Cal Poly plane crash: 50 years later

October 29, 2010

Cal Poly is planning a special memorial ceremony during Saturday’s football game against  St. Francis University to mark the 50th anniversary of the plane crash that killed 16 players, the team manager, and an alumni booster. [LA Times]

Survivors of the historic plane crash, including Oakland Raiders passing coordinator Ted Tollner and Cuesta College president Dr. Gil Stork, as well as family members of players killed in the accident, are expected to participate.

The plane, a twin-engine C-46 Artic-Pacific charter, crashed attempting take-off from the Toledo airport around 11 p.m. on Oct. 29, 1960. The Cal Poly Mustangs had just been defeated 50-6 by  Bowling Green in their furthest road trip from home.

There were 48 people on board and 22 died. The plane climbed 100 feet before the left engine failed, and then the right one.  Take-off had been attempted in heavy fog with minimal visibility. Investigators later reported that the plane was 2,000 pounds overweight.

Five women were widowed and 11 children lost fathers in the crash. Ray Porras, 27, the oldest player killed, left behind four young daughters–all four women will be at Saturday’s game.

The Mustangs came back the next year for a six-game season. The team didn’t fly to a road game for nine years after the crash.

Cal Poly built a special memorial plaza directly next to the football stadium in 2006, where there are 18 pillars, one for each man associated with the team.

All in the shape of a huddle

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I have a 1959 El Rodeo (Cal Poly) yearbook from the year before. A graduating senior and Varsity football player was John Madden. It was pretty well known that Madden disliked planes, and actually took his own bus from city to city when he was an announcer on Monday Night Football. I think I understand why, now.

Good on you Karen for bringing this to our attention once again. Its a reminder of a time gone by when community came together as a family to grieve the loss of treasured members of that family. Its a time to pause and reflect on our core values.