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40 years later: Remembering the 72 who died in New Hope plane crash

Four decades ago today, a passenger plane carrying 100 people hit nasty weather and crashed into Paulding County.

In all, 72 people died — nine of those were on the ground in an unincorporated area of the county known as New Hope.

The crash of Southern Airways Flight 242 remains one of the worst in Georgia’s history.

AJC archival photos of the Flight 242 wreckage, other 1970s Georgia plane crashes

The regular route was from Atlanta to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, a stop in Huntsville, then backtracking to Atlanta. But April 4, 1977, wasn’t regular.

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One of the five sections the Southern Airways Flight 242 aircraft was broken into after the 1977 crash. (BUD SKINNER/AJC FILE)

With the plane coming from Hartsfield International Airport, mission control in Memphis let the crew know at 3:58 p.m. that the plane was about to hit a thunderstorm over Rome.

The captain’s response: “Here we go ... hold ‘em cowboy,” according to the National Transportation and Safety Board report.

Twelve minutes later, hail had caused both engines to flame out and fail.

Flashback photos: 40 years ago, Georgia in 1977

The pilots tried an emergency landing on the Highway 92 Spur in New Hope. The DC-9’s wingspan was 93 feet, 5 inches. Unfortunately, there were two utility poles on both sides of the highway at 80 feet, 8 inches apart.

In its path — which was 1,900 feet long and 295 feet wide — the aircraft destroyed five cars, a truck, mailboxes, power lines, lawns, and it started a blaze that razed a combination grocery store-gas station.

Cobb’s most recent fatal plane crashThanks to Lent, Georgia couple at fish fry when home burned

“Nobody blames them,” Cherry Waddell said last year about the pilots. “We think they’re heroes because it could have been worse.

The plane broke apart into five sections.

Two flight attendants along with more than 20 passengers made it out alive. Many of them survived because they were ejected from the plane.

And then there were those killed who weren’t even on the plane.

“The wounds are still raw,” Waddell said near the 39th anniversary. 

More on that crash: Pilot reported steering, autopilot problems before fatal Cobb crash

Her great-aunt, Berlie Mae Craton, was struck and killed by debris while in a yard.

A nonprofit organization — New Hope Memorial Flight 242 — was formed about a decade ago. The group has installed a marker a few hundred yards from the crash site in a cemetery along the highway.

Here are the names of those involved. Below their names, you can read the NTSB report.

(F-Fatality S-Survivor)

Flight Crew

  • William Wade McKenzie, Captain-F
  • Lyman Keele, Jr., First Officer-F
  • Catherine Lemoine Cooper, Senior Stewardess-S
  • Sandy Purl , Stewardess-S

Passengers

  • Howard Wayne Abercrombie-F
  • Walter Hite Amick-F
  • Marvin Oscar Berglin-F
  • Glenn Foster Bradley-F
  • Edward Ray Brock-S
  • Bernard Meyer Bryan-S
  • Bobby G. Cameron-F
  • Jerry Wayne Causey-S
  • Calvin Hawthorne Childress-S
  • Frederick Lang Clemens-S
  • Edwin N. Cobb-F
  • Tommy Joe Coe-F
  • Gordon Burnett Coley-F
  • Lee D. Collier-S
  • Wesley Ray Corrick-F
  • Robert N. Cummer-F
  • Richard William Darby-S
  • Boyden Elmer Davis, Jr.-F
  • Franklin Joseph Dawson-F
  • Mary Patricia Dawson-F
  • Charles Clifton Durham-F
  • James Addison Forte-F
  • Don Foster-S
  • Robert M. Furniss, Jr.-F
  • Sally Furniss-S
  • Joseph David Giles III-F
  • Karen Lynn Jewell Giles-F
  • Harry C. Gordon-F
  • William Frederick Goubeaud, Jr.-F
  • Earle Clifton Griffin, Jr.-F
  • Emily Anne Griffin-F
  • Horace Cecil Griffith-F
  • Bruce A. Groth-F
  • William Victor Gudaitis-F
  • Herman Galey Hamby-F
  • William Clifford Haverkamp, Jr.-F
  • Charlene Yvonne Havisto-F
  • Horace Kevin Hay-F
  • Joseph Patrick Heckl-F
  • Leo F. Horner-F
  • Phillip Anthony Inzina-F
  • Earl D. Johnson-F
  • Bevil J.”Pete”Kilgore-F
  • Homer M. Kitts-F
  • Leland C. Lavender-S
  • Jeffrey C. Magnell-S
  • Thomas Monroe Mazingo-F
  • Herman Wesley “Red” McClure-F
  • Alton Vaughn “Cotton” Mobley-F
  • Corrine Morton-F
  • Masaru Ori-F
  • Dr. Irwin E. Perlin-F
  • William J. Perryman II-F
  • James L. Phillips, Jr.-S
  • Ivan Drexel Potts, Jr.-F
  • Richard Povinelli-F
  • James A. Power-F
  • Lee Quick-S
  • Robert E. Reams-S
  • William Michael Reeves-F
  • Kelsie Aubra Rogers-F
  • Edward Francis Rosler-F
  • Robert Michael”Mike”Sanders
  • Ronald Thomas Seaman-S
  • Amy L. Sebastian-S
  • Phillip Randolph Sherrill-F
  • Warren Lester Sindorf-S
  • Joseph Harold Smith-F
  • Romie Louis Smith-F
  • Annetta “Annette” Snell-F
  • Mary Tarbox-F
  • John Tielking-S
  • David Anthony Twist-S
  • Milford Duwayne Waldrep-F
  • John Price ”Buster” Walker-F
  • Barbara Ann “ Babs” Wicksell-F
  • Byron Wicksell-F
  • George Duncan Wilkinson-F
  • Michael Lewis Williams-F
  • James L. Williamson-F
  • Richard Zeleznok-S

Note: Southern Airways merged with another air travel company to form Republic Airlines in 1979. Many airlines at that time were combining and consolidating due to deregulation of the industry. Republic then became Northwest Airlines, which filed for bankruptcy in 2005. Northwest executives announced a merger with Delta in 2008, and Northwest officially became Delta the first day of 2010.

Chief Meterologist Glenn Burns tracks the potential for severe weather. (www.accessatlanta.com)

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NTSB New Hope, Ga., Crash on Scribd

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