June 21, 2011

Don’t Crash the Weed Plane, Dude!

Charleston is in the middle of FestivALL, a two-week all-encompassing artsy outburst that covers the entire city. As part of the fun this year, several folks are painting murals on the bland concrete piers that hold up the highway that runs through the city. It’s a brilliant idea and ought to really spruce things up. But artistic freedom isn’t the highest of priorities.

See, the powers that be asked that the murals be done with "historical" themes. Apparently there’s some history folks in this town would just as soon forget:
'They requested historical themes. I did the marijuana plane crashing, with smoke billowing up in the air. I was going to put demons in the smoke, people gathering the marijuana, and marshals running after the people.'

Alas, judges rejected Hamilton's vision of the infamous June 1979 pot plane crash, in which a DC-6 rolled off the end of a Kanawha (Yeager) Airport runway when its brakes failed, spilling 10 tons of baled marijuana over the hillside and creating a bonanza for bag-toting pot scavengers the following night.
Thanks to Charly Hamilton, who floated the idea, for turning me on to this nugget of Charleston lore. My boss filled in some of the details, which apparently included a shibboleth style catch phrase among the many defense attorneys involved and the firing of a local law enforcement officer who just happened to be up at the airport when the ill-fated pot plane crashed.

So even if the powers-that-be want to forget about it, the saga of the Charleston Pot Plane Crash is alive and well!

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