Brunswick Naval Air Station – April 14, 1952

Brunswick Naval Air Station – April 14, 1952

Brunswick, Maine


P2V Neptune U.S. Air Force Photo

P2V Neptune
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On April 14, 1952, a U.S. Navy, twin-engine, P2V Neptune, (Bu. No. 124255), took off from Brunswick Naval Air Station with a crew of ten men aboard.  Shortly after take off one engine failed, and the pilot made an attempt to return to the base.  Heavy fog shrouded the area, and the aircraft missed its first approach and circled around for a second try.  As the pilot was making his second approach the other engine began running erratically and the Neptune crashed into some trees near the end of the runway.   Five men in the tail section were killed when it ripped away during the crash.  The seriously injured co-pilot was trapped in his seat as the plane caught fire, and was rescued by the pilot, who received burns to his arms and face.  Three others escaped. 

     The dead were identified as:

     AO1 Walter N. Polen, Jr., 26, of Alden, New York.  He’s buried in Lancaster Rural Cemetery in Lancaster, Penn.  (See, Memorial #20695271.)

     ALC Sherman L. Moore, Jr., 36, of Oakland, California.  He’s buried in Santa Rose Odd Fellows Cemetery in Santa Rosa, California.  (See, Memorial #75725570.)

     AL3 Oscar Krampf, 25, of New York.  He’s buried in Greenwich Cemetery in Greenwich, New York.  He died 12 days shy of his 26th birthday.  (See, Memorial #50634823.)

     AOAN George W. Thompson, Jr., 26, of Stevenson, Alabama.  He’s buried in Price Cemetery in Hollywood, Alabama. (See, Memorial #24417218.)

     AO3 Robert L. Schafer of Berlin Center, Ohio.  (No further info.)

     The co-pilot, Lt. Jg. Frederick C. Sachse, Jr., 39, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, died of his injuries eleven days later on April 25, 1952.  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery. (See, Memorial#91460650.)        

     Those who survived were identified as:

     (Pilot) Lt. Jg. Thomas N. Pole of Hackettstown, New Jersey.

     (Navigator) Lt. Jg. Edward G. Buck of Miskogee, Oklahoma.

     ADC Raymond R. Fussell of Auburn, Maine, and Pineapple, Alabama.

     AT3 Jacob G. Karl of New Brunswick, New Jersey.  

     The Brunswick Naval Air Station was in operation from 1943 to 1946, and from 1951 to 2010.


     New York Times, “5 In Navy Plane Die In Crash In Maine”, April 15, 1952

     (Utah) The Deseret News, “Navy Pilot Hero Of Plane Crash At Maine Base”, April 15, 1952

     VPNAVY – VP-11 Mishaps Summary Page,

     Wikipedia – Brunswick Naval Air Station

Kench Mountain, ME – April 11, 1961

Kench Mountain, Maine – April 11, 1961

 Dedham, Maine    

McDonnell F-101 Voodoo Fighters U.S. Air Force Photo

McDonnell F-101 Voodoo Fighters
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On April 10, 1961, two F-101B Voodoo fighter jets took off from Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, Maine, on an intercept mission to identify an unknown aircraft which had appeared on radar.  After completing the intercept, both aircraft set a course back to Dow.  By this time it was after midnight, and the jets flew in a driving rain with zero visibility.  At about 1:00 a.m., one of the F-101’s, (#57-0401), crashed into the top of Kench Mountain, a hill just south of Bald Mountain, in the town of Dedham.  Both the pilot and radar observer were killed. 

     The crew was identified as:

     (Pilot) Captain Vernal W. Johnson, 27, of Bangor, Maine.  He was survived by his wife Deanna and two sons.  He’s buried in Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, California.

     (Radar Observer) 1st Lt. Edward C. Masaitis, Jr., 27, of Brewer, Maine.  He was survived by his wife Barbra Ann, and his son and daughter.   He’s buried in St. Teresa Cemetery in Summit, New Jersey.  

     Both men were assigned to the 75th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Dow AFB.


