C119G Airplane Crash, Toboyne Township, Perry County 12


My Fall semester began last week and since I had the weekend off from work I decided to take a ride back to the C119G crash marker to see if I can find the site of the airplane crash. Big thank you to the commenters who informed me that the trail has been maintained and new trail blazes are up to follow.

To get here, you will want to find your way to Three Square Hollow Road within Tuscarora State Forest. This can be reached from many directions. Since I was coming from Harrisburg, I chose to enter the forest from Cumberland County, which is probably the most direct route from paved roads. The exact coordinates of the airplane crash are N 40°13’14.0 W077°33’43.9, elevation of 1775 feet (captured with my Garmin Nuvi). From the marker along the road, the trail leads you to the left and down the north side of the mountain for 0.5 miles to the crash site. The trail is marked with orange blazes and the crash site is marked with two orange blazes on a tree.

Here are photos from my hike today so you know what to expect if you decide to head out and investigate the site. Keep in mind that several people lost their lives here, so be respectful.

Crash site trail

The airplane crash site trail leads the way from Three Square Hollow Road.

Red blazes mark the trail

Red blazes mark the trail to the airplane crash site.

Double red blazes mark the crash site

Double red blazes mark the site of the airplane crash.

Airplane crash debris

You can see that the ground is still charred after all of these years.

Melted aluminum

Melted aluminum sits piled on top of a rock. If you look around you will see rivets, scrap metal, wire, fabric, and other debris still sitting within the leaves of the forest.

A piece of fabric

I imagine this is the remnants of fiberglass, but it could be fabric from something else.

The trail back to the top

The trail back to the top is kinda steep, but short.

C119G Crash Marker in Perry County

I love to discover thing. Especially when I find these things nearby. In this case it’s the site of an airplane crash in the area where I grew up. The accident occurred on October 26th, 1956 in Toboyne Township, Perry County, Pennsylvania. The marker sits along Three Square Hollow Road which is a forestry road north of Newville, Cumberland County.

The only information I can find on this crash is from a PennLive article talking about the monument. Here are some of the information from the Air Force at the time:

“Air Force aircraft number 51-8026 departed Sewart Air Force Base, Tenn. at [9:17 a.m.] on Oct. 26, 1956 via airways to Olmsted Air Force Base, [Middletown] Penn. on a cargo airlift mission.”

“The gross weight on takeoff was 63,152 lbs. with a C.G. position of 26.8% MAC which is within authorized limits.”

“After a routine flight, the aircraft reported over Altoona, Penn. at 9,000 feet with an estimate of [1:30 p.m.] at Harrisburg. The pilot was cleared to descend en route and was cleared for approach at [1:48 p.m.]”

“The weather at Olmsted Air Force Base at [1 p.m.] was reported as 1,300 scattered with 2,200 overcast and a visibility of 14 miles. This weather was fluctuating rapidly in rain and fog and, at the time the aircraft passed over the field, was below minimum with one-half mile visibility in fog.”

“At [2 p.m.] the pilot reported a missed approach and was cleared to the Lancaster beacon. He was further cleared to climb to 5,000 feet and gave an estimate at Lancaster of [2:14 p.m.].”

“Olmsted Air Force Base was reported to be then above minimums and the pilot requested another approach. He was cleared to the Harrisburg omni at 6,000 feet and left Lancaster at [2:26 p.m.], estimating Harrisburg at [2:40 p.m.] His clearance was changed en route to hold west of the New Kingston Fan Marker and he arrived, over the New Kingston Fan Marker at [2:38 p.m.] at 4,000 feet.”

“After holding he was cleared to descend to 3,000 feet and left 4,000 feet at [2:40 p.m.] At [3:06 p.m.] he was cleared for a straight-in approach from New Kingston Fan Marker to the Olmsted airport. At [3:09 p.m.] he reported leaving the New Kingston Fan Marker inbound and at [3:11 p.m.] he reported leaving 3,000 feet.”

“The aircraft crashed in mountainous terrain 22.5 nautical mile west of the Kingston Fan Marker at approximately [3:15 p.m.]”

Olmsted Air Force Base is now Harrisburg International Airport (HIA).

I walked back a trail behind this monument in hopes of finding some sort of crash site even though I’m sure the wreckage was removed long ago. The trail just came out on the road about half a mile away. It would be fun to try to find the exact location of the crash site. But after 50+ years I don’t think there would be anything distinguishable.

An interesting note in the PennLive article is the mention of another airplane crash site on the Conococheague Mountain in 1941. I have absolutely no knowledge of that site. But I would be interested in finding that location too.

Crew members killed in the crash:

  • Pilot: 1st Lt. Robert Siegfried Hantsch
  • Co Pilot: 2nd Lt. Walter Beverly Gordon Jr.
  • Crew Chief and Flight Engineer: Tech. Sgt. Marvin W. Seigler
  • Flight Nurse: 1st Lt. Gracye E. Young

Location of crash site: North slope of Blue Mountain, Toboyne Township, Perry County, Pennsylvania

Crash site elevation: 1,980 feet

Mission: Cargo airlift

Flight Plan: Instrument Flight Rules (IFR)

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12 thoughts on “C119G Airplane Crash, Toboyne Township, Perry County

  • Barbara Limric

    My husband, myself and our 2 nephews visited this monument as well on sunday, may 26. We met a man there with a dog named Terry, no sure if that was you.

    We couldn’t find the exact site either. I contacted Tuscarora State Forest Personnel, and he said that the Boyscounts marked the trail to the crash site several years ago, and there is still some debris there. I asked for the GPS coordinates of the crash site, and he said he would try to get them for me. If he can get them, it will take several days.

    Would you like the coordinates if he can find them?

  • Barbara Limric

    Okay. If they can’t get the GPS coordinates, I’m going to see if they can give me the compass baring from the monument. I posted my photos on Facebook, now I have friends calling me to take them there.

    I’ll get back to you when I hear from Tuscarora. He said if he can get them, it will take several days.

    Say Hi to Terry.

  • Robert Bender

    Being a Newburg resident for 51 years, finding this crash was always somthing I wanted to do but just never got the time to do it. I would be interested in the GPS coordinates if you have them. Thank You

  • Dave Coover

    Blazes were updated summer? 2013 and end at the crash site on the back side of the Blue Mountain. Small signs of the wreckage can be found if you look closely for molten aluminum etc. Apparently military cleaned the area of most wreckage.

  • Dave Coover

    Grandsons and I were there yesterday morning and there is still some signs of the wreckage. Small nuggets of melted aluminum, and a few other small parts were found. Someone has been digging around the site and had some nuggets laying on rocks in the area. please note: Mountain bikes use part of the trail, and if you follow where they depart from the trail, it will lead back out to the road. I hope to get up there maybe tomorrow(8/2/2014) or early next week and trim along the trail to widen it and touch up some faded blazes. The trail to the crash site has red blazes, so if you do not see any red blazes, you have departed from the trail. The blazes end at the crash site with a double blaze one directly above the other.

  • James Costello

    I have great respect for the airman who lost their lives in this accident. I was an Air Force flight engineer and spent over 2000 hours flying the C119G “Flying Boxcar” quite a few years ago (the 60s). It was a fine airplane and never let me down (unexpectedly). Jim Costello, SSgt, USAFRes, 327th Troop Carrier Squadron, Willow Grove Naval Air Station, Willow Grove, PA.

    • Jonathan Smith Post author

      Thank you for your comment Mr. Costello. It makes me happy that people are finding this information regarding the crash of the C119G and history involved. I wish I had the opportunity to fly more than simply on vacation once in a while.