Bob Powell Published

Piedmont Airliner Crashes Near Charleston: August 10, 1968

Charleston's Yeager Airport

On August 10, 1968, a Piedmont Airlines plane was approaching Charleston’s Kanawha Airport when it clipped some trees, crashed into a hillside, and burned; 35 of the 37 people on board were killed.

The passenger plane was en route from Louisville, Kentucky, to Roanoke, Virginia, with stops in Cincinnati and Charleston.

The airliner departed Cincinnati just after 8 a.m. As it approached Charleston less than an hour later, the pilots ran into fog and smoke. Visibility was reduced to a half mile, largely obscuring the hilltop runway from view. At five minutes before nine, the pilots reported to the tower that they were having trouble seeing the runway lights. Shortly afterward, air traffic controllers heard an explosion and saw smoke rising from the approach to the runway.

The plane skidded up the hill more than 350 feet, coming to rest just five feet short of the runway. If the plane had been just 50 yards higher, it likely would’ve landed safely.

This remains the deadliest air disaster in the history of Charleston’s airport, which is now named for aviator Chuck Yeager.