Ric Flair Details 1975 Plane Crash That Could Have Ended His Life & Career

48 years ago, in 1975, the pro wrestling world was rocked by a pair of plane crashes. The first, on February 20, killed Bobby Shane, retired Buddy Colt, and also severely injured Gary Hart and Austin Idol (then known as Mike McCord). The second, on October 4, killed the pilot, ended the careers of Johnny Valentine and Bob Bruggers, and also maimed Ric Flair, "Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods, and David Crockett. Flair, of course, recovered, and upon his return, became the "Nature Boy" everyone's familiar with. Recently, on "FULL SEND PODCAST," Flair reflected on the crash and the impact it had on his life and career.


"I was in a bar one night," Flair recalled. "This guy came up to me and said, 'You guys drive everywhere?' I said, 'Yeah, it's a lot.' He goes, 'I got a plane.' 'You do?'"

Flair says he asked how much it would cost to fly to, for example, Raleigh, North Carolina, and the pilot quoted him a price of $100 per person.

"We should have known there was something wrong with the guy because he hit a jet stream one time ... the plane, it went upside-down."

Flair Recalls Plane Crash

Flair further claimed that the pilot did not actually have a pilot's license, but that they went on about 50 flights with him before the crash.

"We compensated for [the plane] being overweight [by] 1,400 pounds — unbeknownst to us — by carrying less fuel, and we hit a headwind. Wilmington's on the coast. And what he should've done is land in Raleigh and refueled, but it was 100 miles more [to Wilmington] and I guess he thought he could push it. So we crashed less than a quarter-mile away from the runway."


Flair added that he didn't remember much about the crash itself besides the sound of the engines failing and waking up in the hospital, but it does affect him emotionally to step on a plane nonetheless, and little things set him off.

"On a smaller plane, when they mix the fuel, the engine goes [imitates specific engine noise] 'til they fix the mixture on a prop plane?" he explained. "That noise used to drive me crazy."

Flair also added that "it throws me out of whack for a second" at times when a pilot has to pull back on the plane's throttle.

"I'm used to it now."

'I was half-Billy Graham, half-Dusty Rhodes'

Flair says that because "they liked me a lot," he claims he was paid $1,000 per week (over $5,500 adjusted for inflation) while on the shelf, and though he was supposed to take a year off, he was back in five months, making an effort to tweak his persona during his downtime.


"I was just kind of finding my way around," Flair said. "I was getting a decent push, but I was half-Billy Graham, half-Dusty Rhodes, trying to find myself."

It was Jim Crockett Promotions booker George Scott who suggested Flair pattern himself after "Nature Boy" Buddy Rogers, with Flair putting his own twist on it, particularly after finding inspiration in a mainstream athlete.

"I technically was probably as good a wrestler as [Rogers] was, I just had to 'get it' in my mind, and then I saw Joe Namath. I went, 'That's the ticket.'"

If you use any quotes from this article, please credit "FULL SEND PODCAST" with an h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.