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Worst Air Disasters in Sports History

The plane crash involving the Lokomotiv hockey team joins the tragic list.


In September of 2011, a plane crash in western Russia killed nearly the entire roster of the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, a team in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League. It joins the list of the most tragic air disasters involving sports teams and athletes.

September 6, 2011: Lokomotiv Yaroslavl Hockey Team

The crash kills 43 passengers and crew. Of the dead, 36 are players, coaches, or staff members from the Lokomotiv team. The impact is felt throughout the hockey world, as the victims include former NHL and minor league players, including former Calgary Flames captain Brad McCrimmon and Slovak start Pavol Demitra. The Kontinental Hockey League delays the start of its schedule and Lokomotiv withdraws for the season, planning to return to the KHL in 2012-13.

April 27, 1993: Zambian Soccer Team

18 players are are among those killed on a flight taking them to a World Cup qualifying game. Replacement players later create an inspirational story by finishing second in the African Cup competition in 1994.

March 14, 1980: U.S. Boxing Team

A Polish Airlines plane crashes outside Warsaw, killing all passengers. The dead include 14 boxers and eight officials from the U.S. boxing team.

October 13, 1972: Montevideo Rugby Club

A plane crash in the Andes Mountains kills 29 team members. Survivors hang on for several weeks until they are rescued, forced to cannibalism to stay alive. The story is later dramatized in the movie, Alive.

November 14, 1970: Marshall University Football Team

The crash of a DC-9 in west Virginia kills 37 players and staff from the Marshall team. It's the worst tragedy ever involving an NCAA team. The team's subsequent revival is later told in the movie, We Are Marshall.

February 16, 1961: U.S. Figure Skating Team

The entire U.S. team - 18 figure skaters and 16 team officials and coaches - are among the 72 victims of a plane crash in Belgium. The team had been on its way to the World Championships in Prague. The 1961 World Championships are subsequently cancelled. The story is told in the 2006 book Frozen in Time and the movie Rise, which debuted on the 50th anniversary of the crash in 2011.

February 6, 1958: Manchester United Soccer Team

The crash outside Munich, Germany kills 23 people, including eight Manchester United players. Among the dead are several of "Busby's Babes," young players recruited by manager Matt Busby. Busby himself survives the crash, along with future star Bobby Charlton.

January 5, 1950: Soviet Air Force Hockey Team

A crash near Sverdlovsk kills 11 players, including star goalie Harry Mellups. A replacement roster is quickly formed, and for years the accident remains a secret, with the Soviet media helping suppress the story. GreatestHockeyLegends.com has the full story.

May 4, 1949: "Il Grande Torino" Soccer Club

With five consecutive Serie A titles, Torino A.C. Football is leading the league with four games left in the season when a plane crash near Turin claims 18 team members among its 35 victims. The accident devastates the Torino dynasty and is also a serious blow to the Italian national side.

November 8, 1948: Czechoslovakian Hockey Team

Traveling to London for an exhibition game, six players are killed when their airplane disappears over France. The tragedy is compounded when family and teammates of the dead are persecuted by the Communist regime, convinced that the disappearance of the aircraft was a cover-up for defections to the west. GreatestHockeyLegends.com has the full story.

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