Friday, February 12, 2016

CollisionWithFame: Ken Hubbs, February 13 1964

Ken Hubbs was scared of flying.  He decided to approach the problem the way many folks do, by running straight at his fear – Ken Hubbs took flying lessons, receiving his license at the end of January, 1964.  
Hubbs, 22, had emerged as one of the best middle-infielders in the game of baseball in 1962, when the Chicago Cubs brought him up from the minors to take over second base. The starter at second the previous two years, Don Zimmer, had been let go in the expansion draft to the New York Mets; they had taken a look at Hubbs at the end of 1961 when the rosters expanded.  Hubbs did not disappoint.  Despite carrying the light stick of most middle infielders (he hit .260 with five homers, numbers comparable to Zimmer’s) he was a slick-fielding second baseman who won the Golden Glove at second as a rookie – the first rookie player to ever win the coveted defensive award.   His defensive play was good enough to win him Rookie of the Year honors in the NL, beating out Donn Clendenon. By the end of his sophomore season he had established himself as a premier second baseman. 

On February 13, 1964 Ken Hubbs and friend Dennis Doyle took off from a field in Provo, Utah, to fly back home to Colton, California.  Hubbs and Doyle had come to Provo to play in a charity basketball game for the Mormon Church.  Flying back home in a Cessna 172 Skyhawk, Hobbs and Dyle encountered inclement weather almost immediately after departure. Within minutes they had crashed into Lake Utah, five miles south of Provo. A three-state search for the aircraft was undertaken before it and the bodies of Hubbs and Doyle were found.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, the weather was low ceiling with blowing snow.  Hubbs had been briefed by the flight service as to weather conditions, and the weather forecast was “substantially correct.”  The NTSB probable cause report for the accident blamed “poor judgment” by the pilot (Hubbs) for continuing under VFR into “adverse weather conditions” resulting in an uncontrolled descent. Hubbs was a novice pilot, with just 71 hours of flight time and only 46 in the Cessna 172.
About the Cessna 172 Skyhawk: Over 43,000 Skyhawks have been produced since 1956, making it the most-produced light aircraft in history.  Since 1964 (the earliest date for NTSB records, there have been over 10,500 crashes of Cessna 172s, including 1,519 fatal crashes.