On a terrible night in 1963 eighty-one people aboard a doomed aircraft, Pan American Airways Flight 214, perished when the plane exploded and plunged into a cornfield at the edge of Elkton. The fiery blast in the stormy Maryland sky caused the plane to break up in flight. The first arriving emergency responder, Lt. Don Hash of the Maryland State Police, observed that the only large recognizable piece of jetliner was a section of fuselage with about eight or 10 window frames.
On that cold rainy December evening, as lighting periodically illuminated the cornfield, a county firefighter also died in the line of duty. When the general alarm went out for all available ambulances, Steward W. Godwin, 56, responded on the North East Volunteer Fire Company unit. While searching for survivors about 1:30 that morning he suddenly collapsed into the arms of Andrew Scarborough, another North East member, the News Journal reported.
This horrifying disaster, the worst in Cecil County history, is something that is seared into the collective memory of the community. The generation residing here in 1963 will never forget the unusual December thunderstorm and how the fiery blast in the stormy sky suddenly illuminated the town, momentarily turning December darkness into daylight. Fear, anxiety, and concern swept across the unnevered community as emergency units rushed toward the cornfield hoping to aid the injured. But it was soon obvious that the accident wasn’t survivable.
A granite memorial was dedicated at the crash site in 1994. It is located near the main impact point on Delancy Road, in a grassy center strip of Wheelhouse Drive, the entrance to Turnquist, a development that sprang up years afterwards.
There is one other memorial to plane crash victims in the county. Dedicated in 2011, it was placed where the plane hit a hillside, taking 53 lives on Memorial Day 1947.