Four P-47 Thunderbolts Lost February 11, 1943

Four P-47 Thunderbolts Lost February 11, 1943

Cranston, R.I., Narragansett Bay, & Atlantic Ocean

        

P-47B Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the morning of February 11, 1943, a flight of four P-47B Thunderbolts took off from Hillsgrove Army Air Field in Warwick, Rhode Island, for what was to be a routine half-hour flight to Trumbull Field in Groton, Connecticut. None of them ever arrived at their destination.

     Conditions were foggy that morning, with a cloud ceiling of only 900 feet. Once airborne the pilots would have to rely on their instruments to get them where they were going.

     The flight leader was 1st Lieutenant Gene F. Drake. The other three pilots, all second lieutenants, were Raymond D. Burke, Robert F. Meyer, and John Pavlovic. All were assigned to the 21st Fighter Squadron of the 352nd Fighter Group. The 352nd was a newly formed unit then based at Trumbull Field.

   The flight took off at 10:15 a.m. with Lieutenant Drake flying aircraft #41-5922, Lieutenant Burke, #41-5943, Lieutenant Mayer, #41-5940, and Lieutenant Pavlovic, #41-5944.

     Witnesses later reported that the formation circled the airfield three times, but by the third pass one of the planes had disappeared. The remaining three P-47s were last seen headed in a southerly direction.   

“X” marks the approximate location in Cranston, R.I., where Lt. Meyer crashed Feb. 11, 1943

     The missing plane was piloted by Lieutenant Mayer. How he became separated for the group is unclear, but just minutes after take-off he crashed on some railroad tracks in the city of Cranston, Rhode Island, which borders Warwick to the north. Witnesses stated the right wing of Lt. Mayer’s aircraft struck a boxcar parked on a siding which caused it to crash and burn. Lt. Mayer was likely killed instantly. The site of the crash was located just south of Park Avenue, about four miles from Hillsgrove Field.

     Meanwhile, the other three P-47 pilots were heading southeast in zero visibility towards Jamestown and Newport instead of southwest towards Connecticut.  Shortly before 11:00 a.m. Lieutenant Raymond Burke crashed in the waters of Narragansett Bay between Jamestown and Newport on the eastern side of the island.  (For those unaware, the town of Jamestown is located on Conanicut Island, situated in the middle of Narragansett Bay.)  A short time later, one of the other P-47s crashed on the western side of the island, just off shore from Fort Getty, where the 243rd Coast Artillery was stationed.

     One serviceman who was stationed at Fort Getty was 2nd Lieutenant Roland D. Appleton who reported hearing a low flying aircraft pass over his duty station and then a loud crash out over the water a short distance from shore. Several enlisted men also reported hearing the same, but due to heavy fog nothing had been observed. However, within a few minutes the scent of gasoline wafted to shore confirming what they all suspected.

     In his official statement to investigators, Lieutenant Appleton later wrote, “I immediately called for a boat from the Fort Getty dock to go out searching. I called the Fort Wetherill dock to send a boat out and was informed that the USAMP Hunt would be sent at once to the area. In addition a Coast Guard boat was sent to assist in the search. Seaward Defense Station and the Adjutant, 243d Coast Artillery (HD), were notified.”

     By this point, the military was dealing with two downed aircraft, one on either side of the island.  

     Lieutenant Appleton’s statement continued, “Within 10 or 15 minutes the fog lifted and I searched the area with field glasses but did not discover any signs of the plane. A report was received that an oil or gas slick was sighted about 500 yards off shore and that the gas odor was still strong. The shore patrol continued searching.

     It is believed by the undersigned that the plane crashed and sank within a very few minutes. Approximately an hour and a half after the crash a black canvas bag about 15 inches long filled with cotton was picked up on shore. The center of the cotton was dry which indicated to me that it had been in the water but a short time. Other articles picked up on shore included a piece of leather possibly from an earphone, four rubber pieces of peculiar design, a handkerchief with numbers on it.

     The circumstances of the crash and the sounds heard at the time would indicate that the plane exploded just prior to or at the instant of crash.”

