Boston Harbor – March 17, 1930
On March 17, 1930, three U.S. Army PT-1 trainer aircraft were getting ready to take off from Boston Airport for a formation training flight. As the planes were warming up, a sudden snow squall passed over the area lasting about fifteen minutes and leaving behind about 3/8 of an inch of snow.
The light snow covered the wings of the aircraft, but ground crews didn’t bother to brush it off as it was assumed it would blow off on its own once the planes began their take off runs. However, a bit of sleet had fallen at the beginning of the squall and had formed as ice on the wings before being covered by the snow, thus adding additional weight to the aircraft and changing the wing aerodynamics. The pilots were unaware of this, and each began to take off towards Boston Harbor.
The first two planes slowly made it into the air, but the third, (Ser. No. 27-147), piloted by Captain Clarence J. A’Hearn, had difficulty gaining altitude once it left the ground and gradually settled lower until it went down in the water about 2,000 feet off the end of the runway.
Captain A’Hearn and his observer, Private Buell E. Warner, were rescued from the cold water without injury.
Investigators blamed ice build-up on the wings as the cause of the accident.
Source: Army Air Corps Aircraft Accident Report dated March 17, 1930