In Episode 16 of the fifth and final season of venerable newspaper drama “Lou Grant,” aired March 22, 1982, fictional Los Angeles Tribune newspaper reporter Billie Newman (Linda Kelsey) is pulled off a flight at the last minute when the city desk decides to reassign her to another story instead of sending her upstate to cover a prison riot in Modesto, Calif.
In an eerie case of life imitating art, the plane used in the episode “Obituary” — a twin-engine Piper PA-34-200T Seneca II clad in what might be best described as the striped earthtone livery of 1980s gym socks — really did crash nine months after the episode first aired, albeit a minor crash in which no one was hurt.
The Piper Seneca II used in the television production, registered with the Federal Aviation Administration under tail number N477BL, crashed Dec. 31, 1982 during a landing at Ernest A. Love Field, also known as Prescott Municipal Airport, in Prescott, Ariz., according to National Transportation Safety Board records.
The Seneca II’s right main landing gear rotated out and collapsed during a landing, the NTSB report said. Federal investigators concluded the accident was caused by a material failure in the trunnion, a part which attaches the landing gear to the frame of the aircraft.
FAA records show the Piper Seneca II used in “Obituary” was destroyed in 1992. The aircraft was last registered in Oklahoma City, Okla.
Category: Reality Bytes