Friday, July 15, 2011

Airplane related deaths & American professional wrestling

     Flying in an airplane is convenient, fast, economic, and relatively safe.  Worldwide millions of people fly daily. (1)  American professional wrestlers are required to perform in different cities throughout the world.  Over the years a number of wrestlers have been involved in fatal airplane crashes.

Bobby Shane
     On February 20, 1975 an airplane went down near Tampa, Florida killing wrestler Robert  Schoenberger (Bobby Shane).  Following a card held at the Miami Beach Auditorium on February 19, Schoenberger got on a plane piloted by fellow wrestler Ronald Reed (Buddy Colt).  Also on the plane were Gary Williams (Gary Hart) and Mike McCord (Austin Idol).  The plane was destined for Tampa, Florida, but was diverted to Davis Island in Hillsboro Bay due to bad weather.  During the descent the plane landed in the waters of Hillsboro Bay at approximately 1:30 am.  All survived except Schoenberger.  (2)

     A plane carrying promoter David Crockett and wrestlers Richard Fliehr (Ric Flair), John Wisniski (Johnny Valentine), George Woodin (Tim Woods/Mr. Wrestling), and Bob Bruggers left Charlotte headed for Wilmington, North Carolina on October 4, 1975.  The plane ran out of gas and crashed before reaching the Wilmington airport.  All were hospitalized with serious injuries.  Pilot Michael Farkas would eventually die from the injuries.  While the rest survived, Valentine and Bruggers never wrestled again. (3)  

     Six professional wrestlers died while doing a United Services Organization tour for Allied troops when the plan they were traveling in went down in France on March 3, 1945.  The deceased were Benny Reuben, Harold Sabath, George Mack, Gaius Young, Lester Chapman, and George Ross. (4) 

     Joseph Lyman, a professional wrestler who achieved success in the Pacific Northwest, died on September 25, 1948 when the plane he was piloting crashed.  Lyman left Boise, Idaho and his plane went down near Bend, Oregon.  He was booked to wrestle in Eugene. (5)  




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