On September 19, 2008, Travis Barker performed with one of his Blink-182 side projects in Columbia, South Carolina. Just before midnight, he boarded a Learjet 60 for a flight to Van Nuys, California. His wife was supposed to come with him, but she said she had a freaky feeling and didn’t want to get on that plane, so she made alternate arrangements.
Her premonition was correct.
Something went very wrong on the Learjet’s takeoff roll. Even though the weather was fine, the plane failed to lift off by the time it reached the end of the runway. It hit some runway lights, crashed through a fence, crossed a highway and ended up against an embankment. Four of the six people on the plane—including the two pilots—died. Travis and his buddy, DJ AM, survived, but with severe burns.
What happened? An investigation by the Transportation Safety Board determined that the tires of the jet were badly under-inflated, which caused them to burst as the plane gathered speed. The pilot then aborted the takeoff at too high a speed, meaning that the jet couldn’t be controlled.
It was touch-and-go for Travis for a long time. He was in hospitals and burn units for nearly three months, requiring 16 surgeries. At one point, it looked like his foot would have to be amputated. And then there was the PTSD, which, as you might guess, was pretty severe.
DJ AM also had second- and third-degree burns, but was well enough to leave the hospital weeks before Travis. But less than a year later, he was found dead in his apartment in New York of a drug overdose: crack, cocaine, oxy and a ton of other stuff.
There were plenty of lawsuits, including a suit filed by Travis against the owners of the plane, Goodyear (the people who made the tires) and the aircraft maintenance company who didn’t inflate the tires properly. Everything has since been settled—except Travis’ wariness of airplanes.
This is creating a problem for the 2016 edition of Blink-182. How can the band tour Europe? Travis is looking into taking a ship across the Atlantic. That means a six-day cross-country bus ride from LA to New York followed by eleven days on a boat. He’ll have to leave for the tour two-and-a-half weeks before the rest of the band and crew.