Gerald Shoemaker was out hunting with a friend when the crash occurred. His story of that day, and the events surrounding the early moments after the crash, are highlighted in this interview. Videotaped on January 16, 2017. (Please note many of the details about the victims are quite graphic. Viewer discretion is advised ).
N174A photographed at Newark, New Jersey May 9, 1957. Note "The Clevelander" can be read under the cockpit at the front of the plane.
Photo credit: Charles Trask via AR Krieger.
Passengers boarding an Allegheny Martin Executive N93206 at the Williamsport Regional Airport. Note "06" can be read on the underside of the left wing. N93206 was in service for Allegheny from 1959 until 1966. The plane was then put into service by Modern Air until it was retired in 1969.
Photo courtesy of Shane C. Collins. Taken by my Grandfather Lone A Hock.
Allegheny postcard from the 1950's.
On December 1, 1959 an Allegheny
airliner, while en route to Williamsport, Pa, crashed into Bald Eagle
mountain. At the time, it was Allegheny's first major crash. This website
is dedicated to all who lost their lives that day.
In 1994 I researched the plane crash at my local library. Several months later I did a solo hike to Bald Eagle mountain but, unfortunately, I was not successful in locating
the crash site. In May of 2014 my cousin Mark and I, with the help of the official CAB report from 1960, finally located the site. The report indicated it's location and elevation coordinates which we entered into our GPS and within hours we found the crash site.
Shane C. Collins (Website Administrator) resides in Williamsport, Pa.
His cousin Mark Avery (Website Research Coordinator) resides in Spencer, NY.
Tuesday December 1, 1959
AIRLINER RAMS MOUNTAIN; 25 KILLED.
CRASH OCCURS IN SNOWSTORM; ONE MAN LIVES.
Montoursville, Pa. (AP) -- A twin-engine airliner swung away from
the airport after trying an instrument approach Tuesday and rammed a
1,400 foot mountain in a snowstorm. Twenty-five of the 26 aboard were
LOUIS MATARAZZO, a passenger, was the lone survivor of the Allegheny Airlines flight. "The Lord opened my side of the plane and I was able to jump out," he said from his hospital bed in nearby Williamsport. "I fought my way through flames, past the wreckage."
For hours the airline believed there were 25 aboard, but later it said a copilot, DONALD W. TYGERT, 26, of Webster, N. Y., came aboard as a passenger in Philadelphia but had not been on the list of those on the plane. MATARAZZO, 35, of the Philadephia suburb of Springfield, suffered severe burns and his eyes were covered with bandages as he talked with Tom Pettit of WRCA-TV, Philadelphia. "The hostess was just turning on the loudspeaker and telling us we were coming in," MATARAZZO said. "All of a sudden the pilot seemed to race the motors and pull up. There was a crash. The plane burst and exploded."
The plane, a Martin Executive type, carried 23 passengers and a crew of 3. En route to Cleveland, it was cleared for a landing at the Williamsport-Montoursville Airport at 9:41 a.m. A few moments later it broke through the swirling snow and mist. "It couldn't have been more than 600 or 700 ft. up," said TOM SCHADT, a salesman from Lancaster, Pa., who had just stopped at a plant adjacent to the airport." The pilot circled away, as if planning another approach, and headed straight toward Bald Eagle Mountain, SCHADT said.
"I heard the pilot gun his motors," SCHADT continued. "A second or two later there was a gigantic crash." The plane rammed the mountain about midway. The fuselage was shredded. Then fire broke out. But, oddly the tail section was virtually undamaged.
Two other passengers were alive when rescuers reached the scene in this central Pennsylvania community some 90 miles north of the state capital at Harrisburg. But both died before they could be brought down the mountain.
It took rescue workers 1 1/2 hours to lower MATARAZZO. Volunteer fireman DONALD AULT, 31, one of the first to arrive by the ground route, said "the first thing I saw was one man, creeping and crawling, coming down the mountain."
