Holiday Plane Crash in 1951 Near Little Valley Killed 26
Submitted by PHGS Member Mary E. Bryant

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PHGS member Tim Lake has written a book about this crash and the local heroes who responded. It is Hang on and Fly and is available for purchase on his website (

Little Valley, NY. 

A Continental Charters plane crashed in the remote, rugged woods of Sawmill Run near this Cattaraugus County community on Christmas Eve. It was carrying passengers to Christmas gatherings with friends and relatives The tragedy near Little Valley involved a non-scheduled airliner. Continental Charters Inc. of Miami was flying south/north route, Pittsburgh to Buffalo. The plane cut a wide swath through hilltop trees before being torn apart.

The crash was in such a remote area that access for rescuers was extremely difficult. Twenty six were killed and fourteen survived the crash off the Sawmill Run Road on Saturday, Dec. 29, 1951.

The plane had been listed as missing a few days before and first speculation had it down in the hills of Western Pennsylviana. Then two days later, on Monday about three in the afternoon, one of the survivors who had struggled through deep snow and thick underbrush for two and a half miles reached the Charles Bryant Farm and brought the news of the crash to the world.

The survivor who made the trek was a thirty year old Miami restauranteur, George Albert, who later said that when he heard that first sickening sounds of the crash he knew what it was to be on the threshold of death. Before Albert had reached the farmhouse, the fourteen survivors had managed to keep alive by building a fire and huddling under a make shift parachute shelter near the twin-engined C-46 airliner which had burst apart. On Monday morning, Albert decided to go out on his own to get help. His feet wrapped in strips of toweling, he first spotted a camp but could arouse no one. Getting to the Sawmill Run Road he forced himself on and four hours later reached the Bryant farm. Mrs. Ruby Bryant called the Salamanca Police Department and Sheriff Morgan L. Sigel. The fourteen were removed to the Salamanca District Hospital.

On New Years Day Chairman Donald W. Nyrop of the Civil Aeronautics Board flew in from Washington to make an on-the-spot investigation.


Click to enlarge:

Dec.31, 1951 Plane crash at Sawmill Run
From collection of DAWN BRAHANEY   Salamanca, NY

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Last Update February 2, 2020