Highway to Ruin: The crash of Southern Airways flight 242

The wreckage of Southern Airways flight 242 lies scattered through a forest in New Hope, Georgia. (NTSB)
A vintage advertising poster for Southern Airways. (David Pollack)
N1335U, the aircraft involved in the accident. (Werner Fischdick)
The route of Southern Airways flight 242. (Google + own work)
The anatomy of a thunderstorm and some of the dangers it poses to aircraft. (Aerospace Industries Association)
Attenuation of X-band radar in heavy rain. (Aerospace Industries Association)
A jet engine is tested for its ability to ingest water, something which was about to become very important on flight 242. (Airlineratings.com)
An explanation of how the “scoop factor” makes engines at low power draw in a higher concentration of water. (Aerospace Industries Association)
An aircraft windshield damaged by hail. (Sam Chui)
Why an engine is more likely to surge when it is very wet. (Aerospace Industries Association; caption is my own)
A graphical representation of a compressor surge in a modern high-bypass turbofan. The DC-9’s engines were older, low-bypass turbofans, but the principle is the same. (JohanAero)
CGI image of Flight 242 emerging from the thunderstorm. (Mayday)
The flight path of the airplane after it entered the storm. Note the 180-degree-turnback away from Dobbins. (NTSB)
The stretch of highway 92 where flight 242 landed. This photo was taken after the crash during the cleanup process. (The Asheville Oral Historian)
This CGI animation from the Weather Channel show “Why Planes Crash” depicts flight 242’s dramatic crash sequence.
Seating map of the survivors. Although the back of the plane may have been slightly better, overall survival was close to random. (Wikimedia user Ardenau4)
Chaos gripped New Hope after the crash. (Joe Parker)
A convenience store burns in the wake of the DC-9. (Joe Parker)
Much of the wreckage came to rest in this forest in the front yard of New Hope resident Sadie Hurst. (NTSB)
The DC-9’s vertical stabilizer, wing, and empennage can all be seen in this photograph. (NTSB)
Another view of flight 242’s tail. (Joe Parker)
Part of flight 242’s fuselage was dashed against these pine trees. (NTSB)
The DC-9’s empennage section. Five people survived in and around here, including Sandy Ward. (NTSB)
Some of the cars that were hit by the plane. (The Asheville Oral Historian)
The plane’s right engine lies amid the tangled wreckage. (NTSB)
Fire trucks swarm the scene where the gas station was struck. (Joe Parker)
Passenger seats and pieces of debris lie strewn along the shoulder of Highway 92. (Joe Parker)
Pieces of flight 242 lie scattered through the forest. (NTSB)
A memorial to the victims stands prominently in the cemetery in New Hope, directly across the street from where flight 242 attempted its emergency landing. (The Dallas New Era)




Analyzer of plane crashes and author of upcoming book (eventually™). Contact me via @Admiral_Cloudberg on Reddit or by email at kylanddempsey@gmail.com.

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Admiral Cloudberg

Admiral Cloudberg

Analyzer of plane crashes and author of upcoming book (eventually™). Contact me via @Admiral_Cloudberg on Reddit or by email at kylanddempsey@gmail.com.

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