Winsted, CT. – April 17, 1908

Winsted, Connecticut – April 17, 1908

     In early April of 1908, aeronaut Paul Roy of Hartford, Connecticut, and Merritt B. Heady of Winsted, purchased a balloon with the hopes of securing bookings at regional fairs over the upcoming summer doing balloon ascensions and parachute drops. 

     On April 17, 1908, the men were inflating the balloon for its inaugural flight about two miles from Winsted Center when it suddenly caught fire.  The flames were quickly extinguished but repairs would be necessary before they could attempt another flight.  Paul Roy, who was strapped to his parachute while waiting to take off was not injured.  Nor was Mr. Heady.


     Hartford Courant, “Paul Roy To Buy Hot Air Balloon”, April 11, 1908

     Hartford Courant, “Young Roy’s New Balloon – Caught Fire Before Initial Ascension Could Be Made”, April 18, 1908

New Haven, CT. – September 15, 1893

New Haven, Connecticut – September 15, 1893


     On the afternoon of September 15, 1893, aeronaut “Prince Leo”, age 16, was scheduled to perform a balloon ascension and parachute drop at Savin Rock in New Haven.  An estimated crowd of 1,000 people had gathered to watch the event.  After the balloon had risen about 300 feet it suddenly developed a tear allowing the gas to escape.  The balloon, with Prince Leo still aboard, rapidly fell and crashed into the top of a tree.  The impact tossed Leo from the car and he hit a live electrical wire used by trolleys.  When help arrived he was badly cut and in shock from the jolt, but he later recovered.    

     “Prince Leos” real name was Albert Leo Stevens, (1877 – 1944) who went on to become a world famous aeronaut.   Stevens began performing under the stage name, “Prince Leo, the boy aeronaut”, when he was just 13.  


     Weekly Expositor, (Michigan), “A Cheap Excursion To Saginaw”, (A fair advertisement), May 9, 1890

     Hartford Courant, (Conn.), “Am Aeronaut’s Fall – Prince Leo Nearly Loses His Life At Savin Rock”, September 16, 1893  


Stamford, CT. – May 31, 1922

Stamford, Connecticut – May 31, 1922

Stamford Harbor


     On May 31, 1922, William Purcell of New York City was piloting his airplane along the Connecticut shore line with a passenger who was taking aerial photographs when the engine began running erratically.  Purcell safely brought the plane down near the property of W. W. Skiddy in Stamford, and after making repairs took off again.  As the plane was ascending the engine suddenly lost power, and the aircraft dove into Stamford Harbor and embedded itself in the mud.  Purcell and his passenger escaped uninjured and swam to shore.   

     The type of airplane was not stated. 


     Hartford Courant, (Conn.) “Airplane Falls In Stamford Harbor”, June 1, 1922

New Haven Harbor, CT. – June 21, 1919

New Haven Harbor, Connecticut – June 21, 1919 

     On June 21, 1919, Thomas R. Haggerty, of West Haven, Connecticut, was flying over the New Haven area with an unidentified passenger  when his airplane went down in New Haven Harbor.  (The cause was not stated.)

     Two men in a passing sailboat witnessed the crash and turned their boat toward the spot where the plane went down.  Both jumped into the water and dove to the bottom where Haggerty and his passenger remained trapped in their seats, being held in place by the safety straps.  After cutting the straps, the men brought the airmen to the surface.  Haggerty reportedly had to be resuscitated. 


     Hartford Courant, “Narrow Escape For New Haven Flyer”, June 22, 1919 




Rockville, CT. – September 19, 1911

Rockville, Connecticut – September 19, 1911

Rockville is a village within the town of Vernon, Connecticut.

     On September 19, 1911, a balloon ascension and double parachute drop was scheduled to take place at the Rockville Fair in the Rockville section of Vernon.  The two parachutists were identified as “Eddie” Berlinger of Woonsocket, Rhode island, and Professor Marsh, address unknown.  Each was to use more than one parachute in their jump, cutting away from one before deploying another.  

     When the time came, the balloon began to ascend with both men aboard, but after rising to an altitude of several hundred feet it began to descend because it wasn’t buoyant enough to support the weight of both men.   As the balloon began to fall, Berlinger made his jump.  His first parachute opened successfully, but after cutting away from it, his second chute didn’t have enough time to open sufficiently due to his being too near to the ground.  Berlinger struck the ground and was transported unconscious to a hospital in Hartford, and it was reported that doctors held “slight hope” of his recovery. 

     Meanwhile, after being relieved of Berlinger’s weight, the balloon once again began ascending with Marsh still aboard.  When he thought it had risen to a safe altitude, Marsh made his jump with the intent of using three parachutes.  However, when he opened the third he was almost too low to the ground, but his chute deployed enough to slow him down just enough so that when he hit the field he didn’t receive any life threatening injuries.

