Calf Mountain, VA Company Plane Crash, Nov 1954


Sinton -- A Blue Ridge Mountain (Va.) plane crash yesterday took the lives of five Plymouth Oil Corp. officials en route to Baltimore, Md.
Listed as dead in the company's twin-engined plane were W. M. (MIKE) GRIFFITH, of Sinton, Plymouth vice president; A. L. LOSCAMP, of Siniton, chief geologist; D. W. GRAHAM, regional geologist, of Midland, and the plane's pilot and co-pilot, ART SOPER and JOE KOLODZIE, both of Sinton.
The Civil Aeronautics Administration said the plane was en route to Baltimore after a fueling stop in Atlanta, Ga.
The plane, a converted Navy PV1, plunged down a slope about six miles north of the intersection of U.S. 250 and the Skyline Drive in Albermarle County, Va., on Calf Mountain about 5:45 p.m. (EST)
Robert Romer, a Roanoke Times sporstwriter, witnessed the crash. Romer said the sky lit up "just like an atomic bomb."
The plane smacked on the crest of Calf Mountain in dense fog and tore a wide path down the mountain strewing wreckage on either side.
The CAA tower in Lynchburg, some 60 miles southwest of the crash site, said the pilot of the plane cancelled his instrument flight plan at 5:26 p.m. (EST), indicating he had satisfactory visual conditions to continue his flight.
The plane crashed on a slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains, which transverse the western section of the state and on which runs the Skyline Drive.
GRIFFITH first came to Texas in 1915 with the 5th Infantry of Maryland's National Guard to protect Texas borders against marauding Pancho Villa. He liked what he saw here during his 18 month stay and returned to live.
He rose to vice president and general manager of Plymouth Oil Co. after joining the Plymouth staff in 1924.
The company grew under GRIFFITH and has holdings now in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Florida, North and South Dakota, WYoming, New Mexico and Oklahoma.
Ironically, GRIFFITH'S death was just a few miles from his birthplace of Baltimore County, Maryland.
GRIFFITH and his wife, MARY HOBBS GRIFFITH, lived in a home two miles north of Sinton in Los Encinos. A son, CHARLES (RUSTY), also survives. He is a rancher near Papalote.
GRIFFITH was in the habit of flying in all kinds of weather with ART SOPER, company pilot. Both had chalked up many hours in normally
"unflyable" weather.
LOSKAMP has been chief geologist for Plymouth since the first of October. His job was to direct all geological operations stemming from the Plymouth offices at Sinton, Midland, Shreveport, La., Billings, Mont., and Jackson, Miss.
Before joining Plymouth he was manager of operations of the West Texas division of the Union Oil Co. of California in Midland and maintained an office as a consulting geologist for the Barnsdall Oil Co. in Midland.
He had also been district geologist for the Barnsdall Oil Co. in Midland.
He was a graduate of Syracuse University and did two years graduate work at Stanford University. He is survived by his wife, who lives in Sinton, and two sons, 2nd Lt. Harry Loskamp, with the U.S. Army in Germany, and Alvin, a student at Stanford.
SOPER, a former barnstorming pilot, had been chief pilot for Plymouth for nine years. With 26 years of flying, he had only had two accidents, both minor night crashes occuring during his barnstorming days, before the crash yesterday.
He is survived by his wife, EDNA, and two daughters, Mrs. Phyl Johnson and Joyce Soper, all of Sinton.
KOLODZIE was also a veteran Plymouth pilot. He was acting as co-pilot on the trip to Baltimore. He is survived by his wife AUDREY, one brother, Billy and a daughter, Pamela, of Sinton.
KOLODZIE has been with Plymouth a year serving as a co-pilot. He was formerly with an aviation service in San Antonio.
GRAHAM is survived by his wife, of Midland, and his father. He was a graduate of Texas A & M.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times Texas 1954-11-21