Berkeley Springs, WV Transport Plane Crashes Into Home, Oct 1992


Berkeley Springs, W.Va. (AP) -- Milton Barnhart was sitting at his kitchen table Wednesday morning when an Air National Guard transport plane crashed into his house in a huge fireball, killing all six people on board.
Barnhart's house was destroyed, but he escaped without serious injury, with his hair singed.
Witnesses said one wing or engine on the four-engine plane, which was on a routine training flight, appeared to be on fire before the crash.
The turboprop C-130E was part of the 167th Tactical Airlift Group based at the Eastern West Virginia Regional Airport at Martinsburg, 20 miles east of Berkeley Springs in the state's Eastern Panhandle. The unit's 12 aircraft were used to ferry troops and supplies during the Persian Gulf War.
Air National Guard Maj. Edward Dockeney Jr. said an Air Force investigation board will convene to determine the cause of the crash. He would not discuss possible causes.
A voice recorder was recovered from the wreckage, said Brig. Gen. Jack Koch, assistant to the Air Guard's adjutant general. He said the aircraft had been in flight less than an hour.
Barnhart, 77, a retired railroad worker who lives alone, said the plane slammed into his two-story, frame farmhouse outside Berkeley Springs about 9:30 a.m.
"I ran out and got out of there," he said. "It took the whole roof off the house and half of the first floor..... The whole porch was on fire. The yard was on fire."
Only his chimney was left standing. Also destroyed were a shed and a pickup truck parked nearby.
Barnhart said he only saved a charred photograph of a grandson, and he clutched it as he talked to reporters. He could not immediately find his three dogs, he said.
He was shaken up but not seriously hurt. The heat from the fire singed his eyebrows and hair and melted the vinyl siding on a house 50 feet away.
"It's just unbelievable, as big as the plane was, there is just nothing left," said C. Mike Coates, a Martinsburg firefighter. The C-130 has a wingspan of about 130 feet.
Judy Youngblood, 30, who lives about 100 feet from Barnhart, said she "heard a huge explosion and the house just shook."
"There was an extremely loud roar," she said. "I can't describe the sound. The next thing I knew that was just a huge explosion and the balls of fire were just hundreds of feet in the air."
Her husband, Dale, said authorities told him the plane carried 6,000 gallons of fuel when it crashed. He said they ordered residents of a couple of houses near the crash site to stay away until the fire was out.

Intelligencer Doylestown Pennsylvania 1992-10-08