On This Day: Patsy Cline Killed in Plane Crash in 1963

by Atlanta Northcutt

On this day, we mourn the loss of one of the first female country music stars. More importantly, we honor the life of the great Patsy Cline by celebrating her talents and focusing on the impact that she not only left on the country music scene but the world, as well.

58 years ago today the world lost a beautiful, soulful, and rich voice. Her incredible vocal talents shone brightly and impacted listeners in a positive and touching way.

The Death of the Rising Country Singer

The tragic and untimely death of Patsy Cline was devastating to the country music genre, as well as fans across America. The rising star was only 30 years old at the time of her passing.

On March 5, 1963, Patsy was killed in an airplane crash while flying from Kansas City to Nashville. Despite having the flu she had given three performances in Kansas City, along with George Jones, Dottie West, and many other country artists who were playing a benefit concert to raise money for the family of late disc jockey Jack “Cactus” Call.

Patsy Cline sang for the last time on March 3. She did so with her powerful and beautiful voice belting out the famous song “Sweet Dreams.”

The Fateful Events

Cline was actually supposed to fly home the previous day. Due to the massive amount of fog surrounding the airport, the airline decided that the safest option was canceling all flights. Dottie West recalled offering Patsy a ride in her and her husband’s car since they were driving to Nashville. Driving from Kansas City to Nashville takes around 16 hours. Patsy politely declined her offer with an eerie response.

 “Don’t worry about me, Hoss. When it’s my time to go, it’s my time,” she replied.

Dottie and her husband safely arrived in Nashville. If Patsy would’ve accepted their offer or if her plane was able to take off on March 4, the day she was meant to fly home, her life may have been saved. Perhaps this story wouldn’t even need to be written.

The Plane Crash That Took Patsy’s Life

Patsy called her mother before leaving for the airport. Joining Cline were two of the other performers, Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins. Randy Hughes was the pilot of the plane.

Hughes continued on after refueling in Dyersburg, TN, despite receiving information that weather conditions were unsafe. Those on board never made it to their destination. The plane crashed in a forest near Camden, TN around 6:30 p.m. Everyone on board, including Patsy Cline, was killed on impact. The following morning, the wreckage from the aircraft was discovered. Pilot error and inclement weather were the two likeliest factors for the cause of the crash.

Patsy Cline’s Legacy and Legendary Sound

Cline changed country music forever as she received credit for creating a sub-genre, the “Nashville Sound.”

In the early 60s, her unique sound was responsible for bringing country and pop music together resulting in introducing country music to a whole new audience.

Patsy Cline was the first female artist to receive an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1973 posthumously. The release of Patsy Cline’s Greatest Hits came four years after her death.  It continues to be one of the all-time best-selling records by a solo female artist.