60th Anniversary of the Crash of Flight 349

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Mark Cline and the wheel of Flight 349 at Mint Springs Valley Park.

Rockbridge County artist Mark Cline, widely known for his foam and fiberglass sculptures of theme park figures, and the creator of “foamhenge,” acquired a tire from the crash of Piedmont Airlines Flight 349 and returned it to the crash site on Bucks Elbow Mountain above Crozet on the sixtieth anniversary of the October 30, 1959 tragedy.

Cline acquired the tire in trade for two eagle sculptures, he said. The tire had been brought down from the mountain by Jessie Seal Jr. of Crozet, then a boy, as a memento of the event. The sole survivor of the crash that killed 25, Phillip Bradley, learned of the tire’s whereabouts and suggested to Cline that it might be used in a memorial. Bradley built the memorial to victims that sits near the entrance to Mint Springs Valley Park. Nothing came of the idea and meanwhile Bradley died.

Cline said he decided to honor the spirit of Bradley’s wish by returning the tire to the crash scene, which he did by approaching it from the top of the mountain, on the anniversary.

For the complete story of the crash, see the October 2009 issue of the Gazette. 

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