Plymouth, CT. – November 25, 1979

Plymouth, Connecticut – November 25, 1979

     On November 25, 1979, a glider with two men aboard was towed from Waterbury Airport up to an altitude of 6,000 feet before it was cut loose.  The flight was going well until the glider was suddenly caught in a downdraft and began to rapidly loose altitude before leveling off at 2,000 feet.  With the unexpected loss of altitude, the glider was now lower than anticipated, and could not make it to its designated landing area.  Sighting an open field of the Terryville Fairgrounds, the pilot aimed for it.  (Terryville is a village within the town of Plymouth.)   Just as the glider was about to land, a large bird suddenly flew from a tree and struck one of the wings causing the aircraft to pivot and cartwheel into the ground.  The aircraft suffered damage, but neither pilot or passenger were hurt.  

     Source:

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Glider Crashes After Striking Bird; 2 Men Unhurt”, November 26, 1979, page A-7

Bethlehem, CT. – October 3, 1979

Bethlehem, Connecticut – October 3, 1979

     On October 3, 1979, a twin-engine Cessna 310 with three men aboard left Richmond, Virginia, bound for Oxford Airport in Oxford Connecticut.  That evening, while over Connecticut, the pilot encountered thick fog conditions.  He attempted to land at the airport, but was forced to “go  around” for another try.  As he was doing so, with the airplane’s landing gear down, one of the aircraft’s wheels struck the roof of a garage that was attached to a private home on Kasson Road in the neighboring town of Bethlehem.  The aircraft then cartwheeled across an open field behind the house before coming to rest against a stone hedgerow about 300 feet away.  As the plane cartwheeled, both passengers were thrown out and killed.  The plane didn’t catch fire. The pilot survived and was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital with serious injuries.

     A 25-year-old woman was inside the house when the plane struck, but was not injured. When she looked outside, the fog was so thick that she couldn’t see the wreckage.  She called the state police, and the trooper who responded found the airplane.   

     Sources:

     The Hartford Courant, “Bethlehem Plane Crash Kills Two Men”, October 4, 1979, page 6     

     New London Day, “Plane Hits Home; Two Die”, October 4, 1979, page 27.

Voluntown, CT. – September 3, 1976

Voluntown, Connecticut – September 3, 1976

     On September 3, 1976, a single-engine American Aviation AA-1A aircraft piloted by a man from Westerly, Rhode Island, was making a landing at a private airstrip on the Gallup Farm in Voluntown when the aircraft’s brakes reportedly failed.  The plane crashed into a tree and caught fire, but the pilot was able to escape without injury.  The flames consumed the airplane.

     Source:

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Pilot Survives Plane Crash”, September 4, 1976, page 6 

Meriden, CT. – November 6, 1976

Meriden, Connecticut – November 6, 1976

     On the afternoon of November 6, 1976, a rented Cessna 150, (N63562), took off from Meriden-Markham Airport with a lone 42-year-old pilot aboard.  At 5:49 p.m. the same day, the plane crashed into a garage on South Colony Street in Meriden.   The aircraft suffered substantial damage, but the pilot escaped with non-life-threatening injuries.   

     It  was reported that the aircraft may have run out of fuel as there was no fire or leakage of gasoline at the crash site, and a witness reported the engine was not running prior to impact.  

     Source:

     The New Haven Register, “Meriden Pilot Injured As Plane Hits Garage”, November 7, 1976, Page 1 & 2, with photo of rash scene.

 

Waterford, CT. – March 10, 1976

Waterford, Connecticut – March 10, 1976

     At about 2:55 p.m., on the afternoon of March 10, 1976, a Piper Cherokee 140, (N8752N), with a flight instructor and his student aboard crashed on take off from Waterford Airport when the engine lost power.  The plane came down in a brushy area and there was no fire after the crash. The 53-year-old instructor was admitted to Lawrence Memorial Hospital with broken bones, while the 52-year-old student suffered less severe injuries.   

     Source: New London Day, “Two Hurt As Plane Crashes”, March 11, 1976 

Stratford, CT. – November 29, 1975

Stratford, Connecticut – November 29, 1975

     There is little information about this accident.  On November 29, 1975, a single-engine airplane with a 55-year-old father and his 22-year-old son aboard, went down in the water just a few yards off the shore of Long Beach in Stratford.  The cause was not stated. Both escaped with minor injuries.

     Source:

     Boston Herald – American (Advertiser), Photo and caption.  November 30, 1975

 

 

Ansonia, CT. – July 2, 1975

Ansonia, Connecticut – July 2, 1975 

     At about 7:30 p.m. on July 2, 1975, a Piper PA28-140 with two men aboard was taking off from the Ansonia Airport.  (The airport no longer exists.) When the airplane had reached an altitude of about 50 feet the engine suddenly failed and the plane crashed.  Although the aircraft suffered substantial damage, the two men escaped with minor injuries.

     Source:

     Hartford Courant, “Plane Crashes; 2 Walk Away”, July 4, 1975 

 

Marlborough, CT. – July 5, 1975

Marlborough, Connecticut – July 5, 1975

     It is unclear exactly where in Marlborough this accident took place.  A newspaper account states it occurred at Lesniewski Airport in Marlborough, but there is no such airport with that name listed today.    

     On July 5, 1975, what was described as a “light aircraft” with two men aboard, a student pilot and an instructor, was making a simulated emergency landing at Lesniewski Airport, while at the same time, a second aircraft, also with a student pilot and instructor aboard, was preparing to take off for a cross-country training flight.  The descending aircraft struck the stationary aircraft, with its propeller slicing into it as it passed over.  The propeller struck just to the rear of the cabin, slicing through the control cables in the process.  The descending aircraft then nosed over onto the runway.  Both aircraft suffered serious damage, but there were no reported injuries.

     Source:

     Hartford Courant, “No Injuries Reported As Two Planes Collide”, July 6, 1975    

Long Island Sound – February 1, 1975

Long Island Sound – February 1, 1975

     On the morning of February 1, 1975, a Bell Jet Ranger  helicopter left Garden City, Long Island, N.Y., bound for Tweed-New Haven Airport in New Haven, Connecticut, to pick up two passengers for a charter flight.   As the helicopter was off the coast of Milford, Connecticut, at an altitude of about 300 feet, the main rotor suddenly snapped, sending it plunging into Long Island Sound.  The helicopter went down about 500 yards off Merwin Point, in Milford’s Woodmont section. The lone pilot aboard was killed.

     Two eyewitnesses reported hearing the engine sputter just before the accident.  

     Source:

     Hartford Courant, “Helicopter Crashes In Sound; Pilot Dies”, February 2, 1975

Barkhamsted, CT. – May 29, 1975

Barkhamsted, Connecticut – May 29, 1975

     At 3:30 p.m., on May 29, 1975, a single-engine Beechcraft B-17 took off from Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, with four young men aboard.  Awhile later the aircraft began loosing altitude while over the area of Pine Meadow Mountain.  The plane then crashed on Barkhamsted Reservoir property in Barkhamsted.  All four men escaped with minor injuries, and after they exited the airplane it began to burn.  Firefighters were later called to fight a forest fire caused by the accident.   

     The four men, all between the ages of 17 and 21, hiked through the woods for about ninety minutes before they came to a home on Route 219, and called authorities.  

     Source:

     Hartford Courant, “Harbor Plane crash Kills 2; 4 Unhurt In Other Mishap”, May 30, 1975.  (The article was reporting on two separate plane crashes.)

Fairfield. CT. – May 29, 1975

Fairfield, Connecticut – May 29, 1975

     On the afternoon of May 29, 1975, a Beechcraft T-34 trainer airplane belonging to the Connecticut Civil Air Patrol took off from Bridgeport Airport for a routine flight with two people aboard.  At about 5:00 p.m., the airplane was seen to be circling low over the Southport Harbor area of Fairfield for several minutes, and its engine was heard to be running erratically.  Then the aircraft lost power and crashed into the harbor killing both people aboard.  Their identities were withheld by the press.  

     Source:

     Hartford Courant, “Harbor Plane Crash Kills 2; 4 Unhurt In other Mishap”, May 30, 1975

 

Shelton, CT. – March 25, 1975

Shelton, Connecticut – March 25, 1975

     On the morning of March 25, 1975, two men left North Bergen, New Jersey, in a Bell Jet Ranger 206B helicopter.  Their destination wasn’t reported, but their flight path took them over Connecticut.  At about 11:15 a.m., while passing over the town of Shelton, the helicopter crashed and exploded in the backyard of a private home on Fawn Hill Road.  Both men were killed, but there were no injuries of persons on the ground.  A section of the helicopter struck the house.

     It was further reported that on February 25, the Federal Aviation Administration had ordered all Bell Jet Ranger 206 series helicopter models to have the upper and lower main rotor pitch-change “clevises” inspected and scheduled for retirement.  A “clevis” is a bolt-like attachment to the helicopter’s rotor.  This mandate was due the recent fatal crash involving a Bell 206A into Long Island Sound on February 1, 1975.     

     Sources:

     Hartford Courant, “Bell Copter Crashes, Killing Two”, March 26, 1975. (With photo of crash scene.)     

     Norwich Bulletin, “Shelton Copter Crash Kills Two N.J. men”, March 26, 1975, page 24.  (With photo of crash scene.)

 

Middlebury, CT. – January 11, 1975

Middlebury, Connecticut – January 11, 1975 

     At 9:20 a.m. on the morning of January 11, 1975, a 52-year-old man took off from Meriden-Wallingford Airport in a single-engine Cessna 210.  His destination was Waterbury-Oxford Airport.  While in-route the aircraft encountered low overcast conditions with low visibility.  At about 9:45 a.m., as the aircraft was making its final approach to land, it struck some tree tops before crashing into a cornfield in a residential area of Middlebury.  The pilot was killed instantly.

     Sources:

     Hartford Courant, “Man Killed As Plane Crashes In Field”, January 12, 1975      

     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “Second Pilot Dies In Conn. Crash”, January 12, 1975, page 9. 

Danielson Airport – November 9, 1974

Danielson Airport, Connecticut – November 9, 1974

     On November 9, 1974, a 26-year-old man rented a single-engine Cessna 172 at the Danielson Airport in Danielson, Connecticut.  He was a student pilot, with less than fifty hours of flight time.   At about 11:00 a.m., as he was taking off, the aircraft crashed into a 30-foot tree located about 500 feet off the runway.  After hitting the tree the aircraft flipped over.  The Cessna was demolished, and the pilot was transported to Day Kimball Hospital in critical condition.      