     Unfortunately, the numbers on the handkerchief were not recorded in the investigation report.  

     One of the officers in charge of the search detail along the shoreline at Fort Getty was Captain Stanley W. Smith. In his official statement to investigators he wrote; “At 1700 I went down to the beach again to investigate a stick-like object projecting out of the water approximately 50 yards off-shore. The visibility was poor. It was projecting about two feet above the surface of the water and appeared to be a stick.   It was impossible to distinguish any color on it or to tell just what it was without going out in a boat to see the object.”  

     Another officer who assisted in the Fort Getty search was Captain George E. Blicker. In his official statement he wrote, “Captain Smith immediately contacted me and together with a corporal and six men went down to investigate the accident. There was a dense fog that was beginning to lift about this time. Visibility was poor, but noticeable about 500 yards off shore was a slick approximately 50 yards in diameter with vapor fumes rising. The slick spread quickly and then disintegrated, giving off a strong gas odor in the air.”

     The following day, February 12th, The Newport Daily News reported that the body of Lieutenant Raymond Burke had been recovered from the bay between Jamestown and Newport by a navy picket boat and taken to Newport Hospital.

     On February 13th, a small news item appeared in The Woonsocket Call concerning the other plane that had crashed off Fort Getty. It reported that the unidentified P-47 had been located in 58 feet of water, but that the pilot was still unaccounted for.  

      The unidentified plane was marked with a buoy and a salvage boat was sent to attempt a recovery, however, bad weather and floating ice prevented this from happening. Unfortunately, the aircraft and its pilot were never identified in either newspaper accounts, or the official investigation report, nor does it appear that the pilot or the aircraft were ever recovered. Therefore, it has never been determined if this aircraft was the one flown by Lt. Pavlovic, or Lt. Burke.

   The fate of the fourth P-47 of this flight has never been determined, for the pilot and his aircraft were never seen or head from again. Presumably, the pilot continued on a southeasterly course and flew out to sea.

     1st Lieutenant Gene Frederick Drake, (Ser. # O-430925), was from Wilmette, Illinois,  born August 3, 1920.  He enlisted in the Air Corps in March 17, 1941, (Some sources state February, 1941), about ten months before the United States entered World War II. 

     From January to November of 1942, he served in Australia flying combat missions against the Japanese.  On his 22nd birthday, (Aug. 3, 1942), he was  flying a patrol mission when he and his fellow fighter pilots spotted 27 enemy bombers flying in formation approximately 2,00o feet below.  

      One newspaper described what took place in Lt. Drakes own words. “We flew into them and I shot up the first bomber.  I saw him stagger, burst into flames, and then go down.  I headed for another bomber but heard bullets going through my own crate.  Suddenly a solid sheet of oil came over my windshield and the cockpit was full of fumes.  I saw two little zeroes (Japanese fighting planes) sitting on my tail and it looked like time for me to leave.”   

     Lt. Drake was forced to bail but he landed safely. 

     Lt. drake was credited with shooting down the enemy bomber, as well as two more Japanese aircraft later that same month.  For his outstanding service he was awarded the Oak Leaf Cluster for gallantry in action under heavy fire, the Purple Heart, and the Silver Star.

     In late 1942 he returned to the states and became a flight instructor, training new pilots for overseas duty.  

     He was survived by his wife Shirley, and his son, Gene Jr..   

     He was officially declared dead on January 31, 1944.  

     Lt. Drake also had a brother serving in the Marine Corps, 1st Lt. Stafford W. Drake Jr.    

    2nd Lieutenant Robert Frederick Meyer was born January 29, 1920, in Shepherd, Michigan, making him just barely 23 at the time of his death. He was survived by his parents, and is buried in Deepdale Memorial Park, Lansing, Michigan.

     2nd Lieutenant Raymond D. Burke was just 15 days shy of his 22nd birthday when he died. He was born in Wilton, New Hampshire, February 26, 1921, the son of James R. and Margaret E. Burke. He’s buried in Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Wilton.

