Ravenna, OH Private Company Airline Crashes, Sep 1962



Ravenna, Ohio (AP) -- Thirteen men died in the crash and explosion of a two-engine private airplane on a farm southeast of here Tuesday night. It was the worst industrial aircraft accident in the nation's history.
The twin-engine Lockheed Lodestar, owned by the Ashland Oil & Refining Co., was carrying executives from subsidiary companies in Cleveland and Buffalo to Ashland, Ky., for a sales meeting today.
There were no survivors.
The death toll of 13 exceeded by one the previous high for an industrial aircraft accident -- a crash near Shreveport, La., on Jan. 10, 1954. The crash of a Continental Oil Co., plane near Marion, Ohio, on July 1, 1959, took 10 lives.
The plane had reported to the Air Traffic Control Center at Oberlin, Ohio, at 8:51 p.m. (EDT) shortly before the crash that it was approaching Youngstown, flying on instruments at about 8,000 feet and was on course.
The craft was over Lake Milton when witnesses reported sounds that indicated trouble and saw the plane go into a spin, crashing in bright orange flames that lit the sky.
Explosion Reported.
The tremendous explosion littered GLENN SICKLE'S 40-acre farm field with human and mechanical wreckage. One piece of the fuselage was found a mile away.
The blast dug a crater five feet deep and about 20 feet in diameter.
Among those the Frontier Oil Co. said boarded the plane at Buffalo were: CLAYTON G. MAXWELL, 60, vice president of Frontier.
NEWTON A. BRICKA, 43, transportation manager.
JAMES A MAHAN, JR., 37, manager of marketing.
JAMES WHITTAKER, 52, assistant manager of Frontier's oil burner division.
JOSEPH A. COLLINS, 54, manager of the oil burner division.
An Ashland Oil Co. spokesman said four men from another subsidiary, Allied Oil of Cleveland, also were aboard. They were identified as:
JAY P. ALEXANDER, 51, executive assistant to the president, Allied Oil.
ROBERT WULFF, 37, manager of retail fuel oil sales.
WAYNE T. WIGGINS, 37, sales manager.
W. H. PARR, fuel oil sales representatives for Allied at Ashtabula, Ohio.
Ashland Men Named.
From the home company, there was JOHN W. DRENNAN, administrative assistant for marketing.
Chief pilot BLAINE BERKSTRESSER was aboard, and copilot RONALD ROBERTS of Ashland also was scheduled to make the trip.
An Ashland accountant, JAMES GOFF, 34, also was in the group.
First on the scene of the crash, 18 miles from this northeastern Ohio city was RICHARD McKENZIE, who lives nearby. He said he heard a whistling or screaming noise, somewhat like the noise of a jet plane. He saw the red lights of the plane moving in a spinning pattern, then saw a tremendous crash. Flames shot more than 50 feet above the wreckage, he said.
WILLIAM WEIMER of Youngstown, who was fishing on Lake Milton one mile to the east, estimated the plane's lights were at 400 feet altitude when he heard what sounded like engine trouble.
Engine Sputtered.
"It coughed and sputtered, then faded out," he said.
Smoke of the wreckage was thrown onto nearby power lines 50 or 60 feet high, causing a short circuit that left homes in a wide area without power for several minutes.
The plane picked up the Allied people in Cleveland, then flew to Buffalo, and was on its way back to Ashland.
Local authorities roped off the area to keep back crowds of curious and preserve the wreckage for Civil Aeronautics Board investigators to study today.

Local employes of the Ashland Oil Refining Co. were stunned by the company plane crash which took the life of one of the firm's former employes here and two who were widely known among local employes.
JOHN W. DRENNAN of Ashland, administrative assistant for marketing, is a former Portsmouth resident and worked at the Ashland bulk plant here.
JAMES A. MAHAN, JR., of Buffalo, manager of marketing of Frontier Oil Co., was formerly associated with the Ashland office in charge of merchandising and promotion and was a frequent visitor here.
JAMES GOFF was formerly in the credit department in Ashland and contacted local stations.
DRENNAN was a former FBI agent before he became associated with the Ashland company. He as assigned to the bulk plant here as a trainee. While employed here he resided with Detective and MRS. HAROLD COMPTON, 1690 Charles St.

Portsmouth Times Ohio 1962-09-05


1962 plane crash in Ravenna

I remember this accident well. I was 7 at the time when my grandad came from W. Lafayette IN to Ashland to tell me of my dad's accident. My dad was the right seat co-pilot on the plane and our days of fishing and canoeing were gone forever.

The Civil Aeronautics Board (now NTSB) determined the crash was caused by an electric trim tab motor that went askew and pitched the A/C suddenly downward which exceeded the A/C's operating limitations. The downward force caused the right wing to separate outside the right engine. The wing was found by divers in Lake Milton. The trim tab motor, was made by a company in Oklahoma named Spartan.

To my knowledge, no one sued anyone in this sad and preventable accident.

I now fly and own my own plane. My e mail is timroberts214@yahoo.com