     Source:

     Hartford Courant, “Student Pilot Injured In Crash At Danielson”, November 10, 1974 

Plainville, CT. – June 6, 1971

Plainville, Connecticut – June 6, 1971

     On Sunday, June 6, 1971, a stunt pilot was performing in an air show at Robertson Airfield in Plainville Connecticut, with his German made Bucker BU-133 Jungmeister bi-plane.  (Reg. No. N4767)     

     According to a witness, at one point the aircraft came in low over the field in and went into an inverted spin from which the pilot was unable to recover.  The plane crashed into the ground killing the pilot near some trees bordering the airport.

     Sources:

     Unknown newspaper, “Stunt Pilot Killed In Crash Of Plane During Air Show”, June 6, 1971.

     National Transportation Safety Board report #NYC71FNE37

 

Winsor Locks, CT. – November 7, 1968

Winsor Locks, CT. – November 7, 1968

     On the evening of November 8, 1968, a Pilgrim Airlines twin-engine Beechcraft took off from Bradley International Airport with only a pilot and co-pilot aboard.  Shortly after take off, when the flight was about five miles southeast of the airport, the aircraft suddenly lost a three-blade propeller from one of the engines and was forced to return to the airport and make an emergency landing.   

     The cause was reported to be a gear box failure in the engine.  It was unclear where the propeller came down, and there were no reported injuries on the ground. 

     A few days after the accident the propeller still had not been recovered, and the airline offered a free airplane ride and $25 to the person who recovered and returned the propeller.    

     It is unknown if it was ever found.

     Sources:

     New London Day, “Plane Lands Safely After Losing Prop”, November 8, 1968

     New London Day, “Pilgrim Airlines Offers reward For Lost Prop”, November 11, 1968

 

Long Island Sound – June 17, 1968

Long Island Sound – June 17, 1968

     At 2:30 a.m. on the morning of June 17, 1968, a Cessna 411 with two Connecticut men aboard left Fisher’s Island, N.Y., bound for Trumbull Airport in Groton, Connecticut.  (Today the airport is known as Groton-New London Airport.)  The weather consisted of heavy fog, with a cloud ceiling of 800 feet, and less than a mile of visibility.  

     The following morning, someone noticed the pilot’s private automobile still parked at Trumbull Airport and began to question his whereabouts.  It was subsequently learned that the aircraft he’d been piloting had never arrived from Fisher’s Island.  A large scale search involving Coast Guard vessels and aircraft was begun.   

     A woman living near the now defunct New London-Waterford Airport reported hearing a plane circling the area at about 3:00 a.m. 

     A resident of East Lyme, Connecticut, also reported hearing a low flying airplane. 

     Investigators theorized that the aircraft had been unable to land at Trumbull Airport due to deteriorating weather conditions, and the pilot had flown to Waterford to attempt a landing there.        

     The aircraft was finally located in forty feet of water off the New London shore, and was recovered on November 15, 1968.  

     Sources:

     New London Day, “Wide Search Is presses For 2 Groton Men, Plane”, June 19, 1968 

     National Transportation Safety Board report, NYC68A0137

Brainard Field, CT. – October 13, 1967

Brainard Field, Hartford, Connecticut – October 13, 1967

     On the afternoon of October 13, 1967, a mechanic was “pulling through” the propeller of a two-seater Aeronca, (N1318V), that belonged to the Connecticut Civil Air Patrol, when the motor abruptly started.  At the time, the throttle had been set to “full”, the aircraft wasn’t tied down, and there was nobody in the cockpit.  The Aeronca then began moving across the field on its own, with the mechanic clinging to the struts in a vain attempt to stop it.     

     The Aeronca swiped the side of an unoccupied Cessna which caused the mechanic to lose his grip and fall away, injuring himself in the process.  After striking the Cessna, the Aeronca spun around and drove into a second unoccupied Cessna parked nearby.  After that collision, it continued on at full speed until it crashed into he side of an unoccupied Piper, (N3858P), and the engine stalled. 

     Authorities were thankful that the aircraft hadn’t become airborne.

     Sources:

     The Hartford Courant, “Plane Takes Wild Spin On Ground”, October 14, 1967, (With photo of accident.)

     National Transportation Safety Board Report, NYC68DO235

 

Meriden, CT. – February 17, 1966

Meriden, Connecticut – February 17, 1966

     On the afternoon of February 17, 1966, a 35-year-old pilot took off from Meriden-Markham Airport in a small 4-seat aircraft on what was to be a test flight after some work had been done to the engine. Shortly afterward the engine began running rough, and the aircraft began loosing altitude.  Unable to return to the airport, the plane crashed in a housing development less than a mile from the airport.  Both wings were torn away in the crash, and the fuselage tore up lawns and small shrubs, but there was no serious damage done to any homes, and nobody on the ground was reported to be injured.  When the plane came to rest it caught fire, but the pilot was able to extricate himself without suffering serious injury.  He was transported to Meridian Hospital for treatment.

     Source:

     New London Day, “Pilot Escapes From Meriden Plane Crash”, February 18, 1966  

 

Connecticut River – September 26, 1966

Connecticut River – September 26, 1966

     At 7: 30 p.m. on September 26, 1966, a Piper Cherokee with six young men aboard took off from Brainard Field in Hartford, Connecticut.  All were between the ages of 19 and 23, and all were students at Trinity College in Hartford.  Shortly after takeoff the aircraft lost power and plunged into the Connecticut River and sank.  All six men were able to escape, but one had reportedly suffered a head injury in the crash. As the group was swimming towards shore, the man with the head injury slipped beneath the water and was swept away by the current.  

     Source:

     The Hartford Courant, “Plane Engine Runs After River plunge”, September 28, 1966

Voluntown, CT. – November 26, 1966

Voluntown, Connecticut – November 26, 1966

     On November 26, 1966, a couple from Montvale, New Jersey, were flying to Stonington, Maine, in a small aircraft when they were forced to turn back due to weather.  While passing over Voluntown the plane developed engine trouble and the pilot made preparations for an emergency landing in a field on a private farm.  As the aircraft was approaching to land the engine lost all power.  One wing struck a tree before the plane crashed.  There was substantial damage to the plane, but there was no fire, and the couple escaped unhurt.  

     Source:

     New London Day, “Aircraft Crashes In Voluntown; pilot, Passenger Escape Unhurt”, November 28, 1966

Windham, CT. – May 2, 1966

Windham, Connecticut  – May 2, 1966

     On May 2, 1966, a Piper Cherokee with two men aboard left Brainard Field in Hartford bound for Windham Airport.  At 10:14 p.m., as the plane was approaching Windham, the pilot requested clearance for landing.  Two minutes later he declared that he had an emergency and attempted to land.  The Piper crashed just short of the runway while traveling between 50 to 60 mph.  The aircraft suffered considerable damage, and the men were transported to Windham Memorial Hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.    

     Sources:

     New London Day, “Two Hurt In Plane Crash”, May 3, 1966

     New London Day, “Plane Crash Victims Said Satisfactory”, May 4, 1966

Waterford, CT. – February 11, 1960

Waterford, Connecticut – February 11, 1960

     On the evening of February 11, 1960, a twin-engine Piper aircraft with four men aboard was making its final approach to New London Airport in heavy fog conditions when it struck the tops of some trees.  It then snagged a steel cable that ran across an unused granite quarry and plunged into the icy water in the quarry.  The plane broke apart on impact and one man was able to escape.  The other three did not.

     The survivor, a 25-year-old man from Mystic, Connecticut, made his way to shore, found a foot path, and climbed out of the quarry. He then made his way to a private home where he was given assistance, and transported to a hospital where he was listed in critical condition.

     The accident occurred in Flat Rock Quarry, also known as Ryan’s Quarry Pond, which at the time of the accident hadn’t been worked in 29 years.  This quarry no longer exists, and today a shopping mall stands on the site. 

     Source:

     The New London Day, “Three Die In Waterford Crash As Plane Plunges Into Quarry; Survivor’s Condition Critical”, February 12, 1960, page 1. (With photos of crash scene.)

     The New London Day, “Just Kept Walking To Seek Assistance”, February 12, 1960, page 1.    

 

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        

 

Bethel, CT. – May 30, 1934

Bethel, Connecticut – May 30, 1934

 

Tail Section of United Airlines Flight that crashed in Bethel, Conn., May 30, 1934

     On the night of May 29, 1934, a United Air Lines 12-passenger, dual-motored  airplane left Cleveland, Ohio, bound for Albany, N.Y. and Newark, N.J.  After arriving safely at Albany, the flight continued on to Newark with nine passengers and a crew of three.  It was now after midnight on the morning of May 30th. 

     While in-route to Newark the flight encountered heavy cloud and ground-fog conditions and the pilot decided that landing at Newark would be unsafe if not impossible so he turned towards Connecticut hoping to land at Tucker Field in Danbury.

     When the flight reached the Danbury area, the pilot attempted to radio the tower, but was unable to raise anyone.  The landing field was not illuminated, and the region was covered with scattered fog, so the pilot was forced to circle the area.  The cockpit was equipped with a hand-held search light which the crew used to attempt to gain the attention of anyone who might be on duty at the air field.  Yet despite the sound of the plane’s engines, and the light signals from the cockpit, nobody at the field seemed to notice.        

     By 1:30 a.m. the aircraft was low on fuel and the pilot had no choice but to attempt a “blind landing.” 

     It was later reported that residents of Bethel heard the plane circling, and that someone called the airport to report the situation so that the runway lights could be turned on.  However, it was believed that the pilot may not have seen the lights of the airport as he was making his approach due to the foggy weather and hilly terrain.    

     As the pilot was making his approach, the aircraft crashed into a  wooded area in Bethel, about three miles from the airport.    

The cabin area of the aircraft remained intact.

     Although the aircraft broke apart, there was no fire, and the passenger cabin remained largely intact.   This accounted for the lack of fatalities.  However, the pilot and co-pilot , as well as seven of the passengers, were transported to the hospital with various injuries, some of them serious. 

     Despite the crash, the pilot was praised by the passengers for his skill in handling the aircraft under such adverse conditions.

    As word of the accident spread, hundreds flocked to the area to view the crash site, but were kept at bay by state and local police.  

