Pittsburgh, PA Private Plane Crash, July 1950


Pittsburgh, July 13. -- Two persons were killed and a third injured today when a four-passenger plane crashed while making an emergency landing on the Montour Heights Country Club golf course near the Greater Pittsburgh Airport.
The plane enroute from Youngstown, Ohio, to Pittsburgh caught fire when the oil pressure dropped. The pilot attempted to land on the golf course when it became apparent he could not reach the airport.
Police tentatively identified the dead as MILLARD RONZONE, and a RICHARD BAILEY, both of Warren, Ohio. Both were dead on arrival at Sewickley Valley Hospital.
Hospital authorities identified the pilot as JOHN LYDEN, 33, of Youngstown. He was reported suffering from multiple injuries to arms and legs.
Traffic control authorities at the Pittsburgh airport said the four-passenger Beechcraft Commander, owned by the Youngstown Airways, Inc., Youngstown, left the Ohio airport at 11:15 A. M., EST.
Firefighting equipment was sent to the scene of the crash from the Pittsburgh airport. Police reported that LYDEN was thrown clear of the burning plane when it struck the ground.
A spokesman in the Airways office refused to discuss the accident but said officials of the airline were enroute to Pittsburgh.

Daily Courier Connellsville Pennsylvania 1950-07-13


The Sewickley "Crash"

My father, John Martin Lyden, Jr. (1916-2005), of Youngstown, Ohio, was the pilot named in this article. For the record, here's what happened: Pilot John M. Lyden, Jr., took this flight in bad weather for someone else who was scheduled to fly and could not for whatever reason. I question the accuracy of this newspaper report since Dad told me the accident was at night and visibility was poor due to a storm. In any case, visibility was limited. A mechanic's error (bolt), not pilot error, caused engine vibration, oil leakage, and the subsequent engine fire while my father was in flight. He radioed ahead that he was making an emergency landing on the golf course at Sewickley Country Club. He landed successfully with one engine on fire but hit a small tree "in the dark" which spun the plane and ejected him from the cockpit. Unfortunately and tragically, a young man turned a water hose on the plane and spread the oil fire causing the plane to explode before the passengers could get out. My understanding from some reports is that my father tried to get to the plane to rescue the passengers -- who were also friends -- and could not, or was restrained, not sure which. He suffered extensive injuries, including burns once again. He remained conscious until Forrest Beckett arrived so he could tell Forrest exactly what happened after which he lost consciousness for a time. At that time, the company was called "Youngstown Airways" and later became Beckett Aviation; same company, same owner, different name. Dad was a professional aviator and navigator. The victims lost in the explosion were his friends. Enough said about a tragic event that remained immensely painful for my father throughout his life.

History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania 1889 Read it online

Memoirs of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania : personal and genealogical, with portraits Read it online

History of Allegheny Co., Pennsylvania 1886 Read it online

Allegheny County : a sesqui-centennial review 1938 Read it online

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