Stratford, CT. – September 15, 1974

Stratford, Connecticut – September 15, 1974

Sikorsky Airport

     On the evening of September 15, 1974, an experimental helicopter containing four men and one woman was taxing onto the airfield at Sikorsky Airport when it suddenly exploded.  The helicopter, a YCH-53E (Sea Stallion) prototype, was about to begin a demonstration test flight in the hopes of gaining a contract with the U.S. Navy or Marines.

     All five persons aboard suffered severe injuries and burns.

     By the time the fire was extinguished only the nose and tail section remained.


     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Copter Blast”, September 16, 1974, page A-6   

     Providence Journal, “4 In Copter Blast Reported Fair”, September 17, 1974, page B-2 


New Bedford, MA. – September 9, 1974

New Bedford, Massachusetts – September 9, 1974

     At 6: 50 p.m. on the evening of September 9, 1974, a lone pilot took off from New Bedford Municipal Airport in a single-engine Piper Cherokee, (#N4088W).  Just after take-off the aircraft lost power and crashed in a field off Church Street about a mile north of the airport.   The pilot was transported to Union Hospital where he was pronounced dead.  The cause of the crash was blamed on engine failure.  


     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Pilot Killed In Crash”, September 10, 1974, page B-5.

     Westerly Sun, “Pilot Killed In Plane Accident”, September 10, 1974, page 12.

Roxbury, CT. – September 1, 1974

Roxbury, Connecticut – September 1, 1974

     At 1:30 a.m., three young men left Block Island Airport, (Rhode Island), in a four-seat, single-engine, Grumman Air Traveler A-5, (#N7114L), bound for Danbury, Connecticut.  All three men were from Ridgefield, Connecticut, and all were 21-years-old.  When they failed to arrive at Danbury the aircraft was declared missing and a search begun.

     A man in Roxbury, Connecticut, a town located about fifteen miles northeast of Danbury, reported hearing an explosion around 2:30 a.m. The following day searchers found the wreckage of the plane on a wooded ridge.  There were no survivors.  Despite reports of an explosion, investigators found no indication the plane had exploded before hitting the ground.  One investigator was quoted as saying, “Indications are that it flew right into the side of the ridge”. 


     Providence Journal, “Plane With 3 Aboard Missing”, September 2, 1974, page C-1 

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Air Crash Site Found; Three Dead.”, September 3, 1974, page B-4 



Block Island Airport – August 25, 1974

Block Island Airport – August 25, 1974

     On August 25, 1975, three men, all members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, left Danbury, Connecticut, bound for Block Island, R.I., in a single-engine Beech Musketeer aircraft.  They arrived at Block Island at about 2:00 p.m., and as the plane approached the runway of Block Island State Airport, the engine lost power and the plane crash landed 93 feet short of the runway.  Two of the three men aboard suffered minor injuries.      

     This was the second aviation accident to occur in Rhode Island on this date.  Another man was killed when his homemade plane crashed into the water off Deluca’s Beach in Narragansett, R.I.  That accident is also posted on this website.


     Westerly Sun, “Man Killed As Plane Crashes Off Scarborough State Beach”, August 26, 1974, Page 1.     

Narragansett, R.I. – August 25, 1974

Narragansett, Rhode Island – August 25, 1974

     At about 1:30 p.m. on August 25, 1974, a single-engine, one-man, “experimental” aircraft was seen passing over  DeLuca’s Beach in the town of Narragansett, heading out over the water.  Suddenly a loud “pop” was heard, and the aircraft spun into the water from an altitude of 200 feet.  The airplane struck nose first, crumpling the front of the aircraft and pinning the pilot inside as the cockpit sank below the surface.  Although the cockpit was underwater, the wreckage remained partially afloat about 250 yards from shore, in water estimated to be 40-50 feet deep.   

     A man and woman from a nearby boat dove into the water to attempt a rescue, but were unsuccessful.  They were relieved by six life guards who rowed out to the scene in two small boats, yet they couldn’t free the pilot either.  When a Coast Guard vessel from Point Judith arrived the aircraft was towed to shore.  There the body of the pilot was removed and transported to South County Hospital where he was pronounced dead.  


     The Providence Journal, (Massachusetts Edition), “Pilot Dies When Homemade Plane Crashes Off South County Beach”, August 26, 1974, page 1. (With Photo)

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Pilot Dies In crash Of Homemade Plane”, August 26, 1974, (With Photo)

Searsburg, VT. – August 17, 1974

Searsburg, Vermont – August 17, 1974

     On August 17, 1974, a Beachcraft 35-A33 airplane, (#N385Z), left Lawrence, Massachusetts, bound for Cambridge, New York, and then on to Michigan.  There were four people aboard, a husband, wife, and their two teenaged children, 14, and 16.  The family was from Denison, Iowa. 

     In the vicinity of the New York border the husband, who was piloting the aircraft, reported they had encountered severe thunderstorms.  When no further communication was heard the plane was declared missing and a search was begun.   The search area included western Massachusetts, southern Vermont, and a portion of New York.  Despite all efforts, nothing was found.

     The plane was found by accident on May 24, 1976, on Searsburg Mountain located in the tiny southern Vermont town of Searsburg.      


