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DC-9 Crashes Killing Marshall Football Team

By Patrick Mondout

At 7:36 pm on November 14, 1970, a Southern Airways DC-9 crashed into a mountain near Huntington, West Virginia killing all 75 passengers and crew. The plane was on final approach and only two miles west of Tri-State Airport. Passengers on board included 43 players and coaches of the Marshall University football team. This ranks as the biggest sports-related disaster in U.S. history as well as the worst air disaster in West Virginia history. It also was just over a month since members and fans of the Wichita State football team were killed in an accident outside Denver.

The crash site revealed that the DC-9 had skimmed the tops of trees before slamming into the hill. NTSB chairman John H. Reed said: "If it hadn't been for those trees, he probably would have made it. It was that close.'' The NTSB was unable to find mechanical problems with the plane and determined that the pilot came in too low for the landing.

Southern Airways Southern Air DC-9

A Southern Airways DC-9 -similar to flight 932 - seen at the Eglin Air Force Base in August 1974.

Image courtesy of AirNikon. Find more of his photos at


Source: National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report.

Southern Airways 932 at a Glance
AirlineSouthern Airways
DateNovember 14, 1970
Flight number932
Registration NumberN97S
Crew Fatalities4 of 4
Passenger Fatalities71 of 71
Total Fatalities75 of 75

Air Safety References:
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Faith, Nicholas. Black Box: The Air-Crash Detectives-Why Air Safety Is No Accident. Motorbooks International, 1997.
Gero, David. Aviation Disasters: The World's Major Civil Airliner Crashes Since 1950. Sutton, 2003.
Job, Macarthur. Air Disaster (Volume 1). Aerospace Publications: Fyshwick, Australia, 1995.
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Job, Macarthur. Air Disaster (Volume 3). Aerospace Publications: Fyshwick, Australia, 1999.
Krause, Shari Stamford. Aircraft Safety: Accident Investigations, Analyses & Applications. McGraw Hill, New York, 1996.
Macpherson, Malcolm. The Black Box : All-New Cockpit Voice Recorder Accounts Of In-flight Accidents. New York: William Morrow, 1998.
Macpherson, Malcolm. On a Wing and a Prayer: Interviews with Airline Disaster Survivors. Perennial, 2002.
Owen, David. Air Accident Investigation, 2nd Edition. Motorbooks International, 2002.
Stewart, Stanley. Emergency! - Crisis on the Flight Deck, 2nd Edition. Airlife Publishing, England, 2003.
Walters, James M. Aircraft Accident Analysis: Final Reports. McGraw-Hill Professional, 2000.
Wells, Alexander T. Commercial Aviation Safety, 3rd Edition. McGraw-Hill Professional, 2001.


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Airline: Southern Airways

Location: near Huntington, Virginia

Aircraft: DC-9-31

Date: November 14, 1970

Total Fatalities: 75 of 75

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