Start date August 31, 1969
Destination Des Moines
Passenger count 2
Aircraft type Cessna 172
Flight origin Midway Airport
Number of deaths 3
Crew count 1
|Similar Nigeria Airways Flight 825, Philippine Airlines Flight 158, Prinair Flight 277, 1969 Aswan Ilyushin Il, Delta Air Lines Flight 821|
The 1969 Newton Cessna 172 crash refers to the crash of a Cessna 172 in Iowa, which killed world champion boxer Rocky Marciano, on 31 August 1969.
N3149X was the registration number of the airplane which crashed, taking the life of former world boxing champion Rocky Marciano as well as two others. On 31 August 1969 at 8:05pm (2005 hrs), the Cessna 172 crashed in Newton, Iowa, after departing at 6 pm (1800 hrs) from Chicago Midway Airport en route to Des Moines where Marciano was to celebrate his 46th birthday during a party one day later. This was to be a surprise party for him; he was to give a speech in support of his friend, Louis Fratto's son. Marciano was to later on fly to Florida to celebrate his birthday at home with his family.
There was a storm system building in the Des Moines region at the time of the accident. The airplane's pilot was 37-year-old Glenn Belz, who was not experienced with night flying or flying during bad weather. Belz preferred to head to Newton instead of landing at Des Moines and risking losing his pilot's license. The airplane was also short of fuel at the time of the crash.
Witness Coleen Swarts observed the airplane reverse its course and then heard a loud sound as it crashed.
Iowa saw two other air accidents involving celebrities during the 1950s and 1960s: the 3 February 1959 crash near Clear Lake that took the lives of rock and roll stars Ritchie Valens, Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper (plus their pilot), and an incident involving the NBA basketball team the Minneapolis Lakers on 18 January 1960, when their DC-3 aircraft crash-landed near Carroll, Iowa, in a cornfield.