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Latrobe pilot trained notable personality, golf legend Arnold Palmer

| Friday, May 29, 2009

Babe Krinock was a well-known pilot who flew many of the Latrobe area's business executives and sports figures to meetings and conferences along the East Coast.

As a flight instructor at the former Westmoreland County Airport -- now the Arnold Palmer Regional Airport -- Mr. Krinock trained legions of students, including notable personalities such as golf legend Palmer.

Elias R. "Babe" Krinock of Latrobe, a retired employee of Kennametal Corp., died on Wednesday, May 27, 2009, at Excela Health Latrobe Hospital. He was 85.

In a September 1999 interview with the Tribune-Review, Mr. Krinock explained how he taught Palmer to fly in 1955 in a single-engine Cessna 172.

"After the first four hours, he (Palmer) was saying, 'I can fly this thing by myself.' So after about six hours, I let him," said Mr. Krinock. "These days, Palmer flies a $15 million Citation X jet, which he purchased in 1957."

Born and raised in Snydertown, Mr. Krinock was one of 10 children in the family of miner Joseph Krinock and his wife, Anna Roscoe Krinock.

When he was young, Mr. Krinock often went into the mines with his father and realized the need to get a good education.

In 1945, following his discharge from the Marines, Mr. Krinock, with the help of the GI Bill, attended a flight school in Florida to receive his pilot's license.

"My father never forgot the bitter and bloody battles that the Marines fought in the Pacific," said his daughter, Cynthia Taylor of Noblesville, Ind. "He often prayed that my brother, Bob, would never have to face combat in any war. And he got his wish."

In 1952, Mr. Krinock married Irene Karaffa, a resident of the Johnstown area.

"Although Mom went up (in a plane) several times with Dad, she was frightened," Taylor said.

"As kids, Bob and I remember how Dad would buzz our house when he returned from a trip, and my mother would go out to the airport to pick him up. Mom bought a scanner and was able to monitor his flights."

Taylor said she and her brother "never knew where Dad took his passengers. On one occasion, Dad came home one evening with fresh lobsters that he got in Boston."

Mr. Krinock had the reputation of being a laid-back pilot who never became ruffled, his daughter said, and "Dad was also known for taking difficult questions from his students and giving a good explanation."

In addition to his daughter, Mr. Krinock is survived by a son, Robert J. Krinock of Houston, Texas, and three grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his wife, Irene A. Karaffa Krinock, in 2000; eight brothers, John, Michael, George, Joseph, Peter, Paul, Andrew and Stephen Krinock; and a sister, Mary Antus.

Visitation will be from 3 to 5 and 7 to 9 p.m. today in the John J. Lopatich Funeral Home Inc., 601 Weldon St., Latrobe, where a Parastas service will be held at 8 p.m. A Panachida service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Saturday in the funeral home, followed by a Divine Liturgy at 11 a.m. in St. Mary's Byzantine Church, Bradenville.

The Armbrust American Legion will conduct full military services at graveside in St. Mary's Byzantine Church Cemetery.

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