US PKB Station Manager Story
Posted by: Don Shanks (
Date: November 26, 2004 08:24PM

Here is a great little story from a former Allegheny Airlines station manager in PKB. I remember the event well. As the DC-3 was taxing into the ramp, the brakes (or something) failed leaving the captain no control and the DC-3 wound up with its' nose inside the US operations office.

I just read your profile on the [] on the:
US Airways Retirees group site and noticed that you worked in PKB.

A little side story for you.................................

I title it "The merger of Piedmont and Allegheny Airlines, an OMEN of things to come."

About 50 years ago last Wednesday I was Station Manager in PKB when the night before Thanksgiving PI decided to put Allegheny out of business by ramming their DC3 through the wall of our operations office. (Actually the aircraft experienced a brake failure while taxing to the ramp)

Alas, we survived and assisted unloading your passengers into our office, rendered first aid, and assisted Virgil Flynn in making arrangements to get your passengers to their destinations.

Virgil Flynn was the only PI agent on duty at the time and it was PI's last flight of the day.

I had just dispatched a Martin 202 charter 5 minutes b4 your flight arrived other wise there would have been a terrible disaster that night.

As luck would have it, the good Lord smiled upon us, as there was no fire and the injuries to the passengers and crew were minimal.

I can't remember the crew names but they were very appreciative when I helped Virgil pry the instrument panel back so they could get their legs loose and eventually crawl out of the cockpit.

Jack Gwenap was the Station Manager and Coit Harris, and Virgil Flynn
were agents. I can't recall some of the other agent names.

The only damage to our office was the widening of our front office door as another AL agent and I went through it simultaneously trying to get the hell away from the spinning prop that was forcing itself through the back office wall.

PI/AL were a close knit group in PKB in those days and tipped more than a few glasses of white lightning there.

I believe I have a few pictures somewhere here and if I can find them I'll send copies to you.

You wrote "There was a culture at Piedmont that I don't think will ever be duplicated in any other company - ever." I agree and I experienced it with your employees in PKB and again in FLL.

It was a great company and in retrospect I'm happy that we ultimately joined forces even though there still is strong cultural differences.

With the experience and backgrounds of the combined companies I'm convinced there is life after death and we shall survive.


Tom Hammett

Pss: Take it easy on Pete. He is not a fighter but a lover and I bet he would prove it too if you were FEMALE.

Re: US PKB Station Manager Story
Posted by: Aubrey Warren (
Date: December 01, 2004 06:33PM

May be mistaken but I beleive the crew was Mike "Baby Blue" Holton and Phil Carter.

Re: US PKB Station Manager Story
Posted by: Jack M. Taylor (
Date: December 03, 2004 04:30AM

I am pretty sure you are right about Mike Holton being the Capt. on the
DC-3. I went up from INT maintenance to assist the FAA in checking out the A/C. What I wanted to add happened several months later. A mechanic went out to stand fire guard on engine start for Capt Mike to taxi another DC-3, out of the grass field by INT Fixed Base. Capt Mike came down (and rightly so) from the cockpit to admonish the mechanic for not having a fire bottle on hand. He asked the mechanic, what do you think Mr. Davis would say about you standing fire guard with no fire bottle? The mechanic sheepishly said, Aw shucks, Capt. Mike, he wouldn't say nothing, shoot, people run into terminal buildings and everything, he wouldn't say nothing. Capt. Mike slammed the stepdoor and was on his way. I wonder if any one else remembers that story.

Re: US PKB Station Manager Story
Posted by: Don Shanks (
Date: December 03, 2004 10:47PM

That's a great story! Someone should write a book on "Great Stories About Pilots". Piedmont had the very best

Re: US PKB Station Manager Story
Posted by: Don Shanks (
Date: December 03, 2004 10:52PM

Whoops! Something happened with that post - it got sent (my fault!) before I was ready. I was saying that someone should write a book about "Great Stories About Pilots". Piedmont had the very best. I would fly (and did on occassions!) through the worst conditions and felt confortable with our guys up front. And a few of them liked to party - there's some stories there that I would like to write.
Don Shanks

Re: US PKB Station Manager Story
Posted by: Ronald Macklin (
Date: December 04, 2004 12:34AM

Mike Holten was pilot.
One day is class he fell asleep and fell out of his chair. The next day there was a safety belt in the chair that he normally sat in. He put it on. Was a great day!

Re: US PKB Station Manager Story
Posted by: Don Shanks (
Date: December 05, 2004 02:22AM

Thanks, Ronnie, that's a classic - another great "pilot" story for the book. Capt Jim Brown probably provided enough stories to fill one book by himself.

Re: US PKB Station Manager Story
Posted by: snorton71 (
Date: April 01, 2008 05:32AM

Hey Don Need some help Capt H. Norton

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