Mysterious 1959 Plane Crash on Holston Mountain

Posted in the Elizabethton Forum

Since: Mar 08

Smyrna, TN

#1 Jun 27, 2009
Shortly after 8:30 PM on January 8, 1959, Southeast Airlines DC-3 Flight 308 pilot radioed Tri-Cities Airport for a routine landing. It was 15°F and there was four-inches of show on the ground. Visibility was limited to five-miles. After contact, the plane, with three crew members and seven passengers, simply vanished. Search teams were organized.

By 2:00 AM, authorities considered the plane missing. When the news was released, authorities were inundated with calls. Dozens of people from Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia and Western North Carolina reported seeing the plane in the sky or hearing one in distress. Numerous witnesses called in to report lights popping out of Beech Mountain in Avery County, North Carolina. Something strange was going on.

A few hours before dawn, a searchlight began signaling motorists along U. S. Route 421 from the Bluff City side of Holston Mountain, 20-miles from the airport and two-miles from South Holston Lake. Captain Ed Allen of the Civil Air Patrol waved his own searchlight and the light from the mountain did the same. A C-54 National Guard plane was ordered to fly over the area. When it passed over the area of the crash, it waved longingly. They would find out later, though, that there were no survivors. The light faded in the daytime. A pilot spotted the wreckage near the top of Holston Mountain around noon. Around 4:00 PM, search parties came upon the debris. Bodies were scattered over several-hundred-feet. All ten persons had died on impact. There were no footprints in the snow and mysteriously nothing to make light.

There was a striking coincidence to the crash. On February 2, 1958, a twin-engine SNB Navy plane crashed at the same spot after a mid-air collision with a private plane near the airport. The wreckage was finally discovered 12-days later.

Plane crashes on Holston Mountain seem statistically higher than other mountainous regions. On December 27, 1960, an L-20 Army plane crashed on Holston Mountain near Piney Flats during a training mission. On April 5, 1961, a Cessna L-19 crashed 600-yards from the northern peak of the mountain. In 1962, a pilot for Southeastern Aviation, Inc. crashed a DC-3 into the mountain. Unusual weather conditions were sited as the cause. On October 2, 1976, two Air Force pilots died when their RF-4C “Phantom” crashed into the mountain. A dense fog was to blame. On June 24, 1998, two men were killed when the Army National Guard helicopter they were using to search for marijuana fields crashed into the mountain, six-miles east of Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Elizabethton. On September 1, 2007 five Jehovah’s Witness ministers were killed on impact when the single engine Beech Bonanza crashed near the top of the mountain. The had left Elizabethton Municipal Airport about 10:30 AM bound for Virginia Highlands Airport in Abingdon, Virginia.

Unexpected weather conditions could be attributed to most of the crashes, but what of the mysterious light? This strange phenomenon has been documented sparingly throughout history. It is called mountain peak discharge. These columns of light, however, do not have the suggested intelligence that the light off of Holston Mountain exhibited. And what caused the crash? One clue was the lights popping out of Beech Mountain. These are called piezoelectricity. They are balls of light that are created when ribbons of crystal are placed under seismic stress. Mountain peak discharge is also a result of tension along fault lines. Could this have caused the tragic plane crash in 1959? Could electromagnetic radiation have knocked out the plane’s sophisticated electronic system? If so, the location in question might indicate a seismic fault line that could one day give Holston Mountain the same reputation as Brown Mountain.

sweet T

Kingsport, TN

#2 Jun 27, 2009
Thanks for this story!! I found it very interesting.I did not know there had been so many plane crashes on Holston Mountain! Gives you something to think about doesn't it? And thanks for the stories on the haunted thread,too. VERY informative! Got any more?????:)

Los Angeles, CA

#3 May 21, 2011
Wow it's very weird dat all of planes had crashed in the very same spot RICHIE nd the other artists die, I really feel awful the way they all die ! RICHIE LIVES people !:,(

Since: Apr 11

Location hidden

#4 May 24, 2011
That was very interesting!

