Pan Am Flight 214

By | Dec 8, 2008

Pam Am flight 214, a Boeing 707-121, took off from Luis Munoz Marin International Airport at 4:10 p.m. EST on December 8, 1963 for a flight to Philadelphia Philadelphia. The 73 passengers and 8 crew on board had no idea that they would go down in history.

The airplane was built in 1958 and was named the “Clipper Tradewind”. It had logged 15,609 hours, as recorded by the Aviation Safety Network.

After a stop at Baltimore’s Friendship Airport (now BWI-Marshall) for a refueling stop the flight headed for Philadelphia. There were heavy winds at Philadelphia and it was determined that they would stay in a holding pattern instead of trying to land. Then at 8:58 p.m. EST, the plane was struck by lightning, causing an explosion.

With a final distress call of “Mayday Mayday Mayday. Clipper 214 out of control. Here we go.”, the plane crashed moments later near Elkton, Maryland. All 81 people on the flight were killed.

Prior to this it was believed that lightning could not damage an aircraft. This myth proved to be in error and costly.

It took nearly two years for the Civil Aeronautics Board to issue a probable cause of the accident. On March 3, 1965 issued a statement that read; “Probable Cause: Lightning-induced ignition of the fuel/air mixture in the no. 1 reserve fuel tank with resultant explosive disintegration of the left outer wing and loss of control.”

Memorial Monument for Pan Am Flight 214.

Memorial Monument for Pan Am Flight 214. Photograph by Carol Crawley.

Photo of the Memorial Monument was added to the article on April 26, 2012. Photo by Carol Crawley.


Thank You for Reading

74 Comments so far
  1. mar kantlehner February 13, 2009 12:46 pm

    My husbands father was one of the crew on flight 214 and we were looking for a list of the names of the other crew members and passengers who died.Any ideas of a place to look?Thanks,Mary

  2. Edwin Montilla March 6, 2009 4:18 pm

    My father Mario Luis Montilla was the Chief Flight Purser on this flight. My family and I were devastated to learn of the tragic news. On a cold morning on Dec.8,1963 he kissed and hugged us and off to work he went. It was his last trip, he never came back home. Our lives were never the same again. May God bless him,the rest of the crew,and passengers.

  3. D R Lunsford May 4, 2009 4:41 am

    I found this here,-md-lightning-explodes-air-liner,-dec-1963

    Capt. GEORGE KNUTH, Huntington Station, L. I., N. Y.
    1st Officer JOHN R. DALE of Port Washington, L. I., N. Y.
    2nd Officer PAUL ORRINGER of New Rochelle, N. Y.
    Flight Engineer R. J. KANTLEHNER of Brentwood, L. I., N. Y.
    Purser MARIO L. MONTILLA of Bellerose, Queens, N. Y., and the following cabin attendants:
    J. K. MORETT of Paramus, N. J.
    T. L. SIMS, of New York City.
    V. A. HEMZINGER, of New York City.


  4. Bobbie Hess May 25, 2009 8:50 am

    I am interested in learning the names of the flight attendants of Flight 214. I have a friend who lives in a house involved with the crash. She feels one or some of the spirits from the crash are still there.

  5. Shaunna Knuth June 1, 2009 2:27 pm

    My husband’s father was the pilot. Chris has copies of the articles from the Long Island newspapers. Back in 1996 I got in touch with the Elkton Historical Society and they provided me with lots of information that they had (there is a piece of the wing at the Historical Society) and I made arrangements for Chris to meet with several people who were first responders at the crash site. Also, National Geographic did a special called MegaLightning back in 2004 which features information from the crash.

    To Mrs. Kantlehner: I recognized your last name from hearing stories from Chris over the years. I’m sure he’d be happy to share any information we have with your husband. Please feel free to contact me.

  6. Jim Lewis June 1, 2009 5:57 pm

    I was a college student working for WTOP News in Washington. I had just resigned, as I was moving to an all-news radio station the following Monday. On the night of 12/8, I received a call from WTOP’s assignment editor, Jack Jurey, asking if I would be willing to return to work for that nightly to cover a reported plane crash near Elkton.

    I spent the night standing in the cold and rain of a farm field, taking meaningless shots of the comigns and goings or emergency personnel in the illumination of whatever battery powered light was on at the time. (As I recall, news photographers from other stations took turns lighting the activity.) We could see nothing else.

    As dawn came, I could see fragments of plane and bodies all around us. I have never forgotten the scene, and most of the daylight footage was not suitable for air. It was also the last time I got that close to a crash site. (I later covered the crash of a B-52 near McCoy AFB in Orlando.)

