November 30th marked 15 years since the passing of professional wrestler Tim Woods. Ric Flair once called him “the man who saved wrestling,” and for good reason. You may have heard the tale before, but you might be very unfamiliar with Woods’ role in one of the most infamous and history-altering incidents in professional wrestling.
On October 4th, 1975, five passengers and one pilot boarded a twin-engine Cessna 310 in Charlotte bound for Wilmington, North Carolina. It was scheduled to be a 45-minute flight. Upon its descent into Wilmington Airport, the plane ran out of gas, stalled out and clipped the top of the treeline and a utility pole before crashing to the ground.
The pilot was a 28-year-old Vietnam veteran named Joseph Michael Farkas, who had difficulty during liftoff in Charlotte due to the unplanned total weight of the passengers — several of whom were professional wrestlers. He made the mistake of not adequately distributing the weight of the passengers in the plane and, once airborne, elected to dump fuel in an effort to lessen the burden on the tiny plane.
Farkas radioed the Wilmington control tower around 6:25pm to report that one of his engines had failed. The plane crashed between the railroad tracks and a prison farm a half mile away from the airport. Several of the victims were thrown from the airplane, and one was pinned between two seats. Farkas underwent surgery for head injuries late into the night, slipped into a coma, and died the following year.