Notable sports team air disasters

The KHL hockey team Lokomotiv, whose roster includes former NHL players, has joined the list of tragic air disasters involving sports teams.
A poster of some of the famous members of the Busby Babes team hangs outside Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester on Feb. 5, 2008, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Munich air disaster. ((Jon Super/Associated Press))

A passenger jet carrying a KHL hockey team Lokomotiv crashed Wednesday in western Russia, killing at least 43 people, according to officials.

With frequent air travel, the sports world has seen air tragedies claim the lives of legendary athletes and coaches, such as Knute Rockne, Rocky Marciano, Payne Stewart, Graham Hill and Thurman Munson, among others.

The following is a list of some of the notable air tragedies involving sports teams over the years:

May 4, 1949

Il Grande Torino, the dominant Italian soccer club of the 1940s, again leads the league when disaster strikes.  A total of 31 people, including 18 players, die as the Italian Airlines crashes upon descent into Superga Hill. Turin doesn't win another national title until the mid-1970s. 

Dec. 9, 1956

Five CFL players are killed near Chilliwack, B.C. on a flight back from the all-star game. They are Saskatchewan players Gordon Sturtridge, Mel Beckett, Ray Syrnyk and Mario Demarco, along with Winnipeg Blue Bomber Calvin Jones.

Future Hall of Famer Ron Atchison had a ticket for that flight but chose to take a later plane. The Roughriders great died in 2010 at the age of 80.

Feb. 6, 1958

British European Airways flight crashes after takeoff in Munich, ultimately killing 23, including eight members of Manchester United.  The dead include several of "Busby's Babes", players recruited at a young age by club manager Matt Busby. Busby is seriously injured but survives, as does another Babe, future club and English national team legend Bobby Charlton. 

In this 1961 file photo, smoldering wreckage of a Sabena Boeing jet airliner that crashed near Brussels, Belgium, killing members of the U.S. figure skating team ((Associated Press))

Feb. 16, 1961

En route to the world championships in Prague, 18 athletes from the U.S. figure skating team, many of them national champions perish. The 72 people killed when Sabena Flight 548 crashes in Berg, Belgium also include 16 officials, among them Peggy Fleming's coach William Kipp. 

Fall 1970

Members of Wichita State's football team are among the 31 dead in an Oct. 2 crash in Colorado. On Nov. 18, a Southern Airways DC-9 goes down on final approach in West Virginia. All 75 are dead, including 37 players and staff from Marshall University football team. 

Oct. 13, 1972

Uruguayan Air Force plane crashes into the Andes, carrying members of a Montevideo rugby team. A total of 29 die as a result of the crash and an ensuing avalanche. The rest survive for several weeks until the the wreckage is located, some resorting to cannibalism. The tale of tragedy and survival was documented later in the motion picture Alive

March 14, 1980

LOT Polish Airlines crashes near Warsaw due to mechanical failure, killing all 87 on board, including 22 members of the U.S. amateur boxing team. On board were 14 boxers and eight officials, including Tom Johnson, the coach of the 1976 Montreal Olympics side that won five gold medals. 

April 27, 1993

All 30 people are killed, including 18 players from Zambia's national soccer team, who were en route to a World Cup qualifier against Senegal. The dead are honoured with a monument outside the national stadium and the replacements become national heroes after finishing as African Cup runner-ups just a year later.