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Posted: 1:51 p.m. Monday, May 21, 2012

Orly plane crash - 50 years later

An hour-by-hour account of the disaster

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Orly plane crash 50th anniversary photo
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June 3, 1962 - Firemen play hoses on smoking wreckage of chartered Boeing jetliner. Only 3 of 132 aboard ill-fated plane survived crash on takeoff from Orly Field. (AP)

By Chris Chandler

“Some people have described it as being the most significant event since Sherman burned Atlanta,” says one historian.  “It was our Titanic,” concludes another.  “It lives in my memory every day,” said longtime WSB News Director Aubrey Morris before his death, decades later.

Sunday, June 3, 1962:  Air France flight 007 crashed upon takeoff from Orly airport in Paris, France.  Mechanical failure followed by pilot error cost 120 lives—106 of them Atlantans returning home from a cultural tour.  It was the deadliest single-plane aviation disaster in history to that time, and the victims were dozens of the metro’s most prominent arts, civic, and business leaders. 

On this 50th anniversary, here is an exclusive hour-by-hour account of the disaster often called “The Day Atlanta Died” or even “Atlanta’s September 11th.  It is culled from contemporary interviews and recently-rediscovered WSB archival coverage, being heard in 2012 for the first in decades.

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