Charlottesville–Right Now: Rey Barry recalls a 1959 plane crash in Albemarle County

Long-time Charlottesville resident Rey Barry joined Coy Barefoot on the Thursday, May 4 edition of WINA’s Charlottesville–Right Now to talk about a plane crash in Albemarle County. Piedmont flight 349 went off course after missing Charlottesville Airport on October 30, 1959. Barry was a staff announcer for WCHV and assisted in the search to find the downed plane. Thirty-six hours later, he came across the lone survivor and the bodies of the 26 people who didn’t make it.

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Charlottesville Right Now is broadcast live Monday through Friday on NewsRadio 1070 WINA from 4 to 6pm. Best-selling author and historian Coy Barefoot is the host and producer. To participate in the program, you can call 434-977-1070. Coy can be reached at


6 Replies to “Charlottesville–Right Now: Rey Barry recalls a 1959 plane crash in Albemarle County”

  1. My husband’s birthfather was Leroy William Peake. Any thing you can tell us about the crash would be appreciated. We have spoken to Mr. Bradley in past years.

  2. Bascom Lee Haley was the co-pilot of that flight. He was rated one of the best instrument flyers in his Air Force Training. I’m his only son, and I’m still baffled today why they hit that mountain. I was 13 mos old. in 1959. My mother told me that dad was the type of guy who didn’t question the Captains judgement when flying the aircraft. Maybe dad knew they were off course, and didn’t challenge the captain on it, you know…the boss is always right? I learned this…If the boss aint right…LET THEM KNOW. Lavrinc (Pilot) and my dad had flown this pattern many times. Reports say they failed to make a 10 degree turn which would put them on the glidepath to Charlottesville airport. Why did they both miss that? They were doing the right thing at the wrong place. They had wheels down ready to land, but 10 miles west of the airport. Bucks Elbow mountain was in the way. What I would give for the “black box” if they had had them back then. I can be reached at 336-725-5664

  3. If you listen to the interview, and read the report of the investigation in “The Hook”, you will see that there was more involved than what the government report concluded. I don’t think it was the fault of the pilot or co-pilot. I think it was an “electronic error”, caused by the broadcast of the beacon at Hagerstaown, Maryland. It all makes so much sense, especially considering that the plane’s flaps were down for a landing. They thought they were landing; why would the flaps be down otherwise? My cousin’s husband was also a victim of the crash … Sherman Bristow.

    Just my opinion.

  4. Corinne,

    I read your opinion note on Facebook in referance to Flight 349 and I see you said that you are Ann’s cousin. Sherman Bristow was my mother’s brother. My mother was Betty Bristow. I was only 7 years old at the time of the plane crash. As you are aware, I am sure, that Ann and Sherman were only married about six months at the time. I was just wondering if Ann was still alive and well. My parents have passed and most everyone lost contact. Perhaps you would tell Ann my mother thought of her often. I have pictures of them at the wedding. Uncle Sherman’s picture is in all the living rooms of all the homes left. Mine, my brother Davids as well. I hope I have not intruded on your privacy. I had never read anything about the plane crash until now. My brother has been to the area where the plane went down. There was always a rumor that the pilot had taken some drugs that may have impaired his ability to fly. I remember that weekend, my grandparents never got over the loss of their child. Sherman was 27 years old at the time.

  5. I recall a year later working at a radio station whose receptionist was the orphaned daughter of a passenger. She moved to Charlottesville from NY or NJ to be closer to the investigation. Last name was possibly Nardi.

    And does everyone know that the UVa Drama Dep’t’s Helms Theater is named for Jimmy Helms who was on that flight. The only passenger I knew personally before Bradley. BTW, Phil died 9/5/2013.
    Rey Barry

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