If there was ever a time for an Unsolved Mysteries reboot, that time is right now. Because we’ve got a mystery that needs solving, and it involves Paula Abdul and a story about a dramatic private plane crash that may or may not have ever happened. According to Paula, it did. But according to the receipts Jezebel pulled, it maybe didn’t. Straight up now tell me did this plane crash happen or not?!
Paula Abdul was on RuPaul’s new talk show, RuPaul, and he asked her to explain where she was when she disappeared for a bit in the 1990s and early 2000s. Paula went on a professional hiatus until 2002, when she reappeared as a judge on the first season of American Idol. According to Paula, she was in a plane crash around the end of the Under My Spell Tour in 1992. She says one of the engines of the seven-seater plane she was traveling in blew up, the right wing caught on fire, and the plane crash landed. Paula wasn’t wearing her seat belt, and she hit her head on the top of the roof. She says she underwent 15 cervical spinal surgeries to correct the damage from the crash, and took about seven years off.
Rich Juzwiak of Jezebel points out that Paula has told this story multiple times before, as early as 2003 during an episode of Dateline. Although it’s a little less clear as to whether the crash and subsequent surgeries is the reason for Paula’s painkiller addiction.
Paula has claimed the plane crash happened between the St. Louis and Denver stops on her tour. She told People in May 2005 that the engine caught fire 40 minutes into the trip. The plane caught fire, landed in a corn field in Iowa, and everyone on board survived. During a 2009 radio interview, she claimed the plane went down and she woke up in the hospital. As for why no one found out, Paula claimed in an interview that she “quietly made it go away” because she didn’t want people feeling sorry for her.
So Paula’s plane crash went unreported, which is a little weird considering she was a huge star at the time. Even if her plane had landed in a corn field miles away from civilization, I’m pretty sure the farmer that found her would still be like, “Ain’t you the girl I seen cutting a rug in that Diet Coke commercial? Ma, git over here, we got ourselves a cee-lebrity!” Aside from the press aspect, there are also no plane crashes in the National Transportation Safety Board’s database that match Paula’s description.
Rich also did the map math and said that the National Transportation Safety Board only has a handful of crashes in Iowa in 1992, and all of them are outside of the flight path from St. Louis to Denver.
However, the National Transportation Safety Board also says that if there was minor damage to the plane and no injuries reported, it might be classified as an “incident” and not an “accident,” which would explain why there is no record.
What’s the truth here? Was Paula in a horrific plane crash that fucked up her spine and got her hooked on pills, or was there no plane crash? I think it did happen, and I believe Paula got rid of the evidence. Hey, if she was able to make that backup singer go away and make 30% of her body disappear in the video for “Promise of a New Day,” she could definitely handle slipping reporters a couple bucks to keep quiet.