Saturday, April 18, 2009



APRIL 5, 1936

The headline in the Pottsville Journal stated, “ARMY PLANE FALLS NEAR COUNTY LINE”
5 Airmen burned to death in crash on Blue Ridge Mountains not far from Pine Grove.

One victim was a Berks Countian,

Craft was driven far off course during Last night’s rain storm during training course.

Fredericksburg, Pa. April 6, …The bodies of five army aviators, charred beyond recognition, were removed today from the wreckage of a two motored bomber that crashed last night on the Blue Ridge Mountain.

Army officers from the Middletown, Pa. field listed the dead as Lieut Stetson Brown, St, Johnsbury Vt. Pilot, Cadet Paul Anspaugh , Cleveland, Ohio, Pvt. William Yost, Maine, Pvt. Arthur Metz, Chambersburg, Pa. and Staff Sgt. Ernest Endy, near Boyertown. The bodies were brought here.

The plane was enroute to Langley Field, Va. Via Washington from Pottstown.

Officers who arrived at the scene of the crash identified the plane as an Army B-6A by the aerial numbers on the engine. The remainder of the plane a mass of twisted and charred wreckage.

The fliers were on a routine training cruise.

Lieut. Brown had piloted the plane from Cleveland and had stopped at Pottstown to pick up Endy who was visiting his wife. Endy, the officers said was the only one married.

After leaving Pottstown the plane ran into heavy rain and was driven 60 miles off course. Officers said it crashed into the side of the blue Mt. between 8:30 and 9 P.M. an hour or more after leaving Pottstown.

An investigation will be undertaken by the army officers stationed at Middletown. It was said , failure of the ship to report by radio after it was apparently driven from its course led the officers to believe it had radio failure.


Many residents of the West end of Schuylkill county today visited the scene of the fatal plane crash two and a half miles west of Pine Grove just over the county line.

photo from Pottsville Republican
Tag Photo To Enlarge

The plane nosed deep into the soft earth and its charred tail being discernable from a distance. Broken tree tops in a straight line about 500 feet from the wreckage indicate the course of the plane prior to its crash.

Many Farmers in the West End of the county heard the crash and saw the resultant flames.

When it was learned that the plane had come from :Langley Field, Va. Considerable concern was felt in Pine Grove since “Buddy Hartzel” of that town is a student flier there.

A detail of men from Middletown airport, under command of an Army officer, arrived at the scene and made an examination of the wreckage. The instruments were salvaged and then the wreck car from Middletown prepared to pull out and cart the remains of the plane back to Middletown.

Captain Derwister, USA was in command of the detail. He said the plane was flying by means of the Newark radio beam. Some charred personnel effects of the five men were found including several wrist watches.

A newsreel man took pictures of the wreck as did many photographers. Trees around the wreckage were not burned. State Police finally had to close the road to keep spectators from blocking the highway. Many motorists drove to the scene during the day.

Three of the bodies were found in the rear of the fuselage, the pilot and radio officer were in the forward part. The radio operator’s headphones were in place. Lieut, Brown was a newcomer to the service just receiving his commission only a short time ago.

Editors Note: Talk about being off course! This aircraft was about 50 to 60 miles off course. If it was heading toward Langley, Va. From Pottstown that had to be one hell of a storm. The B6A was the last bi plane bomber the Army flew.
Sometime this summer I will make a trek out to the area were this aircraft crashed and see if I can find any artifacts or parts of the aircraft.
A couple of years ago I went to the crash site up in Aristes, See my Blog {THIS IS AN EMERGENCY DESECENT THE CRASH OF UNITED FLIGHT 624). There I was able to still find parts of the fuselage of the DC-6, actually lying on top of the ground.

U.S. Air Force Fact Sheet

The Keystone B-6A was the last biplane bomber purchased by the U.S. Army Air Corps. The conservative Army leadership was slow to accept new design concepts in aircraft construction and tended to favor traditional and proven designs over radical unproven ones. This resulted in a design stagnation of about 10 years. The basic design and performance of the B-6A was little different from the Martin NBS-1 ordered in 1921.

The acceptance of the single-wing bomber would be slow. The B-7 and B-8 bombers were ordered in 1929, but they were originally designed as high-speed observation planes. The conversion to the bomber role was done while the prototypes were under construction.

Some Keystone bombers remained in service until the early 1940s, serving in secondary roles such as observation and reconnaissance.

Type Number built/
converted Remarks
B-6A 39 Production Y1B-6

Serial numbers: 32-142 to 32-180

Span: 74 ft. 9 in.
Length: 48 ft. 10 in.
Height: 17 ft. 2 in.
Weight: 13,350 lbs. gross
Armament: Three Browning .30-cal. machine guns and 2,500 lbs. of bombs
Engines: Two Wright R-1820-1 radials of 575 hp each
Crew: Five

Top speed: 120 mph at sea level
Cruising speed: 103 mph
Service ceiling: 14,100 ft.
Range: 825 miles (approx. 350 miles with full bomb load)


Anonymous said...

It is extremely interesting for me to read the blog. Thanx for it. I like such topics and everything that is connected to this matter. I definitely want to read a bit more soon.

Anonymous said...

It was interesting to read this article as Lt Brown was my mother's cousin.

Dan Brown said...

Has anyone a location of the crash site (Lat-Long). Lt Stet Brown was my uncle. I'd like to find and visit the spot. I'm a retired Army Aviator (Vietnam, Just Cause-Panama, Desert Storm-Iraq). Thanks

N. Endy said...

Sgt. Ernest Endy who died in this crash, was my grandfather.
Thank you for posting.