Abdul has long maintained that she had to take a break from her career to recover from injuries and trauma she allegedly sustained in a plane crash.
Despite her claims, no record of such a crash can be found, and her account of the incident has varied over time. According to Jezebel, since 2003, Abdul has been stating that she survived a plane crash in the early 1990s, which prompted her to take some time off to heal. While the details of her story have shifted, she generally asserts that she was on a flight from St. Louis to Denver when the plane caught fire and made an emergency landing in an Iowa field, which is not along the expected flight path between the two cities.
She reportedly said, via iHeart, “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.”
She also stated: “It all happened when I boarded a seven-seater plane and an hour into the flight one of the engines blew up and the right wing caught fire and everything went black…I woke up in the hospital only to find that I had crushed my cervical spine, leaving me partially paralyzed.”
However, there is no documentation of this plane crash, with no media coverage or National Transportation Safety Board records to support her claims.
Abdul told Yahoo! Entertainment that she was hesitant to discuss the crash because it took her years to rebuild her career. In a Music News interview, she expressed her fear of being considered “damaged goods” due to her prolonged absence. Abdul has suggested that her celebrity status enabled her to keep the story hidden from both the media and the authorities.
It is certain that Paula Abdul’s career faced challenges around the time she alleges the crash occurred. Following her Spellbound era, her next release, Head Over Heels, performed poorly in sales, and she experienced two divorces between 1994 and 1998. Abdul seemed to stay out of the limelight between the Spellbound era and 1996.
She sought treatment for bulimia in 1994, accompanied by rumors of opioid addiction. Both her personal and professional life seemed to decline after her Under Your Spell tour, sparking debate about whether the plane crash was real or invented as a cover-up.
Inconsistencies in Abdul’s Plane Crash Story
Several inconsistencies in Abdul’s story have raised doubts about its veracity. For instance, Abdul claims that she had performed in St. Louis before boarding the fateful flight to Denver. However, her website does not list a St. Louis tour date, though there is a date for Greenwood Village, near Denver, on June 10, 1992.
The tour’s Wikipedia page also uses the same dates as Abdul’s website. Some theorists argue that this discrepancy indicates that the story is fabricated, as it suggests there would not have been a St. Louis to Denver flight at all. Despite her website’s lack of information, there is some evidence to suggest that she may have flown from St. Louis to Denver between June 19 and June 22, 1992.
Speculations and Theories Surrounding the Incident
There have been speculations about Abdul’s possible drug addiction, as an interview in Ladies Home Journal described her overcoming a painkiller addiction in 2008. Abdul later denied the allegations, saying she had never even been drunk. While there is no concrete evidence proving her addiction, it is also difficult to disprove, especially with her “strange” behavior that tabloids highlighted.
The most compelling evidence against Abdul’s claim is the lack of records for the crash. No records of such an incident have been found between October 1991 and August 1992. Abdul has defended her claims, but neither she nor her publicist have pointed to any National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report.
Furthermore, Abdul’s claim that the plane landed in a cornfield in Iowa does not align with the St. Louis to Denver flight path, as it would necessitate a considerable detour north. There is an NTSB report about a plane crash in Nebraska, but the details do not match Abdul’s account, making it unlikely that this was the accident she referred to.
The Unresolved Enigma of Paula Abdul’s Plane Crash Story
It is evident that Paula Abdul deals with chronic pain, and this analysis does not aim to trivialize or shame her for any possible addiction struggles. The lack of evidence for the incident is puzzling.
Questions arise regarding whether Abdul was actually injured on a plane in 1992, if she was covering for a painkiller addiction that led to rehab in 1994, or if she was trying to justify her time away from the spotlight. Is Abdul’s peculiar behavior due to her sobriety, her natural demeanor, or substance use?
Was this an attention-seeking tactic inspired by Gloria Estefan’s accident? And why did it take eleven years after the alleged accident for it to be mentioned publicly? It is intriguing to consider various perspectives on this case.
A theory, formed on both instinct and the limited information available, is that Abdul might have been on a plane during the Under My Spell tour and sustained injuries due to turbulence while not wearing a seatbelt.
These injuries could have exacerbated her existing spinal problems, eventually leading to a decline in her health that prevented her from working around 1994. After taking a hiatus to recover, she returned with American Idol and possibly embellished her story to gain sympathy and divert attention from other factors (the poor performance of Head Over Heels and her divorces) that contributed to her break.
As for any addiction to painkillers, it is unclear, but leaning towards “no.” Abdul’s account of using alternative medicine in response to her crash injuries may indicate that her seemingly unusual behavior is simply her natural personality. She appears to be somewhat eccentric.