News Releases

Smithsonian Books Releases "Southern Storm"

Account of Historic Plane Crash Available April 3

April 3, 2018

Smithsonian Books is releasing Southern Storm: The Tragedy of Flight 242, by journalist Samme Chittum April 3. On April 4, 1977, Georgia housewife Sadie Burkhalter Hurst looked out her door to see a stranger running toward her, his clothes ablaze, and behind him the mangled fuselage of a passenger plane that had just crashed in her yard. The plane, a Southern Airways DC-9-31, had been carrying 81 passengers and four crew members to Atlanta when it entered a massive thunderstorm cell that turned into a dangerous cocktail of rain, hail and lightning. Forced down onto a highway, the plane cut a swath of devastation through the small town of New Hope, breaking apart and killing bystanders on the ground before coming to rest in Hurst’s yard.

Ultimately, only 22 of those aboard would survive the crash of Flight 242, and an urgent investigation began. What had caused the pilots to fly into the storm rather than away from it? Had the pilots misjudged the weather, had their onboard radar failed them or had mechanical or air traffic control problems doomed the plane? And, most pressing, how could similar accidents be averted in the future? Southern Storm addresses these questions and many more, offering an insider’s look at the disaster, its high-stakes investigation and the systemic overhauls that followed it.

About the Author

Chittum is a narrative journalist and Pulitzer Traveling Fellowship recipient who explores the intersection of current events and history. Her work has been published by the New York Times, the New York Daily News, the New York Post and the Village Voice.

About the Book

Title: Southern Storm: The Tragedy of Flight 242
Author: Samme Chittum
On-Sale Date: 4/3/18
Price: $24.95 / Pages: 224
ISBN: 978-1-58834-609-4
Smithsonian Books

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SI-224-2018

Media only   
Leah Enser
(202) 633-5984
enserl2@si.edu

Book cover


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