    2nd Lieutenant John Pavlovic, (Ser. # O-732341), was from the town of River Forrest, Illinois, and was 23-years-old at the time of his death.   He entered the Air Corps in March, 1942, and was commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant in October of 1942 at Luke Field in Arizona.  He was officially declared dead one year after his disappearance.    

     Sources

    United States Army Air Force crash investigation reports for all four aircraft, Report numbers:

     43-2-11-3, dated March 29, 1943

     43-2-11-4, dated March 29, 1943

     43-2-11-5, dated March 25, 1943

     43-2-11-6, dated March 25, 1943

     Death Certificates obtained from the Rhode Island State Archives for Lt. Robert F. Meyer & Lt. Raymond D. Burke

     The Providence Journal, “Two Army Pilots Lose Lives In Crashes In R.I., Two Other Planes In Unit Believed Lost”, February 12, 1943, page 1

     The Newport Daily News, “Body of Army Pilot Recovered From Bay”,February 12, 1943

     The Woonsocket Call, “Searchers Locate Airplane In Bay”, February 13, 1943, page 1

     University of Illinois Veterans Memorial Project

     Chicago Sunday Tribune, “Wilmette Flyer Gets 2nd Award In Pacific Fight”, November 15, 1942, part 1, page 13 

     www.cieldegloire.com – 49th Fighter group – USAAF – Ciel de Gloire

     Wilmette Life, (Wilmette, Il.),”Flier Celebrates Birthday”, August 13, 1942

     Wilmette Life, (Wilmette, Il.),”Lieut. Gene Drake Reported Missing On Airplane Flight”, February 18, 1943

     Falling Leaves, (Oak Park, Il. newspaper), “River Forest Teacher Leaves For Navy,; Service Men’s News”, September 24, 1942  

     Falling Leaves, (Oak Park, Il. newspaper), “Lost Flyer Is Assumed Dead”, February 22, 1944 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Missing Aircraft – February 10, 1943

Missing Aircraft – February 10, 1943

 

     On the afternoon of February 10, 1943, a U.S. Army O-47B observation plane, (ser. #39-72) with two men aboard left Bradley Field in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, bound for Mitchel Field on Long Island, New York, and disappeared en-route.  Searchers flying the intended route of the plane failed to locate anything.  It’s possible that the plane went down in Long Island Sound.

     The pilot was Flight Officer Talmadge J. Simpson, 23, of Atlanta, Georgia, and his observer was Corporal Louis T. Vogt Jr., 25, of Brooklyn, New York.     

     Source:

      New York Times, (No headline – press release from Westover Field, Massachusetts, from the Eastern Defense Command.), February, 14, 1943  

Long Island Sound – June 22, 1971

Long Island Sound – June 22, 1971

Between Fisher’s Island, N.Y., and New London, Ct.

     At approximately 6:30 A.M. on the morning of June 22, 1971, a red and white Cessna 172E, (#N 3831S), with four men aboard, took off from Windham Airport in Windham Connecticut bound for Fisher’s Island, New York.   

     The men were identified as:

     Dr. Harry Fox, 58, of Back Rd., Windham, Ct.

     Peter A. Tambornini, Sr., (Age unk.) of Main St. Willamantic, Ct.

     Charles V. Miale, 46, of Atwoodville Rd., Mansfield Center, Ct.

     Walter A. Card, 51, of Lover’s Lane Rd., Windham, Ct.     

     The purpose of the trip was reportedly to participate in a golf tournament.  The plane arrived safely at Fisher’s Island, but when it came time to return to Connecticut later in the day heavy fog had settled in over the area.  The return trip was expected to take 30 minutes and would require a flight path over Long Island Sound.  Shortly after take off, what was described as an explosion over the Sound was heard, but due to the fog nothing was sighted.  The Coast Guard initiated a search and rescue operation but nothing was found, and according to the NTSB report-brief, no wreckage was ever recovered.       