     Bangor Daily News, “Air Force Jet Smacked Into A Dedham Hill On A Dark And Rainy Night”, January 1, 1997, memorial numbers 115784815, and 130206171

     Maine Aviation Historical Society, Dirigo Flyer, “Kench Mountain F-101B Crash Hike”, Vol. IV, No. 7, July, 1996. 


Dow Air Force Base – September 20, 1955

Dow Air Force Base – September 20, 1955

Bangor, Maine 

     On September 20, 1955, a U.S. Air Force KD-97 tanker-refueling aircraft crash landed and burst into flames at Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, Maine.  Five of the twelve crewmen aboard were injured, but none critically.  All escaped the burning aircraft, the smoke from which was seen for miles.  Two base firemen were also injured fighting the blaze, but not seriously.    

     The aircraft was assigned to the 341st Air refueling Squadron, part of the 4060th Air Refueling Wing stationed at Dow. 

     Source: Lewiston Daily Sun, “Aerial Tanker Crashes, burns At Dow Base”, September 21, 1955.  

Dow Air Force Base – September 9, 1960

Dow Air Force Base – September 9, 1960

Bangor, Maine 

     On Friday, September 9, 1960, six  U.S. Air Force F-100 Super Sabres, all belonging to the famous Air Force Thunderbirds aerobatic flight team, left Pease Air Force Base in Newington, New Hampshire, for Dow AFB in Bangor, Maine, to take part in the Downeast Air Fair being held that weekend.  When the jets arrived they made two passes in formation around the field before peeling off to land one at a time.  As one of the F-100s came down on the runway, its landing gear suddenly collapsed.  The aircraft skidded on its belly across the runway, then across a taxi way, before coming to rest in a ditch.  There was no fire, and the pilot was not hurt.     

     Source: Lewiston Daily Sun, Thunderbird In Dow Base Crash”, September 10, 1960

Dow Air Force Base – May 26, 1949

Dow Air Force Base – May 26, 1949

Bangor, Maine


F-84 Thunderjet - U.S. Air Force Photo

F-84 Thunderjet – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On May 26, 1949, an Air Force F-84B Thunderjet, (#45-59537), was returning to Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, Maine, due to an onboard fire.  The plane crash landed in a wooded area next to the field, smashing its way through 100 feet of brush and small trees before erupting in flame.  The pilot managed to escape unharmed. 

     The pilot was identified by the press as being 2nd Lt. Albert H. Bull, 22, of Verbank, New York, assigned to the 49th Fighter Squadron at Dow AFB.   

     Source: Lewiston Daily Sun, “Dow Air Base Pilot Survives Jet Crash”, May 27, 1949    

4.5 Miles West of Amherst, ME – April 22, 1948

4.5 miles West Of Amherst, ME – April 22, 1948 



F-84 Thunderjet - U.S. Air Force Photo

F-84 Thunderjet – U.S. Air Force Photo

     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. , memorial #41509101.          



Atlantic Ocean, ME – February 2, 1943

Atlantic Ocean, Maine – February 2, 1943


WWII Civil Air Patrol Insignia

WWII Civil Air Patrol Insignia

     On the morning of February 2, 1943, a Civil Air Patrol airplane with two men aboard took off from Trenton, Maine, for a routine patrol flight off the Maine coast.  Shortly after 9:00 a.m. the aircraft developed engine trouble and the pilot was forced to ditch in the sea about 45 miles off Brunswick.  

     The pilot, 1st Lt. William B. Hites, 30, of Jamestown, New York, and the flight officer/observer, 1st Lt. Welles L. Bishop, 34, of Meriden, Connecticut, were able to escape from the plane before it sank.  Another aircraft radioed their position to a shore control station, but rough seas made rescue operations difficult.  Although both men wore life-vests and waterproof coveralls, they perished before help could reach them.    

     Both men were survived by their wives.

     Update July 15, 2016

     In 1970, twenty-seven years after the crash, Lt. Welles L. Bishop was posthumously honored by the town of Meridian and the Connecticut Civil Air Patrol during ceremonies marking the 29th anniversary of the establishment of the national Civil Air Patrol, (Dec. 1, 1941).  


     Bangor Daily News, “2 CAP Officers Killed On Duty Off Maine Coast”, February 3, 1943

     Lewiston Daily Sun, “Two Fliers Killed Off Maine Coast”, February 3, 1943

     The Morning Record, “Meridian Pilot Lost In War To Be Honored”, November 13, 1970.

