Sunday, March 15, 2020

In 1986 A Plane Crashed Near Lock Haven, & It's Still On The Mountain

Piper Plane N32777 Crashed On July 16 1986

  32 year old John Yatso, of Hazelton, had been in Lock Haven for the  Piper Plane Reunion.  As he returned home, shortly after take off a wind sheer caused his 1975 Piper Cherokee to flip and land upside down in the trees.

GPS Coords N 41° 07.785 W 077° 22.423

Yatso was unconscious for a short time.  When he came around, he got himself out of the plane and walked two and a half miles before being picked up by a passing car.
On Thursday July 17th, Yatsko was reported to be in satisfactory condition, with a slight fracture of his spine and an eye injury.  The Hazelton newspaper ran a short blurb just over a month later that he had been discharged from the hospital and was returning home to finish recuperating.

Several newspapers reported in July that the plane had not been located - I'm not sure when it was finally discovered.

More of the wreckage, down the hill to the west

With almost every hike we do, I tell you that if I can do it anyone can.  I won't say that about this one. There is no trail here.  It's a mountain of small loose boulders, covered in thick moss and layers of leaves, so every step can be tricky.  It is very, very steep in spots, which makes the trip back down very tricky.

Because of this, I really can't even tell you how to get here. Not because I don't want to, but because there is no real trail, path, or established way there.    I can tell you that there is a Winchester trail that apparently comes close across the top, others have approached that way.  Start at Zindel park.  It will be about a 9 mile hike, and its still a good change in elevation - you are climbing up a mountain, no way around that.  But the elevation change will be more gradual, not quite as steep.  I have not done this myself, but we know others who have.  The local Sierra Club sometimes hikes this.  [Read the comments on this post for more instructions on how to get there]

 Our route was a "shortcut", and all in all it took us between 3 and 4 hours.(Although to be fair, we stopped a LOT to catch our breath and enjoy the views on the way up - and we spent a good bit of time at the site itself)  We went straight up the mountain.  It's not simple, there's a fence between 220 and the mountain (about 50 feet off the road - so you won't see the fence until you start to climb), you have to know where there is no fence, to get up this way..  and it is a scary steep descent, where you need a walking stick to know where it is safe to step, as many of the boulders will roll and move, and the moss has grown thick over deep holes between rocks that you do not want to step into, and the leaves covering the ground  are thick and slippery.   Again, there is no trail here.  Not even a  path.  

There are directions on the geocaching page for those of you who geocache, that will take you this way.  We didn't even really follow those, but I don't think our path was wise and I'm not going to share it here.  If you scroll all the way to the bottom of the post and read the comments, there is a better route given that may help.

Some of the piper planes lined up at the 1986 Reunion in Lock Haven.

Lock Haven had been the world headquarters of the Piper Aircraft corp from 1937 to 1984, when the company was sold and moved to Vero Beach Florida. Approximately 240 Piper planes, and pilots, had attended the reunion.   

Crash Reports:

A different wreck, also with debris left on another nearby mountain
The Allegheny Airlines Flight 371 Crash Site

Find More Places To Hike

March 2020


  1. Easiest hike from the north end of Nittany Ridge Road in the Bald Eagle State Forest. I worked in BESF until 2005. I was part of the survey crew of the Clair Marks purchase that happened before the highway was put in.

  2. Another great article, thanks!

  3. Oh awesome! One of my first videos on my YouTube Channel was the story of this crash. This blog is great!

  4. What’s the address for this spot ?

    1. There's not really an address - it's in the middle of the mountain. The GPS Coord are under the second photo - that's the best I can do for you, sorry!

  5. Can somebody give me the dirctions like cornets

    1. GPS coordinates are under the second photo, and there are helpful hiking instructions in the comments from others above.

  6. GPS coordinates are way off

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. They are the coords we used to find it... did they get you close?

  7. I’ve read that someone took the Boulder Field Loop. Would this be an option?


I'll read the comments and approve them to post as soon as I can! Thanks for stopping by!