 

Crumpled Cockpit

 

  Sources: 

     Hartford Courant, “Plane Crashes In Bethel, 7 Go To Hospital”, May 30, 1934

     Hartford Courant, “Air Liner Crash In Bethel Injured Seven”, May 31, 1934    

     New York Times, “Twelve In Air Liner From Cleveland Hurt”, May 30, 1934 

     Photos courtesy of Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

 

 

New Haven, Ct. – July 20, 1902

New Haven, Connecticut – July 20, 1902

     On July 20, 1902, aeronaut Charles Hillman was about to take off in a balloon at New Haven when it caught fire and was destroyed.  Hillman was not injured.

Source: New York Times, “Balloon Destroyed By Fire” July 21, 1902.

 

Haddam, CT – April 16, 1940

Haddam, Connecticut – April 16, 1940 

     At 11:10 p.m. on April 16, 1940, a small chartered aircraft carrying a pilot and three passengers left Boston Airport and at some point afterward crashed on the farm of Mathew Negrelli in the Higganum section of Haddam, Connecticut.

     State police were notified of the crash and went to the farm to look for the plane, but had not found it as of 2:45 a.m. In the meantime, Charles Smith of Marblehead, Massachusetts, was found wandering on the farm and was taken to Middlesex Hospital for treatment. 

     The others aboard the aircraft included Harry E. Noyes, a Mr. Rideout, and the pilot, John R. Hartwell.     

Source: New York Times, “4 Fall In Plane In Connecticut”, April 16, 1940 

Washington, CT – September 6, 1930

Washington, Connecticut – September 6, 1930 

     On September 6, 1930 a small plane carrying two men left New York headed for Bradford, New Hampshire.  The pilot was John A. Cooke, and the passenger was Mr. E. R. Booth of New York, who owned a vacation home in Bradford.  

     While over Washington, Connecticut, for reasons not explained, the plane caught fire, and Cooke attempted an emergency landing in an open field, but wound up crashing in a tree.   Cooke pulled Booth from the flaming wreckage, but Booth later succumbed to his injuries and died at New Milford Hospital.  Cooke too was admitted, but was expected to recover.   

Source: New York Times, “Dies Of Burns From Crash”, September 8, 1930

 

Woodstock, CT – July 6, 1967

Woodstock, Connecticut – July 6, 1967

     On July 6, 1967, a small plane carrying four people crashed on takeoff killing two and seriously injuring two. 

     The dead were identified as Antone Costa, 44, of Brooklyn, Connecticut, and Clifford L. Zajac, 24, of Canterbury, Conn.

     Injured were Diane Zajac, 19, and Joseph Costa, 67.  Both were taken to Day-Kimball Hospital.   

Source: New York Times, “2 Die And 2 Hurt As Plane crashes In Connecticut”, July 6, 1967

 

Candlewood Lake, CT – September 15, 1956

Candlewood Lake, CT – September 15, 1956

     On the afternoon of September 15, 1956, a four-seat seaplane was attempting to land on Candlewood Lake near Danbury, when unbeknownst to the pilot one of the wheels had not retracted properly upon takeoff when they left New York.  The protruding wheel caused the plane to flip over when it landed on the water.  Fortunately the pilot, John W. Lake of Long Island, N. Y., and his wife Dolly, were able to extricate themselves as the cabin filled with water, and were then rescued by several motorboats in the area.    

     Candlewood Lake is just over eight square miles in size, and borders the Connecticut towns of Danbury, Brookfield, New Fairfield, Sherman, and New Milford.  

Source: New York Times, “L.I. Pair In Plane Crash”, September 15, 1956. 

Groton, CT – September 18, 1948

Groton, CT – September 18, 1948 

Updated January 21, 2016

     On September 18, 1948, two men, Edward S. Brown, 29, of Dansville, N.Y., and Stephen E. Hyde, 40, of Wayland, N.Y., took off from Hornell, New York, in a trainer airplane on what was to be a navigational flight from Hornell, to Providence, Rhode Island, and back.   After arriving at Providence, they were heading back to New York when they encountered heavy thunderstorms over the Groton, Connecticut, area. 

     Witnesses reported that the aircraft circled the area at an altitude of about 500 feet before suddenly loosing power and crashing into the front yard of 37 Grand Street in the city’s Groton (Navy) Heights section.   Brown and Hyde were killed instantly when the plane exploded on impact. 

     Playing in the yard at the time were 4-year-old Gerald D’Aquilla, and 13-year-old Valerie Maltby.  Just before the crash, Gerald’s mother Emily D’Aquilla, 27, hearing the plane circling overhead, came outside the house fearing for the children.  Just as she did so the plane exploded, dousing her with flaming gasoline.  The force of the explosion blew Gerald into the next yard, but fortunately he only suffered minor injuries.  Valerie Maltby was relatively unhurt, but Mrs. D’Aquilla suffered severe burns and was rushed to a nearby hospital.  Her husband, Nicholas, D’Aquilla, a navy serviceman assigned to the submarine base in Groton, was also burned when he came to the aid of his wife and put out the flames.      

     The aircraft involved was reported to be a BT-13, a former U.S. Army trainer plane.   

     The accident was investigated by the Connecticut State Police.

     Sources:

     New York Times, “Two Fliers Die In Crash” , September 19, 1948 

     (New London, CT.) The Day, “Two Die In Groton Plane Crash; Navy Wife Is Critically Burned.” September 20, 1948 

 

 

Willington, CT – March 22, 1947

Willington, CT – March 23, 1947

     On March 22, 1947, a small rented aircraft bound for Worcester, Massachusetts, crashed in the woods near Tolland Road in Willington, Connecticut.  Both persons aboard, Leslie J. Halen Jr. 21, and Beverly Holmes, 18, were killed in the accident.  Area residents reported seeing the plane circle a large clearing in the woods before the engine stopped.     

Source: New York Times,”2 Die In Plane Crash”, March 23, 1947

Sharon, CT – December 6, 1970

   Sharon, Connecticut- December 6, 1970

     On December 6, 1970, a Piper Cherokee left Poughkeepsie, New York, bound for Westfield, Massachusetts.  When the plane didn’t arrive it was reported overdue to authorities.  The following day the wrecked aircraft was found in Sharon, Connecticut, with the bodies of two men inside.  State Police identified the victims as Carl Turner, 56, of Poughkeepsie, N.Y.,  and Norbert A. Tessier, 37, of Wappinger Falls, N.Y.   The plane belonged to the Lazy 8 Flying Club of Poughkeepsie. 

Source: New York Times, “2 Men Are Killed In Crash Of A Plane In Connecticut”, Dec. 8, 1970.  

Airship Into Sound, CT – 1908

AIRSHIP DROPS INTO LONG ISLAND SOUND

June 13, 1908

     On Saturday, June 13, 1908, aeronaut Charles Hamilton of New York took off in his airship from Savin Rock Amusement Park in West Haven, Connecticut, bound for New Haven.   Upon his arrival at New Haven, he passed over Yale University where a baseball game was in progress between Princeton and Yale.  From there he circled the dome of City Hall before moving on towards Union Station where he suddenly began loosing altitude.  As the airship was coming down, Hamilton was carried over Union station barely missing the roof, and came down hard in the switch yard.  Neither he nor his ship suffered any real injury, and within an hour he was ready to take off again.  Once aloft, he encountered heavy winds and his ships helm wasn’t responding like it should.  Before long he found himself being blown out into Long Island Sound where he would be at the mercy of the winds and the elements.   Acting quickly, Hamilton put the ship down in relatively shallow water just off New Haven, where he was rescued by a passing boat. 

Source: New York Times, “Airship Falls Into Sound”, June 14, 1908

Niantic, Ct., – July 16, 1921

Niantic, Connecticut – July 16, 1921

Updated June 5, 2017

 

     On July 16, 1921, pilot Wesley L. Keough of Springfield, Massachusetts, and George Phillips of Providence, Rhode Island, left Westerly, Rhode Island, in a two passenger Curtis aircraft bound for Niantic, Connecticut.  Keough had been at Pleasant View Beach in Westerly for the previous few weeks giving rides in his airplane.  On this particular flight, Keough and Phillips were flying to Niantic where the “Governor’s Foot Guard” were encamped. 

     As the plane neared Niantic at an altitude of 2,500 feet, a connecting rod in the engine suddenly broke and the engine came to a stop.  Keough was an experienced flyer and calmly put the aircraft into a glide hoping to land in an open area on the campground, but as it neared the ground it struck an air pocket and began to fall.  Keough shouted to Phillips to jump, and both did so as the plane was reportedly barely twenty feet from the ground.  Both men hit the ground and began tumbling and rolling, but when they came to a stop they discovered they were relatively unhurt.  The plane continued on and slammed into a trolley pole at Station #8 and came to rest on the tracks, with its wings crumpled and its landing gear wrecked.          

        

     Sources:

     Hartford Courant, “Keough Leaps For Life From Disabled Plane”, July 17, 1921

     New York Times, “Fall 2,500 Feet In Plane”, July 17, 1921   

Branford, Ct., – October 5, 1928

Air Mail Pilot Forced Landing – October, 1928

Branford, Connecticut

      On the morning of October 5, 1928, U.S. Air Mail pilot Jack Webster left from Hadley Field, New Jersey, bound for Cleveland, Ohio, when he became lost in heavy fog and ended up over Branford, Connecticut.  He circled for an hour looking for a place to land, and with the aid of townspeople who lit a series of torches came down in a field in the Cherry Hill section of town.  Unfortunately the plane was damaged in the landing and the mail was sent to Ohio by train.  

     Webster was unhurt.  

Source: The Woonsocket Call, “Air Mail Pilot Forced Down At Branford, Conn.” October 5, 1928, page 1.

Stafford Springs, CT. – October, 1888

Stafford Springs, Connecticut – October, 1888

     An advertisement in the Morning Journal and Courier of New Haven, Connecticut, stated a fair would be held in Stafford Springs on October 16 and 17.  The following article appeared different newspapers around the country.

Straight Down For 2,000 Feet Before His Parachute Opened

     A exciting incident took place in connection with the balloon ascension at Stafford Springs, Conn., last week.  “Professor Hogan, the parachute “artist” who had been engaged to make a balloon ascension, had waited all day for the wind to die down.  About 5:30 o’clock, before 3,000 spectators, he inflated his monster machine and ascended gradually to a height of 4,000 feet, or nearly a mile.  At that enormous height the balloon with its occupant appeared to be about the size of a frog.      

Balloon ascending with parachute attached to the side.

