Author Archives: cbdavids

“The Bold and Complicated Life of Lyman W. Keele, Jr., First Officer aboard Southern Airways Flight 242” – my interview with Delta Airlines Captain Ron Crysler (ret.)

CD: Ron, thank you for taking the time to speak with me today about Lyman W.  Keele, Jr. and the events surrounding his death after the April 4, 1977 crash of Southern Airways Flight 242. You worked together at Southern, and … Continue reading

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“The Rolling Stones: Exclusive Photographs taken during the recording of Brown Sugar, Wild Horses, and You Gotta Move” – by Clifford Davids

December of 1969 was a fitting end to a turbulent decade in American history: the Black Panthers were under attack in LA; The Jackson 5 made their first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show; John Lennon was offered the lead role … Continue reading

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“A Conversation with Jimmy Johnson about Annette Snell’s last recording session at the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio” – by Clifford Davids

Jimmy Johnson brags that back in the day, back when the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio was firing on all cylinders, he recorded a new album every week. Jimmy stayed in demand as both a music producer and sound engineer, but he was … Continue reading

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“From Muscle Shoals, Alabama to New Hope, Georgia: The Long Odyssey of Jimmy Johnson” – by Clifford Davids

Jimmy Johnson has scaled Olympian musical heights. He was the guitar player for the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section (aka “The Swampers”), as well as a member of two legendary hit factories: Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Al, and the Muscle Shoals Sound Studio … Continue reading

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Capturing Paul John Knowles: Exclusive Photographs From The Arrest Of “The Casanova Killer” – by Clifford Davids

Paul John Knowles was a nasty piece of work. He met his violent end on December 18, 1974, sprawled across the backseat of a sheriff’s sedan after making his final bid for freedom. He failed spectacularly, taking three bullets to the chest, … Continue reading

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A Rough And Perilous WWII Journey To China Aboard The “Yokahama Express” – by Clifford Davids

I found the few surviving pages of C. James Crysler’s WWII journal buried in a wooden trunk in his son’s basement – a choice man cave filled with old carpentry tools, hunting gear, a huge flat screen TV, one partially restored 8mm … Continue reading

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“The Long Walk To China” – How C. James Crysler Joined The Legendary Flying Tigers – by Clifford Davids

The following interview with C. James Crysler first appeared in the January 28, 1944 edition of the “Curtiss Wright-er,” the newsletter for the Curtiss-Wright Corp., maker of the rugged P-40 Warhawk. Although I never met Crysler, this interview paints the colorful portrait of … Continue reading

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A Former Navy Attack Pilot Sets The Record Straight About His Father’s Service With The “Flying Tigers” – by Clifford Davids

It’s funny how some stories just come knocking at your door. Ron Crysler played an important role in the aftermath of the April 4, 1977 crash of Southern Airways Flight 242, a story I have written about extensively. After the accident, … Continue reading

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“The Tragic Tale of Robert St. Martin, the Flight Controller Tracking Southern Airways Flight 242” – by Clifford B. Davids

Two months after the crash of Southern Airways Flight 242, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conducted a five day public hearing at the Sheraton-Biltmore Hotel in Atlanta, GA. The witnesses included crash survivors, internal investigators, engine specialists, air traffic … Continue reading

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“Anatomy of a Crash Scene” – Action Photographs taken after the crash of Southern Airways Flight 242 – by Clifford B. Davids

The first responders were already gearing up for a fiery rescue in the moments before the co-pilot of Southern Airways Flight 242 lowered his landing gear and touched down dead center on a narrow strip of highway in New Hope, … Continue reading

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“A Dry Tomb Burial for Southern Airways Flight 242” – by Clifford B. Davids

The exact spot where Southern 242’s wreckage is buried remains a mystery – but it can be found in a very public place. Early on into this oral history project I discovered that the remains were in fact quickly and … Continue reading

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“Crash Site Confidential” – The NTSB Photographs Of Southern Airways Flight 242 – by Clifford B. Davids

The National Transportation Safety Board is iconic. Everyone recognizes their intrepid investigators, clad in navy blue shirts emblazoned with the yellow “NTSB” logo, swarming all over the smoldering wreckage of airplanes, ships, and trains. Established in 1967, the Board is … Continue reading

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“How She Survived: Flight Attendant Catherine Cooper and the Lucky Few from Flight 242” – by Clifford B. Davids

The tragic crash of Southern Airways Flight 242 is a cruel story of destruction, mayhem, and death. The captain died from his injuries, and the first officer expired while he was being medivaced to Kennestone Hospital. Twenty  passengers died from fatal … Continue reading

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“The Dead-Stick Descent of Southern Airways Flight 242” – by Clifford B. Davids

The final moments aboard Southern Airways Flight 242 were chaotic yet controlled: the first officer was searching in vain for a suitable runway; the pilot was furiously trying to restart the disabled engines; and the two flight attendants were keeping the unnerved passengers calm and … Continue reading

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“Annette Snell: Soul Diva aboard Southern Airways Flight 242” – by Clifford B. Davids

It was late in the morning on April 4, 1977, when a jubilant Annette Snell returned to the building at 3614 Jackson Highway in Sheffield, Alabama.  She had spent the past week there recording her first album, and all of … Continue reading

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“Shock and Awe: William V. Gudaitis and the Military Secrets aboard Southern Airways Flight 242” – by Clifford B. Davids

On April 4, 1977, William V. Gudaitis boarded the ill-fated Southern Airways Flight 242 in Huntsville, AL as he headed to a meeting at Raytheon Co. in Lexington, MA. He was a top scientist for the Redstone Arsenal, and his … Continue reading

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“Hanging Mary and the Haunted Asheville Orphanage” – by Clifford B. Davids

Mary’s last hanging was darkness and beauty as she slowly swayed from the third floor balcony of the orphanage dormitory. The carefully tied noose was flawless, and it fit perfectly around her slender neck. She quietly peeked from underneath her hood, hoping … Continue reading

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“The Alienist, his observant Daughter, and the Hidden Treasure of New Hope Church” – by Clifford B. Davids

New Hope, GA has seen its fair share of bounders, rounders, and hooligans seeking their fortune. Ever since the bloody Battle of New Hope Church in May of 1864, every conceivable type of grifter has drifted into town, searching for the gold … Continue reading

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“The Daughter of Southern Airways Flight 242’s First Officer Finally Speaks Out” – by Clifford B. Davids

Lyman W. Keele, Jr. was a natural born aviator. After graduating from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1966, he joined the U. S. Navy and received his flight training at the Naval Air Station Pensacola in Florida. He was assigned … Continue reading

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“The Ghost Sentry and the Secret Tunnel Under New Hope Church” – by Clifford B. Davids

Some time ago I found myself visiting Dallas, GA, riding along with the sons of the Confederacy as they refreshed the flags on their ancestors’ graves. They were a dedicated group of guys, and our journey took us into the most remote corners … Continue reading

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