Details on Paula Abdul’s Traumatizing 1990s Plane Crash, ‘Excruciating Pain’

Jill O'Rourke
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The Masked Dancer judge and recent American Idol guest Paula Abdul has spoken for several years about being in a plane crash in the early ’90s, at around age 30. Abdul says she had to undergo several surgeries afterward, and took years off to recover.


Although there has been some skepticism on the internet about Abdul’s story, she maintains that the crash happened. Now, she shares details about the incident, as well as her surgeries.

Paula Abdul Talks About Plane Crash

Abdul said the crash happened during her Spellbound Tour in 1992, following a show in St. Louis, Mo. She says the seven-seater plane she was on crash-landed after an engine blew up and the wing caught on fire.

The former American Idol judge admitted to not wearing her seatbelt, and said she hit her head on the ceiling of the plane.


“I was really injured,” Abdul told Yahoo! Entertainment. “I mean, I had a spinal cord injury and nerve damage. I started losing all feeling on my right side, and I was starting to really live in excruciating pain.”

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She added that she wasn’t able to dance, and developed reflex sympathetic dystrophy syndrome (RSD), which made her “break out in lesions like shingles.” She eventually turned to neuroscience, which she says “changed my life.”


Abdul underwent biofeedback treatment which “rewired my neurotransmitters to block pain.” 

As of March 2020, she had gone nine years without pain medication. Abdul has also said she underwent 15 cervical spinal surgeries because of the crash.

Abdul Responds to People Who Doubt Her Story

Some people online have questioned whether Abdul’s plane crash actually happened, mostly because there doesn’t seem to be a record of it. In 2019, Jezebel dug into the story, saying none of the crashes in the National Transportation Safety Board’s database match Abdul’s description.

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The story also wasn’t reported by the press at the time, and Abdul’s account has apparently changed over the years. She responded to these accusations in her interview with Yahoo! last year.

“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,” she said, adding that she’s learned not to “take things personally.”

She also explained that she hadn’t talked about it much before because she “didn’t want to be counted out or fearful of people not understanding [the situation],” and thinking she was “not doing well.”

Abdul has made quite the comeback in recent years, with a net worth of approximately $30 million. She’s also performed in a Las Vegas residency called Forever Your Girl, and currently judges The Masked Dancer on FOX. Most recently, she sat in for Luke Bryan on American Idol when the country singer tested positive for COVID-19.

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