Quabbin Reservoir Land – April 3, 1955
Town of Petersham, Massachusetts
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 www.findagrave.com, 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.
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