The lifespan of an aircraft is measured in pressurization cycles. Each time a plane takes a flight where its cabin is pressurized, the fuselage and wings must withstand the generated pressure.

Since both parts are made of multiple massive plates connected with rivets and fasteners, repeated pressurization cycles develop metal fatigue. In other words, there will be cracks around the fastener holes.

As for the engine, the valuable life (at its full potential) is around 40 years, and Boeing and Airbus, the biggest aircraft manufacturers, build their planes to last longer.

Still, it depends on the airlines’ abilities to maintain the engines well-maintained, and parts are replaced regularly.

On October 20, 1977, a 30-year-old Convair CV-240 passenger aircraft crashed in Gillsburg, Mississippi, after running out of fuel midair. The problem was quite simple: the fuel gauge in the old plane was inaccurate.

t might not be a problem for road vehicles but a catastrophic mistake for a commercial airplane.

It carried two flight crews and 24 passengers, including the entire members of rock legends Lynyrd Skynyrd.


10 /10 Casualties

Six of the 26 occupants were killed due to the accident.

The band’s Ronnie Van Zant (lead vocalist), Cassie Gaines (backing vocalist), Steve Gaines (guitarist/vocalist and Cassie’s younger brother), and Dean Kilpatrick (assistant road manager) were among the casualties.

Pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray also did not survive.

Drummer Artimus Pyle was in good enough condition to pull the survivors out of the wreckage and seek help in a rural farmhouse in Louisiana. The accident halted Lynyrd Skynyrd’s musical career for a decade.


9 /10 Greenville To Baton Rouge

Three days after the pioneering rock band released “Street Survivors,” they went on a tour to promote the album.

They performed at the Greenville Memorial Auditorium on October 20, 1977, and were supposed to play again at Louisiana State University.

The band leased a Convair CV-240 out of Texas to take them to the venue.

Aerosmith had planned to use the same plane, but safety concerns led them elsewhere, a good decision on their part. Lynyrd Skynyrd had little option, so they boarded the plane anyway.


8 /10 Uneven Engine Power

The twin-engine airliner started to noticeably misbehave as it came close to the destination after about one and half hours of flying.

While the right engine had been sputtering all along, the pilot didn’t seem bothered. It consumed much more fuel than the left engine, but it wasn’t running as smoothly.

A fire burst out of the suitable machine, and then it died. Things turned sour when the pilot realized the airplane had run out of fuel.

It wouldn’t even reach the nearest airport at McComb, Mississippi. An emergency landing was in order.


7 /10 Free Fall

Before the take-off at 5:02 pm, the airplane had been refueled in Greenville.

Due to unknown problems with the engine, however, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray Jr. did not notice that it was running low on gas before too late at 6:42 pm.

They wouldn’t reach the destination without another refueling, and the nearest airport was 17 miles behind.

And then the left engine also failed, rendering the steering mechanism useless. The airplane and everyone aboard was in a free-fall at 4,500 feet.


6 /10 Landing Gear Mistake

According to Pyle, the pilot made a series of mistakes, eventually leading to the disaster. The pilots trusted the fuel gauge (and other gauges) on the 30-years-old airplane.

They also ignored obvious warning signs like a sputtering engine and unbalanced power throughout the flight.

The pilots lowered the landing gear as the plane was running dangerously low on fuel, and when they wanted to retract it, there just wasn’t enough power.

During the free fall, Pyle acted like a stewardess, urging everyone to fasten their seatbelt, put out the cigarettes, and hold on to something.

5 /10 A Terrible Decision

If the plane had carried enough fuel to turn around and reach McComb airport or even the I-55 highway, lowering the landing gear would have been the right decision.

With both engines failing and the steering mechanism shut down, the only plausible scenario was an emergency landing on an undeveloped area.

The landing gear tripped the fuselage. The airplane crashed in a heavily wooded area near Amite County, Mississippi. Six people, including the pilot and co-pilot, were killed.

Pyle still thinks the pilots were responsible for a series of mistakes that eventually led to the fatal accident.


4 /10 Long 12 Seconds

It took about 12 seconds from when both engines died to the eventual crash. Pyle said the impact was like a baseball bat, only a thousand times stronger.

The plane hit and took out pine trees in its path, losing the left wing (with the engine). Once the totaled CV-240 reached a complete stop, everything went completely silent.

Pyle was still conscious, checking if his legs and manhood were still there. He would never forget that particular moment of silence all his life.

Wikimedia Commons

3 /10 Pain And Injuries

He had pain, but it never stopped him from trying to crawl out of the wreckage.

He located some medical equipment and did what he could to help the others, despite ruined chest cartilage.

As he moved further, he found both the pilot and co-pilot; one was decapitated, and the other was hanging in a tree.

Everyone was in bad condition, and four of his bandmates died from the crash. Pyle was one of three people capable of looking for help.


2 /10 No Fire

In a mobile home north of the crash site, Johnny Mote was working on his farm when he heard a loud bang.

However, the crash made no fire, so that he couldn’t see anything unusual. Pyle could see a helicopter above, but it didn’t spot him.

When Pyle was about to reach the farm, Mote came out with a hunting rifle and fired off a shot as a warning, out of a concern that Pyle and the other two escaped convicts. Pyle then said to Mote, “Plane crash.”

Public Domain

1 /10 Rescue

When Mote realized what had happened, he carried Pyle into his home.

Moments later, Mote took him to a truck and drove him back to the crash site. As they were heading to the wreckage, rescue vehicles followed right behind them.

Upon arriving, Pyle saw hundreds of people rushing to the crash site to help. All victims of the crash were taken to the hospital.

It took Lynyrd Skynyrd 10 years before they reformed with new members. The new lineup released their first album in 1991.

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