Air France Flight 007

Air France Flight 007

Coordinates: 48°43′N 2°22′E / 48.72°N 2.37°E / 48.72; 2.37

Air France Flight 007

A Boeing 707 taking off
Accident summary
Date June 3, 1962
Type Rejected takeoff due to mechanical failure
Site Orly Airport, Paris, France
Passengers 122
Crew 10
Injuries 2 (originally 3, one died later)
Fatalities 130
Survivors 2 (originally 3, one died later)
Aircraft type Boeing 707-328
Aircraft name Chateau de Sully
Operator Air France
Tail number F-BHSM
Flight origin Paris-Orly Airport
1st stopover Idlewild Airport
2nd stopover Atlanta Municipal Airport
Destination Houston Municipal Airport

F-BHSM was the registration and callsign of a Boeing 707 named Chateau de Sully used by Air France for Flight 007, a charter flight which crashed on June 3, 1962 while attempting to depart Paris's Orly Airport en route to Atlanta, Georgia via New York City's Idlewild Airport (now John F. Kennedy International Airport). The 707 carried 122 passengers and 10 crew, of whom 130 died.


Accident narrative

According to witnesses, during the takeoff roll on runway 8, the nose of Flight 007 rotated off the runway, but the jet failed to lift off, its main landing gear remaining on the ground. A motor driving the elevator trim had failed, leaving the pilots with insufficient control authority to complete rotation and liftoff.[1] With no other choice, the flight crew attempted to abort the take off even though the aircraft had already exceeded V1, the maximum speed at which a takeoff can be aborted and the aircraft stopped within the available runway length.

With less than 3,000 feet (910 m) of runway remaining, the pilots attempted to stop the 707 using wheel brakes and reverse thrust. After braking hard enough to destroy tires and wheels on the main landing gear, the plane ran off the end of the runway and burst into flame after the left undercarriage failed. Two flight attendants seated in the back of the cabin survived the crash and fire. A third flight attendant survived the disaster but later died in hospital. At the time, it was the world's worst air disaster involving one aircraft.

Impact on Atlanta, Georgia

The Atlanta Art Association had sponsored a month long tour of the art treasures of Europe and 106[2] of the passengers were art patrons heading home to Atlanta on this charter flight. The tour group included many of Atlanta's cultural and civic leaders. Atlanta mayor Ivan Allen Jr. went to Orly to inspect the crash site where so many important Atlantans perished.[3]

During their visit to Paris, the Atlanta arts patrons had seen Whistler's Mother at the Louvre.[4] In late 1962, the Louvre, as a gesture of good will to the people of Atlanta, sent Whistler's Mother to Atlanta to be exhibited at the Atlanta Art Association museum on Peachtree Street.[5]

The Woodruff Arts Center, originally called the Memorial Arts Center and one of the United States' largest, was founded in 1968 in memory of those who died in the crash. The loss to the city was a catalyst for the arts in Atlanta, helped create this memorial to the victims, and led to the creation of the Atlanta Arts Alliance. The French government donated a Rodin sculpture, The Shade, to the High in memory of the victims of the crash.[6] Ann Uhry Abrams, the author of Explosion at Orly: The True Account of the Disaster that Transformed Atlanta, described the incident as "Atlanta’s version of September 11 in that the impact on the city in 1962 was comparable to New York of September 11."[2]

The crash occurred during the civil rights movement in the United States. Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. and entertainer & activist Harry Belafonte announced cancellation of a sit-in in downtown Atlanta (a protest of the city's racial segregation) as a conciliatory gesture to the grieving city. However, Nation of Islam leader Malcolm X, speaking in Los Angeles, expressed joy over the deaths of the all-white group from Atlanta, saying "I would like to announce a very beautiful thing that has happened...I got a wire from God today...well, all right, somebody came and told me that he really had answered our prayers over in France. He dropped an airplane out of the sky with over 120 white people on it because the Muslims believe in an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. But thanks to God, or Jehovah, or Allah, we will continue to pray, and we hope that every day another plane falls out of the sky." These remarks led Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty to denounce him as a "fiend" and Dr. King to voice disagreement with his statement. Malcolm later remarked that "The Messenger should have done more." This incident was the first in which Malcolm X gained widespread national attention.[7]

In art and popular culture

Andy Warhol painted his first "disaster painting", 129 Die in Jet![8] based on the June 4, 1962 cover of New York Mirror, the day after the crash. At that time, the death count was 129.[9]

Ann Uhry Abrams wrote a biography of the passengers entitled Explosion at Orly,[10] published in 2002. It detailed the lives of the passengers prior to their trip to Paris and the resulting effect the disaster had on Atlanta.

See also


External links

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