Music

Country Music Memories: Patsy Cline Dies in a Plane Crash

Fifty-eight years ago today (March 5, 1963) was a tragic day for the country music community: It was on that date that Patsy Cline, along with Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas, was killed in a plane crash while on her way home from a benefit concert in Kansas City, Kan.

Although she was ill with the flu, Cline performed three shows at Kansas City’s Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall on March 3, to raise money for the family of DJ Jack “Cactus” Call, who had been killed in a car crash that January. Also among the performers at the benefit shows were Hawkins, Copas, George Jones, George Riddle and the Jones Boys, Billy Walker, Dottie West, Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper, George McCormick and the Clinch Mountain Boys.

Following her final performance, Cline returned to the Town House Motor Hotel in Kansas City. When weather conditions prohibited Cline from flying out on March 4, West invited Cline to join her and her husband Bill on the 16-hour drive back to Music City. Cline declined, saying, “Don’t worry about me, Hoss. When it’s my time to go, it’s my time to go.”

After spending a second night at the motel, Cline checked out around 12:30PM and left for the Fairfax Municipal Airport in Kansas City. There, she boarded a private plane, owned by her manager, Randy Hughes, who would be piloting the aircraft. Copas and Hawkins joined Cline and Hughes on the plane, which departed Kansas City at around 2PM.

Hughes refueled in Dyersburg, Tenn., and was advised that weather conditions were poor for flying; however, he decided to attempt the flight in the inclement weather, saying that he would return to Dyersburg if he had any trouble. The plane left Dyersburg at a little after 6PM. No further contact was made after takeoff.

Shortly after takeoff, a witness reported hearing a low-flying aircraft. At 6:29PM, the plane crashed near Camden, Tenn.; the wreckage was found early the next morning. The cause of the crash was blamed on the inexperience of the pilot.

Cline was 30 years old when she died. She was survived by her husband, Charlie Dick, who died in 2015, as well as her two children, Julie and Randy, who were four and two, respectively, at the time of her death.

Cline was posthumously inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1973.

This story was originally written by Gayle Thompson, and revised by Annie Zaleski.

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