     According to his programme, the aeronaut at this point fixed his balloon so that it would fall to earth alone, and prepared to make his daring descent by means of the parachute which was attached to the side of the balloon by a small cord.  The parachute, when inflated, is a sort of cone shape, the base of which looks like an umbrella, the sides being numerous cords and the apex being a small iron ring, to which the Professor hangs by the hand.

    Mr. Hogan jumped from the basket at that terrible altitude with the iron ring in his hand.  The cord attaching the chute to the balloon at once broke, leaving the dare-devil with his flimsy apparatus nearly a mile from earth.

     A terrible thing now happened.  The cords had become entangled and stiffened by the rain, and prevented the great chute from expanding it broad surface in the air, through which the aeronaut was now falling with frightful speed.  The people below, looking up with wide-open mouths, could see nothing but a dark line becoming longer at each instant, and coming toward the earth with the speed of lightning.  “My God,” cried a looker-on, “Hogan’s gone.”  A woman clutched frantically a strange man at her side as the body in the air was seen to careen to one side as if unstable.  At this point, when fully one-half of the descent had been made in but a few seconds, and when not one of the 3,000 spectators expected aught else but a catastrophe, the great surface of the chute was seen to expand and thence there was only a graceful, easy fall that turned every groan into a smile.

     When the performer reached the ground he said that at the beginning of the descent he realized his danger, but could do absolutely nothing but clutch the ring.  He was unable to breathe, his head began to swim, faintness overtook him, and his sensation was that his fingers were relaxing their hold.  At this point, however, the entangled cords that held in-closed the folds of the chute were snapped by the enormous pressure of the air, and he was saved from certain death.

Source: The Sun, (N.Y.), “Straight Down For 2,000 Feet Before His Parachute Opened”, October 28, 1888, page 5,   (From the Springfield Republican)           

 

West Haven, CT. – July 25, 1894

West Haven, Connecticut – July 25, 1894

 

     On the afternoon of July 25, 1894, a balloon ascension – parachute drop was scheduled to take place at Railroad Grove near Savin Rock, in West haven, Connecticut.  Miss Louise Bates, it was advertised, would drop from a balloon using a parachute.  2,000 spectators reportedly arrived to watch the event. 

     The ascension was scheduled for 4 p.m., but for unspecified reasons was delayed until after 5 p.m.  When the balloon was finally released, it floated very slowly upwards.  When it reached an altitude of about 150 feet, it was caught by a slight breeze and began to sail off in an easterly direction over some trees and towards the Ocean Inn.  At that time Miss Bates made her drop, but due to the low altitude of the balloon, the parachute didn’t have time to open properly.  She fell rapidly and landed in the upper branches of a tree which broke her fall.  Fortunately she was not seriously injured, and was rescued a short time later.  Meanwhile, the balloon sailed off on its own without a pilot, and was recovered later in the evening near City Point in the neighboring town of New Haven.

     After her ordeal in the tree, Miss Bates stood with her manager, Mort McKim, before some of the spectators.  Mr. McKim explained that the reason the balloon had failed to rise was due to a pole which had fallen against it when it was released.  The pole had created a tear in the balloon which had allowed gas to escape.  Miss Bates had decided to make her drop anyway so as not to disappoint the crowd.  

     Despite the explanation, comments were made about the disappointing quality of recent balloon ascension given in the Savin Rock area.  Such ascensions, it was hoped, would draw crowds and boost local economic ventures.

      One businessman was quoted as saying, “Well we don’t want any more so-called balloon ascensions.  None of them have been successful and we don’t think such fizzles help the shore any.  Again we cannot understand why the ascension is made in such an out of the way place.  Here we have a large base ball grounds with accommodations and seats for several thousand people and yet the management  sees fit to have the balloon inflated and the ascensions made from a spot way off in the woods.  In this way the crowd is taken away from the grove and no benefit is derived by anyone.”

     This accident wasn’t the only close call Miss Bates experienced during her parachuting career.  About five years earlier, on July 6, 1889, Miss Bates was scheduled to make a parachute drop at Deal Lake in Asbury Park, New Jersey.  The balloon had drifted over the water, and was at a height of 1,500 feet when it suddenly began to loose altitude.   Miss Bates dropped with her chute, but it failed to open properly, and she splashed down into the lake narrowly missing a rowboat.  She then became entangled in the parachute lines and almost drowned before being rescued.  

     Sources:

     The Daily Morning Journal And Courier, (New Haven, CT.), “Parachute Did Not Work”, July 26, 1894     

     The Sun, (N.Y.), “An Aeronaut Falls Into A Lake.”, July 7, 1889

Danielson, CT. – November 9, 1974

Danielson, Connecticut – November 9, 1974

Danielson Airport

     On the morning of November 9, 1974, a lone pilot from Massachusetts was attempting to take off from Danielson Airport in a Cessna 172, (N46656).  Strong gusty winds were blowing at the time, and as the aircraft was becoming airborne it veered off the runway area, went over an embankment, and slammed into a tree.  The plane was wrecked, and the pilot was transported to Day Kimball Hospital with serious injuries.    

     Sources:

     Providence Sunday Journal, “Student Pilot Hurt In Connecticut Crash”, November 10, 1974, page 3.

     Hartford Courant, “Injured Pilot Still Listed As critical”, November 12, 1974, page 6.

     Hartford Courant, “Crash Victim Off Critical List”, November 14, 1974, page 10.

     Aviation Safety Network

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”. 

     Sources:

     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 

 

 

Ashford, CT. – April 26, 1974

Ashford, Connecticut – April 26, 1974

     On the morning of April 26, 1974, a 27-year-old male pilot took off from Ellington, Connecticut, in a rented two-seat airplane.  At 8:44 a.m. the aircraft crashed into a small home in the town of Ashford.  The plane nosed almost straight down as it came crashing through the center of the roof and destroying the living room area, and then plowing  through to the basement where the nose struck the cement floor.  There was no fire or explosion. 

     Inside the house was a lone 57-year-old woman who was just coming out of her bedroom when the accident occurred.  The aircraft reportedly missed hitting her by about 12 inches.  Remarkably, the pilot was not seriously injured, and managed to free himself from the cockpit. 

     The cause of the crash was not stated.

     The house was later torn down.

     Source:

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Plane Rips Conn. Home; Pilot, Woman Live”, April 27, 1974, page 2 

 

 

New Milford, CT. – September 8, 1973

New Milford, Connecticut – September 8, 1973

     On September 8, 1973, an Aeronca amphibious type aircraft, (N3901E), with a man and woman from Washington, Connecticut, aboard, crashed and burned in a wooded area roughly 200 feet from the shore of the Housatonic River in New Milford.  The couple did not survive. 

     Sources:

     Providence Journal, “Couple Killed In West Conn. Plane Crash”, September 9, 1973, page A-20

     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “Victims of Plane Crash Identified”, September 11, 1973, page 12

     Aviation Safety Network, https://aviation-safety.net,  ASN Wikibase Occurrence 3134

Killingworth, CT – June 25, 1973

Killingworth, Connecticut – June 25, 1973 

 

     On At 6;20 p.m., on June 25, 1973, three men left East Haddam, Connecticut, in a Piper Cherokee, (N6427), bound for East Windsor, Connecticut.  One man was left at East Windsor, while the other two left to return to East Haddam.  It was now night time and weather conditions had deteriorated with low visibility.   

     Around 10:25 p.m. people living in the area of Hemlock Drive in the town of Killingworth reported hearing a plane in distress, and one man thought he heard a crash.  (Killingworth is southwest of East Haddam) 

     A search was instituted, and the plane was found the following morning in a thickly wooded area off Route 81.  The aircraft had suffered severe damage, and it’s two occupants were found deceased inside.     

     Source:

     The Middletown Press, (CT), “Two Men Die In Air Crash”, June 26, 1973, page 1.  (Photo of Airplane)

 

Ridgefield, CT – June 10, 1973

Ridgefield, Connecticut – June 10, 1973

     At approximately 1:30 a.m. on June 10, 1973, a Piper Cherokee 140 aircraft with four people aboard left Danbury Airport bound for MacArthur Field in Islip, New York.  Shortly after takeoff the plane crashed in a thickly wooded area of the Pine Mountain section of Ridgefield.  The plane was heavily damaged, but there was no fire.  (Ridgefield is a town that borders Danbury to the south.) 

     The four occupants of the plane, all from Long Island, New York, survived the crash and spent the night with the aircraft, and at first light began hiking back to the airport. 

     Source:

     Providence Journal, “Plane Crashes In Connecticut After Takeoff”, June 11, 1973, page 21.

Haddam, CT – June 9, 1973

Haddam, Connecticut – June 9, 1973

 

     In the early afternoon of June 9, 1973, a Piper Cherokee 150  carrying four people took off from East Haddam Airport. (Also reported in one newspaper to be the Bradway Airport, which had been operating since 1963.)  The weather that day was reportedly hot and humid.   Just after takeoff, the aircraft began crossing the Connecticut River, and after passing over the East Haddam Bridge it began loosing altitude.  The plane made it across the river and to the shoreline of the neighboring town of Haddam where it came down between two trees and its wings were torn off.  The fuselage then struck two cottages and burst into flame. 

     One man began spraying the wreckage with a garden hose while two others rescued occupants of the plane.  One passenger was able to free himself.

     One of the cottages was unoccupied at the time of the crash.  In the other, a birthday celebration was in progress.  One partygoer reportedly suffered leg burns, but everyone else was unharmed. 

     One cottage was reportedly destroyed, the other suffered significant damage. 

     Of the plane’s occupants, the 60-year-old pilot was killed.  Of the three passengers, one was admitted to the hospital with a broken arm, the other two were treated and released.   

     Sources:

     Providence Journal, “Passenger Dies As Plane Hits Cottage Porch”, June 10, 1973

     The Middletown Press, “Probe Pushed In crash Of Airplane In Haddam”, June 11, 1973,  (Two photos)

 

 

Ledyard, CT. – April 27, 1973

Ledyard, Connecticut – April 27, 1973

 

     On April 27, 1972, a New York doctor left Tweed-New Haven Airport in a single-engine Mooney MU-2 airplane bound for Fishers Island, New York.  He was alone at the time. Fishers Island is located in Long Island Sound, off the northern fork of Long Island, N.Y., not far from the Connecticut shore.   

     When the plane reached Fishers Island it was unable to land due to poor weather conditions, and was re-directed to Trumbull Airport in Groton, Connecticut.  The cloud ceiling was at 400 feet, and it was raining as the doctor made his way towards Groton.  Sometime around 7:00 p.m. radio contact with the plane was lost and it disappeared from radar screens.      