     Providence Journal, “All Search resumes For Lost Plane”, August 26, 1974, page B-5  

     Ames Daily Tribune, (Iowa), “Denison Man, Plane Disappear”, August 21, 1974, page 11.  (Courtesy of Ames Public Library.)

     Ames Daily Tribune, (Iowa), “No trace Of Iowa Family, Lost Plane”, August 23, 1974, page 7.  (Courtesy of Ames Public Library.)

     Article, “History of Vermont Plane Crashes”, by Brian Linder, Burlington Free Press, November 20, 2014. 

     Aviation Safety Network

Atlantic Ocean – August 22, 1974

Atlantic Ocean – August 22, 1974


     On the afternoon of August 22, 1974, a trail race between 12-meter yachts competing for the America’s Cup trophy was taking place about six miles southeast off Point Judith, Rhode Island.  Among the media covering the event were two CBS employees, along with a pilot, aboard a Bell-47 helicopter following the progress of the race from 150 – 200 feet in the air. 

     At about 3:00 p.m., the helicopter suddenly developed control difficulties and spun into the water landing on its side as it hit.  One witnesses was quoted as saying, “All of a sudden, the copter started to whirlybird.”  Just after striking the water the helicopter rolled over upside down and only the bottoms of its pontoons could be seen. 

     Several boats in the immediate vicinity quickly raced to the scene including a U.S. Coast Guard vessel.  The pilot managed to free himself and came to the surface on his own.  As the Coast Guard boat came alongside, Lieutenant David Hosmer dove into the water and pulled a second man from the aircraft.  A civilian from another boat rescued the third.  

     One victim was brought aboard the Coast Guard boat while the others were taken aboard separate civilian vessels.  All three vessels then raced to Point Judith where ambulances were waiting to transport the injured.  One of the victims, a 26-year-old CBS-TV electrician from Des Plaines, Ill. was pronounced dead on arrival at South County Hospital.  The other two men were admitted for treatment, and later recovered.  

     The helicopter was recovered by the Coast Guard.  The cause of the crash was found to be mechanical failure. 


     The Providence Journal, (Massachusetts Edition), “Copter Filming Cup Race Falls; 1 Killed, 2 Hurt”, August 23, 1974, page 1. 

     The Providence Journal, (Massachusetts Edition), Vessels headed For Downed Craft”, August 23, 1974, page 1.

     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “Two Killed In Rhode Island Waters”, August 23, 1974, page 1.

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Tragedy Mars Cup Race”, August 23, 1974, Page 1 

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Helicopter Crash Blamed On Control Malfunction”, August 24, 1974, page 10.  

Charlestown, R.I. – July 20, 1974

Charlestown, Rhode Island – July 20, 1974

     On July 20, 1974, a pair of one-man Gyrocopters were flying together over the area of Qonochontaug Beach when one aircraft suddenly lost all power and crashed into the water about 150 feet from shore.  The machine sank, but the pilot was able to fee himself, and was rescued by two college students who happened to be passing by in a small sailboat.  He was shaken, but apparently uninjured. Meanwhile, the other gyrocopter left the area and landed at Westerly Airport. 

     The depth of the water where the gyrocopter had crashed is about 20 feet.  Once the students had deposited the downed pilot on shore, they returned to the wreck site with masks and fins, and dove under the water and tied a strong rope to the machine.  By now a crowd had gathered on the beach, and with everyone’s help the aircraft was successfully dragged to shore.    

     Meanwhile, the pilot of the other gyrocopter had returned to the beach with a trailer.  He and the other pilot disassembled the damaged gyrocopter, and after putting it in the trailer said they were going to Westerly Airport. 

     After a few days a report of the crash reached the Westerly Sun newspaper, but when a reporter inquired about details, it was learned that the accident had never been reported to the police, Westerly Airport officials, or to state aeronautics officials.  The identities of the pilots was unknown.  It was further reported that gyrocopters didn’t have to be registered, nor did one need a license to fly one, which was going to make it difficult for officials to question the pilots.


     Westerly Sun, “Rescue At Sea Went Unreported”, August 1, 1974, page 10.   


Atlantic Ocean – July 17, 1974

Atlantic Ocean – July 17, 1974

     On July 17, 1974, a Bellanca airplane with two men aboard was flying from Hyannis, Massachusetts, to Martha’s Vineyard, when it went into the ocean about five miles south of Martha’s Vineyard.  Both men were wearing life vests, and were rescued by a Coast Guard helicopter, and each suffered only minor injuries.  The aircraft sank in deep water. The cause of the crash was not stated.


     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Mass. Plane Crash Being Investigated”, July 18, 1974, page 20.     

Norwood, MA. – July 4, 1974

Norwood, Massachusetts – July 4, 1974

     On July 4, 1974, a husband and wife, along with their four young children, took off from Norwood Airport bound for Martha’s Vineyard in a Republic Seabee aircraft.  Just after becoming airborne the oil line burst causing the engine to stop.  The plane came down in a wooded-swampy area about 300 yards off the end of the runway.  Remarkably, there were no serious injuries, and the plane didn’t catch fire.  The family was transported to Norwood Hospital for first-aid treatment.  Afterwards, the family returned to the airport and left for Martha’s Vineyard in another plane. 


     Boston Herald American, “Walpole Pilot, Family Prove Plane Stubborn”, July 5, 1974, page 4.   

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