45 years ago a devastating plane crash took place in Evansville.

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The Day Evansville Cried Purple Tears

December 13th marks 45 years since the day Evansville "cried purple tears." On this day 45 years ago,  Air Indiana flight 216 crashed just after takeoff from the Evansville Regional Airport.  On board was the 1977 University of Evansville men's basketball team. They were on their way to a game in Tennessee.


29 people tragically lost their lives that day.

“Out of the agony of this hour, we will rise.” - former UE President Wallace Graves


From the Ashes

The University of Evansville took to Facebook to announce that in honor of the anniversary of the plane crash, they will be hosting a Livestream of the 2016  documentary From the Ashes: The University of Evansville Purple Aces.  The heart-wrenching documentary recounts the tragedy that happened on this day 45 years ago.  Today only (December 13th) that documentary is available online if you'd like to watch it, you can see it here.


A Personal Story About the 1977 Basketball Team

While I was born many years after the University of Evansville plane crash, I always grew up knowing about the plane crash and the impact it had on the Evansville community.

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Google Maps

My Nana worked on the University of Evansville campus back in the 1970s as a grill cook.  She said oftentimes she would get in trouble because she'd always give the basketball players more food on their trays than she was supposed to because they were "growing boys" and "needed the extra nutrition!"


My Nana is from Rhode Island and she has a thick east coast accent even to this day, and she said the guys on the basketball team would regularly come through her line and give her a hard time about her accent. Don't worry, Nana always gave them a hard time back.  She said they'd always come through the line and talk to her about the basketball season and how their day was going, and her exact words when she talks about them are:

They were all such great stand-up young men, who were always so kind.  They were all such good kids with bright futures ahead.

My sweet Nana is 90 years old now, to this day she still tears up when talking about the plane crash.  There's no denying the impact the 1977 plane crash has had on the Evansville community.

Below is another documentary about the University of Evansville plane crash, this one is from the students of Reitz High School a few years ago.


LOOK: 50 images of winning moments from sports history

Sometimes images are the best way to honor the figures we've lost. When tragedy swiftly reminds us that sports are far from the most consequential thing in life, we can still look back on an athlete's winning moment that felt larger than life, remaining grateful for their sacrifice on the court and bringing joy to millions.

Read on to explore the full collection of 50 images Stacker compiled showcasing various iconic winning moments in sports history. Covering achievements from a multitude of sports, these images represent stunning personal achievements, team championships, and athletic perseverance.


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