Air Indiana Flight 216

Coordinates: 38°2′11.89″N 87°31′7.61″W / 38.0366361°N 87.5187806°W / 38.0366361; -87.5187806
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Air Indiana Flight 216
DC-3 similar to accident aircraft
DateDecember 13, 1977
SummaryRudder and right aileron
control locks not removed before takeoff
SiteEvansville Regional Airport, Indiana, United States
Aircraft typeDouglas DC-3
OperatorAir Indiana

The Air Indiana Flight 216 crash occurred on December 13, 1977, at 19:22 CST, when a Douglas DC-3, registration N51071 carrying the University of Evansville basketball team, the Evansville Purple Aces, crashed on takeoff at the Evansville Regional Airport in Evansville, Indiana. The aircraft lost control and crashed shortly after lift-off.[1] The plane was on its way to Nashville International Airport, taking the team to play the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.[2][3]

The National Transportation Safety Board blamed the crash on the pilot's failure to remove gust locks on the right aileron and the rudder before takeoff, as well as an overloaded baggage compartment. The NTSB report said that the plane might have been able to stay airborne had only one of the problems existed. As it was, the extra baggage shifted the plane's center of gravity to the back end, and the locked rudder and aileron made it impossible to control the overweight aircraft.

The only member of the Purple Aces who did not die in the crash was 18-year-old freshman David Furr; he was out for the season with an ankle injury and thus was not on the plane that day. Two weeks after the crash, Furr and his younger brother Byron were killed in a car accident near Newton, Illinois, leaving the entire 1977 Evansville team dead.[4]

A memorial has been constructed at the University of Evansville known as the "Weeping Basketball." On stone slabs are engraved the names of the players who were killed, including Furr. (The final name on the monument is that of Charles Goad of the Goad Equipment Company, invited on the flight by his friend Bob Hudson.) Also engraved is an excerpt from the eulogy delivered by school president Wallace Graves at a memorial service: "Out of the agony of this hour we will rise."

Flight crew[edit]

  • Airplane crew:[5]
    • Pilot - Ty Van Pham (aged 42)
    • Copilot - Gaston Ruiz (aged 35)

See also[edit]

  • List of accidents involving sports teams
  • Air Midwest Flight 5481, an accident where maintenance errors combined with aircraft overloading to cause a stall and crash.
  • Fine Air Flight 101, a DC-8 that was improperly loaded with the center of gravity shifted towards the back. Because loaders did not give the crew the proper information with regards to how the aircraft was loaded, the pilots improperly set their trim for takeoff. The plane immediately stalled and crashed after departure.


  1. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Douglas C-53 (DC-3) N51071 Evansville-Dress Regional Airport, IN (EVV)". December 13, 1977. Retrieved January 29, 2012.
  2. ^ "Team plane crashes in flames". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. December 14, 1977. p. 1.
  3. ^ "Air crash ends Evansville's dreams". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). wire service reports. December 14, 1977. p. 1D.
  4. ^ "Last Evansville player dies in auto accident". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. (Florida). UPI. December 29, 1977. p. 1E.
  5. ^ "30 Years After 90 Seconds". September 9, 2011.

External links[edit]

38°2′11.89″N 87°31′7.61″W / 38.0366361°N 87.5187806°W / 38.0366361; -87.5187806