Mt. Greylock, MA – April 2, 1958

Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts – April 2, 1958

Observation Tower on Mt. Greylock.

     On April 2, 1958, a U.S. Navy twin-engine Beech SNB-5 left Grosse Ile Naval Air Station in Michigan bound for South Weymouth Naval Air Station in Massachusetts, on a scheduled navigational training flight.   The plane carried a crew of two: the pilot, Commander Robert D. Vandenberg, 38, of Trenton, Michigan, and the co-pilot, Lieutenant Eugene B. Ganley, 24, of Grosse Ile.

     At about 1:30 p.m. the aircraft was in the vicinity of Albany, New York, where Commander Vandenberg communicated with the tower at Albany Airport.  The weather was snowy, with low clouds and poor visibility.  Just minutes after Vandenberg’s last transmission the Beech plowed into the cloud covered peak of Mt. Greylock.  The impact occurred on the southwest ridge just 50 feet below the 3,491 foot summit.     

     Lt. Ganley initially survived the crash, but succumbed to his injuries about an hour later.  Commander Vandenberg was seriously injured, and had to wait twenty-one hours in the frigid temperatures before help arrived. 

     A search and rescue helicopter circled twice overhead, but failed to see the wreckage due to the weather.  On the third pass the clouds lifted and the downed aircraft was seen.  Medical corpsmen T/Sgt. Charles Kansaku, and S/Sgt. Eugene Slabinski, were lowered from the hovering copter to treat Commander Vandenberg’s injuries.  Vandenberg was then airlifted off the mountain and brought to North Adams Hospital.   Kansaku and Slabinski were ordered to remain behind at the crash site until navy personnel arrived to take over.    

     Heavy snowfall hindered recovery and salvage operations.

     This is the only military aircraft accident known to have occurred on Mt. Greylock.   

     There are have been at least two civilian airplanes that have crashed on the mountain. One on August 12, 1948, and the other on September 17, 1988.  Both resulted in fatalities. 


     North Adams Transcript, (Ma.), “Injured Pilot Improving; Body Of Second held Here”, April 4, 1958  

     Naval Air Station Grosse Ile Virtual Museum – Crash On Mt. Greylock Page – NASGI SNB Crash on Mount Greylock

     Boston Globe, “Pilot Found Alive, 2 Presumed Dead After Plane Crash On Mt. Greylock”, September 19, 1988

     The Recorder – Greenfield, Mass.,, “Recorder Columnist Hikes Mount Greylock To Plane Wreckage”, by Chip Ainsworth, June 3, 2016  

Quabbin Reservoir Land – April 3, 1955

Quabbin Reservoir Land – April 3, 1955

Town of Petersham, Massachusetts

F-94 Starfire
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On April 3, 1955, 1st lt. Dewey B. Durrett, 25, of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, took off from Barnes ANG base in Westfield, Massachusetts, for a navigational training flight.  He was piloting an F-94A Starfire jet, (#49-2552), assigned to the 131st Fighter Interceptor Squadron based at Barnes.  The weather was poor, requiring IFR (Instrument Flight Rules). 

     Lt. Durrett left Barnes at 12:02 p.m.  By 1:25 p.m. he was on his way back to Barnes when he was instructed to land at Westover Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, because it was snowing at Barnes.  Lt. Durrett acknowledged, but not long afterwards radar contact with his aircraft was lost due to weather conditions.  

     The tower at Westover tried to reestablish contact through standard means and was unsuccessful.  At about 2:15 p.m., being unsure of his position, and the fact that the aircraft was now very low on fuel, Lt. Durret was advised to bail out.   

     When his chute deployed and he came out of the clouds, Lt. Durret saw that he was over the Quabbin Reservoir.  The F-94 crashed in a wooded area on reservoir land within the town limits of Petersham.     

     Lt. Durrett landed safely in a thickly wooded area. After accessing his situation, he carried his parachute to an open area where he spread it on the ground so it would be visible from the air.  He then placed a rescue dingy on top of it to hold it in place, and began to hike his way out of the woods.    

     Lt. Durrett had a successful military career, and eventually retired from military service a Lieutenant Colonel.   (To read a biography of Lt. Col. Durrett, see, Memorial #72272325.)   

