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From the Vault: News from the June 4, 1931, edition of the Daily Journal

Posted 6/6/18

Lt. Nelson flying plane collides with electric wires midway in creek at Royalton

An airplane, carrying a state license, and owned by A.H. Stackpole and N.S. Ryder of Harrisburg, and piloted by Lt. …

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From the Vault: News from the June 4, 1931, edition of the Daily Journal


Lt. Nelson flying plane collides with electric wires midway in creek at Royalton

An airplane, carrying a state license, and owned by A.H. Stackpole and N.S. Ryder of Harrisburg, and piloted by Lt. Fred Nelson, manager of the Harrisburg Airport, and formerly of the Middletown Air Depot, was badly damaged in an accident when the plane collided with high tension electric wires, about midway across the Swatara Creek, at 6:50 o’clock Wednesday evening.

Nelson, fortunately escaped with a few bruises.

The supposition is that while Nelson was flying low over the creek and river, the motor of the plane stopped, and in an effort to go between the top and bottom high-tension wires, where there is a clearance of about 10 feet, the left wing caught five of the bottom wires, causing the plane to turn and dive into the creek.

Three of the wires were burned off and the other two torn off. Four of the wires carried a voltage of 66,000 each and the other 110,000 voltage.

When the collision occurred, it tripped the breakers at the Metropolitan Edison Co. plant, cutting off the current for a few minutes temporarily.

At the time of the accident, Earl Kendig and Russell Clouser, both of Royalton, were fishing in the creek, almost beneath the wires. One of the broken wires fell across the boat, striking a steel rod, snapping it in two. The heavy wire struck Kendig on the neck, causing a deep laceration. He was taken to the office of Dr. H.W. George, where treatment was given. Clouser escaped without injuries.

Sitting on a bench along the east bank of the Swatara Creek were Miss Rose Becky and Mrs. Herman Wentz, who live closeby. When one or two of the wires fell across the bench, Miss Becky became frightened and in an effort to get away, fell on her face on the ground, causing brush bruises. Mrs. Wentz suffered from shock. Dr. H.H. Rhodes was summoned to the Wentz home and treated them. No evidence showed that either woman was burned, as was reported.

The accident was witnessed by Jacob Kreiser, Eugene Menear and Charles Moyer, all of Royalton, who secured a rowboat and went to the pilot’s aid. They found him sitting on a wing of the wrecked plane in the creek. When they reached him, it is said, Nelson asked his rescuers for a cigarette. They asked him if he was hurt and Nelson replied: “No. Only a little scratch or two.”

When brought to shore, it was discovered that the pilot was suffering with a laceration above his right eye. Otherwise he was uninjured.

It is said that Nelson went to his home in Camp Hill, and there gave out a report that the motor stopped when the plane was over the creek, and in descending, the plane hit the power line. When Nelson saw he could not dodge the wires, he leaped clear of the plane into the creek, the water being less than 10 feet deep.

The biplane had the propeller and wings broken, but otherwise was not much damaged. The damaged plane was loaded on the end of a flat and towed to a landing along the east bank near Hollandale, and later loaded on an automobile truck and taken to the Harrisburg Airport. Nelson was taken to his home by John Landis, of Spring Street, town.

Reports of the accident brought hundreds of people to the scene in automobiles and many walking. A force of 20 men was put to work by the Metropolitan Edison Co., and they worked until 4 o’clock this morning until the repairs were made.

Searchlights and power lights were used to aid the mechanics.

Police arrest Kreiser for alleged theft of 30 chickens from Shelly’s Island

After an investigation and search, the past several days, on information of John Junk, residing on Shelly’s Island, in the Susquehanna River, State Police arrested Harry Kreiser, of First Lock.

After a grilling at the barracks in Harrisburg, Sgt. Chester Engle, of the State Police, made information before Squire Kathryn M. Bowers, of Swatara Street, charging Kreiser with the alleged larceny of about 30 chickens, claimed to be the property of Junk.

It is said that about 30 chickens were found at the home of the defendant’s mother, Mrs. Margaret Kreiser, at First Lock, and after being caught and taken to Shelly’s Island, all of them went without being called to their roost, except one which was brought back again to the Kreiser home.

It is further alleged that the chickens were stolen from the henhouse on Shelly’s Island on the night of May 30.

Kreiser was held by the State Police for a hearing at 7 o’clock Thursday evening before the squire.

Conewago Inn raided, arrest follows

Edward Swanson, 28, formerly of Manheim, alleged proprietor of the Conewago Inn, on the Harrisburg-Lancaster Pike, 2 1/2 miles east of Middletown, was arrested on charges of alleged violation of the liquor and gambling laws Wednesday afternoon when the inn was raided by County Detective Jacob Weller and Constable Max Sargen of Marietta.

Bail in the sum of $1,000 was furnished by Swanson.

The raiding officers seized a pint of alleged liquor and several cases of beer and a number of slot machines.

Boy falls 40 feet when he scales cliff

When scaling the face of a cliff near Hummelstown Sunday afternoon, John Levens, 6-year-old son of William Levens, Hummelstown, lost his footing and fell 40 feet.

He was taken to the Harrisburg Hospital, where he was found to have suffered a cut of the scalp and abrasions of the face and legs. His condition was fair Sunday night.

John and several other Hummelstown boys were scaling the face of the cliff, which is about 125 feet high.

Russell B. Stoner, 4 W. Main St., Hummelstown, took him to Harrisburg Hospital.

Headlines from the edition

• MHS ball team won the championship

• Delinquent tax bureau has been organized

• Bodies of two soldiers have been found

• Party was held for a double anniversary

Hot buys

• Weekend specials: Rainbow Crackers, salted, 1 pound box, 15 cents; Ritter’s or Wilson’s baked beans, 7 cents; birch and sarsaparilla extract, 25 cents a bottle; Rio Coffee, 2 pounds for 25 cents. Cut Rate Cash Grocery, Union and Ann streets, Middletown.

• Excursions for 16 days from Middletown to Atlantic City and other South Jersey points, $6.60 roundtrip. See fliers and consult ticket agents of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

• Two-trouser suits, $25. Very fine panama hats, $5. Handmade sennits, $2, $3, $4. Doutrichs, Union and Emaus streets, Middletown.

• Harry Carey and Edwina Booth in “Trader Horn.” Adults, 35 cents. Elks Theatre, Middletown.