1973: Jim Croce – dead at just 30 years of age.

Jim Croce

Jim Croce had just wrapped up a show in Northwestern State University’s Prather Coliseum in Natchitoches, La.  Croce boarded a small chartered plane to travel to his next show in Sherman, Texas.  Sadly, the plane never made it much past the runway. In what was later described as solely a pilot error, the Beechcraft E18S failed to clear a pecan tree while taking off and crashed. All six people aboard were killed.

An investigation showed that the plane crashed on takeoff after clipping a pecan
tree at the end of the runway. The plane failed to gain enough altitude to clear the tree and did not maneuver to avoid it, even though it was the only tree for hundreds of yards. It was reported as dark, but with clear sky, calm winds, and over five miles of visibility with haze darkness limiting use of visual references.

Others who died in the crash were charter pilot Robert N. Elliott, comedian George Stevens, manager and booking agent Kenneth D. Cortose, and road manager Dennis Rast.  Croce was just 30 years old.

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Croce - News Story