1967-07-19: ‘Collision in the Sky’

Piedmont Flight #22 was a Boeing 727 on a short hop from Asheville, NC to Roanoke, VA. On July 19, 1967, the flight departed Asheville [KAVL] to the southeast and soon began a climbing left turn. The other aircraft was a twin-prop Cessna 310. They collided over a summer camp near Hendersonville, NC. The side of the B727 was ripped open; bodies and debris rained down onto an area 1.5-miles long.

19670719.. Piedmont22 midair, presented over 2015 version of VFRmap

A diagram of the midair, superimposed onto a 2015 VFR sectional chart. Thick red line depicts the departing B727; thin red line depicts route of arriving C310, flying from the Asheville VOR [1] (since renamed ‘Sugarloaf Mountain’) to the Broad River Beacon [3]. The C310 was inbound from the southeast (thick green line) and had been instructed to proceed on a heading of 298 (thin green line) to the Asheville Beacon [2]. The C310 pilot instead turned to the left and flew a heading of 238, toward the Broad River Beacon. The C310 pilot radioed the erroneous 238 heading, but ATC failed to correct the error. The NTSB report falsely claimed that the recording had a 4-second gap concealing the ‘238 heading’ readback error.

What’s particularly fascinating about this story is that it is actually two stories:

  1. the story of one of the most horrific accidents from a time period when the newer and faster jets were frequently having midair collisions with small GA aircraft.
  2. and, the story of a local amateur historian, Paul Houle, who applies his curiosity and his experience as an Army accident investigator to take a closer look. He soon sees that NTSB clearly botched the 1967 investigation, so he publishes his investigation and petitions NTSB to reopen the case.

Below is a PDF copy of the article, as published in July 2005. The accident details were researched locally by Mr. Houle; the article was written by Walt Wooton.

This pop-out view is scrollable, and the PDF copy may be downloaded.

PAGE CREATED: 2015-10-15

See also… (blue dates link to online content)

NTSB to re-examine cause of 1967 midair collision
After repeated rejections, NTSB finally agreed to reopen the case.
Feds Reopen Piedmont Flight 22 Crash (1967)
Interesting details brought up within a discussion forum, at Airliners.net.
NTSB Report (56p)