Pond Island, ME – July 25, 1924

Pond Island, Maine – July 25, 1924

     On the morning of July 25, 1924, a storm over Lakehurst, New Jersey, broke a navy observation balloon free of its mooring at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station setting it adrift on its own without a crew.   The balloon was carried on an easterly course across Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.  By the afternoon it was sighted near Isle au Haut off the Maine coast with 1,500 feet of cable still hanging beneath it.  By this time the balloon was beginning to settle, and was even brought lower to the water when the cable began to drag across the waves. 

     The navy had dispatched two ships, the destroyer Putnam, and the tugboat Wandank, to chase and capture the runaway blimp if possible, but before they could do so, the balloon came down and crashed into a tree on the eastern side of Pond Island.  (Pond Island is a small island at the mouth of the Kennebec River.)   

     By the time the Wandank reached the scene the balloon was badly damaged and torn, however the basket and instruments was still in good condition.   

     In all, the runaway balloon had traveled 450 miles on its own.   


     The Lewiston Daily Sun, “Maine Tree Halt Runaway Balloon”, July 26, 1924      

Charleston, ME – May 16, 1949

Charleston, Maine – May 16, 1949 


F-84 Thunderjet - U.S. Air Force Photo

F-84 Thunderjet – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the morning of May 16, 1949, a flight of four U.S. Air Force F-84 jets was scheduled to take off from Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, for a routine training mission.  Shortly before take off, the pilot of one aircraft advised the flight leader that the tail pipe temperature gauge on his F-84 wasn’t working.  He was advised to change aircraft, and while he was doing so, the other three F-84’s took off. 

      After being assigned another F-84, (#45-59538A), the pilot took off and was going to rejoin the other three F-84’s, but was advised against doing so, and ordered to fly solo around the Bangor area.  After flying for about an hour, the pilot noticed another flight of three F-84’s from his squadron and according to the air force investigation report, “in accordance with an unwritten squadron SOP. joined the formation.”  

     The pilot moved into the number four position of the three ship formation, however he never radioed the flight leader, and the flight leader didn’t ask for identification.  What followed next was a case of follow the leader, and after the flight went through a series of aerobatic maneuvers, it was noticed that the fourth plane was no longer with them.   The missing aircraft wasn’t immediately reported as the flight leader assumed the fourth plane had run out of fuel and returned to base.  In reality, the missing F-84 had crashed and exploded in the town of Charleston.  The other three F-84’s returned to base without incident.

     Exactly what occurred to the fourth plane is unclear.  The last thing the pilot remembered was beginning a series of rolls, and then waking up on the ground with a civilian doctor administering to his injuries which had evidently been obtained when he bailed out of the aircraft.   

     Investigators discovered that the entire left wing, the right wing outboard panel, empennage, and canopy, were not at the crash site.  These were later found in a heavily wooded swampy area, indicating they may have broken free while the aircraft was in flight or while it was falling.

     Source: Air Force Crash Investigation Report, #49-5-16-1       

Portland Airport, ME – May 17, 1949

Portland Airport, Maine – May 17, 1949


P-51 Mustang U.S. Air Force Photo

P-51 Mustang
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the afternoon of May 17, 1949, an F-51D Aircraft, (#45-1164A), piloted by a USAF 1st Lieutenant took off from Grenier Air Force Base for a routine training flight.  While at 20,000 feet, his aircraft began to experience engine problems by backfiring and cutting out.  Checking his instruments, all appeared to be reading normal, but the problem persisted, so he declared an emergency and began heading for Portland Airport which was the closest to his position.  Just before turning for his final approach, engine coolant suddenly spewed all over his windshield cutting visibility and causing a further loss of power to the engine.  When he landed on the runway he discovered that the aircraft wasn’t going top stop before reaching the end, so he retracted the landing gear and allowed the P-51 to skid to a stop on its belly.   Although the aircraft was damaged, the pilot was unhurt.

     F-51 was the air force designation given to the P-51 used by the Army Air Force during WWII. 

     Source: Air Force Accident Investigation Report, #49-5-17-2     

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