Nevada Appeal at 150: Feb. 15, 1961: U.S. skating team wiped out in crash

All 18 members of the United States figure skating team flying to Prague for an international meet were killed when a Belgian jet airliner crashed out of a bright blue sky near Brussels Airport. The crash killed 73 persons, including 52 Americans.

Among the dead was America’s “queen of the ice,” Laurence Owen, 16, who won the North American figure skating championship only four days ago in Philadelphia.

This was the first major air disaster of 1961, the first crash of a Boeing 707 jet in commercial service, and a great tragedy to American athletics.

In addition to the 18 members of the skating team there were 14 other Americans in the party of skaters, including five professional coaches. An official of the American Skating Union said it would be three years before the U.S. again could develop championship competitors in the sport.

This continues the Appeal’s review of news stories and headlines during its Sesquicentennial year.


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