Plane Crashes Into Memorial Stadium

I saw this photo on Pinterest and, at first, I thought it was fake. A plane really crashed into Memorial Stadium? Does anyone remember when this happened?

plane crashes into Memorial Stadium
plane crashes into Memorial Stadium

Source: The Baltimore Sun

This happened on December 19th, 1976 only 10 minutes after a Steelers and Colts game. Pittsburgh had dominated during the game, so fortunately, a large number of fans had left relatively early and nobody was seriously injured.

We dug up a story about the crash in The New York Times from December 21st, 1976.

The pilot of a light plane who crashed in the top deck of Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium after Sunday’s playoff football game had been free on $2,100 bond on a previous charge of reckless flying, the authorities said yesterday. For four years before last October, the pilot had been grounded for psychiatric reasons, the authorities said.

The 33-year-old pilot, Donald Kroner, was to be arrested today after his expected release from Union Memorial Hospital, where he was treated for cuts, abrasions and chest bruises suffered in the crash of his plane.

The Baltimore County police said that Mr. Kroner had been arrested on Dec. 14. He was accused then of reckless flying, littering, and making a bomb threat against a former Baltimore Colt linebacker, Bill Pellington.

Mr. Pellington, who retired from the Colts in the late 1960’s, is the proprietor of a restaurant and bar from which Mr. Kroner was once ejected, allegedly for using abusive language.

Mr. Kroner retaliated for the ejection, according to the police, by flying over the restaurant and dropping two bottles and a roll of toilet paper. The bomb threats were made by phone, according to the police.

Here’s another crazy shot of the airplane. And, here’s an article from The Baltimore Sun twenty years later.

plane crash at Memorial Stadium 1976
plane crash at Memorial Stadium 1976

Source: Baltimore Colts Blog

About Tom

Tom founded Ghosts of DC on January 4th, 2012 as a blog to uncover the lost and untold history of Washington, D.C. He has lived in the city for over a decade and loves exploring every corner of the District.

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  • Ahmad Namini

    I remember it quite vividly. With the Steelers dominating the game, the best thing about the day was this plane crash. This was the only interesting thing that day in Baltimore. The game was horrendous.

  • Debra Benner

    I was six years old.But i learn something new every day.WOW

  • Drew P. Weiner

    I was watching this game when it happened. Thanks for the memory clarification!

  • FANBUTNOTAHOMER

    I was at the game, I was 9yrs old, it was my 1st football game…technically we had just left and were on 33rd street in our car, and I can remember Vince Bagli reporting from the Colts locker room that he had just heard a plane crashed in the upper deck. I remember looking back at the stadium and not seeing anything from where we were.
    The game was horrible, that is if you were a Colts fan, like I was…we saw the plane circling the stadium during the game, and thought he was awful low on several occasions – but never expected the crash to happen. Thankfully, we did not win the game, folks would have still been there celebrating…instead the stadium was all but empty with about 4 minutes to go.
    We had seats right at the center of the horseshoe, but lower deck at the end zone level – so it crashed straight above where we would have been in the upper deck.
    Still a Baltimore Colts fan…don’t recognize Indianapolis’ claim on them at all.
    Shame they could not have left us the name, colors and history…they had no right to that, but heck that was a generation ago…kids nowadays don’t know that the Colts ever were in Baltimore and that is a shame.

    • Astrobrant2

      Unfortunately, they did have the right to do that. I remember that snowy night on a late night news bulletin, with all those moving trucks rolling out. Bob Irsay was, and probably still is, the most hated man in Baltimore history.

      A little tidbit you might not know. Certain members of the Colt marching band got wind that Irsay was moving them out, and they broke into the storage area and stole the Colts band uniforms and some other band-related stuff. The Colts, (now Ravens), band stayed together and were making appearances ever since the Colts left. It was hard to lose our team, and then our stadium, but that’s the way things go. We still have our fond memories. My family had season tickets for the Colts. My seat was in row 27, right on the 50-yard-line, home team side. I went to many Orioles games in my teenage years, too — #11 bus down Charles Street, get off at 33rd Street and walk to the stadium. Artie Donovan has left the building. They were my heroes.

      Afterthought: The thing Irsay did that pissed me off the most was not let Baltimore keep that large mural of the classic photo of Alan Ameche scoring the winning touchdown against the Giants in the 1958 NFL championship, (“The Greatest Game Ever Played”). After losing everything else, Mayor Schaeffer pleaded with Irsay to let the city keep the painting. It was from a time long before Irsay had anything to do with the Colts. He refused. He wouldn’t even sell it to the city.

  • Bill

    I was there, standing on the field after the game, saw the plane fly low outside of the stadium, them fly low over the bleacher area buzzing the stands, then came back around, flying straight into the stadium, the tried to climb up and out and crashed into the stands. Unforunately, most exciting thing Baltiomore-wise that happened

  • Astrobrant2

    I was there, too. Around the end of the game, the plane was flying low around the stadium. It was pretty obvious that he had no business being there. After we left the game I saw the plane flying lower and into the open north end of the stadium. I was looking from the west, about a quarter mile away. It was below the top of the upper deck and disappeared into the stadium. I waited. And waited. But I didn’t see it come out anywhere. I just figured it must have turned and gone out the east side of the stadium. When we got to the car, they were talking about the crash on the radio.

    I was 27 and had been a Baltimore Colts fan since early childhood. (I guess that’s why I don’t remember much about the game, other than that plane…lol.)

  • copterwrench

    I was there too and have black and white photos of some of the plays but not the plane