On the morning of 9/9/2019, the author set out from his home to travel to the crash site. Shortly thereafter, this shot presented itself (in hopes of being worthy of inclusion, no doubt!). The Sun is shining through clouds, and a commercial jet is turning final for approach to Indianapolis International Airport’s runway 05. The Allegheny crash site is 20 miles away, and lies to the Southeast – exactly the direction we are looking.
As the service began, Shelbyville mayor Tom DeBaun offered some warm opening remarks.
“My father … believed in doing the job right the first time. He had a saying: ‘Be the labor big or small, do it well or not at all.’
But the ‘not at all’ part was never really an option with my dad, anyway….”
Mike’s son Nolan also offered some heartfelt comments as well; he has also pursued a very successful career in aviation, and has a very bright future ahead. We are working to obtain pictures of him offering those wonderful remarks.
Captain Elrod’s other son John, about to unveil the monument.
John still lives in Indiana, and has a private pilot’s license.
He was instrumental in designing and working with the craftsmen to create the monument.
Nolan and John worked together very carefully on the wording.
Pictured with John is his sister Diane (daughter of Captain Elrod). Continuing the tradition of aviation in the Elrod family, Diane worked as a flight attendant for Purdue Airlines prior to completing her education at Purdue University.
This monument serves
as a memorial to those who have
passed in the sky above and in the
At 3 29pm on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 1969
Allegheny flight 853, a DC-9, collided
midair with a Piper Cherokee.
The resulting crash killed all 83
passengers, crew and pilots involved.
Out of this tragedy rose a new era
of aviation safety and technology.
May the lives that are gone never
Family members being photographed with the monument. For some, this was their first visit ever to the crash site.
From the Governor (who was on a previously-scheduled trip to Asia on the day of the service):
“Greetings. I regret that I am unable to join you today for the memorial service to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the crash of Allegheny Airlines flight 853. My prayers are with all of you on this day.
“On Sept 9, 1969, eighty-three of our brothers and sisters departed this Earth to rest in peace for eternity. This tragedy has left an indelible mark on our community, along with the families and friends of the souls taken on that day. The harrowing event still stays with us to this day, and we must always remember the men and women who were taken from us too soon. The loved ones lost will remain forever in our hearts, and we dedicate this memorial to join those at Forest Hill Cemetery. While this memorial can be a painful reminder of that day, it is a part of our history – and we now honor these men and women.
“May God bless those 83 souls, and may their memory remain with us forever.”
The Honorable Eric J. Holcomb,
Governor of the State of Indiana