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New Hope, GA Southern Airways Jetliner Crash, Apr 1977

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New Hope, Ga. (UPI) -- A Southern Airways DC9 jet, with both engines dead and the pilot desperately trying to make an emergency landing on a twolane highway, crashed and exploded Monday in a fierce hailstorm.
Sixty-eight persons were killed and 27 others were injured when the plane smashed into a grocery store and several cars before exploding in a vacant lot.
Lt. RAYMOND McDERMID of the Georgia State Patrol, who set up a command post at the crash scene in this suburb 30 miles northwest of Atlanta, said all the bodies were taken to a makeshift morgue at a nearby warehouse. He said about 30 bodies had been identified.
Federal investigators, who began examining the wreckage this morning, said there is evidence that hail damaged the jet engines and windshield of the ill-fated plane.
There were 85 passengers and crew aboard when the plane came in for its aborted crashlanding. The big ship rared[sic] down the highway for some 300 feet, plowed through the store, smashed several cars and sheared off telephone poles and trees before the broken craft came to a halt.
The plane, Flight 242 from Huntsville and Muscle Shoals, Ala., to Atlanta, developed trouble after running into a hailstorm outside Atlanta.
DR. DARIUS SMITH, who treated both stewardesses at a hospital, said the women told him that hail began smashing against the windows of the plane with "terrible noises," and then the craft lost power.
Many residents of this community of 1,400, where 4,000 Union soldiers were killed in one of the bloodiest battles of Gen. William T. Sherman's march of Atlanta, witnessed the disaster.
"It sounded like a tornado and I screamed for everyone to run and I looked back down the highway and here come a jet plane," said MRS. MARY CLAYTON, who was working in her yard when the airliner came out of a squall at 4:20 p.m. EST.
"It was breaking apart all down the road," she said. "It was throwing pieces up in the air and they were exploding."
The pilot, Capt. WILLIAM W. McKENZIE, 54, of Laplace, La., swooped low over the New Hope Elementary School and guided the crippled craft down the narrow highway. McKENZIE died in the wreckage.
"He did a miraculous thing," Sheriff BOB SHIPP said. "He did all he could and probably lost his life doing it. He had his mind and thoughts with the people on that plane."

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Thank you for posting this.

Thank you for posting this. Even after all of these years they are never forgotten.

you are very welcome

thank you for your note.
you are most welcome.


Harry Gordan was on this flight and he was one of my friends. His wife and I just had dinner Friday night and we were talking about this. It doesn't seem like 37 years have gone by since the accident. I had never seen this article. Thank you.

You are very welcome

you are most welcome and thank you for your reply and rememberances of this tragic air crash.

plane crash

This was a horrible crash, I have a freind who takes care of sally whitaker today. she was a survivor of this hurrifc crash. she is still alive today but doesnt like to talk about this day. I asked if i could write a book and she said yes.

thank you

thank you so much for writing .. Please keep us posted on your book progress .. I would like to read it ..

Jerry W. Causey

My Dad was a co-worker of Mr. Jerry W. Causey @ the time of the crash. (A survivor from the crash) They have since lost contact, and my father, Robert L. McRoy (Bob) would very much like to get back into contact with him. If anyone knows how to reach him, please have him call Bob McRoy @ 256.881.0549. Or, you may contact me, (his daughter) @

Thank you! This would make my Dad sooooo happy!

Kind Regards,

Monte McRoy

The Plane Crash

I was just looking up the plane crash about Bob Furniss. I work and have worked for Furniss, Davis, Rashkind & Saunders since 1978. I have met Sally many times since working here. I would love to hear how she is doing. I never got to meet Bob Furniss but have heard the best things about him. I certainly wished that I had met him. I would love to read the book that you are planning on doing. Please keep me posted.

Laurie Corvello

my cousins were the 7 family

my cousins were the 7 family members that died on the's sad that i never got to meet them.

my wife and I took a drive

my wife and I took a drive tonight from Sandy Springs to New is the first time for me to see New Hope...I remember this crash back in 77 and always the time I was living in Atlanta off Buford Hwy across from Northeast Plaza in Parke Towne North Apts...the apts were old then and are still there today...can't really tell now that there was a jet crash there then but was interesting to see where it happened...I wish I had gone there then to see what it looked like.

article | by Dr. Radut