Burlington, Vermont – May 18, 1949
On May 18, 1949, a flight of twelve F-47 National Guard aircraft was scheduled to depart Burlington Airport for a formation training flight. The formation was to be led by Major Carroll A. Prybylo, 28, piloting F-47 (#45-49545).
The F-47 was the new designation assigned to the P-47 Thunderbolt used by the Army Air Force during WWII. By 1949 they had been relegated to National Guard status.
After pre-flight preparations, the flight was cleared for takeoff on runway 15, with Major Prybylo going first. According to witnesses, it appeared that the major’s aircraft wasn’t traveling as fast as it should, and didn’t become airborne until it had used up 4,000 feet of runway. Even then, the aircraft appeared to have trouble climbing, and only reached an altitude of about 24 feet. It continued on for 608 feet from the end of the runway where the left wing and left horizontal stabilizer struck some trees 15 feet from the tops. The wing and stabilizer were torn away and the plane crashed and exploded.
The plane crashed in an area of rough terrain which made it difficult for rescue and fire personnel to reach the scene. Due to the total destruction of the aircraft and subsequent fire, investigators were unable to determine a definite cause of the accident.
Major Prybylo was born in Walpole, New Hampshire, on December 17, 1921, and entered the service in March of 1942. After receiving his pilot’s wings on January 4, 1943, he was sent to the European Theatre and flew numerous combat missions during WWII, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with numerous clusters, and other awards. He was survived by his wife and daughter, and is buried in St. Mary’s cemetery in Springfield, Vermont.
Air Force Crash Investigation Report, #49-5-18-5
Burlington Free Press, “Major Carroll A. Prybylo Of Essex Jctn., Perishes In Wreck Of F-47 Thunderbolt Which Crashes Near Burlington Airport”, May 19, 1949
(Unnamed newspaper) “Probe Of Fatal Plane Crack-up Now Under Way”, May 20, 1949
www.findagrave.com, Memorial #151212590