    I thought of this last month as my wife, older daughter, and I were on a plane hit by lightning as we landed in the Twin Cities. My heart goes out to the families of all those who died that night.

  7. L.Sizemore June 11, 2009 8:07 pm

    Growing up my Grandfather told me stories about the plane crash. He drove out to the site that terrible night. It never seemed real to me until I read about it on line. I purchased a house near the crash site about 10 years ago. My Wife and children had a lot of strange experiences in the house,but I was positive they were crazy. Until one afternoon when I found myself face to face with a small woman or girl who was not really there. She walked past,I was in some kind of shock and could not move. We have since sold this house. No one ever died in that house but my gut tells me it had to do with the plane.

  8. J.T. Nudge August 10, 2009 2:00 pm

    I live in elkton and one of my friends lives in the the neighborhood near the crash site. She told me that one night she was walking from her room to the kitchen, at probably 11:00 at night, and she said she saw a man in a dark suit chasing a little girl right by her, and then they vanished. the ghosts were probably passengers.

  9. Matt Gilbert December 2, 2009 3:21 am

    Were is the Elkton Historical Society located. My Grand Parents were on this flight. Dr. Robert and Joyce Gilbert from Allentown, Pa. I am curious to see what they have. This is something that my father never really talked about. He was about 13 when this incident happened. It was tough on him then and still is…

  10. J. Sales December 4, 2009 9:15 pm

    The Historical Society of Cecil County
    135 E. Main Street
    Elkton, MD 21921

  11. MA DEWEES December 18, 2009 4:22 pm

    My uncle was on that flight. He was returning from his honeymoon in Puerto Rico. I remember watching Ed Sullivan that night and breaking news came on. I will never forget the look on my mother’s face when she learned it was her brother’s flight number. I was only 14 at the time.
    I still have questions about lighning striking a plane?

  12. John Holland January 16, 2010 11:45 pm

    I worked for Pan Am operations in San Juan in December 1963 and knew four of the crew of Flight 214 fairly well: Captain George Knuth, First Officer John Dale, Purser Mario Montillo, and flight attendant (also a purser) “Skippy” Morett. I remember the departure of Flight 214 from San Juan that Sunday afternoon on December 8th. And like everyone at Pan Am was devastated to learn about the crash outside Elkton that night. The death of 74 passengers was tragic, but the death of the eight crew members was very personal since we worked with them day-in and day-out. Anyone interested in learning more about the crash of Flight 214 can read the analysis and result of the investigation at

  13. Joseph Paparatto February 18, 2010 5:14 pm

    My parents lived in the house next door to Flight Engineer R. J. KANTLEHNER of Brentwood, L. I., N. Y. They were very good friends. We even have some old movie film with him, his wife and family. Marge, his wife, did not know about the horrible accident until she went to the airport to pick him up. Most of the world already knew from news broadcasts which had mentioned his name…she had found out after everyone else. My mother brought up the incident for years including today which prompted me to do a search. She said poor Margie and the family were never the same.

  14. Joseph Paparatto February 18, 2010 5:18 pm

    Mom added that Jack had seven kids, and Margie was Margaret. What a horrible accident.

  15. Steven G. Atkinson February 20, 2010 5:07 pm
  16. Frances 'Maclary' Cauflield August 4, 2010 1:03 pm

    I actually remember seeing this horrible catastrophy happen-my heart goes out to anyone who loss a loved one.
    I was standing and watching a plane cross through the storm from our large living room window. It was my bedtime and as I watched the lightning and storm I started focusing on the plane as it was lit up everytime a lightning bolt flashed. I said to my Mom how glad I was that I wasn’t on that plane(since the storm was so bad)…just then, the lightning hit. It seemed to me the plane exploded immediately and the sky lit up as if it was daylight outside for a long time.
    My dad – Harry F. Maclary was a Major for the Cecil County Civil Air Patrol. My mom,Jean, called him immediately and he went right over to the primary site of debris and worked for days with authorities. The Civil Air Patrol members assistance in finding downed aircraft and emergency response for areas from Pennsylvania to Virginia at that time. I remember my dad, a WWII vet, being incredibly upset about his experience. He and mom say how the Red Cross and all involved worked really hard and were very supportive in handling this catastrophy. Elkton was a small town at the time – but when needed, always pulled together – as communities should. I was nine yrs old at the time but my memory of that night is clear…I saw the lightning hit and the explosion.

  17. Norm Hare November 5, 2010 7:23 pm

    I also witnessed this horric event as a 6 year old child. My mother was driving us home (Newark, De) from Baltimore and the storm was probably one of the worse I had experienced. The windshield wipers were slapping back and forth violently as Mom tried to navigate the narrow road (Not quite sure, but it may have been Old Baltimore Pike between Elkton and Newark) When the plane was struck the CRAAAACK was deafening and as I looked out the window I saw the sky light up and a ball of flame falling from the sky. “Look mommy..the moon is falling” was my comment. Even today I can clearly see the visual in my minds eye.

