WILLIAM SPORT — Two years’ effort to create a memorial to 25 people killed when an Allegheny Airlines plane crashed 47 years ago in Lycoming County came to fruition Monday.
“This culminates our mission to remember the people who were killed,” said Shane Collins about the marker he and his cousin, Scott Avery, erected Monday on Bald Eagle Mountain, across the Susquehanna River from Montoursville.
That’s where now at the site where an Allegheny Airlines plane crashed on Dec. 1, 1959, killing all but one of the 26 on board.
The biggest obstacle in his efforts to create the monument was getting approval from the state Department of Conservation and Naturalization since the crash site is on state forest land. That approval came last Wednesday. Collins bought supplies Saturday and built the memorial over the weekend, he said.
With the help of Avery, he took it to the crash site Monday and erected it, he said.
“It was quite a challenge carrying it down the mountain,” he said. The terrain is rugged with no easy access and crash site is on a 67-degree slope, he said.
Ohio resident John Bowers, a nephew of the co-pilot Gregory Bowers, contributed toward the cost of the memorial, he said.
The left side of the memorial contains a photo collage from the day of the crash, news articles and a plane ticket receipt provided by a daughter of one of the passengers.
On the right side are the names of the passengers and crew on the Martin 202 that took off from Philadelphia and stopped in Harrisburg, where eight passengers boarded.
Investigators believe the pilot, who was attempting to land at Williamsport Regional Airport, did not realize he was 80 degrees off course until it was too late to avoid the mountain.
It is illegal to remove any of the remaining wreckage or artifacts because the area is registered with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission as an official archaeological site, he said.
Artifacts Collins recovered that include buttons, keys and an Allegheny spoon and pins are temporarily at Lycoming College.
After processing, they will be sent to the state museum, said Robin Van Auken, an archaeology instructor at the college.
Emily Stine, a Jersey Shore High School student, is helping with the research as a senior project, she said.
Collins said his interest in the crash came from what he learned from a late uncle who had gone to what he had called a horrific scene.
He said he tried to find the location several times in 1995 and 1996 and sort of forgot about it.
With the aid of Avery, who had a GPS app on his cell phone, he found the location in May 2014. That began Collins’ effort — a sort of obsession, he says — to have a memorial placed at the site.