     A woman reportedly witnessed the plane crash and explode near her home in Ledyard around 7:00 p.m., but didn’t report it.  The following day she told her son about it and he notified police.  Troopers found the wreckage of the plane about 2:30 p.m. on April 28th, in a wooded area off Gallup Hill Road. 

     The Providence Journal, “Doctor Is Killed In Conn. Crash Of Light Plane”, April 29, 1973, page A-8 

     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “Doctor Killed In Ledyard Plane Crash”, April 29, 1973, page 17.

 

Litchfield, CT. – April 3, 1973

Litchfield, Connecticut – April 3, 1973

 Bantam lake

     On the evening of April 3, 1973, a piper Cherokee 180 left Worcester, Massachusetts, bound for Stewart Airport in Orange County, New York.   It is believed there were three people aboard, one being a student pilot.

     Shortly before 10:30 p.m., the control tower at Stewart Airport received a radio call from a pilot stating that his aircraft’s wings were icing up and that he was loosing altitude.  The pilot gave his position as being “over the Litchfield area.”

     At 10:30 p.m. a witness reported seeing an aircraft plunge into Bantam Lake off Point Folly.  The water depth in that area is between 10 to 18 feet. 

     Connecticut State Police divers responded to the scene and recovered two bodies, one a 37-year-old man from Washingtonville, New York, and the other a 30-year-old man from Newburgh, New York.  It was reported that divers were continuing the search for a third man believed to have been aboard, identified only as a “student pilot”. 

     Source:

     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “Two Killed In Connecticut Plane Crash”, April 4, 1973   

 

Norwich, CT. – September 26, 1970

Norwich, Connecticut – September 26, 1970

     At about 7:00 p.m. on the evening of September 26, 1970, a young couple from Montville, Connecticut, were flying in a single-engine aircraft over Norwich when the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing on the Shetucket River.  The pilot landed the aircraft so skillfully that there was very little structural damage. 

     The area of the river where the plane came down is reportedly very deep, and 500 to 600 feet wide.  As the aircraft gradually began to sink, the couple climbed on the roof.  By chance, they were rescued by two teenaged boys who lived along the river, and happened to be paddling by on a homemade raft.  

     Source:

     Providence Journal, “N. Y. Couple Killed – 5 Survive 2 Plane Accidents In Conn.”, September 28, 1970  (This article refers to another accident which occurred in Windham, Connecticut, on the same day.)  

Windham, CT. – September 26, 1970

Windham, Connecticut – September 26, 1970

 

     At 7:15 p.m. on September 26, 1970, a Piper Cherokee aircraft containing five family members left Windham Airport.  About fifteen minutes later the plane crashed into a wooded area off Route 203 not far from the airport.  When state police arrived at the scene they found the 49-year-old pilot deceased, and his wife in critical condition.  She later died of her injuries at Windham Memorial Hospital in Willimantic.  Their 21-year-old daughter and her two children were also treated at the hospital.

     Investigators learned that the couple had rented the airplane at Orange County Airport in Montgomery, New York, earlier in the day, and had flown to Windham to meet their daughter and grandchildren.

     Source:

    Providence Journal, “N.Y. Couple Killed – 5 Survive 2 Plane Accidents In Conn.”, September 28, 1970    

Brainard Field, CT. – January 31, 1970

Brainard Field, Hartford, Connecticut – January 31, 1970

     On January 31, 1970, two single-engine private aircraft collided in mid-air over Brainard Air Field in Hartford.  Each plane, one a Piper Cherokee, the other a Piper Arrow, carried two people; all four were killed in the accident.  

     The Cherokee, containing a pilot-instructor and his student, fell into the Connecticut River, while the Arrow, containing two men from Ridgefield, Ct., crashed into a wooded section of the neighboring town of East Hartford.  It was not stated who was piloting either aircraft.

     According to witness reports, one aircraft was approaching from the south while the other from the west, each at an altitude of about 2,000 feet.  Then both went into a banking turn at the same time and collided at a 45 degree angle directly over the field.  It was not specified which plane struck the other.    

     Source:

     Providence Journal, “Four Die In Collision Of Two Light Planes”, February 1, 1970. (With photo)

Winsted, CT. – April 17, 1908

Winsted, Connecticut – April 17, 1908

     In early April of 1908, aeronaut Paul Roy of Hartford, Connecticut, and Merritt B. Heady of Winsted, purchased a balloon with the hopes of securing bookings at regional fairs over the upcoming summer doing balloon ascensions and parachute drops. 

     On April 17, 1908, the men were inflating the balloon for its inaugural flight about two miles from Winsted Center when it suddenly caught fire.  The flames were quickly extinguished but repairs would be necessary before they could attempt another flight.  Paul Roy, who was strapped to his parachute while waiting to take off was not injured.  Nor was Mr. Heady.

     Sources:

     Hartford Courant, “Paul Roy To Buy Hot Air Balloon”, April 11, 1908

     Hartford Courant, “Young Roy’s New Balloon – Caught Fire Before Initial Ascension Could Be Made”, April 18, 1908

New Haven, CT. – September 15, 1893

New Haven, Connecticut – September 15, 1893

 

     On the afternoon of September 15, 1893, aeronaut “Prince Leo”, age 16, was scheduled to perform a balloon ascension and parachute drop at Savin Rock in New Haven.  An estimated crowd of 1,000 people had gathered to watch the event.  After the balloon had risen about 300 feet it suddenly developed a tear allowing the gas to escape.  The balloon, with Prince Leo still aboard, rapidly fell and crashed into the top of a tree.  The impact tossed Leo from the car and he hit a live electrical wire used by trolleys.  When help arrived he was badly cut and in shock from the jolt, but he later recovered.    

     “Prince Leos” real name was Albert Leo Stevens, (1877 – 1944) who went on to become a world famous aeronaut.   Stevens began performing under the stage name, “Prince Leo, the boy aeronaut”, when he was just 13.  

     Sources:

     Weekly Expositor, (Michigan), “A Cheap Excursion To Saginaw”, (A fair advertisement), May 9, 1890

     Hartford Courant, (Conn.), “Am Aeronaut’s Fall – Prince Leo Nearly Loses His Life At Savin Rock”, September 16, 1893  

 

Stamford, CT. – May 31, 1922

Stamford, Connecticut – May 31, 1922

Stamford Harbor

 

     On May 31, 1922, William Purcell of New York City was piloting his airplane along the Connecticut shore line with a passenger who was taking aerial photographs when the engine began running erratically.  Purcell safely brought the plane down near the property of W. W. Skiddy in Stamford, and after making repairs took off again.  As the plane was ascending the engine suddenly lost power, and the aircraft dove into Stamford Harbor and embedded itself in the mud.  Purcell and his passenger escaped uninjured and swam to shore.   

     The type of airplane was not stated. 

     Source:

     Hartford Courant, (Conn.) “Airplane Falls In Stamford Harbor”, June 1, 1922

New Haven Harbor, CT. – June 21, 1919

New Haven Harbor, Connecticut – June 21, 1919 

     On June 21, 1919, Thomas R. Haggerty, of West Haven, Connecticut, was flying over the New Haven area with an unidentified passenger  when his airplane went down in New Haven Harbor.  (The cause was not stated.)

     Two men in a passing sailboat witnessed the crash and turned their boat toward the spot where the plane went down.  Both jumped into the water and dove to the bottom where Haggerty and his passenger remained trapped in their seats, being held in place by the safety straps.  After cutting the straps, the men brought the airmen to the surface.  Haggerty reportedly had to be resuscitated. 

      Source:

     Hartford Courant, “Narrow Escape For New Haven Flyer”, June 22, 1919 

 

 

 

Rockville, CT. – September 19, 1911

Rockville, Connecticut – September 19, 1911

Rockville is a village within the town of Vernon, Connecticut.

     On September 19, 1911, a balloon ascension and double parachute drop was scheduled to take place at the Rockville Fair in the Rockville section of Vernon.  The two parachutists were identified as “Eddie” Berlinger of Woonsocket, Rhode island, and Professor Marsh, address unknown.  Each was to use more than one parachute in their jump, cutting away from one before deploying another.  

     When the time came, the balloon began to ascend with both men aboard, but after rising to an altitude of several hundred feet it began to descend because it wasn’t buoyant enough to support the weight of both men.   As the balloon began to fall, Berlinger made his jump.  His first parachute opened successfully, but after cutting away from it, his second chute didn’t have enough time to open sufficiently due to his being too near to the ground.  Berlinger struck the ground and was transported unconscious to a hospital in Hartford, and it was reported that doctors held “slight hope” of his recovery. 

     Meanwhile, after being relieved of Berlinger’s weight, the balloon once again began ascending with Marsh still aboard.  When he thought it had risen to a safe altitude, Marsh made his jump with the intent of using three parachutes.  However, when he opened the third he was almost too low to the ground, but his chute deployed enough to slow him down just enough so that when he hit the field he didn’t receive any life threatening injuries.

     Ironically, Berlinger wasn’t scheduled to make the ascension with Marsh, for the professor usually did his parachute jumps with his son.  However, on this day, Marsh’s son was unable to attend so Berlinger was asked to take his place.          

     Source:

     Hartford Courant, (Conn.), “Ballonist Falls At Rockville Fair – Substitute Aeronaut Fatally Hurt When Parachute Fails To Open”, September 20, 1911 

New Britain, CT. – August 18, 1896

New Britain, Connecticut – August 18, 1896

 

     On the afternoon of August 18, 1896, aeronaut Dan Barnell was scheduled to make a balloon ascension and parachute jump at White Oak Park in New Britain.   As the balloon began to rise, flames suddenly became visible, and began to consume the balloon.  When the balloon reached an altitude of about 100 feet it stopped rising and began to rapidly fall back to earth.  Barnell jumped clear when the balloon was just a few feet from the ground, and his fall was broken by his brother-in-law, Charles Griswold, who managed to grab hold of him as he fell.   Neither Barnell or Griswold were injured but the balloon was damaged beyond repair.  The cause of the fire was not stated.

     The incident was also witnessed by Barnell’s wife.

