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1962: 130 die in Paris air crash

A chartered Air France Boeing 707 headed for Atlanta, Georgia, has crashed on take-off at Orly Airport in Paris, killing 130 people on board.

It is the worst ever recorded air disaster involving one aircraft.

Miraculously, two of the 10 crew survived. The air stewardesses, who had been sitting at the rear of the plane, escaped with minor injuries.

Three hours after the disaster another steward was found alive in the wreckage but he died later in hospital.

Atlanta Arts group killed

Most of the 122 passengers were American - members of the Atlanta Art Association on their way home after a trip of a lifetime to visit the art treasures of Europe.

Eyewitnesses said the plane, known as the Chateau de Sully, was travelling at about 200 mph (321 km/h) and seemed unable to take off, barely rising above seven feet (two metres).

Its right wing dipped and hit the ground and the plane crashed into gardens and an empty house, then exploded about 50 yards (45 m) from the end of the runway.

Only the tail section of the aircraft remained intact - which is where the two survivors were found.

The intense heat of the burning wreckage prevented local residents from helping the rescue effort, and it was one and a half hours before firefighters could reach the victims.

Air France has launched an immediate inquiry into the accident.

Initial investigations revealed brake marks running for about 1,500 ft (457 m) at the end of the runway, proof that the pilot had tried desperately to abort take-off.

President Kennedy has sent a message of sympathy to the Atlanta Art Association and victims' families.

In Context
The Orly air crash of June 1962 left the city of Atlanta stunned.

An arts complex was built in memory of the dead, among them some of the city's most prominent figures in the arts world.

It was called the Atlanta Memorial Arts Center, later renamed the Woodruff Arts Center, and opened on 5 October 1968.

The accident itself was caused by a technical fault but by the time the pilot realised there was a problem the plane was past the point of no return.

The US courts granted the largest settlement from a single accident at the time.


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