This low-flying plane, captured by YDR Facebook reader Jen Coates, flew over York County, Pa., Friday evening causing a record flurry of comments and other photos on that FB page. Someone at Delaware’s Dover Air Force Base thought it was a C-17 Air Force plane, after examining a photograph. At least three military planes have crashed into York County soil since World War II. Here’s what ydr.com has right now: Low-flying plane. Also of interest: Student sky watchers scanned the horizons for enemy planes in World War II.
The low-flying military plane that captured the attention of so many York countians came and went peacefully – and safely. As it turns out, the plane’s pilots were merely working on their landings and takeoffs at Harrisburg International Airport.
But misfortune has struck military airmen in at least three crashes in York County since World War II:
1. On Christmas Day 1944, 11 servicemen died on York County soil. Their plane crashed as it attempted to land at Harrisburg Airport.
Here’s the account from my “Never to be Forgotten:”
“An additional 16 are injured when the transport traveling from Jacksonville, Fla., to Minneapolis, crashes on Roundtop Mountain near New Cumberland. ‘It was the worst sight I ever saw,’ Fire Chief William Vogelsong of New Cumberland said. ‘The men were in the plane crying for help, and we had to cut our way to them with an ax. Part of one wing was on a tree 200 feet from the plane.’ York County coroner L.U. Zech aided in the investigation. None of the dead hailed from the county, but the incident gives county residents a first-hand look at the cost of war.” (This information originally appeared in this post listing worst mass casualties in York/Adams history.
2. From my World War II book “In the Thick of the Fight“:
“Two days after the D-Day landing, a B-24 bomber on a test flight from Olmstead Field crashed on the Walter Beshore farm, between Newberrytown and Yocumtown.
“Five crew members died, but a sixth man escaped in time. He rushed to a farmhouse for help, then returned to attempt to rescue his comrades.
“Mrs. W. Worrell Wagner grabbed a first-aid kit and drove to the scene. The survivor told her that he had attempted to remove bodies from the wreckage, but the heat was too intense.
“The four-engine bomber’s wreckage was spread over a 200-yard area.”
3. A C-119 Flying Box Car, out of Olmstead AFB in Middletown, went down in an area known as the Swamp in York Township in 1960.
Former York Daily Record reporter Dean Wise and others recalled the crash, which claimed the lives of three airmen. Read their accounts: Plane crash.
Another World War II military plane crash, which took the life of a Women’s Auxiliary Ferrying Squadron pilot, occurred just over the Cumberland County line.
Also from “In the Thick of the Fight:”
“Evelyn Sharp of Ord, Neb., was piloting a P-38 fighter plane from Long Beach, Calif., to Newark, N.J., when she stopped at New Cumberland Airport, later Capital City Airport, in northern York County.
“As she was taking off the next morning, her twin-engine plane’s right engine lost power just as it was getting airborne. Sharp tried to pilot the plan back to the airfield, but it hit trees and crashed onto the Arthur Zimmerman farm … .”
Newspaper reports stated that the 24-year-old pilot was thrown from the plane, which immediately caught fire.”
On a different note and on the ground … .
Military planes, with clipped wings, are often seen moving through York County on the backs of trucks, as seen here in Fawn Grove. To find where they are going, check out: Plane restoration.
Also of interest:
- World War II air raid siren: ‘The plan is to get it to work.’
- Pearl Harbor: ‘I always said we would never know the real thing if it would ever happen’
- York County Pearl Harbor survivor: ‘We need to prevent attacks of that nature’
- The first to die in (World) War (II) …