     Source: U.S. Air Force crash investigation report, #55-4-3-3

     The crash site of the F-94 can still be seen today.  It is against federal and state law to remove any portions of the wreckage from the crash site.        

Click on images to enlarge.   

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir
The marks on the stick are 12 inches apart on center.

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir.
The marks on the stick are 12 inches on center for scale.

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

A portion of the F-94 Starfire that Crashed at the Quabbin Reservoir in 1955.

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site, Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site, Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site, Quabbin Reservoir.

F-94 Crash Site, Quabbin Reservoir



Boston Harbor – December 19, 1928

Boston Harbor – December 19, 1928 

     On December 19, 1928, a U.S. Army O2C biplane, (#627) took off from Boston Airport for a training flight.  At some point the aircraft nose-dived into the harbor from an altitude of 500 feet – the cause was not stated.  Fortunately it stayed afloat long enough for both men aboard to be rescued. 

     The pilot was Joseph A. Wilson.  The identity of the second crewman is unknown.


     The Milwaukee Sentinel, “Army Plane Dives 500 Feet Into Boston Bay”, December 26, 1928  

     Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, R.I.


Boston Harbor – May 30, 1936

Boston Harbor – May 30, 1936

     On May 30, 1936, two army mechanics at Boston Airport took a military airplane for a flight over the harbor.  While stunt-flying in the plane, they crashed in Boston Harbor after coming out of a loop.   

     The men were identified as:

     Pvt. 1st Class  Robert W. Fancher, 24, of Red Bank, New Jersey.  (He has been miss-identified in some news accounts as Robert Tancker.)  He’s buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in West Long Branch, New Jersey. (See, Memorial #29817757.)

     Pvt. William E. Hallowah, (Some sources spell it Hallawah), 24, of Charlottesville, Virginia.     

     It was not stated which man was piloting the airplane, nor was the type of aircraft specified.  When it hit the water several nearby pleasure boats raced to assist, and managed to rescue Pvt. Hallowah who was brought ashore in critical condition.  (Later reports stated he was expected to recover.) Pvt. 1/C Francher went to he bottom with the plane, and both were recovered the following day.  


     St. Petersburg Times, (Fla.) “Plane Crashes In Boston; One Dead, one Hurt.”, May 31, 1936

     Lewiston Daily Sun, (Maine) “Submerged Plane Wreck Found In Boston Harbor”, June 1, 1936


Quincy, MA – February 16, 1948

Quincy, Massachusetts – February 16, 1948


F4U Corsair National Archives Photo

F4U Corsair
National Archives Photo

     On February 16, 1948, Lt (Jg.) Richard Stephansky took off from Squantum Naval Air Station in a F4U Corsair for a training flight.  Shortly after take off, while at an altitude of 500 feet, the aircraft suffered engine failure.  Lt. Stephansky was forced to make an emergency crash landing in a marshy area along the banks of the Neponset River about four miles from the air station.  He was not injured. 


     Lewiston Evening Journal, “Navy Pilot Escapes Injury As Plane Crashes In Swamp”, February 16, 1948        

Quincy, MA – July 7, 1947

Quincy, Massachusetts – July 7, 1947 


SB2C Helldiver U.S. Navy Photo

SB2C Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

     On July 7, 1947, a U. S. Navy, SB2C Helldiver, took off from Squantum Naval Air Station with two men aboard for a routine training flight.  There was the pilot, Ensign George E. Curley, 26, and Storekeeper 3/C Hugh F. Ahern, 20, both of Boston.    

     Shortly after take off the aircraft suffered a sudden engine failure and crashed into three homes on Faxon Road in the Wollaston neighborhood of Quincy.  The plane tore the chimney off the first home, then struck the roof of the second, before crashing into a third where it burst into flames and destroyed the home.      

     Ensign Curley was killed, but Ahern was thrown clear, and although he suffered serious injuries, he survived.

     The 60-year-old homeowner of the third house suffered burns while escaping.  The only other reported injury was to a fireman who suffered smoke inhalation while battling the blaze.  Both recovered.      


