The Hook Looks Back at the Piedmont Airlines Crash

This month is the fiftieth anniversary of the crash of Piedmont Airlines Flight 349, which went down on Bucks Elbow, near Sealeville north of Crozet, on October 30 1959. The Buckeye Pacemaker, a DC-3, travelled low over AHS, where fans at the football game that evening heard it buzz by, hidden in the cloud cover. Minutes later the plane, with 27 on board, crashed into the side of Bucks Elbow. Remarkably, one man survived, tossed from the plane, still strapped into his seat, where he was found a day and a half later. (Listen to Rey Barry’s remarkable story of how he found the man, from Coy Barefoot’s show in 2006.) The crash, and the survivor’s ordeal, were national news. It’s remained a mystery why and how the pilot made the series of errors necessary to fly directly into the side of the mountain.

In this week’s Hook, editor Hawes Spencer tells the story of what happened in those couple of days, in far greater detail that I’ve ever seen it. It turns out that the government crash report doesn’t make a lot of sense, and what might be the real explanation of what happened that night is a whole lot more interesting, and makes a great deal more sense. Don’t miss the comments, where family of the deceased are telling their own stories.

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