EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - December 13, 1977, is a day many of us will never forget.
That was the day when a plane carrying the University of Evansville men's basketball team crashed shortly after take-off from Evansville Regional Airport, killing all 29 people on board.
It was a devastating blow. Not just to the university, but the entire Tri-State.
What a great group of guys. Young, talented. very coachable, and fun to watch. Even though they played just four games into the season, Evansville fans had already fallen in love with them and their new dynamic and charismatic head coach Bobby Watson. They couldn't wait to see what this team would achieve.
Up to that time college basketball was a big deal to Evansville. It was in the city's DNA and part of its identity. After all, from the mid-50's to the early 70's, the Aces were kings of the college division having won 5 NCAA National championships.
But in 1977, times were changing. The Aces were going division one., which was a major step.
Understandably, many fans had their doubts but these Aces convinced them that they'd be the perfect team to meet this new challenge.
That's why 40 years later, for those of us who knew and loved those men on that plane, it still hurts.
Fortunately, the university and this great community bounced back.
Yet, no matter how many more seasons or how many more games the Evansville Aces play, make no mistake that the 1977-78 Aces team will always be special and a major part of UE's rich, and storied tradition.
They will never be forgotten