Trumbull Field, Groton, Connecticut – April 26, 1941
At 7:35 a.m., on April 26, 1941, a Curtiss P-40 aircraft, (Ser. No. 39-183), piloted by 2nd Lt. William A. Webber, took off for a gunnery training flight from Trumbull Field, but crashed shortly after takeoff. Lt. Webber did not survive.
The cause of the crash was determined to be a rag blocking the intake manifold which caused a “power plant failure”.
The accident investigation committee praised the pilot, and wrote in part, “The judgment of the pilot in attempting to continue flight is believed to have been excellent in view of the fact that at the time of his engine failure he was only a few hundred feet above houses, wires, and other obstructions.”
In short, the pilot elected to stay with his plane to protect civilians on the ground.
As to the rag, the committee wrote the following, “It is not believed that it is within the jurisdiction of this committee to investigate further the circumstances surrounding the presence of the rag in the intake manifold screen.”
Lt. Webber was assigned to the 33rd Pursuit Squadron at Mitchel Field, Long Island, New York. He received his pilot’s rating on May 11, 1940.
Source: U.S. Army Aircraft Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #41-4-26-2