Celebrities and fans posted remembrances and tributes to James Horner after his assistant confirmed via Facebook June 23 that the Oscar-winning composer was at the controls of his airplane when it crashed in Los Padres National Forest on June 22.
Horner earned dozens of awards and nominations for his work, including two Academy Awards for the 1997 blockbuster Titanic; one for the film’s score, and a second for the hit theme song My Heart Will Go On, sung by Celine Dion. Horner scored more than 100 films during his career, including Living in the Age of Airplanes, director Brian J. Terwilliger’s latest ode to aviation.
Horner established himself as a mainstream composer with the score for Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan in 1982, his second major film score and part of a résumé that includes music for some of the best-loved films in modern cinema history. Horner worked with director Ron Howard on Apollo 13, and six other films; Howard was among the first to post condolences on social media.
“My heart aches for his loved ones,” Howard wrote on Twitter.
The Ventura County Fire Department told various news agencies that the crash occurred around 9:30 a.m. PDT on June 22, and Horner was alone in the S-312 Tucano Mk1 turboprop (the aircraft was identified by an FAA spokesman), one of several aircraft the composer owned and flew, his attorney told various media organizations, noting Horner was an experienced pilot. There was no early indication what went wrong. Horner was flying alone.
“James Horner was an extraordinary composer and passionate pilot, and he will be deeply missed in the aviation community,” said AOPA President Mark Baker. “His exceptional musical talents moved millions around the world. And his love of flying, like his music, was an inspiration to friends and strangers alike. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this difficult time.”
Born in 1953 to production designer Harry Horner and his wife, Joan, Horner trained at the Royal College of Music in London and earned a music degree from the University of Southern California. His first major film was The Lady in Red in 1979, and Horner went on to earn 64 nominations and 46 awards, according to IMDb. A Facebook community dedicated to Horner’s music published a post on June 23 expressing “profound grief” at the confirmation that Horner was killed in the crash.
“We take what small comfort we can from knowing that he left this world pursuing his great personal passion of flying and that he left us a stirring and immeasurable legacy that allows each of us who listen to soar with him in spirit,” the post said. “Our thoughts are ever with his family, his friends, his colleagues and peers who loved working with him, and the legions of fans worldwide who adored the rich tapestry of his art.”