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Kirk Douglas Once Survived A Helicopter Crash And Called It 'The Most Important Day Of My Life'

Gettyimages | Bettmann
By Clark Sparky

Kirk Douglas died on Wednesday at 103 years-old, and now people are looking back at the many memorable moments from his incredible life.

One event that he admitted changed his life forever was a near death experience in 1991. Douglas was the passenger in a helicopter piloted by Noel Blanc and co-piloted by Michael Carra that collided with a small plane that was being flown by Lee Manelski and student pilot David Tomlinson.

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Gettyimages | VALERIE MACON

He opened up about that day in his memoir, Climbing the Mountain: My Search for Meaning.

"I'll never forget the date," he wrote. "In that horrible fraction of a second, the rotating blades of Noe's Bell Ranger helicopter sliced into the wing of David and Lee's Pitts, ripping it open and exposing its fuel to air. Carried by its fateful momentum, the little plane continued to rise forward into the blue sky. An instant later, the fuel caught fire. The Pitts exploded in a fireball."

"But we were alive in the tangled wreckage. David and Lee were dead in the smoldering remains. At that moment I was unconscious," Douglas continued. "I didn't know that from this day forward I would be asking: Why did they die? Why was I alive?

"Often, when I am asked about the accident today, people want to know what I experienced at the moment. Did I see a long tunnel with a blazing white light at the other end? Sorry, I saw and heard nothing. If it was there, I missed the show," he wrote. "I have no remembrance of being pulled from the wreckage, put in an ambulance and brought to the emergency room. I have no recollection of X-rays, CAT scans and the doctors' examinations."


His son, Michael Douglas, announced the news in a statement on Wednesday.

“It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers and I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103,” the actor said.

He continued, “To the world, he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years, a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard for all of us to aspire to.”

Michael continued, “But to me and my brothers Joel and Peter he was simply Dad, to Catherine, a wonderful father-in-law, to his grandchildren and great-grandchild their loving grandfather, and to his wife Anne, a wonderful husband.

“Kirk’s life was well-lived, and he leaves a legacy in film that will endure for generations to come, and a history as a renowned philanthropist who worked to aid the public and bring peace to the planet,” Michael added. “Let me end with the words I told him on his last birthday and which will always remain true. Dad- I love you so much and I am so proud to be your son.”

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