New Article Looks At Famous Pro Wrestling Airplane Crash


The following is an excerpt from a new article on The Post and Courier website:

MOONEYHAM COLUMN: Greatness, not tragedy, defined Colt’s career

Buddy Colt just might have been the greatest performer to have never held the world heavyweight title.

With an impressive physique, strong facial features and the ability to play the role of cocky heel to perfection, Colt could deliver in the ring and was a strong candidate to carry the prestigious NWA world heavyweight title.

But tragedy would strike during the pre-dawn hours of Feb. 20, 1975, forever altering the course of wrestling history.

A small aircraft piloted by Colt, with three other wrestlers on board, crashed into the dark, murky waters of Tampa Bay. The accident would claim the life of Bobby Shane and effectively end Colt’s in-ring career.

Colt, whose real name is Ron Read, was 39 at the time. Shane, one of the most promising talents in the business, had not yet reached his 30th birthday.

It’s been more than 36 years since the tragedy, but the 75-year-old Colt is still haunted by memories of the ill-fated flight.

Colt, who was a major star in the lucrative Georgia and Florida territories, was piloting a small Cessna 173 aircraft from Opa-Locka to Tampa, Fla., following a show at the Miami Convention Center. The plane was carrying three other heel performers including Shane (Robert Schoenberger), Mike McCord (Dennis McCord) and manager Playboy Gary Hart (Gary Williams).

“I wasn’t flying constantly at that time, but I wasn’t what you’d call a brand new pilot either,” says Colt, who was an experienced aviator who had first flown an airplane solo in 1957 in a Piper Cub J-3.

The plane was to have landed at Tampa International, but rough weather forced Colt to try nearby Peter O. Knight Airport on Davis Island. The aircraft never would reach its destination.

Check out the complete article online at

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