September 13 - 1971 - The Lin Biao Incident
When a plane went down over Mongolia carrying Lin Biao, the Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of China, the Chinese government gave an official explanation that Lin was attempting to flee after a failed coup against Chairman Mao Zedong. It was a bit odd. Everyone on the plane died instantly, including Lin Biao, his wife Ye Qun, and his son Lin Liguo, were killed, which meant the people who could best explain their actions were gone. Lin Biao was Mao's designated successor, the head of the military, and a key figure in the still ongoing Cultural Revolution. Lin Biao's desire for a coup was not entirely obvious. His son was definitely planning an overthrow of the government in a plan called Project 571. This was remarkably poorly coordinated and failed in a rather pitiful manner. Yet there was little evidence that Lin Biao was involved, and the circumstances of the plane crash itself, that the plane lost fuel over Mongolia on its way to Soviet Union, did not make any sense. Then, the Chinese government refused to have Mongolian authorities conduct an investigation. In the years after the plane crash, Lin Biao became a scapegoat for the excesses and violence of the Cultural Revolution.