‘Miracle’ jet crashed at Beavercreek High School 54 years ago today

“Anyone who doesn’t believe in God after today must be out of their minds,” then basketball coach Norman Ashworth

Fifty four years ago today, a 10-ton Wright-Patterson Air Force base RB-57 jet’s crash to the ground caused a window to be blown out of Beavercreek High School.

"There was a loud boom. It hit, bounced and rolled over. I saw the boys (who were in the back of the room) go down. I don't remember whether they were blown down. Glass blew across the room," then 22-year-old English teacher Nancy Lee Blazis told Journal Herald reporter Hugh McDiarmid. "Then I said 'get down. It's going to explode…!' It didn't. We were very lucky. Then I said 'let's get up and get out of here…' We did, out into the hall, and lined the kids up against the wall. I said a prayer."

None of the school’s staff or 2,000 students were injured Jan. 3, 1964 when the plane narrowly missed the school.

The pilot, Capt. Gerald E Lyvere, then 45, suffered a neck injury, but parachuted to safety.

The plane broke up in the air and its wings, engines and several other parts were scattered over a 15-mile radius.

Parts of the jet’s wing assembly were found in a snow-covered cornfield on the J. M. Woff farm in Xenia, the Journal Herald reported.

The plane’s fuselage and tail landed in the school’s parking lot.

School principal Roger Sweet said it was a miracle no one was hurt. Only that one window was shattered. There was no other damage.

Most of the school’s students and staffers were offering prayers of thanks, according to a article by then Journal Herald Staff Writer Jessie Nicodemus.

“Anyone who doesn’t believe in God after today must be out of their minds,” then head basketball coach Norman Ashworth told Nicodemus.

Capt. Lyvere continued to fly, but tragedy struck.

He, his wife Joyce, 5-year-old daughter Dorothy, 6-year-old son Floyd, and mother-in-law Mrs. O.W. Anderson were killed in a plane crash June 10, 1966, according to accounts from several other newspapers.

The Dayton area family was headed to the Bahamas for a vacation when the plane apparently flew into some turbulence and crashed about 15 miles southwest of St. Augustine, Fla.

Do you remember the crash or stories about it? 

Contact this blog at arobinson@DaytonDailyNews.com or Twitter.com/DDNSmartMouth

About the Author