Evansville Purple Aces Plane Crash – Remembering Flight 216
It's been 45 years to the day since the plane crash that killed all 29 onboard members of the college basketball team and its coaching staff. The plane crashed just 90 seconds after takeoff en route to Middle Tennessee State University for a basketball game. Here is what we know of the tragedy, and how the lives on board that ill-fated flight is still being remembered to this day.
What went wrong?
It is reported that the NTSB had conducted an inspection and made two notations of errors that would have caused the flight to fail. Had there only been one mistake made, the plane may very well have avoided the mechanical failure. Unfortunately, however, with both issues present, it made for the perfect storm.
The NTSB blamed the pilot for not removing a gust lock on the right-side aileron and rudder before takeoff. An aileron is a hinged flight control surface that typically helps form the trailing edge of each wing. They also discovered that the baggage compartment had been critically overloaded. The plane made its final descent only 90 seconds from takeoff in Evansville Indiana.
The only member to not perish in this plane wreck was an 18-year-old freshman who was out due to injury. His name was David Furr, however just two weeks following the crash of Air Indiana flight 216, he and his brother Byron both were killed in an automobile accident in Illinois. A bit of an eerie scenario, that took away the last living member of the team.
Remembering the Purple Aces
A memorial has been in place on the campus of the University of Evansville, including team member David Furr. The memorial plaza was created by friends of the University of Evansville. The names of those lost can be found on monuments surrounding the "weeping basketball" fountain. A very somber and beautiful tribute.
From The Ashes
The University of Evansville invites you to watch a new documentary created for the 45th anniversary of the plane crash, you can find links to the video on their Facebook Page. This hour-long documentary recaps the events of that day and honors the lives of a beloved basketball team.
A Song for the Fallen
Three UE alumni, Lou Thompson, Kymberlee Knight Pearson, and John Howerton a song for the team back in 1977 and it was published in 1983. Take a listen.