|The Patsy Cline Plane Crash
|March 5, 1963 : Camden Tennessee
|* News Reports *
|4 OPRY STARS DIE IN CRASH
Plane Debris Yields Bodies At Camden
Camden - The remains of four country music personalities,
including three nationally known Grand Ole Opry stars, were found
this morning in the scattered bits of a private plane which crashed
in rugges woodlands near here. The victims were Patsy Cline,
Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins, and Randy Hughes,
believed to be the pilot of the ill-fated aircraft.
The wreckage was discovered about 6 a.m. after a night-long
search by Highway Patrol, Civil Defense and local officers.
Parts of the yellow plane and bits of human flesh were scattered
over a 60-yard area a mile off Highway 70 about three miles west
of Camden. The wreckage was between the highway and a ranger
tower, which had served as a base of operations for searchers.
Civil Defense official Dean Brewer, asked whether all four bodies
had been located, replied:
"There's not enough to count . . . They're all in small pieces."The
plane left Dyersburg about 6 p.m. Tuesday for a flight to Nashville.
The entertainers had been in Kansas City for a benefit
performance for the late Cactus Jack Call, a disc jockey.
Sam Webb, whose farm is near the dense woodlands said he saw
a plane circling his home about 7 p.m. and that it was "revving up
its motor. . . going fast and then slow, like it was attempting to
climb." Webb said the plane left his sight and then he heard
something "like it struck the top of some trees."
The weather in the area at the time of the accident was termed
"extremely turbulent." Investigators of the Civil Aeronautics Board
were enroute to the crash scene to make a detailed probe of the
wreckage in an effort to learn the cause of the smashup.
Meanwhile in another phase of the investigation, Dr. J.S.
Butterworth, CAB medical examiner, and Dr. A. T. Hix, Benton
County Medical Examiner were examining the remains of the four
victims. The wreckage was located by searchers using field glasses
in the fire tower and almost simultaneously by ground searchers
Lewis and Claude Bradford, brothers who farm near the scene,
and W. J. Hollingsworth of Sandy River Road.
The plane apparently struck a large tree before hitting the ground.
Pieces of the aircraft were hanging in the tree and a three-foot hole
marked the spot where the main part of the fuselage struck the
ground. The terrain in the area is so rugged that some searchers
returning during the night were covered with bruises, scratches and
blood and according to one observer, "looked like they had been in
a bear fight." The wreck scene is about five miles west of the
Tennessee River. After the wreckage was located, about a 100
cars lined Old Stage Road, about 150 yards from the scene.
Benton County Sheriff Loye Furr described the area as "full of
woods, hills, hollows and swamps.
Refueling Stop The single-engine plane stopped at Dyersburg
to refuel and the Dyersburg Airport manager, Bill Braese, said
the occupants "had a cup of coffee."
|* Patsy Cline * Hawkshaw Hawkins * Cowboy Copas * Randy Hughes *
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|Editor: Pat Adams - Nashville TN
|Opry Hit Hardest
By Fatal Air Crash
The crash Tuesday night near
Camdem represented a
multi-million dollars worth
of show business talent:
Patsy Cline, 29, has been
described as one of the finest
girl singers in the world.
Cowboy Copas, 49, was a
popular performers in his field.
Hawkshaw Hawkins, 43,
was known for his versatility.
He functioned as a manager
of talent (one of his talents
was Patsy Cline). He was
an able guitarist, and as a
sideline, sold stocks and
bonds for Jack M. Bass and
Sons, Nashville brokerage
firm. Governor Frank Clement
commented: "With the deaths
of Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas,
Hawkshaw Hawkins and
Randy Hughes the
entertainment world suffers a
great professional loss and
Tennessee suffers a great
personal loss. They were
typical of the serious-minded,
hard working professional
people dedicated to country
music artistry. I counted them
among my close friends and
extend my deep and sincere
sympathy to their families."
All were regular member
of WSM's Grand Ole Opry.
|God On My Side
Says Billy Walker
"God was on my side,"
Billy Walker said today.
"Else how can you explain my
being here -- and Patsy, Copas
and Hawk and Randy gone."
Walker, a Columbia recording
artist and member of the Grand
Ole Opry, was one of the
entertainers who appeared on
the benefit show the past said
the tall, hefty Texan. "I was not
scheduled to ride in the plane.
room for me in the four-seater.
So I went out and back on a
commercial flight. There was
some kidding about my size
and how I weighed too much
to get in the small ship. Ironic
isn't it that the final
appearances of Patsy, Hawk,
Copas and Randy would be for
commented Walker who lives
on Jasperson Drive in Madison
(a suburb of Nashville). Walker's
recent recent record hits have
been "Charlie's Shoes," "Willie
the Weeper" and "Funny How
Time Slips Away". "Sorta
prophetic titles, aren't they?"
he asked. Tday I'm fortunate
just to be Billy Walker.
"This terrible tragedy - and
my nearness to it - will haunt
me a long, long time."
the plane crash
|Check out our Lynyrd Skynyrd Plane Crash pages
|An old Grand Old Opry poster with Patsy Cline
and others from January 1, 1953.