Narragansett Bay – May 25, 1913
On May 25, 1913, a Providence baseball team was playing against another team from Jersey City, New Jersey, at a baseball field that overlooked Narragansett Bay. Part of the post-game festivities included a flight exhibition given by aviator Harry M. Jones, who was locally famous for being the first to fly mail from Boston to New York.
Just after 5:00 p.m., his bi-plane was maneuvered to the area of first base in preparation for take off. As “cargo” Jones was taking along a box of baseballs, which he planned to drop from the air to players on the field.
From the start Jones seemed to be having trouble getting the motor to start and keep running, but after several attempts he was successful, and took off in view of several thousand spectators. After circling the field a few times at an altitude of 50 feet, he began getting ready to drop the baseballs when the engine suddenly quit. As the plane began loosing altitude, Jones tried to restart the motor but couldn’t. His glide path was taking him directly towards the huge crowd of people on the ground who at that point were beginning to scatter in all directions. Fortunately Jones had just enough altitude to swing the aircraft towards Narragansett Bay, where he crashed into the water and sank with his plane. Several seconds later he bobbed to the surface, shaken and bruised, but otherwise unhurt.
It took four hours to recover the plane from the water.
Jones was involved in a more serious crash in Narragansett, Rhode Island on August 9, 1914. For more details, see Rhode Island Civil Aviation Accidents on this website.
Source: The Providence Journal, “Jones, In Biplane, Plunges Into Bay”, May 26, 1913. (Article supplied by Patricia Zacks.)