World leaders killed in plane crashes

Since WWII, numerous leaders of governments or major international organizations have been killed in plane crashes. None of these deaths occurred on a regular airline flight, and some of them were due to some kind of hostile action.

  1. Poland - 1943: Prime Minister and Commander-in-chief of the Polish Army Władysław Sikorski was killed on 4 July1943 along with 10 other passengers in the crash of a Liberator bomber shortly after takeoff from Gibralter. There were a total of 16 occupants of the RAF Consolidated B-24 Liberator, and the pilot, Eduard Prchal, was the only survivor. The aircraft was headed to the United Kingdom. Sikorski was the head of the Polish government in exile from 1939 until his death.

  2. Philippines - 1957: President Ramon Magsaysay was killed on 17 March 1957 in the crash of a Philippines Air Force C47 aircraft near Cebu, Philippines. The aircraft was on a domestic flight from Cebu to Manila when the right engine malfunctioned during climb. The aircraft crashed into a mountain, killing all five crew members and 20 of the 21 passengers.

  3. United Nations - 1961: Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld was killed on 18 September 1961 along with 10 other passengers and five crew members in the crash of a DC6 near Ndola, Zambia.

  4. Iraq - 1966: President Abdul Salam Arif was killed on 13 April 1966 in the crash of either an aircraft or a helicopter in southern Iraq.

  5. Bolivia - 1969: President René Barrientos was killed on 27 April 1969 when the helicopter he was piloting crashed into power lines while it was flying between the towns of Tocopaya and Arque, Bolivia.

  6. Mauritania - 1979: Prime Minister Ahmed Ould Bouceif was killed on 27 May 1979 along with 11 other occupants when their de Havilland Buffalo aircraft crashed into the Atlantic Ocean near Dakar, Senegal. Bouceif was traveling from Nouakchott, Mauritania to Dakar to attend an international conference. At the time of the crash, the Dakar airport was closed due to a dust storm.

  7. Ecuador -1981: President Jaime Roldós Aguilera was killed on 24 May 1981 along with his wife, the defense minister, and seven others in the crash of a Ecuadorean Air Force Avro aircraft while on a domestic flight between Quito and Zapotillo.

  8. Panama -1981: Panamanian leader Omar Torrijoswas killed on 31 July 1981 along with five others in the crash of a Panamanian Air Force Twin Otter while on a domestic flight between the towns of Pemonome and Coclesito.

  9. Mozambique - 1986: President Samora Machel was killed on 18 October 1986, along with 34 others, were killed when his Tupolev 134 aircraft crashed near Mbuzini, South Africa, in an area less than 200 meters from the Mozambican border and just north of Swaziland. The aircraft had been on a flight from Mbala, Zambia to Maputo, Mozambique, and had a controlled flight into terrain while the aircraft was descending to Maputo. The crash occurred at night shortly before moonrise. The crew was also confused about the status of the navigational and landing aids at Maputo. Eight of the nine crew members were killed, as were 27 of the 35 passengers.

  10. Pakistan - 1988: President Zia-ul-Haq was killed on 17 August 1988 along with 31 others, were killed when his C130 aircraft crashed just after taking off from Bahawalpur, Pakistan.

  11. Rwanda and Burundi -1994: President Juvenal Habyarimana of Rwanda and President Cyprien Ntarymira of Burundi were both killed on 6 April 1994 when their plane was reportedly shot down by two surface to air missiles as their Falcon 50 approached the Kigali, Rwanda airport. Three crew members and seven other passengers were also killed.

  12. Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia - 2004: President Boris Trajkovski was killed when his King Air crashed near Rotmilja, Bosnia and Herzegovina. There were two crew members and six other passengers on board.

  13. Poland - 2010: Lech Kaczyński was killed in the crash of a Polish Air Force Polish Air Force Tupolev 154M near Smolensk, Russia. President Kaczyński, along with an official delegation that included his wife, former Polish president Ryszard Kaczorowski, and a number of high ranking Polish officials, were traveling from Warsaw, Poland to Smolensk, Russia to commemorate the 70th anniversary of a WWII massacre of Polish soldiers and civilians. All 96 persons on board the aircraft were killed.

Related resources
Plane crashes of major American political figures
Celebrity plane crashes
Historical celebrity crashes

World leaders killed in plane crashes -- Revised: 11 August 2015