Myerstown, PA Helicopter Crash, Jan 1995


Myerstown, Pa. (AP) - An executive vice president and two other employees of a Lebanon County fuel company died when their helicopter crashed in a cornfield and burned.
Calvin Nolt, a farmer, said he was eating dinner Wednesday evening when he heard the chopper, flying low. Thinking it might be landing for a medical evacuation, he went outside and saw the stricken aircraft.
"It laid on its side and fell out of the sky," he said. "It sounded like it had engine problems."
Nolt said the aircraft "hit with a plop" and started on fire but did not explode. Flames engulfed the wreckage by the time he went into his house to retrieve a fire extinguisher, he said.
Police said the helicopter, owned by Carlos R. Leffler Inc., a local fuel company, crashed about 6 p.m. on an 85-mile flight from Williamsport to Reading.
The pilot and two passengers apparently were killed on impact, police said. They were identified as CHUCK BAIRD, the pilot; ROBERT BLECKER, executive vice president of Leffler; and TIM McGUIGAN, whose position with the company was not specified.
State police secured the crash scene, pending an investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board.
Clyde Deck, the operator of a small airport, said that the helicopter, and Augusta 109 is capable of carrying five or six people. It crashed in a cornfield about a mile away from his airport, he said.
"It's a rural area ... there was no threat to anyone else but they told me there was a fire on impact," Deck said.
The helicopter appeared to have landed upside down and crumbled.
Deck said that the helicopter's pilot apparently planned to land on his field and was making an instrument approach, which required communications with control tower officials in Harrisburg.
An official from the control tower at Harrisburg airport called Deck shortly after the helicopter went down.
Deck said that while the helicopter was normally based at an oil company office in Richland, it was one of about 35 choppers that used his airport.
The Leffler Company operates a number of subsidiaries in central Pennsylvania, including ABE Oil Co., Petroleum Products Equipment Co., Leffler Transportation Co., All-American Truck Plazas Inc. and C. R. Friendly's Markets.

Tyrone Daily Herald Pennsylvania 1995-01-19