  18. nancy lewis December 16, 2010 10:16 pm

    I grew up in Newark, DE, which is very close to Elkton, MD. I was in third grade in December of 1963 and was in bed when suddenly, I heard what sounded like a huge explosion and the sky was lit orange. My father came into my room; I recall him looking out the window and trying to figure out what had happened. I remember reading about the crash in the Wilmington, DE paper, the Evening Journal which had extensive coverage of the crash; for whatever reason, I remember that a couple whose last name was Pilgrim lost their lives. In my twenties and by total coincidence, I dated a man from Philadelphia whose parents had been killed on that flight. He was shocked & became unsettled when I told him my memories of that night. I remember him calling his brother right away and telling him.

  19. Mary Kantlehner December 22, 2010 12:10 am

    I have just come back to this site after that first posting.It is unbelievable what I am reading & I thank everyone for their story.I started reading my husband some of it but it was really too painful for him.He is John Kantlehners son and was only 3 yrs old when this hapened.Marge had 8 children and was pregnant with her ninth, which she lost. She told me that she had no body to bury for a long time and from the descriptions of those who witnessed it, hopefully it was instant, pain-free & straight to Heaven.Larrys older sister recalled recently ,walking around constantly looking for her fathers face everywhere she went. Joseph who lived next door, can any of those old movies your mom has be transferred to dvd? I expect life was hard for everyone who was involved.Maybe we should have a 50th anniversary memorial for interested relatives, it may heal something even years later, as this loss, just in this family alone has been remarkable.I`m not surprised theres some ghosts. Thank you everyone.

  20. Mary Kantlehner December 22, 2010 5:21 pm

    I spoke to Marge this morning & when I mentioned ghosts, she said the body of the co-pilot & that of a child were never recovered.She did`nt know if the child was a boy or girl.

  21. Jeff Joyce January 1, 2011 10:13 pm

    Is there a Marker at the crash site? Where in Elkton did it occur?

  22. Shaunna Knuth January 11, 2011 4:49 pm

    Jeff: There is a marker at the site. Pan Am told the families that they would erect a market but never did. The citizens of Elkton did so for the 35th anniversary of the crash. The field is now a subdivision.

  23. Karen Hubbert-Adams January 17, 2011 2:55 pm

    It’s on Delancy Road outside of Elkton, right on the MD/DE line. The townhouse development there now is called Turnquist. At the beginning of the development on Wheelhouse Dr. is a granite stone that reads “IN MEMORY OF THE 81 MEN, WOMEN AND CHILDREN WHO LOST THEIR LIVES WHEN PAN AM FLIGHT 214 CRASHED ON THIS SITE DECEMBER 8, 1963.”

  24. Richard Farlow April 20, 2011 11:58 am

    I was a second grader in Newark DE that night. I was standing on my bed watching the storm out the window and saw the Clipper Tradewind above the Chrysler Plant watertower from my perspective omn Ritter Lane. It was a very active storm and the fatal lightening bolt lit the whole sky and the plane exploded immediately into a huge orange ball. I woke my brother up and he saw the last of the arc across the sky the plane made on its decent. We ran to tell my parents who were watching TV and they dismissed what we were saying untill we started to here the emergency vehicles exiting town. We all went to the end of the block and watched every vehicle in town head to Maryland. The next day the paper said they were looking for someone who had “Eyes on” the plane when it was hit. I told my parents I had seen the lightening bolt hit the plane but they said I was too young to answer the papers call. The rumors in the next days of body parts being found on peoples lawns and by pets was pretty horrifying.

  25. Michael Dunn May 18, 2011 3:19 pm

    The V.A. Hemzinger listed as a crew member was my fiancee, Virgina Ann Heinzinger of Seattle, Washington. She had only been in New York 6 weeks. She was a new stewardess on “stand-by”. I was told she was assigned to this flight at the last minute because the srewardess scheduled for this flight had a premenition and refused to fly. This was only Virginia’s 1st or 2nd flight. I was in graduate school at Lehigh University and that awful storm passed over us. I found out about the crash while watching Candid Camera when they interruped the prgram to announce the crash. I immediately called her roomate in NYC and found out she had replaced the stewardess and was on that flight. The memory of her and her smile will be with me forever……….

  26. Charlotte Araki nee Campbell May 21, 2011 11:48 pm

    I’d just like to say that I graduated from West Seattle High with Viginia. We were not close friends but she was the kind of person you always felt comfortable around and a very nice person. I remember hearing about it from a friend and feeling the loss. I am sorry you lost her.

