthansa Airlines, August 21, 1942), Joseph Kennedy (brother of US President John F Kennedy, August 12, 1944), Kathleen Kennedy Cavendish (sister of President Kennedy, May 13, 1949), Robert Porter Patterson (US Secretary of War under President Roosevelt, January 22, 1952), Dag Hammarskjold (UN Secretary General, September 17, 1961), Hombi Bhabha (father of India’s nuclear programme, January 24, 1966), Sanjay Gandhi (son of Indian Premier Indira Gandhi, June 23, 1980), Frank Wells (President of Walt Disney, April 3, 1994), John F Kennedy Jr. (son of President Kennedy, July 16, 1999), Hansie Cronje (former South African cricket captain, June 1, 2002), in February 2003, Pakistan Air Force chief Mushaf Ali Mir and his wife perished when the plane carrying them crashed on a mountain in fog near Kohat, John Walton (billionaire and second son to Sam Walton founder of Wal-Mart, June 27, 2005), Indian Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat and his wife died in a chopper crash near Tamil Nadu on December 8, 2021, and former Chilean President Sebastian Pinera had died from drowning after a helicopter crash in a lake in the south of the country on February 6, 2024.