Johnstown, PA Commuter Plane Crashes On Landing, Jan 1974
11 DEAD IN PLANE CRASH AT JOHNSTOWN AIRPORT.
Johnstown, Pa. (AP) -- Authorities say they're at a loss to explain what caused a commuter plane crash here Sunday night that killed 11 and left six others injured.
The aircraft, a twin-engine Air East turboprop, clipped an elevated bank of approach lights on its landing glide to the Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, soared over a highway and then slammed into the top of a steep embankment 100 yards short of its assigned runway, officials said.
"It was a matter of five feet, and he would have been clear," WARREN
KRISE, an Air East official, said afterward in reference to the approach lights. "Right now, we have no idea what happened."
The plane, a Beechcraft 99 on a scheduled commuter flight from Pittsburgh, carried 15 passengers and a two-man crew.
The pilot, DAVID BRANNAN, 40, a retired Air Force pilot from nearby Galitzin, was thrown nearly 50 yards from the point of impact still strapped in his seat and was killed outright, authorities said. Copilot GERALD KNOUFF, 24, of Johnstown, was hospitalized in critical condition.
Others killed included MRS. RICHARD H. MAYER, wife of the publisher of the Johnstown Tribune-Democrat; their 11-year-old son RICHARD; and a niece of the MAYERS, SUSAN IMHOFF, 13. SUSAN'S twin sister CINDY was critically injured, officials said.
Newsmen said relatives and friends of some of the victims, awaiting the plane's arrival at the terminal, ran across the airfield after learning of the crash and tried to help pull the dead and injured from the wreckage. Some were so overcome they collapsed and were taken to hospitals for treatment of shock.
The crash occurred shortly after dark in 20-degree weather, and visibility at the time was two miles, KRISE said.
There was no hint from the pilot of anything wrong with the aircraft, KRISE added, nor was there any immediate indication of a malfunction with the approach lights.
Newsmen at the scene said the plane hit the last bank of lights before the runway and knocked them out, but added that all the other lights in the approach pattern were on when they arrived.
There was no fire, but the plane practically disintegrated on impact and aviation fuel soaked many of the victims, rescuers said. The nose was thrown 50-75 yards from impact, the wings were nearly shorn from the fuselage and the tail section was severed completely.
The airport sits astride a plateau, and had been the site of two previous crash-landings in recent months, one involving a delegation of congressional dignitaries. There were no deaths or injuries in either of those incidents, however.
Last Thursday, a charter executive jet carrying five Connecticut businessmen nearly plunged off the end of an icy runway at the airport while landing, but the pilot managed to swing the craft onto a grassy area and bring it to a stop.
It was on the same runway two months ago that a U.S. Air Force turboprop crash-landed as it was bringing a number of congressional officials here from Washington, D. C., for the funeral of U.S. Rep. JOHN SAYLOR. A strong cross-current whipped the plane sideways as it was landing, but again the pilot managed to bring the craft under control before any serious damage occurred.
Of the six injured in Sunday night's crash, five were reported in critical condition early today, and some underwent immediate surgery.
One of those hurt, MRS. JENNIFER MOODY of Las Vegas, Nev., was to have attended her mother's funeral here today, officials said.
Four young men on their way home from bowling were first to reach the crash scene. They saw the tail section hanging over the edge of the embankment, 75 feet above the highway they were on, and they scrambled up the embankment to see what was wrong.
The youths said that besides the pilot, at least six others were thrown from the wreckage still strapped in their seats. It was so cold that some of the dead already seemed partially frozen, they added.
They said they found the bottom of the plane ripped out, both engines torn away and the snow soaked with aviation fuel. Some of the victims were pleading for help, and the red beacon atop the tail section still was blinking, they said.
"I thought I was having a dream," said NICHOLAS MAYDAK, on of the four. "I couldn't even scream. I tried to scream, but nothing came out."
Three of the boys began pulling victims clear of the wreckage and covering those alive with jackets and whatever else they could find. The fourth went for help.
DAVID HAMULA said he pulled CINDY IMHOFF from the plane and packed snow around her face to stop some bleeding, then covered her with his own jacket. Then, he said, he huddled against her after everyone else was out to keep her warm until the ambulances arrived.
The National Transportation Board, Civil Aeronautics Board and state police began an investigation, but said it might be weeks before they would have a report.
VICTIMS LISTED IN PLANE CRASH.
Johnstown, Pa. (AP) -- Following is a list of those killed or injured in Sunday night's crash of an Air East commuter plane at the Johnstown-Cambria Conuty Airport:
JOACHIM F. BERLINGER, about 60, of New York City.
DANIEL BRANNAN, 40, of Galitzin, Pa., the pilot.
JAMES CREIGHTON, 44, of Mansfield, Ohio, another Air East pilot apparently hitching a ride on the flight.
PAUL FREIDHOFF, 19, of Johnstown.
CHRISTOPHER HARRINGTON, 18, of Philadelphia.
SUSAN IMHOFF, 13, of Johnstown.
ESTHER KIRSCHMANN, no age available, of Johnstown.
MRS. RICHARD H. MAYER, 42, of Johnstown.
RICHARD MAYER, 11, MRS. MAYER'S son, of Johnstown.
JANE SHIKES, 23, of New York State (hometown unspecified).
MRS. LYNN STRAMP, 28, of Ebensburg, Pa.
CAROL BROWN, 18, of Lansdowne, Pa., serious condition at Lee Hospital.
DR. ABRAHAM J. EDELSTEIN, no age available, of Johnstown, in critical condition at Memorial Hospital.
CINDY IMHOFF, 13, of Johnstown, twin sister of SUSAN, in critical condition at Lee Hospital.
JENNIFER MOODY, no age available, of Las Vegas, Nev., in critical condition at Mercy Hospital.
LOUIS J. TESTONI, no age available, of Aston, Pa., in critical condition at Mercy Hospital.
The Evening Standard Uniontown Pennsylvania 1974-01-07