On the afternoon of April 4, 1977, Georgia housewife Sadie Burkhalter Hurst looked out her front door to see a frantic stranger running toward her, his clothes ablaze, and, behind him, the mangled fuselage of a passenger plane that had just crashed in her yard. The plane, a Southern Airways DC-9-31, had been carrying eighty-one passengers and four crew members en route to Atlanta when it entered a massive thunderstorm cell that turned into a dangerous cocktail of rain, hail, and lightning. Forced down onto a highway, the plane cut a swath of devastation through the small town of New Hope, breaking apart and killing bystanders on the ground before coming to rest in Hurst's front yard. Ultimately, only twenty-two people survived, and urgent questions immediately arose: What caused the pilots to fly into the storm instead of away from it? Could the crash have been prevented? Southern Storm addresses these issues and more, offering an insider's look at this disaster and the systemic overha uls that followed it.