     Ironically, Berlinger wasn’t scheduled to make the ascension with Marsh, for the professor usually did his parachute jumps with his son.  However, on this day, Marsh’s son was unable to attend so Berlinger was asked to take his place.          


     Hartford Courant, (Conn.), “Ballonist Falls At Rockville Fair – Substitute Aeronaut Fatally Hurt When Parachute Fails To Open”, September 20, 1911 

New Britain, CT. – August 18, 1896

New Britain, Connecticut – August 18, 1896


     On the afternoon of August 18, 1896, aeronaut Dan Barnell was scheduled to make a balloon ascension and parachute jump at White Oak Park in New Britain.   As the balloon began to rise, flames suddenly became visible, and began to consume the balloon.  When the balloon reached an altitude of about 100 feet it stopped rising and began to rapidly fall back to earth.  Barnell jumped clear when the balloon was just a few feet from the ground, and his fall was broken by his brother-in-law, Charles Griswold, who managed to grab hold of him as he fell.   Neither Barnell or Griswold were injured but the balloon was damaged beyond repair.  The cause of the fire was not stated.

     The incident was also witnessed by Barnell’s wife.


     Hartford Courant, (Conn.), “New Britain Affairs – Dan Barnell Drops 100 Feet With His Balloon”, August 19, 1896

Winchester, CT. – September 18, 1921

Winchester, Connecticut – September 18, 1921

     Highland Lake is located in the town of Winchester, Connecticut.  During the summer of 1921, a pilot identified as “Gus” Parsons had been at Highland Lake offering sight-seeing flights.  On the evening of September 18, 1921, he took off with Mrs. George S. Green of Hartford, but darkness settled in faster than expected, and Parsons was unable to locate his landing field in the fading light.  He brought the plane down in a peach orchard on a hill overlooking the lake but nosed-over and broke the propeller and stove the nose into the ground.  There were no injuries.   


     Hartford Courant, (Conn.), “Hartford Woman’s Narrow Escape In Airplane Mishap”, September 19, 1921

Plainville, CT. – March 8, 1919

Plainville, Connecticut – March 8, 1919

     On March 8, 1919, aviator Hugh Rockwell, and John H. Trumbull, left New York in Rockwell’s two-passenger aircraft after attending an airplane show.  Within thirty minutes (Traveling at 100 mph), the pair was 8,000 feet over Plainville where Trumbull lived.  There Rockwell performed a series of stunts before landing.  Rockwell had hoped to land on Trumbull’s property, but as he was about to touch down, a gust of wind forced the tail to drop and hit the ground, then bounce up, and send the front of the plane plowing into the ground approximately 50 feet from Trumbull’s house. 

     The aircraft was wrecked. Both men were shaken up, but neither was seriously hurt. 

     This was reported buy the Hartford Courant newspaper to be the first airplane crash to occur in Plainville.  (Another would occur on June 23, 1919.) 

     This was Trumbull’s second flight in an airplane, and the accident didn’t deter him from future flights.  In fact, John Trumbull later became governor of the State of Connecticut, and at the age of 53 obtained his pilot’s license, the first governor in the country to do so.   He became known as the “Flying Governor”.     


     Hartford Courant, “Airplane Wrecked In Plainville Fall”, March 9, 1919




Salisbury, CT. – September 1, 1913

Salisbury, Connecticut – September 1, 1913


     On September 1, 1913, aeronaut Jack Crosby, 35, was giving a balloon exhibition at a fair in Salisbury, Connecticut.  Part of his act involved him to hang by his teeth while suspended from his balloon.   As he was performing about 75 feet in the air before a crowd of about 4,000 people, his balloon suddenly began to collapse, and as it fell it struck a telephone pole.  The impact knocked Crosby loose and he fell to the ground and received critical injuries.  The half inflated balloon then came down upon several spectators injuring some of them. 

     Crosby was transported to the hospital in Winsted. 


     Hartford Courant, (Conn.), “Balloonist Falls At Salisbury Fair”, September 2, 1912


Wethersfield, CT. – May 19, 1911

Wethersfield, Connecticut – May 19, 1911

     On May 19, 1911, Peter Dione, described as “a youthful aviator”,  attempted to fly his airplane between Wethersfield and Franklin Avenues near the Wethersfield-Hartford city line.  After rising to an altitude of forty feet the aircraft suddenly nosed over and fell to earth.  Just before impact, Dione leaped clear and landed in some tall grass which cushioned his fall and saved his life.  His injuries were minor. The aircraft smashed into the ground and was wrecked, but it was thought that the motor might be salvaged.

     Dione, who was from New Britain, Connecticut, had reportedly been working on the airplane for several weeks, keeping it at the former Goodrich Paper Factory on Franklin Avenue.  It was further reported that he also had two other aircraft stored there. 

     The day before his accident, he’d flown the same airplane, but was only able to attain an altitude of ten feet before landing safely.   


    Hartford Courant, “Youthful Aviator Falls Forty Feet”, May 20, 1911 

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