     Sources:

     National Transportation Safety Board report #NTSB  NYC71AN126

     Hartford Courant, (Conn.) “Four Feared dead In Crash Of Light Plane In Sound”, June 24, 1971

Off Nantucket – December 10, 1944

Off Nantucket – December 10, 1944

    

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

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

     On the night of December 10, 1944, a flight of eleven U.S. Navy planes were engaged in practicing night carrier breakups and rendezvous near Nantucket Island.  One of those aircraft, was an F6F-5 Hellcat, (#58277),piloted by Ensign John Daniel Cassidy, 20, of Fighter Squadron 88, (VF-88).  Ensign Cassidy was second section wingman in Lt. John Ignatius Drew’s squadron.  Lt. Drew was also piloting an F6F-5, (#58164). 

     At some point Cassidy and Drew became separated from the group, but their absence wasn’t noted until Cassidy called the flight leader asking for their position.   The position was given, and no further communications from Cassidy or Drew were received.  Neither of the two pilot’s or their aircraft were ever seen again. 

     The night was very dark, but clear, with scattered clouds at 2,000 feet. The pilots were familiar with the area, and investigators determined that the likelihood of them becoming lost was small, and theorized that they may have been involved in a mid-air collision of suffered the effects of vertigo and crashed into the sea.   

     A memorial marker to Ensign Cassidy was erected in Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, Georgia.  It states he was “lost at sea”.    

     Sources:

     U.S. Navy Crash Briefs for each aircraft/pilot dated December 10, 1944

     www.findargave.com, Memorial# 30180216

Missing British Airmen of WWII

Missing British Airmen Of WWII

     Unfortunately no further details are available as of this posting. 

     On October 8, 1943, it was announced by the U.S. naval commander of the Squantum Naval Air Station in Quincy, Massachusetts, that units of the fleet arm of the British Royal Navy would be engaged in operational training at Squantum.   

     On December 7, 1943, three British naval fliers disappeared and were presumably killed when their plane went down in the water while on a training flight off Plymouth, Massachusetts.  The Coast Guard was unable to locate any trace of the missing plane, which carried two officers and one enlisted man.  The identities of the airmen and the type of aircraft were not released. 

     On March 14, 1944, a similar disappearance occurred while another British aircraft was “some distance at sea” while on a training flight out of Squantum.  That aircraft also carried two officers and one enlisted man, and their identities, and type of aircraft, were not released.

     Sources:

     Nashua Telegraph, “British Naval Airmen Train At Squantum”, October 8, 1943

     Schenectady Gazette, “Three Missing In Squantum Crash”, December 8, 1943

     Lewiston Daily Sun, “British Plane Missing From Base At Squantum”, March 16, 1944

UPDATE – March 6, 2017

     More information has been learned about the December 7, 1943 incident.  The three men aboard the missing plane were:

     Sub-Lieutenant Henry H. Lilley, son of Hugh Lilley of 12 Council House, Wisbech Road, Thornley, Peterborough, Northants, England. 

     Sub-Lieutenant Geoffrey J. Walters, son of William Waters of 103 Green Dragon Lane, Winchmore Hill, London, England.

     Leading Airman Donald Afford, son of Mrs. F. E. Afford, 273 Belgrace Road, Balasll Heath, Birmingham, England.

     All were members of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, (RNVR)

     Source:

     Patriot Ledger, “Reveal Identity Of Squantum Fliers Lost In recent Accident”, December 8, 1943    

     Those airmen lost in the March 14, 1944 incident have been identified as:

     Sub-Lieutenant Kenneth L. Leapman

     Sub-Lieutenant John R. Purton

     Leading Airman Henry T. Seddon

     The men were flying the British version of the U.S. Navy Grumman Avenger, (Bu. No. JZ-496) when they were lost on an anti-submarine training mission.

     Sources:

     RNVR Officers 1939-1945,  www.unithistories.com

     Royal Navy Casualties, Killed and Died, March 1944,  www.naval-history.net   

 

 

The Mystery of Gerhard Finkenbeiner – 1999

The Mystery of Gerhard Finkenbeiner

 

     On the afternoon of May 6, 1999, Gerhard Finkenbeiner, 69, took off in a single-engine Piper Arrow, (Reg. N8235Z), from Wiggins Airport in Norwood, Massachusetts, and neither he or his airplane have been seen since.  