     Source:

     Hartford Courant, (Conn.), “New Britain Affairs – Dan Barnell Drops 100 Feet With His Balloon”, August 19, 1896

Winchester, CT. – September 18, 1921

Winchester, Connecticut – September 18, 1921

     Highland Lake is located in the town of Winchester, Connecticut.  During the summer of 1921, a pilot identified as “Gus” Parsons had been at Highland Lake offering sight-seeing flights.  On the evening of September 18, 1921, he took off with Mrs. George S. Green of Hartford, but darkness settled in faster than expected, and Parsons was unable to locate his landing field in the fading light.  He brought the plane down in a peach orchard on a hill overlooking the lake but nosed-over and broke the propeller and stove the nose into the ground.  There were no injuries.   

     Source:

     Hartford Courant, (Conn.), “Hartford Woman’s Narrow Escape In Airplane Mishap”, September 19, 1921

Plainville, CT. – March 8, 1919

Plainville, Connecticut – March 8, 1919

     On March 8, 1919, aviator Hugh Rockwell, and John H. Trumbull, left New York in Rockwell’s two-passenger aircraft after attending an airplane show.  Within thirty minutes (Traveling at 100 mph), the pair was 8,000 feet over Plainville where Trumbull lived.  There Rockwell performed a series of stunts before landing.  Rockwell had hoped to land on Trumbull’s property, but as he was about to touch down, a gust of wind forced the tail to drop and hit the ground, then bounce up, and send the front of the plane plowing into the ground approximately 50 feet from Trumbull’s house. 

     The aircraft was wrecked. Both men were shaken up, but neither was seriously hurt. 

     This was reported buy the Hartford Courant newspaper to be the first airplane crash to occur in Plainville.  (Another would occur on June 23, 1919.) 

     This was Trumbull’s second flight in an airplane, and the accident didn’t deter him from future flights.  In fact, John Trumbull later became governor of the State of Connecticut, and at the age of 53 obtained his pilot’s license, the first governor in the country to do so.   He became known as the “Flying Governor”.     

     Source:

     Hartford Courant, “Airplane Wrecked In Plainville Fall”, March 9, 1919

 

 

 

Salisbury, CT. – September 1, 1913

Salisbury, Connecticut – September 1, 1913

 

     On September 1, 1913, aeronaut Jack Crosby, 35, was giving a balloon exhibition at a fair in Salisbury, Connecticut.  Part of his act involved him to hang by his teeth while suspended from his balloon.   As he was performing about 75 feet in the air before a crowd of about 4,000 people, his balloon suddenly began to collapse, and as it fell it struck a telephone pole.  The impact knocked Crosby loose and he fell to the ground and received critical injuries.  The half inflated balloon then came down upon several spectators injuring some of them. 

     Crosby was transported to the hospital in Winsted. 

     Source:

     Hartford Courant, (Conn.), “Balloonist Falls At Salisbury Fair”, September 2, 1912

 

Wethersfield, CT. – May 19, 1911

Wethersfield, Connecticut – May 19, 1911

     On May 19, 1911, Peter Dione, described as “a youthful aviator”,  attempted to fly his airplane between Wethersfield and Franklin Avenues near the Wethersfield-Hartford city line.  After rising to an altitude of forty feet the aircraft suddenly nosed over and fell to earth.  Just before impact, Dione leaped clear and landed in some tall grass which cushioned his fall and saved his life.  His injuries were minor. The aircraft smashed into the ground and was wrecked, but it was thought that the motor might be salvaged.

     Dione, who was from New Britain, Connecticut, had reportedly been working on the airplane for several weeks, keeping it at the former Goodrich Paper Factory on Franklin Avenue.  It was further reported that he also had two other aircraft stored there. 

     The day before his accident, he’d flown the same airplane, but was only able to attain an altitude of ten feet before landing safely.   

     Source:

    Hartford Courant, “Youthful Aviator Falls Forty Feet”, May 20, 1911 

New Britain, CT. – April 23, 1911

New Britain, Connecticut – April 23, 1911 

 

     On April 23, 1911, well known aviator Charles K. Hamilton was at the newly opened aviation field at what had been the “Andrews tract” located in the “Stanley Quarter” section of New Britain to make a test flight of his newly acquired airplane.  An estimated 10,000 people had arrived that morning to watch the event, for airplanes were still a rarity in 1911.  However, due to unfavorable weather the crowds were forced to wait around most of the day.  Unfortunately, by late afternoon most had gone home before conditions had changed to the point where Hamilton decided to make his flight. 

     The aircraft took off and headed west, rising to an altitude of about 100 feet.  After about a half mile the plane suddenly swerved to one side and went down near a ravine crumpling the wings and trapping Hamilton in the twisted wreckage.  The crowds swarmed over the plane, and after Hamilton was extricated, proceeded to remove “souvenirs”.   

     Hamilton’s injuries were minor. 

     The type of airplane wasn’t specified. 

     Source:

     Hartford Courant, “Hamilton’s New Aeroplane Wrecked”, April 24, 1911

       

Manchester, CT., – June 12, 1914

Manchester, Connecticut – June 12, 1914

Charter Oak Park

     On June 12, 1914, famous aviator Lincoln J. Beachey, and famous race car driver Barney Oldfield were at Charter Oak Park in Manchester to give an exhibition race; car vs. airplane.

     Oldfield opened the exhibition by circling the dirt track in his “First Cyclone” automobile, completing a one mile run in 52 seconds, a remarkable speed for the era.  Beachey then took off for a trial flight before beginning a series of minor stunts and finally landing in front of the grandstand.  

     The weather was hot, and Beachey commented that he might fly into a cloud to cool off.    Oldfield reportedly bet him $100 that his airplane couldn’t reach the clouds.  Beachey accepted the wager and disappeared into some clouds at 6,500 feet.  After re-appearing, Beachey amazed spectators by performing a few stunts, including flying upside down.  Beachey then landed amidst thunderous applause from the crowds.

     Awhile later it was time for the main event.  As Oldfield readied his 300 hp automobile, this one named “Christie”, Beachey prepared for flight.  Then Beachey took off and headed in a westerly direction, but then the engine started skipping.   As he attempted to adjust the fuel mixture the aircraft lost power, and to avoid hitting a cusp of trees Beachey had to turn the aircraft which caused the plane to fall and “cartwheel” into the ground.   

     One of the first to reach the wreck was officer J. H. Moriarty of the Manchester police, who helped extricate Beachey from the tangled mess.  Beachey was driven to the Hotel Hublein in Mr. Oldfield’s Packard where he was attended by Doctor O. C. Smith.  Although dazed and bruised, his injuries were not life threatening.            

     Less than a year later Lincoln Beachey was killed in another plane crash in San Francisco on March 14, 1915. 

     Source: Hartford Courant, “Beachey’s Life Saved By Aeroplane Somersaulting Over Him After fall From Height Of 50 Feet”, June 13, 1914

    

Haddam, CT. – November 18, 1921

Haddam, Connecticut – November 18, 1921 

     On November 18, 1921, a small seaplane left New York bound for Springfield, Massachusetts.  There were three people aboard: the pilot, Frank Little, of Haddenfield, New Jersey; his mechanic, James Delaney, of Freeport, New York; and a passenger identified as 60-year-old H. D. Lindsiey, of Springfield, Massachusetts.    

     When the aircraft reached Connecticut the pilot began following the Connecticut River which would lead them north to the city of Springfield.  Not long afterwards the plane encountered heavy fog conditions and crashed in a swampy area at Haddam Neck in the town of Haddam.  

     Mr. Lindsiey was killed in the crash.  Little and Delaney were transported to Middlesex Hospital for treatment. 

     Source: New York Tribune, “One Killed In Air Wreck – Seaplane Crashes Into tree While Fog Bound”, November 19, 1921  

East Granby, CT – March 20, 1969

East Granby, Connecticut – March 20, 1969

     On January 15, 2017, a Connecticut resident contacted New England Aviation History to inquire about the red and white fuselage of a civilian aircraft that they’d found while hiking in the woods of East Granby.  (Name withheld to protect their privacy. )

     Photos of the aircraft showed the registration number to be N8019Z.  Additionally, there is a bird logo with the name “Utililine” underneath it on the side of the fuselage.

    According to the National Transportation & Safety Board (NTSB) website, the aircraft is a Cessna U206 that went down in the woods on March 20, 1969.  The lone pilot aboard survived, but the plane was determined to be “damaged beyond repair”, and was evidently left where it fell.  Over the years scavengers have removed the interior and pieces of the exterior of the aircraft.   

     The registration number of this aircraft has since been re-issued to another plane.

     This information is provided here to assist others who may happen upon the fuselage and wonder about the story behind it.     

     Sources: NTSB website, www.NTSB.gov, NTSB ID # NYC69FO385

                     Aviation Safety Network, https:://aviation-safety.net

 

Farmington, CT – October 19, 1962

Farmington, Connecticut – October 19, 1962

 

     On the night of October 19, 1962, Allegheny Airlines Flight 928 was making its way from Philadelphia to Hartford, Connecticut, with 48 passengers and a crew of 4 aboard. (Pilot, co-pilot- and two flight attendants) The aircraft was a twin-engine Convair CV-340-440, (Registration N8415H).

     About midway through the trip, flight attendant Francoise de Moriere noticed a steady whistle coming from the rubber seal around a service door at the rear of the plane. It was the kind of whistle one hears when an automobile’s window is slightly open while the vehicle is traveling down the highway at 60 mph.

     The noise was due to air escaping from the pressurized cabin. Just how long this had been taking place is uncertain, for the door had been tightly sealed when the plane left Philadelphia almost an hour earlier. Simply opening and re-closing it wasn’t an option.   

     Miss de Moriere alerted the pilot of the situation who then instructed the co-pilot to investigate and see what could be done. After examining the door, it was decided the problem could be “fixed” by stuffing pillow cases around the door seals to stop the noise.  

     A man seated in the rear of the plane had observed their actions, and chatted briefly with Miss de Moriere after the co-pilot returned to the cockpit. She then excused herself and went to the rear of the cabin to use the public address system to notify passengers to begin stowing any loose items in preparation for landing. Just as she’d finished, the service door suddenly blew open and Miss de Moriere was sucked out of the airplane.

     The other flight attendant aboard happened to be using the restroom at the rear of the cabin when the decompression occurred. The lavatory door blew open, and she might have suffered the same fate had it not been for the quick actions of two passengers.

     Miss de Moriere’s body was later recovered in a pasture near New Britain Avenue and Red Oak Hill Road in Farmington, Connecticut, a small town just southwest of Hartford.

