4.5 miles West Of Amherst, ME – April 22, 1948
At 1:55 p.m. on April 22, 1948, a USAF P-84B Thunderjet, (#45-59580), piloted by 1st Lt. Herbert F. Hawes, Jr., 27, departed from Dow Air Force Base for what was to be a local transition flight. At some point during the high altitude flight, Lt. Hawes was blown off course. The reason, according to the Air Force investigation report, may have been due to strong high-altitude winds, for the report stated in part: “Winds aloft for the general area, at altitudes the mission was flown, were reported as being from a westerly direction and varying from 39 to 62 miles per hour.”
At approximately 2:45 p.m., Lt. Hawes contacted Dow tower and requested a homer bearing. He was advised to switch to “F” channel for further instructions.
At 3:00 p.m., he was given a heading of 273 degrees. Eight minutes later he asked the tower for a recheck as he was still uncertain of his position, and advised he was beginning to run low on fuel. Successive headings were given at three to five minute intervals.
At 3:20 p.m., Lt. Hawes reported his altitude to be 26,000 feet with 60 gallons of fuel remaining, and asked Dow tower how far he was from the base. Dow tower replied that by their estimate he was fifty miles out.
At 3:36 p.m. Lt. Hawes advised that he was still unable to orient himself to his location. At that time he was given a course correction to 276 degrees.
Ten minutes later Lt. Hawes had descended to 16,000 feet and found himself over Deblois airstrip in Deblois, Maine, with 25 gallons of fuel remaining. At about that time Hawes was in contact with a captain who was piloting another P-84 in the vicinity. Hawes asked him for advice, and the captain advised to “throttle back to idling fuel pressure and establish a glide of 170 mph.”
Lt. Hawes also contacted Dow tower and asked for instructions, and was advised to attempt to make it back to Dow AFB, which is about 40 miles distant from Deblois.
Another captain piloting a P-84 in the area contacted Hawes and advised him to attempt to land at Deblois, but Lt. Hawes elected to head for Dow AFB instead.
At 3:58 p.m., while still about 19 miles east of Dow AFB, Lt. Hawes reported he was now out of fuel and was going down. Instead of bailing out, he elected to remain with the aircraft and aimed towards a small open field amidst hilly and wooded terrain. With no engine with which to guide the aircraft, he crashed about one mile short of the field and was killed.
The crash was witnessed by the P-84 pilot who had advised Lt. Hawes to attempt an emergency landing at Deblois airstrip.
The “P” in the P-84 aircraft designation stood for “pursuit”. The designation was later changed to “F” as in F-84, which stands for “fighter”. The P-84 and the F-84, were essentially the same aircraft.
At the time of this accident Lt. Hawes was assigned to the 14th Fighter Group, 49th Fighter Squadron, then based at Dow AFB in Bangor, Maine. This was the first fatal accident for the 49th FS since its activation on December 21, 1946.
Lt. Hawes is buried at the U.S. Military Academy Cemetery at West Point.
Report Of Special Investigation Of Aircraft Accident Involving P-84B, No. 45-59580.
The Hangman’s News, (The Official Publication Of The 49th Fighter Squadron Association), “From Props To Jets Part 4 – 1 Apr. 1948 To 30 June 1948”, by Paul Scoskie, September 2008, Vol. 6, Issue 3.
www.findagrave.com, memorial #41509101.