For additional information about the plane crash and aftermath:
Abrams, Ann Uhry. Explosion at Orly: the disaster that transformed Atlanta. Atlanta, GA: Avion Press, c2002. Browsing - 1st Floor.
The following text is from a plaque that is housed in the McCain Library Archives; the author and date written are unknown.
The Falling Icarus
The wood carving “The Falling Icarus” was presented to Agnes
Scott College by the artist Mr. Otto Flath through Mrs. Robert Hecht of
Atlanta. The carving commemorates those who lost their lives in the tragic
airplane crash in Paris on June 3, 1962, in which over one hundred Atlantans
and Georgians were killed, twelve of them alumnae of Agnes Scott.
The carving also expresses the gratitude of the artist for the help that
the United States gave to Germany during the years following World War
The statue is highly symbolic in that it derives both from Holy Scripture and from mythology. It will be noted that the carving represents an angel with one foot on the sea, the other on land. The source of this concept is the tenth chapter of the Revelation of Saint John:
And I saw another mighty angel coming down from heaven, wrapped in a cloud, with a rainbow over his head, and his face was like the sun, and his legs like pillars of fire. He had a little scroll open in his hand. And he set his right foot on the sea, and his left foot on the land, and called out with a loud voice like a lion roaring; when he called out the seven thunders sounded … And the angel whom I saw standing on sea and land lifted up his right hand to heaven and swore by him who lives for ever and ever, who created heaven and what is in it, the earth and what is in it, and the sea and what is in it, that there should be no more delay, but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God, as he announced to his servants the prophets, should be fulfilled.
The mythological significance of the carving is inherent in the title
or name “The Falling Icarus”. The legend or myth of Daedalus
and Icarus goes back to classical sources. After Daedalus had built the
famed labyrinth for King Minos of Crete, the architect and his son Icarus
were themselves confined in it. In order to escape, Daedalus made wings
for himself and for Icarus. The father, after warning his son not to fly
too near the sun lest the wax in the wings melt, sent Icarus on ahead.
In his pride and joy at being able to fly, the young man forgot the warning
and flew higher than he should. The wax melted, and Icarus fell into the
sea and was drowned.
It is fitting that a work of art commemorating an air crash and the
recovery of a nation use this double figure. Icarus symbolizes death from
the air. At the same time, the great angel reminds one of crisis –
crisis which at any moment may end an old order and usher in a new era.
The new Germany of post World War II is indeed representative of a new
thrust in world affairs. Truly Mr. Flath’s carving has both local
and international meaning.