  27. Mike June 25, 2011 11:44 pm

    We just added an interview with the first emergency responder to arrive on the scene that terrible night. Lt. Don Hash (then a rookie trooper) was on patrol heading toward Elkton when he saw the enormous bolt of lighting and the explosion. He described it for us in an interview and we’ve put part of it up on the web.

  28. Eileen Luciano July 27, 2011 7:10 pm

    I am interested in finding out the passenger names on Pan Am Flight 214. I am doing a family tree and my Grandfather died on that flight.

  29. miguel monserrate September 10, 2011 6:23 pm

    the cabin crew names:

    Mario MOntilla-steward
    Joseph Morett- steward
    Tommie Louis Simms-stewardess
    Virginia A. Heizinger-stewardess

    All flight attendants based at New York Int. airport

  30. Philip Shamaly September 26, 2011 10:37 am

    This is certainly a stretch and is in no way meant to undermine the terrible loss of the crew and passengers in this terrible disaster. I have always felt a connection to this incident in some way. You see, I was born on December 9th, 1963. Becoming an airline pilot was something that I have always wished to do. Even as a young child, I knew without any doubt that I wished to become an “airline” pilot. I had no interest in military or general aviation flying…all of my interests were with the airlines. Moving forward to the present…I am now a Captain for an airline and I am based out of JFK in New York. I pass through the Pan Am world port often and will always wonder if there was some type of connection with the loss of the crew that day and my being born the very next to live a career as I have based from the same airport.

    As I said, a stretch but, fate works in many ways. Truly, my deepest sympathies to all who lost a loved one in this terrible accident. Even now, all of these years later the loss that even I feel is deep.

  31. Joseph Paparatto November 13, 2011 12:56 pm

    This is for Mary Kantlehner. Sorry it took me so long to get back to this website and find your message.. I can certainly put those old movies onto a DVD. It has Marge, her husband and some of the kids. Not sure how to contact you.

  32. DAPS November 29, 2011 3:43 pm

    We are Delaware Area Paranormal Society and we are located in New Castle, DE. If anyone wants to have us investigate their location in Turnquist contact us, it is free. We can set up a time on a weekend to come out for a few hours and do some investigating and see if we can capture any activity we can associate with the paranormal that may be related to the horrible crash in 1963. Traumatic deaths are a common reason many spirits cannot cross over and move on. Sometimes they feel they have more work to do here, other times they don’t realize their fate. No group can guarantee evidence will be captured, but its worth a try for free.

  33. Nicole Fallat December 8, 2011 10:26 pm

    Thank you to the webmaster for continuing to host this thread.

    My mother was 14, the oldest of five kids, when she lost her parents in this crash. Dr. Charles and Mrs. Virginia Hefele of Allentown, PA. Can you miss someone you’ve never met? Yes, I miss my grandparents. Charles “Chick” was an ob/gyn and delivered many Allentown babies over the years.

    I’m sad reading about the crash site. I know my mother has her mother’s wedding and engagement ring in safekeeping. My understanding was that some of the victims were able to be recovered, and this is how they collected my grandmother’s rings. I am so sad thinking through this process, and my heart goes out to everyone who is connected to this night in some way.

    In Loving Memory,
    December 8, 2011.

  34. mary kantlehner December 20, 2011 1:05 am

    For Joseph Papparatto, thank you so much.My e-mail is`ve been sending Marge these up-dates & of course she fondly remembers you guys.She is 81 now & lives in Florida.These stories are so full of sadness.I intend to go there for the 50th anniversary.I feel there is a need for a ritual/ blessing something there, to lift the sadness.Also yes thank you webmaster.

  35. Steven G. Atkinson December 21, 2011 7:57 pm

    Thanks for the comments. It is my intentions to keep this up for as long as I am able. Since I’m still a fairly young and healthy man, I hope that this will be for a long time.

    I have enjoyed reading the comments. Since I live in the area, around 40 miles south of the sight, I have been considering trying to set up something for the 50th Anniversary in 2013.

    I’ll keep every one updated.

    Steve Atkinson (

  36. mary kantlehner December 22, 2011 5:09 pm

    Thank you Steve & Merry Christmas.

  37. Jeff MacKenzie December 28, 2011 2:15 pm

    I think a memorial service or event commemorating the 50th anniversary of the crash of Flight 214 would be very nice to say the least. It would mean a lot to the folks who were here and witnessed the tragic crash along with the families and friends of the passengers and crew.
    I do have a question. Why hasn’t Pan Am done anything?

