Special Report

18 of the Worst Aircraft Disasters in Military History

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Grumman EA-6B Prowler, Cavalese, Italy
>Year: 1998
>Fatalities: 20

In 1998, a Marine EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft was flying below regulation altitude when it struck the cables used by an aerial tramway cable car system in Cavalese. While the plane was able to return and land, the cable car plunged over 250 feet and killed all 20 people onboard. The American pilot was tried in a military court in the United States for manslaughter and other offenses but was acquitted. The accident and subsequent acquittal caused public outrage in Europe.

P-51D Mustang, Reno Air Races, Nevada
>Year: 2011
>Fatalities: 11

During an airplane race, a 1940s P-51D Mustang fighter, known as the Galloping Ghost, crashed into a box seat area, filled with people watching the competition. The pilot was killed, along with 10 spectators. The aircraft turned around a racing pylon and then suddenly rolled and took a nosedive into the crowd. An investigation later determined the accident was caused by loose screws on the tail assembly and the pilot pushing the craft past 500 miles per hour for the first time.

Source: Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Dallas Air Show, Texas
>Year: 2022
>Fatalities: 6

In November 2022, two World War II-era military aircraft – a B-17 Flying Fortress and a P-63 Kingcobra – collided at an air show in Texas. All crew members on both flights were killed but no spectators on the ground were reported injured. The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report on the disaster that stated altitude maneuvers weren’t discussed before the flights or while the crafts were in the air, but the investigation remains ongoing.

Sponsored: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.