With the investigation into the crash of Asiana Flight 214 in San Francisco continuing, Fox 45 News reporter Melinda Roeder stopped by the Historical Society yesterday for help with a Maryland connection to the story. It was Dec., 8, 1963, nearly fifty-years ago, when the worst crash in Maryland history occurred. On that stormy December night a half-century ago, Pan Am Flight 214 circled high above Elkton waiting for a thunderstorm to pass. Suddenly, moments before air traffic controllers prepared to clear the flight for final approach into Philadelphia, an enormous fireball illuminated the night sky as 81 people perished when lightning struck the doomed craft.
As Cecil County’s history and genealogy library our staff routinely handles media inquiries and so they swung into quickly action on this one. On short notice we pulled together a large archive of materials, including news video of the 1963 tragedy, audio of the emergency communication network, dozens of photos, old newspapers, oral history interviews, personal correspondence, and much more. We also briefed Melinda on the history of this tragedy and helped her with additional contacts. She was able to talk to Lt. Don Hash, MSP (retired), who was the first emergency responder to arrive on the scene.
For the volunteer caretakers of Cecil’s heritage it is just another routine week. Sometimes they deal with said memories such as this one, but there is a full range of inquiries from broadcast and print journalist. As an example, over the past thirty days, we have helped a British newspaper doing a piece on the 250th anniversary of the Mason and Dixon Line. The Washington Post magazine featured an article on Bobby Kennedy’s Funeral Train and we helped with research materials and contacts. A perspective of EMS in the United States was featured in the EMResidents Journal and we had a number of photos to help them with that story. And we have had trade journals writing about Cecil County as a destination spot for tourists. All of this is beyond what we do every week for our local newspapers.
Our volunteers always work to preserve the local story and welcome opportunities to share this narrative with a broader audience. This is just one more way we carry out our mission as Cecil’s heritage keepers.