On April 4, 1977 Southern Airways Flight 242 DC-9 jet made a forced landing on the two-lane road of Dallas-Acworth Highway in New Hope. After flying through a hail storm that caused the engines to suffer internal damage and to fail, Flight 242 crashed on the road and slid for roughly 1,830 feet before colliding with convenience store gas pumps. The plane clipped roadside power poles and trees with the tips of it's wings, began to spin, and disintegrated on impact.
Sixty-two people on board the aircraft died, including the cockpit crew. Nine local residents on the ground also perished. There were 21 passengers who survived, along with the flight attendants. The survivors of the crash, the families of those who died, and those who tended to both, gather together on the anniversary hoping to help one another continue to heal.
The Paulding County Historical Society, Inc.
Will host a FREE Program:
Where: Crossroads Public Library
When: Saturday, October 5, 2013
Southern Airways Flight 242
On April 4, 1977 a DC-9, Southern Airways Flight 242 flying from Huntsville, Alabama to Atlanta encountered a dangerous thunderstorm over Rome, GA. The amount of hail and rain the aircraft encountered was so severe that both engines flamed out and the aircraft began losing altitude quickly. The flight crew was forced to make a desperate attempt to land a large aircraft on a public road, GA 92 Spur, now known as GA 381 which runs through the New Hope, GA Community 3 miles east of Dallas in Paulding County. 72 people were killed that day including 9 on the ground. Among the dead on the ground were 7 members of one family including 3 young mothers and their infants and young children The scars of this tragedy cut deep into Paulding County and all of the victims’ families and the survivors. There were 22 survivors including both flight attendants.
This was the worst air disaster in Georgia history!
In 2007 a small group of New Hope residents formed a committee to host a 30 year Memorial Service and survivor reunion for Flight 242. The event was held at The New Hope First Baptist Church near the crash site and attracted about 300 people from all over the United States including the Captain’s widow, Ruth McKenzie from South Carolina and one of the surviving flight attendants, Cathy Lamoine. As a result of this 30 year service the New Hope Committee realized that there was an ongoing need for healing for the people affected by this tragedy. Survivors are still experiencing “survivor’s guilt”. Families who lost loved ones on the plane are still searching for comfort in speaking with survivors who may have had contact with their loved ones and heard their last words. Many survivors are searching for the person or persons that may have saved their lives by offering immediate medical attention or transporting them to the hospital or in some cases just offering the comfort of a hug and opening their homes to them. As the individual stories began to unfold members of the New Hope Organizing Committee decided to go beyond being just a committee hosting a onetime event. They incorporated as New Hope Memorial Flight 242, Inc. in April 2007, started receiving donations and began fund raising events which continue today. A few years later New Hope Memorial Flight 242, Inc. applied for and received 501(c)3 status offering tax favor to donors. The mission of New Hope Memorial Flight 242, Inc. is to raise $100,000 to erect an appropriate monument to memorialize the victims and honor the survivors. In April, 2009 under the leadership of Commissioner David Austin, local New Hope resident, Paulding County Government dedicated County owned property to New Hope Memorial Flight 242, Inc. near the crash site for the purpose erecting a monument. New Hope Memorial Flight 242, Inc. continues to work diligently organizing and hosting fund raisers moving closer to our $100,000 goal to appropriately memorialize those that lost their lives on that fateful day and to honor the survivors. Because this event does not qualify for a State provided historical marker which requires an event to be 50 years or older, New Hope Memorial Flight 242, Inc. used funds from initial donations to purchase and erect an historical marker on the county dedicated property in March 2011. The marker was officially unveiled and dedicated to the memory of the victims and to the honor of the survivors at the 2011 Memorial Service.
Donations can be made to: New Hope Memorial Flight 242, Inc., Georgia Heritage Bank, Attn: Sheilah Pickett, P.O. Box 1430, Dallas, Ga. 30132