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Remembering Patsy Cline – 50 Year Anniversary Of Historic Plane Crash

Patsy Cline
Courtesy of MCA records

March 5, 2013 marks 50 years since the plane crash that took the life of legendary country singer Patsy Cline. However, Cline wasn’t the only singer to perish that fateful day.

At the time the plane went down, Hawkshaw Hawkins (married to Jean Shepard) had just hit No. 1 with ‘Lonesome 7-7203.’ Meanwhile, Cowboy Copas, who many considered the biggest star of the three at the time, was still enjoying the massive success of 1960’s ‘Alabam.’ Immortalized and made larger than life in the films Coal Miner’s Daughter and Sweet Dreams, Patsy Cline was considered the rising star who was on a hot streak with songs like ‘I Fall To Pieces’ and ‘Crazy.’ Cline’s manager Randy Hughes was serving as the pilot.

The singers were warned not to fly in the storm after playing a benefit concert for a DJ in Kansas City. Despite the warnings, their urges to get home won out, and they began to fly in inclement weather. Ironically, Opry star Billy Walker (known for ‘Charlie’s Shoes’) was supposed to be on the fatal flight. Hawkshaw Hawkins took his ticket, after Walker left on a commercial flight to be home with a sick family member.

Another strange fact suggests that Randy Hughes’ flight instructor had also trained Jim Reeves, whose plane crashed the following year. Neither pilot was instrument-rated and both attempted using visual flight rules known as VFR—impossible in the driving rain faced by both flights.

Interviews with Widow Jean Shepard and Robert K. Oreman

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