TWA Flight 800 Memorial
On July 17, 1996 TWA Flight 800 crashed off the Long Island Coast. On this flight were 16 students and 5 chaperones from Montoursville Area School District on their way to France for a school trip. All 21 Montoursville residents died causing mass tragedy in this small town. Starting on January 8, 1997, a committee began to meet with the goal of erecting a Memorial to honor the victims. After years of work the Flight 800 Memorial was officially dedicated on July 17th, 1999 exactly three years after the crash.
Backstory and Context
Less than an hour after takeoff from the JFK airport, TWK Flight 800 crashed off of the coast of Long Island, NY. The cause of the crash was determined to be internal plane malfunctions, however unofficial theories exist that say the plane was shot down by an explosive. The crash killed all 230 passengers/crew aboard the plane. Among the 230 people were 21 residents of the small town on Montoursville, PA. 16 members of the Montoursville Area High School French Club, and 5 chaperones were headed to France for their school trip. Residents of Montoursville have said that at the same time of the crash an angle shaped cloud surrounded by 21 separate clouds appeared in the sky.
The town of Montoursville was in shock when they received the information of the crash. This event would forever change this small town. The mass of this town tragedy reached so far that cheerleaders from New Jersey visit the Memorial every year to honor the victims. This just shows how big the impact of the event was as well as the support that Montoursville received from everyone in this time of sadness.
The land in which the Memorial resides has a rich history. The land has been used for many different important uses. From being a cemetery, to a church, to a temporary log cabin display, to a millstone Memorial, this land has served Montoursville since 1811. The land was chosen from a list of nine different sites. The land, referred to as the mill stone property, was chosen by both the Montoursville Area School Board, the families of the victims and the borough council.
The design process for the Memorial was very community based. The Memorial committee asked for design submissions. They received a total of 120 designs, most of which had been submitted my local middle schoolers. After reviewing the submissions and cooperating with professionals the Memorial committee was able to come to full agreement of the design in March of 1999. In the end the design chosen is a tall rectangular base with a statue of an angle resting on top. Each side of the stone base has written on it something to commemorate the tragedies of Flight 800.
Montoursville Area High School, The ‘Sock (Montoursville, PA: 1996) 182-183 General John Burrows Historical Society. “
Explosion Device Seen As Likely Cause of Crash” New York Times Metro. July 19 1996. General John Burrows Museum
Beauge, John. “Cheerleading Coach to Retire at Exact time of Flight 800 crash” PennLive.com, July 16, 2016. General John Burrows Museum
“Accident Report Detail.” National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Accessed November 8, 2019. https://ntsb.gov/investigations/accidentreports/pages/aar0003.aspx.
“Program for Flight 800 Memorial Ceremony.” Montoursville, n.d. General John Burrows Museum
Berardelli, Maria. Montoursville Area High School, The ‘Sock. 2019. John Burrows Museum, Montoursville Pa.
Bagwell, Steve. Flight 800 Memorial. 2011. Facebook https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=117433251665494&set=a.117433108332175&type=3&theater