Lovettsville, VA Air Disaster, Aug 1940

Lovettsville Va Air Disaster


21 Passengers and Four Crew Members Reported Dead; Worst Disaster in U. S. Commercial Aviation History.

Lovettsville, Va., Aug. 31. -- (INS) - The worst disaster in the history of U. S. Commercial aviation occurred near here late today what all 25 persons aboard a Pennsylvania Central airliner crashed to their deaths at the height of a terrific rainstorm.

Among the 21 passengers on the capacity filled plane was Senator ERNEST LUNDEEN, Farmer-Laborite, of Minnesota. The other passenger victims included a number of government employes and minor federal officials, among them being at least three agents of the department of justice.

The four members of the crew killed included Pilot LOWELL SCROGGINS, the Airlines oldest pilot in point of service, who was at the controls of the first ship dispatched from Washington by the company thirteen years ago.

First Fatal Accident
It was the first fatal accident in the airline's history and it shattered the proud safety mark set by the nation's Commercial Airlines which had flown one and a quarter billion miles since March 26, 1939 without a single passenger fatality.

Because of the heavy rain that drove local residents indoors, no actual eye-witnesses of the catastrophe could be found immediately.

Nearest to the scene, apparently, was LESTER MASON, whose farm home is on the opposite side of a knoll from which the plane flowed into the ground.

"The plane was flying low . . . too low for this hilly country. We knew that right away," MASON said. "We're used to hearing it come over at just about that time, around 2:30 o'clock, in the afternoon."

"Today we heard the roar of the motors much louder than usual. Just as I started to look out the window I heard a terrific noise."

"We ran outside without even thinking of raincoats. And we could see what had happened as soon as we got on top of the hill. It was horrible."