     His intended destination was unknown for he didn’t file a flight plan. 

     The weather was relatively clear with 7 to 10 miles good visibility.

     Once he was reported “missing”, authorities began an intensive search. 

     The Massachusetts Wing of the Civil Air Patrol obtained radar data from the Federal Aviation Administration.  This data was included in the National Transportation Safety Board, (NTSB), report narrative, which reads in part: “Air traffic control radar began tracking a target squawking 1200 in the Norwood area, about the same time the missing airplane was suspected of departing.  The target tracked southbound to a point 5 miles south of Taunton Airport, then turned eastward at 1506:02.  At that time, the altitude of the target was 1,100 feet.  At 1506:14, at 41 degrees, 49 minutes, 83 seconds, north latitude, and 70 degrees, 49 minutes, 22 seconds west longitude, radar contact was lost.  At 1518:14, a target was observed at 41 degrees, 50 minutes, 32 seconds, north latitude, 70 degrees, 46 minutes, west longitude, at an altitude of 500 feet.  There were no further contacts.”

     Assuming that the radar contact was Mr. Finkenbeiner’s aircraft, the search was initially centered in the area of Carver, Massachusetts.  However, it was also speculated that Mr. Finkenbeiner may have attempted to fly to Jaffrey, New Hampshire, where he owned another home.   Another area of interest to searchers centered around the Danielson, Connecticut, area where witnesses reported seeing a plane circling that may have been in trouble.   Despite repeated searches, nothing was found.  

     Mr. Finkenbeiner was a well known manufacturer of glass armonica’s; an instrument introduced in the 1700s by Ben Franklin.  The business is still in operation today. See www.finkenbeiner.com  

     What happened to Mr. Finkenbeiner and his aircraft is open to speculation, and to this day there are those still hoping to bring the matter to a close. 

    One website dedicated to solving the mystery can be found at The Search For Gerhard Finkenbeiner – Rick’s Home Page, iroc305.tripod.com/id53.htm 

 

     Sources:

     National Transportation Safety Board report, #NYC99FAMS3

     Boston Globe, “Glass Armonica Maker vanishes”, May 9, 1999, Pg. B01

     Lewiston Sun Journal, “Authorities Perplexed By Missing Pilot”, May 10, 1999

     Providence Sunday Journal, “Conn. Police To resume Search For Missing Plane”, November 14, 1999

     Providence Journal, “Missing Plane Remains A Mystery”, November 22, 1999

    

   

 

 

    

    

    

 

WWII Helldiver Found – November 7, 1978

WWII Helldiver Found – November 7, 1978

    

SB2C Helldiver U.S. Navy Photo

SB2C Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

     On November 7, 1978, Michael Roy, 19, a scuba diver from Plymouth, Massachusetts, was sent to free a fishing net snagged on an underwater obstruction in 30 feet of water about a half-mile off the coast of Plymouth.  There he discovered that the net was caught on the propeller of an old airplane. 

     Coast Guard officials identified the wreck as being a WWII, U.S. Navy, Curtis SB2C Helldiver.  

     Roy noted that the switches inside the cockpit were in the “on” position, which may indicate that what ever happened with the plane was sudden.  There were no human remains seen in the cockpit. 

     Nothing is known about this wreck.  It was speculated that the plane might have gone down on a training flight or while on convoy/anti-submarine patrol. 

     Source: Lewiston Daily Sun, “Diver Finds WWII Navy Plane”, November 11, 1978      

Atlantic Ocean – March 23, 1951

Atlantic Ocean -March 23, 1951

     In the early morning hours of March 22, 1951, a U.S. Air Force C-124 transport (49-0244) left Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana bound for Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine.  The aircraft arrived safely at 12:30 p.m. the same day.  After refueling, the plane left for Mildenhall, Royal Air Force Base in England. 

