On July 19, 1967 at 12:01pm Piedmont Airlines Flight 22, a Boeing 727, and a Cessna 310 were involved in a midair collision over Hendersonville, NC. All occupants of Flight 22, including 74 passengers and five crew members, along with the three occupants of the Cessna were killed. The Cessna disintegrated in the air and the Boeing 727 crashed in a wooded area between Interstate 26 and Camp Pinewood. Hundreds of people witnessed the collision and crash.
The rescue squad, county fire departments, police, sheriff’s deputies and medical personnel responded immediately. The fire was extinguished within 30 minutes and Rescue Squad members began the grim task of searching the dense smoke-filled woods for survivors. It quickly became apparent that there were none. The Henderson County Rescue Squad let the recovery efforts with assistance from over 400 volunteers from throughout North Carolina and South Carolina.
It was through the first responders’ sacrifice and dedication to service that Henderson County was able to recover. Federal officials gave high praise to the responding Fire and Law Enforcement departments and the Rescue Squad for their organization and professionalism. The Henderson County Rescue Squad received commendations from the US Senate, Piedmont Airlines, the US Department of Transportation and the Governor for the Volunteers’ bravery during the disaster.
The Henderson County Heritage Museum, in conjunction with the Henderson County Rescue Squad, will conduct a ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the crash on Wednesday, July 19, 2017 at 11:30am in front of the Historic Courthouse in downtown Hendersonville. The public is invited to attend this free event. Speakers will honor the 82 lives lost in the crash and also honor the emergency response from Henderson County and Western North Carolina. Paul Houle, author of The Crash of Piedmont Airlines Flight 22: Completing the Record of the 1967 Midair Collision near Hendersonville, North Carolina, will also speak about the crash and the improvements made in airline safety as a result. There will also be a display of historic photos from the event, video accounts from eye witnesses and a piece of fused metal from the crash.
According to Mark Shepherd, Captain, Henderson County Rescue Squad, “This was one of the largest disasters ever to hit Western North Carolina. It also caused one of the largest emergency responses in area history.”