What should we put for location if someone died in an airplane?

+11 votes
Musician Paul Kossoff of the rock band Free! died on a airplane (or should I say, aeroplane -- he was British after all) while en route from Los Angeles to New York City. I've never been able to ascertain where the plane was flying over when he died, either. Do we just put 'United States airspace' as his death place? Should it be the state he was flying over when the death occurred?
WikiTree profile: Paul Kossoff
in Policy and Style by Jessica Key G2G6 Pilot (244k points)
I would just leave it as the USA - and give details in the bio. It's not like he crossed any international borders, while he was flying.
US General Consul Death Records have given GPS Coordinates of burials at sea for 80 years. We identify Australian colonists ship births "at sea". Surely we can come up with a more accurate phrasing than just USA.
Forgive me, but I just can't resist ... seems to me the location is up in the air.

Rebecca, I think you mean latitude and longitude (sometimes abbreviated as LATLON) coordinates.  I realize I'm being very picky but GPS hasn't been around that long.  Combining your excellent idea with what Robynne said, how about "over USA" as a parallel construction to "at sea"?

Gaile Connolly- You are correct, but I was dumbing it down for youngsters who don't know what a sextant is!;-}

Love your answer!!
How about "In transit" ?

In transit between LA and NY or In transit between Earth and Moon.

4 Answers

+12 votes
Best answer
His death certificate would have a place attached. Putting "airspace" would cause a database suggestion. You can explain the whole thing in the bio, but I'd click "uncertain" on the death place field if you don't know the exact place with any certainty.

We have a place for deaths at sea "At Sea" so perhaps we need to look at "Airspace" as a location. This made me think of the death location for the Challenger accident astronauts, who died in the explosion over Florida. https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Corrigan-609 Christa McAuliffe's death place is Cape Canaveral, Florida.
by Natalie Trott G2G6 Pilot (965k points)
selected by Shaun Doust
...and the Discovery astronauts?   Stratosophere over Texas and Louisiana?
I think taking into consideration whether something would cause a database suggestion is putting the cart before the horse.  When the wording convention to be established is agreed upon as the best in terms of accuracy and descriptiveness, if it will result in a database suggestion the database suggestions need to be corrected.
Vincent, I don't know! I'd have to see the death certs on those persons.

Gaile, I agree, but in the meantime it will show on the DBE report, along with such things as "WV (formerly VA)" and the like. Of course, when a location name for such events is agreed upon it could be added to the exceptions for Ales's report. It'd be nice if someone would officially propose this (and I haven't checked, but maybe this has already been done.)
For the astronauts on the Columbia Space Shuttle it is given in the English Wikipedia version "over Texas" and in the German version "over the South of the USA". As this is as exact as it can be, because nobody knows for sure in which second they died, I'd suggest "over the USA" for the similar case in the airplane.
The Columbia astronauts died over Palestine, Texas.
+5 votes
You have to consider the fact that no one even knew that Paul Kossoff was dead until the airplane landed in New York, or at least until the "Fasten seatbelts" alert and the stewardess did a walk through and he wasn't in his seat. They found that he was in the bathroom but couldn't get the door open until the plane landed. They had to pry it open somehow because his body was against the door. If the coroner was able to determine exactly how long he had been dead then perhaps they would have been able to figure out where the plane had been at that time, but that was never reported as to have happened for sure. He had been sitting between two band mates and they did not see him get up to go to the restroom or notice he was gone, so they would not have been able to help with a time frame. Imho, it seems that "Airplane over the U.S." would have to suffice as a location.
by Cheryl Siekawitch G2G Crew (350 points)
I finally decided to go with U.S. airspace.
+4 votes
I don't know about a standard in other places, but in Michigan the death place is usually where the death is pronounced and recorded by a physician.   My mother-in-law died peacefully at my home and was found deceased the next morning.   The ambulance took her to the hospital in a nearby city.   Her death certificate gives that city as the place of death.   The same thing happened with her husband.   He died while fishing at his favorite lake,  but his death certificate names the city where the hospital is located.   I think it is best to use the certificate as the official location but if the circumstances are known add those and the actual location in the biography.
by Cherry Duve G2G6 Mach 5 (58.5k points)
But the problem is, as I mentioned, that we don't know the state over which the plane was flying when he died. Apparently, Paul Kossoff died while en route from Los Angeles to New York City, and his death was not discovered immediately. He could've died over Michigan, Ohio, etc. I think I'm going to put 'US airspace' as the location of death.
Jessica, my understanding of Cherry's answer is that we should use what is on the death certificate. I don't know if that is public info, though, in this case.
0 votes
We just have to say that this question is up in the air.
by Mark Burch G2G6 Pilot (170k points)

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