   Miss de Moriere was born in Paris, France, and at the time of her death made her home in Alexandria, Virginia. She’d been with the airline for 26 months.

     Once on the ground the aircraft was impounded by the state police and held for investigation. None of the passengers suffered any significant injury. 

     Sources:

Hartford Courant, “Stewardess Falls From Airliner Over Farmington”, October 20, 1962

Providence Journal, “Stewardess Is Killed In Fall From Airliner – Door Is Blown Out Of Plane”, October 20, 1962, Page 1  

Providence Journal, “Stewardess’ Death Probed”, October 21, 1962, page N50

Hartford Courant, ”CAB May Recommend Rules On Plane Doors”, October 25, 1962

Providence Journal, “Faulty Door Caused Crash”, April 27, 1963, Page 15

Hartford Courant, “Insecure Door Blamed For Stewardess’ Death”, July 19, 1963

Providence Journal, “Airline Pilot Blamed In Death Of Hostess”, July 19, 1963, page 31

Website – www.planecrashinfo.com

Town of Farmington, Connecticut, death records

 

Long Island Sound – June 22, 1971

Long Island Sound – June 22, 1971

Between Fisher’s Island, N.Y., and New London, Ct.

     At approximately 6:30 A.M. on the morning of June 22, 1971, a red and white Cessna 172E, (#N 3831S), with four men aboard, took off from Windham Airport in Windham Connecticut bound for Fisher’s Island, New York.   

     The men were identified as:

     Dr. Harry Fox, 58, of Back Rd., Windham, Ct.

     Peter A. Tambornini, Sr., (Age unk.) of Main St. Willamantic, Ct.

     Charles V. Miale, 46, of Atwoodville Rd., Mansfield Center, Ct.

     Walter A. Card, 51, of Lover’s Lane Rd., Windham, Ct.     

     The purpose of the trip was reportedly to participate in a golf tournament.  The plane arrived safely at Fisher’s Island, but when it came time to return to Connecticut later in the day heavy fog had settled in over the area.  The return trip was expected to take 30 minutes and would require a flight path over Long Island Sound.  Shortly after take off, what was described as an explosion over the Sound was heard, but due to the fog nothing was sighted.  The Coast Guard initiated a search and rescue operation but nothing was found, and according to the NTSB report-brief, no wreckage was ever recovered.       

     Sources:

     National Transportation Safety Board report #NTSB  NYC71AN126

     Hartford Courant, (Conn.) “Four Feared dead In Crash Of Light Plane In Sound”, June 24, 1971

Willimantic, CT – September 15, 1910

Willimantic, Connecticut – September 15, 1910

 

   balloon  On September 15, 1910, an unidentified male aeronaut ascended in a balloon from the Willimantic Fair that was being sponsored by the Horseshoe Park Agricultural Association.  A gusty wind was blowing at the time, and once aloft the balloon caught fire.  As flames spread rapidly, the aeronaut was forced to jump, grabbing with him three parachutes, one of which was also on fire.  The second parachute didn’t open properly, and there evidently wasn’t time to deploy the third.  The man plunged into the Willimantic River wrenching his back, but otherwise suffered only minor injuries and was able to swim to shore and walk back to the fair.    

     Source: Norwich Bulletin, “Willimantic Fair” – “Aeronaut Falls Into River”, September 16, 1910

Near Glastonbury, CT – November 5, 1954

Near Glastonbury, Connecticut – November 5, 1954

 

     At approximately 6:45 p.m., a twin-engine Lockheed Lodestar, (N9201H), departed New York’s La Guardia Airport bound for Boston’s Logan Airport.  There were five people aboard, a pilot, co-pilot, and three passengers. 

     When the aircraft was about 12 miles southeast of Hartford, Connecticut, the right engine began to back fire and skip.  Unable to correct the problem, the pilot feathered the propeller and was granted permission for an emergency landing at Bradley Field in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

     The aircraft made a wide turn over the area of Willamantic, Connecticut, and was making its way towards Bradly Field it crashed in a wooded area and broke apart.  Some portions of the fuselage caught fire after the crash.

     The Civil Aeronautics Board Accident Investigation Report locates the crash site as “approximately 9 miles south-southeast of Glastonbury, Connecticut, and approximately 25 miles south-southeast of Bradley Field”.

     At least one newspaper article places the crash site in an alfalfa field in Glastonbury.

     The pilot, co-pilot, and one passenger were thrown clear of the wreckage.  The other two passengers were trapped inside, and had to break the window of the jammed emergency exit door to escape.   

     The co-pilot, Whitney H. Welch, 24, received fatal injuries.   

     The aircraft belonged to the owner of the Boston Post newspaper.

    Sources:

    Civil Aeronautics Board Accident Investigation Report, file #2-0046, adopted May 3, 1955, released May 6, 1955.

     Lewiston Evening Journal, “Boston Post’s Plane Crashes, Burns”, November 6, 1954 

Ansonia Airport, CT – November 14, 1954

Ansonia Airport, Ansonia Connecticut

November 14, 1954

 

     On November 14, 1954, a single-engine Stinson aircraft with three people aboard was attempting to land at Ansonia Airport when the landing gear caught on a wire at the edge of the field causing the plane to crash.    Fortunately, all aboard suffered only minor injuries. 

     Those aboard the aircraft were members of the Connecticut Civil Air Patrol, and were arriving at Ansonia for an air show.  They were identified as Capt. Raoul J. Benoit, a doctor, Eleanor E. Cottrell, a nurse, and Lt. William E. Buckolz. 

     Source:

     The Day, “The Day In Connecticut”, November 15, 1954, page 22.    

     Other Ansonia Airport Accidents

     On May 24, 1958, a single-engine aircraft crashed just after takeoff from Ansonia Airport and struck a house located about 100 yards  from the airport.  At time of the accident, the home was  occupied by a man and his wife.  Fortunately, the couple wasn’t injured, and the 51-year-old pilot from New Haven, Connecticut, suffered only minor injuries. 

     The pilot told authorities that his aircraft was caught in a sudden downdraft.

     Source: (Bridgeport, CT.) Sunday Herald, “Pilot Survives Crash Into Roof, Call It A Miracle”, May 25, 1958  

     On September 27, 1963, an aircraft containing three men in their early 20s crashed on takeoff from Ansonia Airport.  The pilot was admitted to a local hospital with head injuries.  The two passengers also suffered unspecified injures.

     The aircraft belonged to the airport, and had been rented to the men a short time before the accident.  

     Source: (Meriden, CT) The Morning Record, “3 Hurt As Plane Crashes At Ansonia”, September 28, 1963

     In October of 1970, a large fire swept through the hangar at Ansonia Airport. 

     Source: (New London, CT), The Day, “Hangar Burns At Ansonia Airport”, October 17, 1970, page 7.   

East Hartford, CT – August 15, 1939

Hartford, Connecticut – August 15, 1939

 

     On August 15, 1939, a Lockheed Electra owned by a prominent New York advertising executive was flown from Roosevelt Field on Long Island, New York, to Rentschler Field, in East Hartford, Connecticut to have the engines inspected.  After the inspection, the aircraft took off at 4:15 p.m. to go back to New York. 

     There were five people aboard, a crew of two, and three passengers.  

     The pilot, Wynn Bradford of Flushing, N.Y.

     The co-pilot, Eli Abramson, of Hempstead, N.Y.

     Michael Madrazo, of Corona, N. Y.

     Joseph Kransky, of Jamaica, N.Y.

     George Daulfkirsch of East Elmhurst, N.Y.

     Just after the plane cleared the border fence at the end of the runway, the left wing dipped, hit the ground, and spun the plane which crashed.  All five aboard were thrown clear of the wreckage.  Michael Madrazo, and Joseph Kransky were killed.  The pilot and co-pilot were transported in critical condition to a nearby hospital.  George Daulfkirsch was also hospitalized, but with lesser injuries.   The fuselage was destroyed by fire.

     Source:

     Lewiston Daily Sun, “Two Killed, Three Hurt In Hartford Plane Crash”, August 16, 1939 

             

Bridgeport, CT – June, 1904

Bridgeport, Connecticut – June, 1904

 

    balloon The source for this story was dated July 11, 1904, but the date of the incident was reported as “a few weeks ago”, which assumedly means it occurred sometime during the month of June. 

     A woman identified as Miss Carrie Meyers was scheduled to give a balloon exhibition at a charity event being held in Bridgeport.  All seemed to be going well as she made her ascent, until she reached an altitude of between 400 and 500 feet, and the balloon suddenly caught fire.  As the flames rose, Miss Meyers attempted to leave the balloon using a parachute, but was unable to effect its release from the gondola.  In short order the flames ate through the balloon causing it to plunge to the ground where it dropped into a large tree which miraculously broke the fall.  When spectators rushed over they discovered that Miss Meyers had suffered only minor injuries.     

     Source:

     The Salt Lake Tribune, “Fell Hundreds Of Feet”, (Girl In A Burning Balloon With Useless Parachute), July 11, 1904      

Norwich, CT – September 3, 1913

Norwich, Connecticut – September 3, 1913

Maplewood Cemetery

     The 1913 New London County Fair was held in Norwich, Connecticut, on September 1st, 2nd, & 3rd.  On the last day of the fair, a young aviator identified as Knox Martin was giving demonstration flights of his Curtis bi-plane.  During the course of the day he made four successful flights, taking off from the fair grounds, circling the city, and landing back at the fair.  At 3:00 p.m. he took off on his fifth flight and headed in a southerly direction, but before long his motor started skipping so he turned back towards the fair grounds.  As he was making his approach at an altitude of 700 feet the motor quit and Martin began looking for a clear area to land.  Seeing the Maplewood Cemetery below, he made for it, but as he neared the ground he saw that he was going to collide with a large tree, so he made a sharp turn to avoid it.  While doing so he was pitched from the plane and fell to the ground.  Meanwhile the airplane continued on and wrecked in the cemetery. 

     Surprisingly, Martin only received bumps and burses.  By 3:45 p.m. he was back at the fair grounds waving to cheering crowds.  

     Source:

     The Day, “Airship Smashed At Norwich Fair”, September 4, 1913.     

Stratford, CT – January 10, 1975

Stratford, Connecticut – January 10, 1975

Updated July 30, 2018

     At 12:30 p.m. on January 10, 1975, a twin-engine Piper Apache airplane took off from Meriden-Wallingford Airport bound for Farmingdale, Long Island, N.Y.  Shortly before 12:53 p.m., the engine developed mechanical difficulty while passing over Stratford.  Witnesses later told reporters that they heard the engine skipping before the airplane went into a nosedive and crashed and exploded.  The aircraft went down on Cutspring Road, a residential area in the northern part of Stratford, but no homes were damaged.  The 54-year-old pilot from Long Island was the only person aboard, and was killed instantly.

