Paula Abdul Says She Survived A 1992 Plane Crash — But There's No Record Of It
The ‘80s and ‘90s pop star said the plane landed in a cornfield in Iowa but there is no record of any accident ever happening.
Paula Abdul is one of the most accomplished ‘80s and ‘90s pop stars with a Grammy, an Emmy, several American Music Awards, and MTV Awards under her belt. She’s choreographed for some of the biggest names, was one of the original American Idol judges, and she’s had a Las Vegas residency.
The “Opposites Attract" singer seems to have done it all but she claims her road to success abruptly halted after being in a plane crash.
She said it happened during her Under My Spell tour, which ran from 1991-92.
“During the end of my world tour, the Spellbound tour, when I was traveling from one city to the next, in a small seven-seater plane, one of the engines blew up and the right wing caught on fire, and we crash-landed,” she told RuPaul on his short-lived daytime talk show in 2019. “I didn’t have my seatbelt on, and I hit my head on the top of the plane and that went on to... I withstood 15 cervical spinal surgeries and I had to take seven years off. And then I reappeared on American Idol.”
A Jezebel investigation points out this alleged plane crash went almost entirely unreported. In fact, the earliest mention of it was a 2003 interview she did with Dateline.
Abdul claimed the plane crash happened between the St. Louis and Denver stops on her tour.
In 2005, she told PEOPLE the engine caught fire 40 minutes into the trip and landed in a cornfield in Iowa. The Jezebel article noted the closest point in Iowa would have made the trip at least a little over two hours before the engine failed causing it to plummet.
Adbul has said the engine blew up and crashed but everyone survived. When she described it to the Hudson Union Society, she said “the whole plane was in flames.”
No such plane crash has ever been reported.
According to the 2019 Jezebel report, a spokesperson for the Federal Aviation Administration said it might be possible that a plane crash wasn’t investigated if there was only minor damage to the aircraft and minor injuries to those on board. It would then be classified as an “incident,” as opposed to an “accident.”
Abdul said she was able to keep the crash private because there was no social media at the time.
"I went through all of that, mostly, privately. Back then, we didn’t have tabloids like we do now. We didn’t have the extent of paparazzi or the (Internet), so you were able to contain some information,” Adbul said in an interview with Music News in 2018.
"I was so afraid of being counted out and looked at as damaged goods. The problem was that, at the time, I was. I ended up having to take almost seven years off to have all these different neurosurgeons operating on me,” she continued.
Abdul returned to the spotlight in 2002 to be one of the original judges on American Idol. She has claimed that rehabilitation from the plane crash caused her to go through some surgeries during her time on the show.
In a 2020 interview with Yahoo, Abdul said she’s aware there are people who think she fabricated the plane crash but she stands by her account.
“You know what? It's like, there are seven other people that were on the plane, who were in that plane accident with me. So, I really don't care what people have to say. I don't,” Abdul said. “It's like, you learn and grow through wisdom and experience of being in this business, especially with the internet. You can't take things personally, and the things that resonate with you that can help you become better, the best version of yourself, you hold onto, and you work through that.”