Bethany, CT. – March 2, 1932

Bethany, Connecticut – March 2, 1932

     On the afternoon of March 2, 1932, Elliot R. McCune took off from Bethany Airport in a Cairns Airplane, (Ser. No. X-329V) for a test flight.  (He has been mistakenly identified as Ellis McKeon in some newspaper accounts.)

     The aircraft belonged to the Cairns Aircraft Corporation of 62 Rubber Avenue, Naugatuck, Connecticut, and was registered as experimental.   It was of a sleek mono-wing design, built entirely of metal.  The airplane was originally fitted with a 90 h.p. motor, but that had recently been replaced by a 165 h.p. motor.

     McCune was an experienced pilot and well known throughout New England having flown as a stunt-pilot and “barnstormer”.   He’d observed the experimental aircraft during several recent visits to the airport and was granted permission to fly it.  Prior to the flight he’d been informed that the airplane had been flown several times the previous day where it had been subjected to stunt flying without any negative results.

     While high over the area of the airport, McCune began putting the airplane through a series of aerobatic maneuvers, during which one of the wings suddenly broke away.  As the aircraft plunged towards the earth McCune appeared to bail out, but at the time he left the plane he was barely 500 feet from the ground and his chute didn’t have time to open.  The airplane was destroyed on impact, and McCune’s body landed several hundred feet away.   It was further reported that he may have been struck in the head by a portion of the wing when it separated from the aircraft. 

     Bethany Airport closed in 1965.

     Sources:

     Unknown newspaper, “Pilot Killed In Plane Crash At Bethany”, unknown date.

     Waterbury Republican, Scene Of Air Tragedy In Bethany”, (photo and caption.)  

     New Haven Journal-Courier, “Wing Torn From Plane In Dive”, (Photo), March 3, 1932    

     Naugatuck News, “State Investigating Bethany Air Crash”, unknown date.

     New Haven Evening Register, “Wrecked Plane That Cost Wallingford Man’s Life”, March 3, 1932, page 1

     New Haven Evening Register, “Girl sees Flier Plunge To Death”, March 3, 1932        

 

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