As it turned out, this was MATARAZZO, manager of a Philadelphia sportswear company who was on a business trip. AULT and his party also heard moans from a nearby tree and found a man, strapped to an airplane seat, upside down at the base of the tree. The man died en route to the hospital.
The local control tower said the pilot had been in contact with it and "this definitely was an instrument landing," but did not elaborate. An airlines spokesman in Washington said the pilot apparently wanted to make a new and better approach after breaking through the overcast above the airport.
Snow swept into this central Pennsylvania area during the night and there was about an inch on the ground at the time of the crash.
FRED GETTYS, New Cumberland, Pa., and W. T. DERRY, Philadelphia, were found unconscious in the wreckage but died before they could be brought to a hospital.
At least one of the 25 persons killed yesterday in the crash of an
Allegheny Airways plane at Williamsport was known in the Stroudsburgs.
He was SINCLAIR MUIR, of Philadelphia, an international representative
for the International Typographical Union with head-quarters in
Indianapolis, Ind. He boarded the plane at Philadelphia enroute to
Erie. MUIR had represented the ITU in negotiations with at least one local
printing establishment, The Daily Record. He also spoke at the union's
annual banquet here last February.
Boarded at Harrisburg for Cleveland:
FRED GETTYS, Mounted Route, New Cumberland, Pa.
ANDREW GUFF, no address.
ARTHUR LEVIN, 333 S. Cameron St., Harrisburg, Pa.
RUTH FERGUSON, 1827 S. 27th St., Camp Hill, Pa.
Boarded plane at Harrisburg for Bradford:
HENRY SNYDER, 1822 Foster St., Harrisburg.
CHARLES RANKIN and HENRY DRIGGERS, booked by Pera Bula Travel Bureau, Hotel Prince Charles, 428 K St., Fayetteville, N. C.
Boarded at Harrisburg for Erie:
EVELYN MOONEY, 4700 Stricker Rd., Lawton Gardens, Harrisburg.
JACK SVITZER, 411 Graylock St., Stratford-on-the-Potomac, Alexandria, Va. The airline identified SVITZER as its director of sales.
Boarded plane at Philadelphia for Williamsport:
DONALD BAER, otherwise unidentified except that he arrived at Philadelphia by Trans World Airways from Los Angeles.
JOSPEPH MAZZAFERRI, Greenwood and Bacher Rd., Wyncote, Pa.
JOHN HERMANN, 520 Sherman Rd., Springfield, Pa.
LOUIS MATARAZZO, no address.
ROBERT FENWICK, of Paris France.
WILLIAM DENNIS and GEORGE BETHEL, Modern Handling Equipment Co., 4200 Sansom St., Philadelphia.
Boarded at Philadelphia for Bradford:
WILLIAM T. DERRY For Erie.
Boarded at Philadelphia for Erie:
JOHN ZURN, Jenkintown, Pa.
ROLAND KEMBLE, Westinghouse Electric, Philadelphia.
Rev. THEODORE ENGIST, not further identified.
HAYDN JONES, 1603 Winton Ave., Havertown, Pa.
The crew was identified as Capt. THOMAS R. GOLDSMITH, 30, of North Olmstead, Ohio, the pilot; GEORGE MATTHEW BOWERS, 32 Monday, of Parma, Ohio, the co-pilot; and WILLIAM THOMPSON CONGER, 28, of Lakewood, Ohio, the steward.
DONALD W. TYGERT, 26, copilot of Webster, N. Y., boarded the plane in Philadelphia but was not on its manifest.
The Daily Record Stroudsburg Pennsylvania 1959-12-02
Note: The crash site has been registered with the Pennsylvania Historical Museum Commission and is protected for all times. It's designation is "Allegheny Airlines Flight 371 Crash Site - 36LY0351".
The crash site (see photo below) as it appears in 2017. A memorial plaque was placed there in October 2016. Near the plaque are numerous pieces of debris and artifacts.