The afternoon of Tuesday, December 13, 1977, the University of Evansville Purple Aces were scheduled to make a short flight to Nashville, Tennessee, in preparation for the next night’s game against Middle Tennessee State University.
Bad weather in both Indianapolis - where National Jet had its headquarters - and Evansville delayed the flight until the evening. But by shortly after 7:00 p.m., the team was on board the plane, with plans to fly to Nashville, bus to Murfreesboro, and have a quick shootaround at the Charles M. Murphy Center at MTSU before retiring to their hotel for the evening.
Instead, their flight ended after less than two minutes.
Several residents of Evansville’s Melody Hills subdivision described witnessing the plane’s impact; some, like Steve Troyer, raced to the site in the hopes of helping survivors. There, they found the debris of the plane - and among it, the players’ equipment bags, embroidered with the University of Evansville logo, which served as their first hint to the nature of the tragedy they had witnessed.