Fifty years ago on June 3, 1962, an Air France chartered jet crashed on Orly air field and 130 individuals died. Out of these 106 lived in Atlanta, Georgia and had left for Europe on a quest to vacation and also bring back a sparkle of the arts.
Most of those that died were prominent members of the Atlanta community and members of the Atlanta Arts Association. Their mission was to establish a cultural community in this burgeoning southern city. No doubt that their death was a blow to the arts.
What Ann Uhry Abrams has masterfully done in her book Explosion at Orly: The Disaster That Transformed Atlanta is to humanize this tragedy. Growing up in Atlanta I was aware of Orly but not until I read this book did I learn of the people become the marker at the High Museum.
Stories like Raiford Ragsdale who as a woman wielded political and social influence in Atlanta.
How the mayor at the time Ivan Allen, Jr. took the initiative to travel to the crash site and personally looked at all the bodies. How he helped rally a community that was in shock.
This is a very sad chapter in Atlanta’s history but like the iconic figure of the Phoenix, from the ashes rose a prominent center now called the Woodruff Arts Center that houses the arts. Under one roof is the symphony, a theatre, and museum.
At a memorial dinner that marked the 50th anniversary occasion the theme that night was clearly that we will never forget. Fortunately this book Explosion at Orly: The Disaster That Transformed Atlanta is a resource to celebrate the lives lost for the beauty we enjoy today.
Explosion at Orly: The Disaster That Transformed Atlanta is a must read for all Atlantans and those who want to learn the story behind the story.
Historian Ann Uhry Abrams has accomplished a valuable service in this book for the city of Atlanta.
Explosion at Orly: The Disaster That Transformed Atlanta
By Ann Uhry Abrams
2002 Avion Press 238 pp
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Dr. Wilson Trivino is a speaker and write for ABC Vision. He may be reached at [email protected]