  38. mary baker pridgen January 20, 2012 9:12 pm

    I also remember that night. i was 5 years old and my bedroom window faced the direction of delancy road. We lived on melbourne blvd in thompson estates really close to the crash site. I remember it looking like daylight outside for a few moments and the horrific sounds. Not sure i really understood what was happening at the time but my parents certainly did. Daddy worked in the aviatin industry at the time with atlantic aviation in wilmington, de.

  39. Debra Baxter March 12, 2012 11:31 pm

    My father was a Maryland State Trooper and worked on this crash site. He is 83 now. If anyone has any questions you think he might be able to answer, I would ask him for you.

  40. Judith Barnes Gardiner March 14, 2012 2:58 pm

    For some strange reason I have recently thought about this crash. I was attending Parkland high school in Allentown and a fellow classmate, Jeff Gilbert, lost his parents, Robert and Joyce Gilbert in that crash. I remember attending the memorial service for them – how sad it was. And especially sad for Jeff and his sister. I remember Robert & Joyce as dynamic, fun active people. We all belonged to the same local swim club. I read a comment form Matt Gilbert whom I assume is Jeff’s son. If you see this, Matt, give your dad Jeff a big hug for me. After graduation from high school, most of us go our own ways and never reconnect. I always wondered what happened to Jeff & hope he has found peace.

  41. Carol Butler Crawley April 20, 2012 3:09 pm

    First, I would like to thank the webmaster for this site. Until 24 hours ago I had no idea the number of that flight, let alone that there might be site related to it. To me, it was a personal memory of the loss of our next door neighbor, William Pilgrim. I was only 7 at the time. My dad sat my sister and I down the morning after the crash and explained that Mr. Pilgrim had been in a plane crash and we wouldn’t be able to see him anymore.

    Yesterday I was browsing a facebook group dedicated to the subdivision where I grew up where the creator posted a question about the street each of us grew up on and our neighbors. I mentioned the plane struck by lightening that took Mr. Pilgrim’s life. He asked what year and after some quick math I told him 63 or 64. We decided to Google it. I did find a list which I will be happy to share. In that list it gave his address as Phila. However he lived on Rita Road in New Castle, DE. I might mention here that the families who resided in that house after his death were plagued with problems. Two electrical fires, every woman that lived their left her family, one man and his son moved out. Shortly afterward he was killed in a freak accident where a soda machine fell over and crushed him.

    I now live in Newark, DE, close to the actual site of the crash. I am interested in any and all information regarding the crash, crew and passengers. I recently finished co-authoring a book and am intrigued enough to consider writing a book on Pan Am Flight 214.

    My email address is:

    Thank you, again,
    C. Crawley

  42. Carol Butler Crawley April 20, 2012 3:56 pm
  43. Alicia April 26, 2012 12:45 am

    I would like to know how to view a copy of the documentary or film that was done on this crash. My Grandfather who I never met died in this crash. He was from Philadelphia. Is something being done for the 50th year.

  44. Carol Butler Crawley April 26, 2012 1:52 pm

    I understand Pan Am was supposed to build a memorial but never did. Cecil County did however donate a stone. I took pictures of it last Friday but don’t see a place to post them here. I live about 10 minutes from the site over the Delaware state line and would certainly be happy to help in anyway I could with a 50th anniversary memorial.
    May I ask, who was your grandfather? We lost our neighbor, as stated above, William Pilgrim and his new bride.


  45. Steven G. Atkinson April 26, 2012 8:52 pm

    Thanks Carol for the photograph of the Memorial Monument.

  46. Alicia April 26, 2012 10:42 pm

    Hi Carol,

    My grandfather’s name was Arnold Sherman, from Wynwood, PA. I actually found a picture of the stone, but thank you so much for your offer.


  47. C GETTER May 24, 2012 11:32 pm

    Flight crew member Paul Orringer lived in a northern neighborhood of New Rochelle called Bayberry. He was survived by his wife and two children, one boy (Andrew) and one girl (can’t recall her name) both of whom were grade school age when they lost their father.

    My parents said (at the time) that it is Paul’s voice heard on the mayday call. I cannot verify – was too young to recall his voice. But I distinctly recall that Paul was supposed to return home that evening.

    Been told that Andrew eventually joined the Secret Service.

    As for the flight deck crew including a “second officer”…

    In the early days of the 707, the cockpit could have as many as five crew: pilot, copilot, flight engineer, navigator and communications. Though five was typically reserved for trans-oceanic routes where navigation aids were few. Point being, the 707 early versions were not easy to fly due to lack of automation. Switch sequences, etc. were all manual checklist and to keep any crewmember from being overwhelmed with chores (thus prone to error) operating responsibility was distributed across four or five heads.

