Knute Rockne Crash Site
In one of the saddest days in Notre Dame history, Knute Rockne was killed in a plane crash in Bazaar, Kansas on March 31, 1931. Rockne left Kansas City and was bound for Los Angeles where he was going to participate in a motion picture called The Spirit of Notre Dame. The movie was released in October of 1931.
There were six passengers and two pilots aboard and all were killed. A memorial was created at the site of the crash. On that fateful day, James Easter Heathman was 13 years old and heard the explosion when the plane it the ground. He was one of the first persons to the scene. Heathman became a legend because for most of his life, he conducted tours to the crash site at no charge because he wanted to perpetuate Rockne’s legacy. He became an expert on Rockne’s life and was visited by Rockne’s family.
Heathman attended some Notre Dame football games and gave talks on campus to Notre Dame alumni. He estimated he took tens of thousands of people to the crash site. Many were Notre Dame alumni or fans and he became life-long friends with lots of them.
For those interested in visiting the crash site, it is on private property and is off road. It is accessible only by arrangement with the owners. It is an amazing story how Heathman dedicated himself to the site memorial and he ultimately was rewarded by the many friendships he developed with Notre Dame fans and alumni.
Next: Bury SC