     Lewiston Daily Sun, “Plane Crashes Quincy House; Pilot Killed”, July 7, 1947 

     New York Times, “Navy Plane Dives Into Three Houses”, July 7, 1947

     The Spokesman-Review, (Spokane, Wash.) “Navy Plane Hits House; 1 Killed”, July 7, 1947

Hamilton, MA – September 10, 1960

Hamilton, Massachusetts – September 10, 1960

     On Saturday, September 10, 1960, two U.S. servicemen were killed when their aircraft, described in the press as a “light plane”, crashed on the race track of the Flying Horse Farm located in South Hamilton, Massachusetts.  

     The men were identified as:

     1st Lt. Peter A. Alldred Jr., 28, assigned to Pease Air Force Base, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

     1st Lt. Donald E. Griffith, 24, assigned to Homestead Air Force Base in Florida.  Lt. Griffith was survived by his wife.  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


     Nashua Telegraph, “2 Pease Airmen Killed In Crash”, September 12, 1960, Memorial #49193788.

Hanscom Air Force Base – August 8, 1962

Hanscom Air Force Base – August 8, 1962

Bedford, Massachusetts

     On August 8, 1962, a U.S. Air Force KC-135A Strato-Tanker, (Ser. no. 55-3144), crashed and exploded while landing at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, Massachusetts.  All three crewmen aboard were killed. 

     They were identified as:

     (Pilot) Captain Clarence E. Kerr, 38, of Beach Grove, Indiana.  He’s buried in Union Chapel Cemetery in St. Paul, Minn.  

     (C0-Pilot) Captain William D. Leng, 30, of Mt. Vernon, New York.  He died two days after his birthday.  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

     Airman 1st Class Norman E. Ford, age unknown, of Dayton, Ohio. 

     The aircraft was coming from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.


     Nashua Telegraph, “Hanscom Aircraft Crash Kills 3; Probe Started”, August 9, 1962, Memorial #54366385, and 49246665. 

     Aviation Safety Network

Boston/Mattapan – November 1, 1944

Boston/Mattapan – November 1, 1944


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat U.S. Navy photo

U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     The following incident involves self-sacrifice and dedication to duty.  The unknown pilot truly deserves to be called, “an officer and a gentleman”.

     On the evening of November 1, 1944, a navy Hellcat pilot out of Squantum Naval Air Station was on a training flight over Boston when his airplane developed engine trouble.  After alerting Squantum of the situation, he radioed, “I don’t want to bail out, some civilian might be hurt if the plane crashed.  I’m going to try to pancake it in a pond down below.”   With that he dumped the plane’s ammo and set the sputtering Hellcat on a glide.  Ahead he saw the Neponset River in the Mattapan section of Boston and aimed for it.  As he neared the ground he skimmed over several roof tops before catching a wing in some trees and crashed in a marshy section along the river where the plane burst into flames.  The pilot did not survive.  

     Unfortunately, although the navy gave credit to the pilot, his name was not released, presumably pending notification of kin.    


     The Milwaukee Journal, (United Press) “Stays With Plane To Spare Civilians, Navy Flier Killed”, November 2, 1944.

Off Cape Cod – July 19, 1944

Off Cape Cod – July 19, 1944


U.S. Navy TBM Avengers  National Archives Photo

U.S. Navy TBM Avengers
National Archives Photo

     At about 10:45 p.m., on the night of July 19, 1944, an unspecified number of navy airplanes were conducting night training maneuvers off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, when two aircraft, both TBM-1C Avengers, were involved in a mid-air collision. 

     One plane, (Bu. No. 45716), was able to make it back safely to Otis Air Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts; the other, (Bu. No. 45706), plunged into the sea and both men aboard were lost and never recovered.  They were identified as:

     (Pilot) Ensign Leo Henry Reimers, 22, of Yamhill, Oregon.  There is a memorial to Ensign Reimers in Willamette National Cemetery, in Portland, Oregon.  To see a photo, and learn more information about Ensign Reimers, see, Memorial, # 36351469.)  

     Aviation Radioman 3/c Herbert W. Burke, of Milton, Oregon. 


     The Register-Guard, (Eugene, Ore.), “Two Oregon Fliers Lost Off Cape Cod.”

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