Bradford, PA Airliner Crashes While Landing At Airport, Jan 1969



Bradford, Pa. (AP) -- For the second time in two weeks, an Allegheny Airlines propjet crashed in bad weather while trying to land at the Bradford Airport.
Eleven people were killed. Seventeen others, most of them left hanging from their seatbelts when the Convair 580 flipped upside down Monday night, crawled to safety on a snow-swept golf course.
A 10-man investigating team from the National Transportation Safety Board, concerned about the "amazing similarities" of the two accidents, went to work today to find out what happened. A similar team has been investigating the Christmas Eve crash of an Allegheny flight eight miles away that killed 20 of 47 persons aboard.
"There was no panic," said SANDY CHERICO of North East, Pa., a passenger. "It all happened too fast. The 'no-smoking' sign had already come on and the stewardess was checking the seat belts."
"Suddenly," said JOHN SCHACKE, 16, of Mechanicsburg, Pa., "it felt like someone was slamming the left side with a hammer. We ran into tree limbs, turned over and slid. I would up hanging upside down. Someone yelled to go out the back."
Outside the survivors organized and went back for those who couldn't get out.
"No one was thinking of themselves," said CHET MESSERVEY, 56, of Downingtown, Pa. "We were just trying to get out everybody we could. They handled themselves like men. I'm proud of them."
Allegheny Airlines, which has had three fatal plane crashes since it started flying passengers in 1959, said it had no reason to believe there is any link between the two accidents near the 2,100-foot-high Bradford Regional Airport. There are no plans to stop any flights, a spokesman said.
The latest crash was Flight 737, which orginated in Washington, stopped in Harrisburg and was bound for Erie and Detroit. The first crash was Flight 736, which goes the other way.
Both were Convair 580s, both were making instrument landings in snoww, both turned over. Both had more survivors than dead. Both were coming in aftger severe winter storms. Neither pilot gave any warnings. Both took place about 8:30 p.m.
CHERICO, a World War II pilot, told Allegheny officials he could think of only two explanations:
"The flight chart for the airport is off, or there is somebody in the area with a citizens' band radio operating on the same frequency as the airport."
JUDY BARILLO, wife of the golf pro at the Pine Acres course on the same Allegheny Mountain plateau five miles northwest of the airport, said the plane made a tremendous noise when it went down.
"Then our picture window just lit up." She said there was a small fire in the wreckage when the plane stopped about 300 yards from her home. "It burned for about five minutes, then one man came up and asked if he could call his relatives."
Wreckage was strewn for 75 feet. One wing was ripped off but the fuselage was mostly intact.
HENRY SATTERWHITE, chairman of the board of Allegheny, lives in Bradford, a town of 15,000 just south of the New York State line.
"The Bradford airport is one of the best airports in the country," SATTERWHITE said. "In no way is it blocked off by approach problems."
Allegheny Airlines said the pilot, WILLIAM B. BLANTON of Alexandria, Va., and the co-pilot, RONALD F. LESIAK of Annadale, Va., were killed.

List Names Of Latest Airline Crash Victims.
Washington (UPI) -- Allegheny Airlines today released the following list of persons killed in Monday night's crash of Flight 737 near Bradford, Pa.:
MISS H. NEFF, Olean, N. Y.
E. HORGAL, Ft. Lee, Va.
STEVE SCOTT, Baltimore.
RICHARD LEETCH, Montgomery, N. Y.
Capt. WILLIAM BLANTON, Alexandria, Va. (pilot)
RONALD LESIAK, Annandale, Va. (co-pilot)
The airline said the names of two other victims were being withheld pending notification of their families.

Two area girls are among the survivors of an Allegheny Airlines plane crash that took 11 lives Monday night at Bradford, Pa.
LYNN YOUNGBLUT, 18, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ewald Youngblut, 836 Cedar Crest Drive, Lebanon, and SUE MURPHY, 18, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Jack B. Murphy, 638 Luther Rd., Lenker Manor, Hummelstown RD 3, were both admitted to Bradford Hospital for treatment of injuries suffered in the crash. The hospital refused to divulge information on the nature of their injuries today.
MISS YOUNGBLUT was listed in serious condition and was reportedly scheduled for surgery this morning. MISS MURPHY was listed in good condition.

Lebanon Daily News Pennsylvania 1969-01-07


My e-mail address is

My e-mail address is


Thank you so much Steve for your kind words. My brothers and I spent many Saturdays playing some form of "ball". One phone call and kids would come out of the woodwork! He and Clarice were so happy together.We were close until her death. I was a high school freshman at the time of the crash. Again really appreciate your letter. David Blanton

Doug Blanton

I knew Doug. He was married to my mother's high school "best friend" Clarice. They lived in Alexandria at the time of the crash. We live in Winston-Salem, NC. Doug was a great person. He visited us with Clarice several times at our home. He played football with my father and us kids in our yard. Before he and Clarice were married, Doug took my father, my brother and I flying one night at Richmond, VA. It was the first time I had been in a plane. I have thought of Doug many times over the years. I remember when Clarice called us to tell of the crash. It happened the year I graduated from high school. A loss of a great human being.

Bradford Pa. Jan. 6 crash

Hi,I just found this report. My brother was Doug Blanton the captain on this flight. I would love to talk to you or email. Thank you for posting.

Ronald F Lesiak (co pilot)

My dad was Ronald F Lesiak, the co pilot, would love to talk with one of the survivors about that night.

Kristen's last name is King

Hi Susan Hirschy,

I am Kristen King. How can I reach you? My phone number is 831.905.4242. My email is I would love to talk with you. Are you talking about the Walze family??? Janice, Arron her son.. she lost her musband and parents??? Pleace contact me.
July 6th I am going to Bradford .. to meet with the men who rescued me and other survivors and family members of..
Searching for anyone connected..
Love to hear your story.
Sorry.. I did not see this post until today, June 14,2009

Kristen from Allegheny Xmas Eve Crash 1969

Does anyone know Kristen's last name? Our family took care of the Cook family kids Christmas Eve for a few days in 1969 while the parents went to Bradford. The family lost two parents, the sister's husband and the sister was in the hospital in Bradford for weeks with a back injury.

Susan Hirschy

Waiting in airport to go home from 12/24/68 crash

I was released from Bradford Hospital that day, Jan. 6th 1969, from being in the first Alleghany air crash on Dec.24,1968. My oldest sister came to fly home with me. We waited forever for the plane to arrive.. I just knew something was wrong .. again. Finally, it was announced that a plane had crashed. I refused to get on another plane. My sister wasn't too thrilled with me. Not much compassion there..
I was driven home in an ambulance all the way to Harrisburg. When I arrived I was spiking a high fever and was admitted to Poly Clinic Hospital for another stint. It was 10 years until I attempted to fly again. I have spent most of my life working through the fear and the memories. I must say through courage and help, I can sleep on a plane today!!