Air France Flight 007

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This article is about the 1962 Air France crash. For the 1983 Korean Airlines incident, see Korean Air Lines Flight 007. For other uses, see Flight 7.

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

Air France Flight 007
Air France Boeing 707-300 Manteufel.jpg
An Air France Boeing 707-320 similar to the one involved
Accident summary
Date June 3, 1962
Summary Rejected takeoff due to mechanical failure
Site Orly Airport, Paris, France
Passengers 122
Crew 10
Injuries (non-fatal) 2
Fatalities 130
Survivors 2
Aircraft type Boeing 707-328
Aircraft name Chateau de Sully
Operator Air France
Registration F-BHSM
Flight origin Paris-Orly Airport
1st stopover Idlewild Airport
2nd stopover Atlanta Municipal Airport
Destination Houston Municipal Airport

Air France Flight 007 was a charter flight that crashed on June 3, 1962 while attempting to depart Paris's Orly Airport en route to Houston, Texas via New York City and Atlanta, Georgia. The 707 carried 122 passengers and 10 crew, of whom 130 died. The pilot was Captain Roland Hoche, 39, assisted by First Officer Jacques Pitoiset, 40, and Flight Engineer Robert Barres, 42. This is the first single civilian jet airliner disaster with more than 100 deaths. When it happened, it was the worst single-aircraft disaster as well as the second deadliest aviation disaster in history.

Accident narrative[edit]

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 unable 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 the takeoff could be aborted with the aircraft stopping 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[edit]

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 Museum of Art 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 and 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[edit]

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, published in 2002. It detailed the lives of the passengers prior to their trip to Paris and the effect the disaster had on Atlanta.

Flight number[edit]

Air France continues to use the flight number 7 today. However, the flight number is used on the trip back to France, and the flight now only runs from New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport to Paris's Charles de Gaulle Airport, using an Airbus A380-800. The forward trip is now Flight 6, terminating in New York.[10]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ article on the crash at
  2. ^ a b Morris, Mike. "Air France crash recalls '62 Orly tragedy." Atlanta Journal Constitution. 2 June 2009. Retrieved on 2 June 2009.
  3. ^ Photo of Mayor Allen inspecting the crash site at Orly
  4. ^ Airplane crash at Orly Field by Randy Golden in About North Georgia
  5. ^ Frank Zollner, John F. Kennedy and Leonardo's Mona Lisa: Art as the Continuation of Politics
  6. ^ Gupton Jr., Guy W. "Pat" (Spring 2000). "First Person". Georgia Tech Alumni Association. Retrieved 2006-11-07. 
  7. ^ Taylor Branch (1999). Pillar of fire: America in the King years, 1963-65. America in the King Years. 2 of 3. New York City: Simon & Schuster. p. 14. ISBN 0-684-84809-0. Retrieved 2010-12-03. 
  8. ^ 129 Die in Jet! by Andy Warhol, New York Mirror
  9. ^ Jonathan Crane: "Sadism and Seriality: The Disaster Paintings", The Critical Response to Andy Warhol (ed. Pratt), 1997, p. 260.
  10. ^

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