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Phantom Plane Crashes


Crashing plane

Crashing plane



Nov. 18, 1955. The first reports told of extensive search parties combing the mountainous region of Dark Hollow, Pennsylvania, looking for a plane believed crashed. The search began after Dale Murphy, civil defense coordinator of Cumberland County, said he received reports from ten GOC members of either hearing or seeing a plane, "probably in trouble," flying about 1,000 feet. One spotter said she saw it go out of sight behind a hill, then heard something like an explosion. However, checks with various air control agencies failed to turn up any reports of either a plane missing or in trouble.

Air-sea rescue planes were dispatched by Westover Air Force Base in Massachusetts to aid ground crews in the search. The planes were requested after two flares were reported over a deep ravine in Dark Hollow. But the aerial search by the Air Force and the Civil Air Patrol along with nearly 300 firemen, police, civil defense workers, and volunteers found no trace of a crashed plane. But the persistence of flares renewed the searchers efforts.

On the 20th, yellow flares were reported at 1:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. At 9:30 that night Murphy ordered sirens blown on all fire equipment in the region. Fifteen minutes later, another flare arched into the sky. Finally, on the 22nd Nov., the search was halted, and the "ghost plane" became a legend. (Source: C.R.I.F.O. ORBIT Newsletter, Vol. 2, No. 10 - Jan. 6, 1956)


On November 29, 1996, the day after Thanksgiving, a Miami Township, Ohio, resident was unloading groceries from his car. As he walked into his house, something disruptive happened. "The ground shook, and my house vibrated," commented the gentleman during an interview from his living room three weeks afterward. "It sounded like two concrete slabs crashing together. I could feel the shock of it. My windows and shades even rattled for about thirty seconds. I'd say that the sound shook the house between seven-thirty and eight," the witness added. "About a half-hour or so later, the Franklin Police Department showed up checking around for an airplane crash."

Later that same night, a visit to the Franklin Police Department to inquire about the Franklin search with Lieutenant Massey revealed some conflicting information. "I believe your witness is mistaken," Massey said. "Our search and rescue operation didn't begin until 9:07 p.m., which was in response to the county-wide advisement of a possible plane down in the area." The search and rescue mission was enormous, and was conducted by several police agencies from the Warren and Montgomery County areas.

The search began at 8:49 p.m. when the Miami Township police headquarters received a telephone call from the FAA Flight Service Station located at the Dayton International Airport. Apparently, Rescue Coordination Services advised the Miami Township department of the detection of an ELT beacon (Emergency Locator Transmission), which had originated from an area two miles west of Dayton General Airport. Strangely, the ELT signal was not received locally, as would be expected, but rather was detected by orbiting satellite.

Once the rescue operation was enacted, the search crews raced into an area west -- and then later south -- of the Wright Brothers/South Dayton General Airport. The reasoning behind the initial change in the search locations is that the ELT signal was evidently changing position, appearing first approximately 15 miles to the northwest of the Wright-Brothers Airport, and then was strangely tracked to a distance of over two miles west of the airport.

At 9:17 p.m., Springboro and Miamisburg units on foot began to detect the profuse smell of hot burning rubber. Strangely, a third location on State Route 741 is also where a second area resident complained of an explosive sound heard, also between 7:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. No physical evidence is known to have been recovered that would indicate there was an aircraft emergency resulting in a crash, as no known debris has been found.

The entire state of affairs regarding the mystery ELT signal, loud booming and crashing sounds heard by independent witnesses from two locations, the visual observation of an object with one red light, the uncertain chain of events at Post 83, the radar track announced to the police agencies by the Dayton International Airport, the smell of burning rubber, the subsequent denial of certain reporting procedures by the DIA which were later found to have occurred, the lack of log entries maintained by DIA operators, the subsequent inquiries as to how the calls were handled by C.A.P., and the involvement of Langley in announcing this to Flight Services are various issues that remain unresolved in this tangled, complicated drama. (Source: Kenny Young)

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