    What with the pilot/copilot and flight engineer doubtless scrambling to try everything to recover control of the craft in serious distress, it does make sense that Paul’s voice is the one issuing the mayday call.

    Just two years after the accident, many 707s included more automation and satellites helped with weather, etc, thus airliines shrunk their crews to 3 (pilot/copilot/engineer) and a “second officer” (Paul’s role) would not have been part of the crew which perished.

  48. Arlene Roberts Bright July 2, 2012 7:24 am

    My name is Arlene Roberts and I was best friends with Tommy Kantlehner before they moved to Huntington. My parents, Kingie and Allan were good friends with Jack and Marge, we lived across the street. I remember Joe Papparatto and his family. It was a very close neighborhood and we were all devastated by it. One great memory I have of Jack was him packing ALL the neighborhood kids into his station wagon and off we went to the drive in movie to see Pinocchio. Not like he didn’t have enough kids of his own (not all 8 went since the last 2 were too young, MaryLynne and Lisa) but then he piled even more in this car. I was about 5 and thought this was the funniest thing, this big man (he seemed giant to me at the time) dragging us all to the drive in. It was rambunctious and fun!
    To Mary: I may have some pictures of the gang. I have a ton of young Tommy, and some of us with Steven in a giant snow storm.
    Jack was a gentle giant man who was missed by the whole neighborhood, adults and children. I remember feeling such a loss at age 5 that stays with me till today and such a feeling of grief for the family. We all loved them.

  49. Francis Lawler August 16, 2012 3:31 pm

    I live off delancy rd exactually where the plane was struck by lightning. it crash into what is now turnquest but was actually struck over Cardinal lane. I am doing research ourselves and found some neat stuff in our wooded area behind our yard that may be connected. It was later published that not all the wreckage was recovered. As well many stories have come up of ghosts and stuff, we personally have not seen nor heard any strange things. We will be researching our woods this month seeing if we can find out more details.

  50. Matt Gilbert October 17, 2012 12:47 am

    @ Judith Barnes Gardiner, Yes I am Jeff Gilbert’s son. My dad never talks about the loss of his parents nor does my Aunt Martha. I have spoken to numerous relatives about the crash and it has affected each of them in different ways. I do hope one day he is able to find peace. I know he feels that he was “cheated” in life by the sudden loss of his parents. I will pass on your message, that I saw your post. He is currently living in Florida.

  51. Paula Lancaster November 20, 2012 1:35 pm

    As the anniversary day approaches I just want to express my thoughts and prayers to everyone touched by this tragedy. My husband was one of the young Navy recruits that spent several days assisting in the recovery efforts. While he has shared some of the experience, he still has certain memories that to this day he is us able to talk about. He has often spoke of the one thing he is not able to get away from, wondering about those whose lives were forever altered by the events of that night. He is planning on making the journey back to Elkton for the memorial and I am hoping that for him, and everyone involved, just being with others who understand the significance of what happened there will bring some peace. Blessings to all.

  52. Shaunna Knuth December 10, 2012 9:45 pm

    My husband was just contacted by the Cecil County Historical Society. They are planning a 50th anniversary rememberance next year in Elkton. If you want more information email Mike Dixon at the Elkton Historical Society and he can give you updates as it gets closer.

  53. Dave Cameron January 31, 2013 5:12 pm

    I just came across this site and thought I would share my story on this tragic event.

    I actually saw this happen. I was 3 years old at the time and remember it vividly probably due to the traumatic nature. My house sits on hill west of Newark, DE on route 273 just before the state line. We had an open view to the south and southwest. My father was watching the storm standing by the picture window while my mother was reading to me on the sofa situated across the room. I happened to be looking out the window at that time when there was a bright flash. I remember seeing an orange fireball erupt and arc down from the sky. I was able to see it from when it happened until came very near the ground before it was behind trees. My guess is that is was 5 or 6 miles from my house.

    The neighbors from behind us came over and we set out in the car to try to find where it came down. Not knowing exactly where, we headed toward south Newark down route 896. If memory serves correctly, traffic was stopped by police or emergency and we were turned around near the U of D sporting complex.

    My parents have friends at the corner of Old Baltimore Pike and Pleasant Valley road. I remember being told, many years later, that the owner, Clayton, was helping in the search and finding a few body parts and much debris on his property. He owns several acres between Pleasant Valley Road in Delaware and Delancy Road in Maryland.

    This accident affected me for some time. I remember asking my parents why God would let it happen and if they were with Him. It is truly amazing what memories remain from youth.

