Mayday! Mayday!

Aircraft Crashes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 1920-2000

  • Author(s): Wadley, Jeff, and Dwight McCarter
  • Series:
  • Imprint: Univ Tennessee Press
  • Publication Date: 2002-03-08
  • Status: Active
  • Available in Hardcover - Printed Case: Price $0.00 | Buy Now
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Mayday! Mayday! Aircraft Crashes in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, 1920–2000 Jeff Wadley and Dwight McCarter

Since the dawn of aviation, more than fifty aircraft have crashed in the Great Smoky Mountains. This book details all of those known incidents from 1920 to 2000, including those that occurred within the area before the establishment of the National Park in 1934. Jeff Wadley and Dwight McCarter, who have been involved in search-and-rescue missions in the Smokies for decades, have researched official documents and newspaper archives and conducted extensive interviews with survivors, family members, and eyewitnesses to record not only tragedies but also triumphs of survival.

The authors tell how the earliest known plane crashes in the Smokies were of the single-engine Curtis “Jenny” biplanes flown by young air aces during the World War I era. In the years since, the Smokies have claimed private planes, military jets, helicopters, and even a hot air balloon. These disasters arose from numerous causes—from fuel depletion and icing to “dare-deviling” or simply flying too low. Wadley and McCarter attest to the difficult duties of search-and-rescue teams in the most remote areas of the park. Of 127 persons involved in crashes, only 56 survived. Readers will be touched by these accounts—such as that of two small children who survived a December 1977 crash that killed their father and older sister.

Mayday! Mayday! offers both cautionary tales for pilots who fly above these ridges and seasoned advice to those who search for victims. The Smokies have been called by some another Bermuda Triangle; this book explains why and reminds us that no skies are entirely friendly.

The Authors: Jeff Wadley is a lieutenant colonel in the Tennessee Civil Air Patrol who serves as a mission coordinator and trainer in the Smokies.

Dwight McCarter served as a backcountry ranger in the park for over twenty years and is the author of Lost! A Ranger’s Journal of Search and Rescue in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.