Friday, November 20, 2015

#CollisionWithFame: Rev. Grady Nutt, November 23 1982

There’s a whole lot of nuthin’ in west Texas.  People in west Texas are real proud of their nuthin’. They put up barbwire fences to keep your somethin’ off’n their nuthin’. Grady Nutt

Grady Nutt was a Southern Baptist minister who had turned comedian and inspirational writer.  Born and raised in Amarillo, Nutt was a graduate of Baylor University and the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville. He left the ministry to lecture and write.  Nutt made his way onto the national stage with appearances on the Mike Douglas Show in the late 1960s, and later as a regular on the Nashville-based comedy-variety show Hee-Haw.  His down-home, faith based message combined with gentle humor about rural, southern life. He recorded six musical and comedic albums and wrote five books including the best-selling Being Me. 

            On November 23, 1982, Nutt had appeared at a banquet in Vinemont in northern Alabama. That evening, he was leaving Vinemont, Alabama on a chartered Beech 95-B55 (tailnumber N18411) when the craft crashed, killing both the comedic preacher and the two pilots of the aircraft.  The aircraft was a charter of Central American Airways Flying Service from out of Louisville, Kentucky.  Pilots Gene Fox and Ernie Bowie of Louisville were flying the aircraft, and Fox had over 16,000 hours of time in type. On takeoff, the engine evidently stalled and the aircraft crashed. The nighttime flight started under instrument conditions, overcast rainy skies with fog and 900 feet of visibility.  NTSB could not determine an exact cause of the failure of the Beech.
            In one of those instances of irreverent coincidence, one of Nutt’s cast mates on Hee-Haw, comedian Gailard Sartain, played J. P. “Big Bopper” Richardson in the film The Buddy Holly Story.