  54. Kathleen McKernan Naughton May 13, 2013 6:05 pm

    My parent were on board with their very good friends, the Hefele’s and the Gilberts. Allentown PA was left with 12 orphans; the town lost some very fine people. I sincerely thank the townspeople of Elkton for the memorial marker and for the honesty in the comments shared here.

  55. Jeff Clark June 13, 2013 8:43 am

    I remember that night. My Dad jumped up to look out the window while watching TV. I was 8 years old at the time and lived in Elkton about 5 miles from the crash site. I asked my Dad “what was that?” he said, “I don’t know, now go to bed”. I think he knew. The next morning, when it was all over the news, Dad never said a word about it.

  56. Mel Lester Jr. July 2, 2013 3:15 pm

    My father was an Army Doctor stationed at Valley Forge Army Hospital in Phoenixville, PA, where we lived at the time. That night, he called my mother from the Baltimore airport to let her know he would be boarding flight 214 in a few minutes and would need a ride home from the airport in Philadelphia, about 30 miles away from our home.

    After he hung up, and tried to board the flight (he was in uniform and traveling military standby), he was told that someone had bumped him from the flight, but that the airline could get him on a different flight in about 10 minutes.

    My parent are still alive (Dad is now 83) and visited me this weekend when the subject came up. Dad mentioned that he has wondered for all these years who was the unlucky passenger who got his seat.

    We saw a newscast on TV reporting the crash just as Mom was leaving for the airport. I was 13 at the time. We had begun a “You’re the man of the family now…” conversation, when my Dad called from the Philadelphia airport wondering why no one had come to pick him up. At the time, he had not heard about the accident. My mother was in no shape to drive into the city, so Dad ended up taking the last commuter train to Paoli that evening where a friend from work met him and brought him home to us.

  57. Steven G. Atkinson July 27, 2013 9:51 am

    On Sunday, afternoon Dec., 8, 2013, the Historical Society of Cecil County will hold a remembrance program to honor the memory of those who lost their lives on a day we will never forget, as well as those who were touched in other ways by the tragedy. On this date, fifty years after the tragedy altered so many lives, families, emergency responders, and the public are invited to gather and remember the victims and those who answered the call to help. A complete schedule will be released as the date nears, but since many family members will be traveling a distance, the society is providing this preliminary information.

  58. Steve Hefele October 30, 2013 1:57 pm

    As an 8 year old, I remember being in bed that night and waking up to the sound of my paternal grandmother sobbbing on the phone in disbeleif over the news. My younger brother and I went downstairs to find out what was going on. Soon all our relatives showed up and the family prayed the Rosary through the night and hoped for the best. By the next morning my sisters, brother and I were told we’d be living with our cousins and aunt and uncle. Too young then to really comprehend the magnitude of those events. An incomprehensible loss, but eternally grateful to all of our relatives and friends of the family who stepped up and nurtured and guided us through our lives.

  59. Keli Hefele October 30, 2013 2:23 pm

    My grandparents, Dr. Charles and Mrs. Virginia Hefele, were on Pan Am Flight 214. Even though I never got to meet them, I know they would have been amazing role models and I still miss them to this day. I am the second oldest of six children, three girls and three boys. All of us wish we would have had our grandparents in our lives, but one day we will get to meet them.

    My father, one of five, was eight years old at the time of the crash. If they were still here, they would be very proud of my dad and the man he has grown to be.. He is the best father, and we are truly blessed to be his children. I am lucky to be a part of the Hefele family, and to know my grandparents were great people. My grandfather, a successful obstetrician in Allentown pa, delivered babies into this world, and it’s devastating that he and my grandmother were taken at such a young age. I have enjoyed reading everyone’s comments and even hearing some kind words about my grandparents from posts above. My heart goes out to everyone that is a part of this blog, and my thoughts and prayers will always be with you. My family and I will be there at the 50th Anniversary Memorial service to share this special remembrance with all the other families and friends that went through this tragedy, and has lost a special someone(s) on December 8th, 1963.

    Thank you to the individuals who are hosting the service and for bringing everyone together 50 years later.

  60. Patricia Hefele October 30, 2013 11:11 pm

    My parents were on the PanAm Flight 214 with two other couples, the GIlberts and the Mckernan’s. They were wonderful people and have been missed so much by their families.

    A day doesn’t go by that I don’t think about them. I miss my parents to this day.

    I vividly remember that night. My grandmother was taking care of me and my three siblings while my parents were away. She was watching the Ed Sullivan when a live news broadcast interrupted the the program to announce the crash. My grandmother knew immediately that it was the plane my parents and their good friends were on. Our lives changed forever.

    I thank the Historical Society of Cecil County for planning the Remembrance Program and would also like to thank all the brave responders and the people of Elkton who also risked their lives to help others.

