October 30, 1959 was the night of the grand opening of Barracks Road Shopping Center, as well as a football game at Albemarle High School. It was overcast and chilly. It was also the night that Piedmont Airlines‘ Fairchild F-27 crashed north of Free Union, on Buck’s Elbow. Twenty-two year old WCHV reporter Rey Barry was covering the football game that night, and when he heard about a missing plane, he headed out to cover it. He joined the search for the crash for the next 36 hours and, while scrambling up a hill, he discovered a field of two dozen bodies and the sole survivor, still strapped into his seat.
The story is legendary, but this is the first time I’ve heard that Rey had anything to do with it. On Coy Barefoot’s “Charlottesville Right Now” yesterday, Rey related the story of his experience in a lengthy monologue, and the audio is available from the Charlottesville Podcasting Network. Don’t miss this.