Shirley, Massachusetts – August 30, 1936
On August 30, 1936, an Army Air Corps 2nd Lieutenant took off from Groton, Massachusetts, after signaling to his family that he intended to land at Fitchburg-Leominster Airport. (How this signal was accomplished was not explained in the investigation report.) From Fitchburg, his family was to drive him back to his home in Groton.
The Lieutenant was piloting an O-1G observation aircraft, (Ser. No. 31-476). As his family drove in their car, the Lieutenant circled above monitoring their progress. At about 1:00 p.m. he saw the family car pull into an open field in the northern part of the town of Shirley, and the occupants got out and signaled the pilot. Realizing there had been a misunderstanding, the Lieutenant glided down over a ravine at the edge of the field to signal for his family to drive on. As he was doing so, he failed to notice a 75 foot tall tree looming ahead, and slammed into it about twenty feet from the top. The plane spun around and crashed to the ground roughly 200 feet away.
Although the plane was a total loss, the pilot survived.
Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident, dated September 1, 1936.