  61. Mary Bogle November 12, 2013 1:32 am

    Dear Pat Hefele,
    My deepest sympathies for your loss. Colleen McKernan was a classmate of mine at St Francis Academy. I have thought about her and her devastating loss many times over the years. My uncle, Austin McCarthy was on the plane. I will be attending the ceremony on December 8th. Do you have any contact with the McKernan family? I would love to meet you if you will be in Elkton.
    Mary Bogle

  62. ellen j walker November 22, 2013 4:45 pm

    I will be attending the 50th anniversary of the 1963 plane crash that took the life of my mother’s sister and brother in law joyce miller gilbert and bob. It will be a bittersweet reunion of family and friends and I can remember the night of 12/8/1963 like it was yesterday.

  63. Donna Mitchell December 6, 2013 4:29 pm

    I grew on on a farm on Old Baltimore Pike now Dearborne woods and always felt as if someone was watching us as we went about our daily business. I was about 30 when i moved from the farm and was finally able to tolerate the dark without the hair raising up on my arms. I had heard stories of this terrible plane crash – as kids we found parts of the plane, misc atifacts even a small piece of the wing. at times late at night I would look out my window and att he end of our lane would be a blinking light…it would come and go…now in the house i am in i recently realized what is should feel like to be in a home…at peace. on the farm there was definately something going on there…i hope that someday those poor souls can find peace.

  64. Jay Kornblatt December 7, 2013 10:31 am

    My sister, H. Sue Kornblatt-Skolnick and her new husband, Irvin Skolnick, were in the plane coming home from their honeymoon in Puerto Rico. Although it’s been 50 years, that night, seems like yesterday. I do have one momento which I look at fom time to time. It was my Brother in laws Accutron watch, which had the crystal melted onto the face at exactly the moment the plane blew up. I treasure it. JK

  65. J Kahn December 8, 2013 9:49 pm

    My wife’s father was the second officer, Paul Orringer. As C Getter mentioned above, he had a wife and two young children, Andrew, who was 6 or 7, and Jane, who was 4. Jane just mentioned to me that today is the 50th anniversary.

  66. Rich Loving December 8, 2013 11:58 pm

    Thanks for hosting this site.

    I lost my grandparents on this flight. It is interesting what google can dig up but this site has more feedback from those involved.

    Thanks again for hosting.


  67. Matt Gilbert December 10, 2013 1:03 am

    I just want to thank the Cecil County Historical Society for hosting this past weekend events. I would also like to thank all of those who made it possible for the McKernan, Hefele and Gilbert family to gather for brunch prior to the Rememberance in Elkton. It was very special. I known my father Jeff was very happy to meet with and talk with the other families prior to us going to Elkton. If possible can someone forward to us a copy of the picture we posed for outside the resturant. Thanks again and as my Uncle said god Bless and Merry Christmas to all!

  68. Keli Hefele December 10, 2013 10:15 am

    I also wanted to thank the Cecil County Historical Society for the beautiful memorial service this past weekend. I’m so happy to have met some of the other families who share a similar bond, especially the McKernan & Gilbert Family, who were the friends traveling with my Grandparents on December 8th. We instantly connected with several of the people and even had the opportunity to exchange stories with them. I also enjoyed learning additional information from the speakers and PowerPoint presentation. The memories shared will always be remembered.

    Thank you again and to all the others that contributed in bringing everyone together at such a lovely event 50 years later.

    Matt- I will email you that picture! :) It was great meeting you and all the other wonderful McKernans. We need to stay in touch!

    Take care and Happy Holidays!

    Keli and the Hefele Group!

  69. Matt Gilbert December 16, 2013 11:09 pm

    @ Keli Hefele, thank you that would be greatly appreciated. Make sure you get a chance to look at the power point that the Historical Society put out. It a very moving and wonderful refelection of all the victims.

  70. Sherry james February 10, 2015 10:28 pm

    One thing is for sure and that is one of the most haunted places in the world. I have a relative that owned land and built a house around the crash scene. I cant even begin to put it into words.

  71. Carlos Montilla June 17, 2015 12:11 am

    One of the crew members was my Uncle Mario Montilla. A great person loved by all. This was to be his last flight. Retirement was next. He traded for this flight to get home sooner. We have missed him dearly since.

  72. Tonya June 25, 2015 9:55 pm

    Does anyone know if there was a little boy about 5 on that flight? I saw the list but ages were not included.

  73. Tonya June 25, 2015 9:57 pm

    Just curious if anyone knows if there was a little boy on the flight about 5?

  74. John Stewart October 9, 2015 12:46 pm

    My uncle, John Dale, was the first officer. Today would have been his 100th birthday.

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