Cliffhangers plane crash in Louisville, KY

The wreckage of a nosedived plane adjacent to Headliners Music Hall is easy to miss when driving along Lexington Road between Grinstead Drive and Baxter Avenue. It’s set back in the shaded hillside + covered in graffiti, so you really have to look, but it’s still there — nearly 35 years from the day it went down.


Today the plane is covered in graffiti. | Photo by LOUtoday

And legend has it…

Sometime in the 1980s, a lone pilot was flying over Derby City when suddenly, his single engine plane experienced engine failure on the way back to Standiford Field airport — today we know it as Louisville Muhammad Ali International Airport.

The red and white plane crashed into the hillside at Distillery Commons. While his plane was totaled, the pilot walked away unscathed and with an idea for a bar called Cliffhangers.

While the tale has all the elements of a great story, it is just a story. A tall-tale (and marketing gimmick) invented by the ownersDon Blackburn + Ward Plauchet — of the actual Cliffhangers bar that was once above Distillery Commons. The curated crash site served as a talking point as patrons sipped drinks from above.

The real story?

The plane was acquired from a former aviation salvage yard in Southern Indiana and placed in a nosedive position with some help from a crane. At some point in time, there was even a mannequin dressed as a pilot with a deployed parachute that dangled from the plane.

See the “crash site” at any one of these upcoming shows at Headliner Music Hall, but here are three you definitely don’t want to miss:

  • Built to Spill | Sat., Aug. 20 | 8 p.m. | $25 | Catch one of the original bands from the indie rock movement play their hits from the 1990s to today.
  • The Moth StorySLAM | Tue., Aug. 30 | 8 p.m. | $15 | Watch volunteers from the audience tell five-minute stories around the theme of happiness.
  • Corey Feldman | Wed., Sept. 7 | 8 p.m. | $12.50+ | See this famous 1980s actor turned musician with local support from The Tunesmiths + upgrade your ticket to VIP for a meet
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