Special Report

18 of the Worst Aircraft Disasters in Military History

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Lockheed EC-130E Hercules, Iran
>Year: 1980
>Fatalities: 9

Operation Eagle Claw was an attempt to end the Iranian hostage crisis and rescue 52 U.S. embassy staff held captive in Tehran. The plan included establishing a landing zone in a remote part of Iran, but quickly fell apart when helicopters ran into mechanical issues and a dust storm en route. Commanders decided to abort the mission, but while pulling out, a RH-35D helicopter collided with a EC-130E plane, causing an explosion and killing five airmen onboard the plane and three marines on the helicopter.

Ramstein Air Show, West Germany
>Year: 1988
>Fatalities: 70

At the time the deadliest air show accident in history, the Ramstein tragedy occurred when two Italian military planes collided at low altitude above the runway and then hit a third. One plane crashed onto the runway, hitting an idle U.S. UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and killing its pilot. Another landed on the runway and then careened through a fence and into the crowd, killing 66 spectators. The third exploded upon impact.

Source: sdasmarchives / Flickr

Lockheed P-3C Orion, San Diego, California
>Year: 1991
>Fatalities: 27

Two P-3C Orion Navy submarine-hunting planes collided off the coast of California during a training exercise. One plane was maneuvering to relieve the other during poor weather conditions when the accident happened. All 13 crew members of one plane and 14 of the other were killed in the crash.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Black Hawk Down, Mogadishu, Somalia
>Year: 1993
>Fatalities: 18

In 1993, U.S. troops were in Somalia as part of a United Nations mission to combat local warlord Mohamed Farrah Aidid. U.S. forces entered the city of Mogadishu in helicopters, aiming to capture some of Aidid’s officers. However, two U.S. UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters were shot down and U.S. troops were stuck for 15 hours trying to rescue the survivors. 18 American soldiers and hundreds of Somalis were killed in the fighting.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Boeing CT-43, Dubrovnik, Croatia
>Year: 1996
>Fatalities: 35

A CT-43 transport plane carrying six crew and 29 passengers crashed into a rocky mountainside while trying to land in Dubrovnik. The plane was carrying U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown and a delegation of industry executives on a tour of the region, all of whom were killed in the crash. The accident led to conspiracy theories that Brown had been murdered.

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