     At 1:00 a.m. on March 23, the pilot reported a fire on board in the cargo area, and ditched the plane in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 800 miles off the southwest coast of Ireland.  The aircraft landed intact, and all 52 servicemen aboard managed to get out safely wearing life jackets.  The men were able to climb into life rafts equipped with survival provisions and emergency radios.

     A U.S. Air Force B-29 was sent from England to search for survivors and found the men alive floating in the life rafts.  The aircraft circled the area waiting for other rescue craft,  but was forced to leave due to being low on fuel before any additional help arrived.  Apparently no other aircraft had been sent to relieve the B-29.

     It was hours later before the first ship arrived in the area on March 25th, but the only thing found were some charred crates and a partially deflated life raft.  All 52 men had simply vanished and were never seen again.  Speculation as to their fate focused on the Soviets.  At the time, the United States and the Soviet Union were immersed in what was called “The Cold War” , a nuclear game of cat-and-mouse with each side vying for superiority.  It was noted that many of the men aboard were involved with the U.S. nuclear weapons program, which would indicate they may have possessed valuable intelligence information.    

     A massive air-and-sea search was conducted over the next several days, but nothing more was found.  As stated, the men were wearing life jackets, but no bodies were ever recovered.

     Those aboard the C-124 aircraft were: (In alphabetical order.)

     SSG Glenn E. Adler

     Capt. Phillip B. Adrean

     Sgt. George W. Ambrose

     Cpl. Sterling L. Ambrose

     SSG Robert D. Amsden

     2Lt. Karl R. Armstrong Jr.

     Major Robert Bell

     S/Sgt. Bartin C. Bemis

     Pvt. Dwight A. Berenberg

     Sgt. Robert R. Bristow

     Sgt. Joseph D. Broussard

     Cpl. Arthur F. Chute

     Capt. Emmette E. Collins

     Capt. John E. Counsell

     Cpl. Jack R. Crow

     Brig. Gen. Paul T. Cullen

     Capt. Francis N. Davis

     Capt. Mark O. Dubach

     Capt. Dudek Miezslaw

     S/Sgt. Gene D. Dughman

     1Lt. Jack R. Fife

     2Lt. William E. Fisher Jr.

     Col. Kenneth N. Gray

     T/Sgt. Charles E. Green

     S/Sgt. Thomas E. Green

     Lt. Col. James I. Hopkins

     S/Sgt. Homer Jones Jr.

     Capt. Robert F. Kampert

     Capt. Thomas R. Kelly

     Capt. Carl N. Krawiec

     2Lt. Max D. Lee

     S/Sgt. Nicolo A. Lengua

     Samuel P. Lutjeans

     2lt. Howard P. Mathers

     Sgt. Ronald D. McGee

     Lt. Col. Edwin A. McKoy

     Sgt. Frank A. Meckler

     Capt. Walter T. Paterson

     Capt. Calvin Porter

     Lawrence E. Rafferty (rank unknown.)

     M/Sgt. Everett D. Scarbrough

     Major Gordon H. Stoddard

     Cpl. Clarence G. Swisher

     Cpl. Bobby G. Thomas

     M/Sgt. Taylor H. Vangilder 

     Capt. Roger S. Vincent 

     Capt. Walter A. Wagner Jr.

     M/Sgt. H. C. Williamson

     Raymond L. Witkowski (rank unknown.)

     Capt. Edwon D. Zabawa 

     Capt. Frank B. Zalac

     Capt. John C. Zweygarti

     Sources:

     Article by Don Wagner, “Last Flight Of The Missing Airmen, March 1951”, Walker Aviation Museum, Roswell, New Mexico  (Don is the son of Captain Walter A. Wagner Jr.)

     Air Force Times, “Plane’s 1951 Disappearance Still A Mystery”, by John Andrew Prime

 

      

 

    

 

       

 

 

 

 

Lake Champlain – January 21, 1971

Lake Champlain – January 21, 1971 

Vermont’s Enduring Aviation Mystery

     Just before 7:00 p.m. on January 21, 1971, a Rockwell 1121 Jet Commander (N400CP) with five people aboard, took off from Burlington International Airport bound for Providence, Rhode Island.  It was snowing that night, and roughly three to four minutes after take-off the plane abruptly vanished from radar and has never been found.  No distress call was received.  

