Burlington, VT. – December 6, 1970

Burlington, Vermont – December 6, 1970


Dehavilland U-6 Beaver
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At about 3 p.m. on December 6, 1970, a Rhode Island Air National Guard De Havilland U-6 Beaver aircraft, (Ser. No. 0-16489), took off from Burlington Airport with five men aboard bound for T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island.  It was snowing heavily at the time with 20 mph winds. 

     Immediately after take off the pilot, Lt. Colonel Benjamin F. Mendes, radioed Burlington tower that some radio directional equipment had suddenly become inoperative.  Moments later the plane crashed in a wooded area about a half-mile from Interstate 89.  Six youths who were riding in a car on the interstate at that time reported that they saw flames coming from the De Havilland as it was going down.  All five men perished in the crash. 

     The passengers were identified as:

     Roger Baron, 42, of Laconia, New Hampshire.

     Charles Larsen, 32, of Bedford, Massachusetts.

     Raymond Maher, 37, of Lincoln, Massachusetts.

     Louis Pappas, 39, of Framingham, Massachusetts.

     Lt. Col. Mendes, a native of Rhode Island, was assigned to the First Army at Fort Meade, Maryland, but at the time of his death was living with his family on Long Island, New York, while studying for an advanced degree at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, under a program called “Operation Bootstrap”. 

     As a military pilot, Lt. Col. Mendes was required to fly a minimum of four hours a month to maintain his proficiency rating, which was a common practice for pilots not assigned to active flight duty.  As such, arrangements were made for him to use the De Havilland belonging to the Rhode Island Air National Guard to make the flight to Burlington.  He’d made the flight from Rhode Island to Vermont alone, and picked up the passengers before leaving Burlington.     


     Providence Journal, “Army Probes Plane Crash”, December 7, 1970

     Providence Journal, “Five Killed In Crash Of R. I. Guard Plane”, December 8, 1970

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