Maryville, TN

#5 May 25, 2011
not sure but this may shed some light on this. at the time of the southeastern crashes tri-cities only had one runway 9 & 27. the only approach procedure they had was a ndb approach to runway 27 which is a difficult procedure at best, they have been almost phased out. in that procedure the pilot would pass over a radio beacon and do a procedure turn which would turn the aircraft 180 degrees and would line them up to the runway. now there is huge amount of mental energy to complete one of these in the best of circumstances and throw in weather its a hard maneuver. now this is all done with a watch because there was not any distance measuring equiptment installed in those aircraft like today. so the prevailing winds are west to east and you are flying this aircraft on the procedure eastbound with a tailwind and your time is off by a little the turns to reverse the course could put you close to holston mtn. now all this is done in bad weather for a let down to the airport. another thing to think about also is that tricities probably never had radar at the time.

Since: Mar 11

Location hidden

#6 May 27, 2011
Thanks ...very instersting write up...

Advance, NC

#7 Jun 23, 2011
The topography of Holston Mtn. lends itself to a tremedous downdraft on the northern (Sullivan County) side of the mountain. I would bet that planes flying too low were just slamned into the forest right after crossing the crest of the mountain.

Johnson City, TN

#8 Jun 23, 2011
Interesting. Sadly reminds me of reading about the planes crashes of Buddy Holly and Patsy Cline.

Johnson City, TN

#9 Nov 8, 2013
I live on near Holston Mtn and one night a couple of years ago I heard a plane flying very low and went outside and just then my neighbor was on his porch to and said, did you hear that?. Just a very low flying plane and it just went away. I went to the computer after and found there had been several plane accidents up near there, too strange. never heard it again.

Kingsport, TN

#10 Nov 11, 2013
Very good, well written I have research on Carter County plane crashes there are many more. Just to clear up two items, the Navy SNB crashed on Cross Mt. about 3 miles from the DC-3. The 1962 Southeastern plane is from a report by the Elizabethton Star it is incorrect, the reporter is discribing the 1959 crash of the Southeast DC-3 and got his dates wrong. The NTSB list all major and most minor crash data. Their data base is on line an shows no crash on Holston in 1962 also no local newspapers have a story on it. Also a Piper PA-31 crash on 4/7/1994 1/2 mile east of the VOR on top of Holston Mt. this was a medical transport. All on board were killed. I have 34 crashes listed for Carter County from 1939-2009.

Kingsport, TN

#11 Nov 11, 2013
I left 2 other Holston Mt. crashes out of the last post. 11-1-1976 1 mile Northeast of Unaka High School, Cessna 4 men all walk away from crash with minor cuts. 30 May 1981 1 mile west of the WJHL tower Cessna 185 3 member of a family killed after Tri-Cities takeoff in bad weather. Many stories get told and I been told of 3 more crashes on Holston but have not found NTSB reports or newspaper accounts on the stories. One about a C-130 no USAF report, maybe thinking about the Navy crash or the RF-4. Also a Army Paymaster loaded with money. No data found. And a small plane crashed into pine tree, that the story says Moody Avaition disassemby before the NTSB got there I don't believe that at all. The story about the World Two Bomber crash in Hampton is also off the mark. This crash was most likely the P-39 fighter that crash on Ripshin during the war. Away I don't like flying over that Mt. coming into the Tri-Cities Airport

Johnson City, TN

#12 Nov 12, 2013

Elizabethton, TN

#13 Nov 24, 2013
The RF4C was from Shaw Air Force Base South Carolina, 363 Reco Tech Squadron and had 2 German Pilots that were killed. I was stationed at Shaw from August 1968 until 1972. These were recon planes from Shaw. Used this area because the terrain her is similar to Viet Nam.

Johnson City, TN

#14 Nov 25, 2013
joe wrote:
The RF4C was from Shaw Air Force Base South Carolina, 363 Reco Tech Squadron and had 2 German Pilots that were killed. I was stationed at Shaw from August 1968 until 1972. These were recon planes from Shaw. Used this area because the terrain her is similar to Viet Nam.
I got a friend from Hampton that was stationed at shaw about that time and i can remember sitting at the Point on watauga lake and almost every Friday around noon there were two jets that would come from over the Butler bridge down the valley when you seen them they would be turned on their left side then as they came by they would get level and as they got down about Lakeshore dock they would turn up on their right side and go over the Dam they were almost as low as the Iron Mtn, I ask my friend about it and he said that they were pulling mock booming raids on the Butler bridge and Dam he said they would take photos of both the bridge and Dam to see if their flight was a success.!

Kingsport, TN

#15 Dec 6, 2013
Good story bro tell it again

Boone, NC

#16 Mar 19, 2014
Sounds familiar...

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