     It is presumed that aircraft went down in Lake Champlain, a massive body of water 120 miles long and 12 miles wide separating the states of Vermont and New York.

     Over the next few days more snow covered ground, and the lake surface froze, causing the search for the airplane to be called off on February 4th. 

     In April of 1971, debris believed to be from the missing plane were discovered along the shore of Lake Champlain near Shelburne, Vermont.  These included at tire and rim, a window frame assembly, insulation from the forward cabin area, an oxygen tank, and parts of a radio.

     No human remains have ever been found.

     One rumor connected with the flight is that the plane carried a large amount of cash and negotiable bonds, but this has never been substantiated.

     Those aboard the plane included:

     Pilot: George Nikita

     Co-pilot: Donald E. Myers

     Robert Williams

     R. Kirby Windsor

     Frank Wilder

     While the disappearance has faded into history, there are those who continue to search. 

     In 2014 a hi-tec sonar search of 15 square miles of lake bottom near Shelburne was conducted.  Although a number of possible targets were identified, nothing conclusive was found, and further investigation will be necessary.  

     Why can’t the plane be located?     

      As large as the sonar search area was, Lake Champlain covers, according to one source,  435 square miles, while another puts the figure at 490 square miles.  And nobody knows for sure where the plane went into the water.  Therefore there are still hundreds of square miles to be checked.  

     It’s also possible the plane broke apart on impact, which would make it more difficult to locate, and after more than forty years, it could have settled in silt.

      In the meantime, the disappearance remains Vermont’s longest unsolved aviation mystery.    

     Sources:

     The Telegraph, “Lake Champlain Search For Lost Jet Abandoned”, February 6, 1971

     Burlington Free Press, “Search Resumes For Jet Missing Since 1971”, by Mike Donoghue, July 18, 2014.

     Providence Journal, “Lake Champlain Searched For Providence-Bound Plane That Crashed 43 years Ago.” July 21, 2014

     Burlington Free Press, “Strong Leads In Search For Missing Plane”, July 22, 2014

     Marine Technology News, “Modern Tech For A Cold Case”, March 12, 2015

     Aviation Safety Network, Flight Safety Foundation

     Lake Champlain Land Trust website, www.lclt.org

     Wikipedia – Lake Champlain

 

 

 

    

    

Missing Aircraft – November 28, 1964

Missing Aircraft – November 28, 1964

     On November 28, 1964, a blue and white Cessna with four Rhode Island men aboard left North Philadelphia bound for Hillsgrove Airport, in Warwick, Rhode Island,  and vanished en-route.  (Hillsgrove Airport is today known as T.F. Green Airport.)

     And extensive land and sea search was conducted, and included all areas between  Atlantic City, New Jersey, to all across Connecticut, and Rhode Island.  Both military and Civil Air Patrol aircraft took part. Police agencies were notified to be on the alert.

     At one point it was thought the wreckage of the plane had been spotted from the air in a wooded area of Bozrah, Connecticut, however what was thought to be the airplane was actually an old abandoned car.

     On December 6 and 7 heavy snow blanketed the region hindering further search efforts.

     Despite the best efforts to locate the plane, no trace of it was ever found, and it was speculated that the aircraft may have gone down in the ocean.   

    The missing men were identified as:

     Pilot: Eugene Simoneau, 35, of Crasnton, R.I.

     Ralph H. Worrall, 42, of Warwick, R.I.

     Edward M. Balkin, 46, of Warwick, R.I.

     Edward Underhill, 47, of Warwick, R.I.

     Sources:

     Woonsocket Call, “4 RI Men Missing In Small Plane”, November 30, 1964  

     The Morning Record, “Thousands Powerless In Wake Of Blizzards”, December 8, 1964

     The Daily Register, “Small Plane Still Missing”, December 3, 1964, Section 2, page 1

     City of Warwick, Rhode Island, vital records.   

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