     Sources:

     New York Times, “L.I. Businessman is Killed In Connecticut Plane Crash”, January 11, 1975.    

     Hartford Courant, “Man Dies In Plane Crash”, January 11, 1975, with photo of accident scene. Page 9.

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Conn. Plane Crash Kills Pilot”, January 11, 1975, page 2

Groton, CT- March 14, 1984

Groton, Connecticut – March 14, 1984

Groton – New London Airport

     In the early morning hours of March, 14, 1984, a single-engine plane was attempting to land at Groton-New London Airport in rain and fog conditions, when it crashed in a marshy area about 600 feet before Runway 5.  The plane hit a small island that it submerged during high tide. The 67-year-old pilot was killed.  No other persons were aboard.

     Sources:

     New York Times, “Physicist, 67, Dies In Crash Of His Plane In Connecticut”, March 15, 1984

     The Day, “Plane Crash Investigators Still Uncertain About Cause”, March 15, 1984, Pg. 6  

Trumbull, CT – August 4, 1967

Trumbull, Connecticut – August 4, 1967

     At 10:40 p.m. on August 4, 1967, a Cessna 182 with two couples aboard took off from Bridgeport Airport. (Igor Sikorsky Memorial Airport) 

     It is speculated that shortly after take off the plane’s engine began to malfunction based on two witnesses who told police they heard the engine sputtering just before the plane crashed off Porter’s Hill Road in the neighboring town of Trumbull.  The crash occurred less than fifteen minutes after departure.

     The plane came down in a wooded area about 250 yards from a development of private homes, and about 75 yards in from the roadway, and burst into flames. 

     Sources:

     The Morning Record, “Four Killed In Trumbull Plane Crash”, August 5, 1967

     New York Times, “Connecticut Crash Kills Four In Plane”, August 6, 1967

 

East Granby, CT – March 4, 1953

East Granby, Connecticut – March 4, 1953

    

C-46D Commando  U. S. Air Force Photo

C-46D Commando
U. S. Air Force Photo

     On March 4, 1953, a civilian C-46 cargo plane owned by Slick Airways,  (N4717N), took off from Idlewild (Kennedy) Airport in New York City bound for Bradley International Airport.  (Bradley is on the town lines of East Granby and Windsor Locks Connecticut.)   The aircraft was carrying radio recordings for Armed Forces Radio Service.   

     As the C-46 approached for landing in a driving rain storm it crashed and exploded in a wooded area of East Granby, about 1.6 miles southwest of the runway, between South Main St. and Seymour Rd.   Both crewmen aboard were killed.

     The dead were identified as Jefferson R. Elliott, 32, of Des Plaines, Ill., and John Bielak, 37, of Elmhurst, Ill. 

     Updated August 4, 2016

     The aircraft involved in the accident was built for the U.S. Army Air Force during WWII, (Ser. #2509).  It was acquired by Slick Airways as surplus in July of 1947 and converted for civil use.  At the time of the accident it had 14,310 flying hours. 

     Sources:

     Spokane Daily Chronicle, “Crash Kills 2 Airmen”, March 4, 1953

     Reading Eagle, “Two Killed In Crash Of Big Cargo Plane”, March 5, 1953

     New York Times, “Connecticut Air Crash Kills 2”, March 5, 1953

     Wikipedia – Bradley International Airport

     Civil Aeronautics Board Accident Investigation Report, file number 1-0015, adopted September 17, 1953, released September 22, 1953

    

Pomfret, CT – August 28, 1988

Pomfret, Connecticut – August 28, 1988

     In the early morning hours of August 28, 1988, a small airplane with four people aboard left Keene, New Hampshire, bound for Windham Airport in Connecticut.  At 2:30 a.m. the aircraft abruptly disappeared from Windham radar and a search was instituted.  The wreckage was found at noon in a thickly wooded area of Pomfret.  All four persons aboard were killed.

     Source: New York Times, “4 Die In Plane Crash In Rural Connecticut”, August 29, 1988

Connecticut River – July 12, 1996

Connecticut River – July 12, 1996

Hartford-Brainard Airport

     At about 11:15 a.m., on July 12, 1996, a single-engine Piper Malibu with six people aboard took off from Hartford-Brainard Airport bound for Block Island, Rhode Island.  Five of the six  were members of the same family, the pilot was not related.  

    Just after take off the plane began to loose altitude as it passed over the nearby Connecticut River.  Two fishermen in a boat watched as the Piper as it dropped lower and lower.  One later remarked to reporters that at first he thought the pilot was going to buzz the river just before one wing caught the water and the plane dove in roughly 100 yards away from them.   

     The fishermen immediately went the assist any survivors, and were quickly joined by another boat.  Together they plucked two children and two adults from the water.  Two women were given floatation devices and kept afloat until fire department rescue boats arrived.  Although badly shaken from the ordeal, all six persons survived.

      Sources:    

     New York Times, “Fishermen Save 6 After Crash Of Small Plane”, July 13, 1996

    

Glastonbury, CT – October 11, 1989

Glastonbury, Connecticut – October 11, 1989

     On the evening of October 11, 1989, a single-engine Piper-Cherokee airplane crashed in the woods about 300 yards in from Route 3, near the Connecticut River and Putnam Bridge.  both the pilot and passenger were killed, but their names were not immediately released.

     One man who saw the wreckage stated that the plane had nosed in and the wings had been torn away.

     Source: New York Times, “2 Killed In Plane Crash In Connecticut Woods”, October 12, 1989 

Talcott Mountain, CT – December 19, 1884

Talcott Mountain, Connecticut – December 19, 1884

Zephaniah Phelps

Zephaniah Phelps

     If the following story is to be believed, it is perhaps the first mechanically involved aviation related accident to occur in the state of Connecticut, and possibly New England. 

     Zephaniah Phelps, age 75, was said to be an inventor whose main interests focused on perpetual motion and aerial flight.  He lived in a hut in the woods near the town of Avon, Ct., and reportedly wasn’t taken seriously by those who knew him.  Undaunted, Mr. Phelps built a flying-machine of his own design, and by the early winter of 1884 he was ready to test it. 

     On December 19, 1884, Phelps carried his invention to the top of Talcott Mountain where a tall wooden observation tower stood.  His flying-machine was designed to be worn on his back, and according to the Weekly Saratogian, “consisted of a strong but light gas generator, a combination of cog-wheels and pulleys and two light pitch turbine wheels, both arranged at a slight angle to the vertical.  The whole contrivance, including two tri-angular wings, weighed about sixty pounds.”       

     While standing atop the observation tower, Phelps donned his machine and secured himself to it with a rope.  After starting the small engine, he leaped into space. 

     “For a moment the machine rose a few feet and then began to drop.” the Weekly Saratogian reported, “Phelps found his generator losing power with every second and attempted to discover the cause.  By some mistake he opened the discharge valve and instantly was falling rapidly, with his turbine motionless and useless.  The only check to his descent were the two triangular wings.”

     Phelps dropped into some trees about 700 feet below the tower breaking several bones.   

     The newspaper account goes on to state he was found by a hiker who happened to hear his groans, which would seem to indicate that there hadn’t been any witnesses to the whole affair.  Phelps was reportedly carried to a house about a mile away for treatment of his injuries.

     “I do not care so much for my hurts,” Phelps was quoted in The National Police Gazette, “But I had hoped to make my name immortal, and now I am so crippled that I am afraid I can never fly.  It was not the fault of my principles or my machine.  When I got on top of the tower I strapped myself to the cylinder and tied on my turbine attachments.  Then I stood on the side and stared my gas machine.  The turbine wheels revolved as well as I had expected, and carried me clear of the tower and some feet away.  I was going finely when the wind caught me and turned me downward.”     

Updated August 13, 2018

     Two other aviation related accidents known to have occurred on Talcott Mountain happened in 1971 and 1972.

     On December 15, 1971, a Simsbury, Connecticut, pilot crashed on the mountain in heavy fog.  He reportedly escaped with only a few minor scratches.   

     On April 13, 1972, a man from Virginia was killed when his plane crashed and burned on Talcott Mountain in heavy fog.    

     Sources:

     Morning Journal and Courier, (New Haven, Ct.), “A Perilous Ride – An Old man’s Unsuccessful Trial Of A New Flying Machine”, December 22, 1884.

     Weekly Saratogian – Saratoga Springs “A Flying Machine Crank”, December 25, 1884

     The National Police Gazette, “Like A Falling Star”, January 17, 1885    

     Hartford Courant, “Crash on Takeoff Leaves Pilot Hurt”, January 23, 1975.  Article is primarily about a man who crashed in Simsbury, Connecticut, on January 22, 1975.  In that instance a Beechcraft Musketeer crashed in a field just after takeoff, after having completed its annual inspection.  The pilot was transported to a hospital for treatment. The end of the article relates that two other crashes had occurred in Simsbury, both on Talcott Mountain.

Updated August 29, 2018

     On September 21, 1976, a 29-year-old hang-glider from Wethersfield, Connecticut, was killed when he crashed just after taking off from the top of Talcott Mountain.  According to witnesses he fell 150 feet and came down in a tree.   

     Source: Providence Evening Bulletin, “Conn. Hang-Gliding Expert Killed,” September 22, 1976, page A-12. 

Hebron, CT – January 10, 1930

Hebron, Connecticut – January 10, 1930

     On January 10, 1930, Daniel Marra, and William Kirkpatrick, left Republic Airport in Farmingdale, Long Island, N.Y. in a Fairchild monoplane for what was to be a routine test flight.  When they failed to return authorities were notified and a search was begun, but no reports of downed aircraft had been received. 

     The missing plane was finally located on January 15th.  It had crashed in thickly wooded area on the grounds of the Amston Lake Club, in the Amston section of the town of Hebron, Connecticut.  The body of Daniel Marra was pinned underneath, and Kirkpatrick’s was found a few feet away having been thrown clear in the crash.   The wrist watches worn by the men had stopped at 10:10, and 10:20.   

     The plane was discovered by Fred Rowley, the gamekeeper of the Amston Lake Club, who had taken it upon himself to search the area after hearing a report of a neighbor who said he might have heard a plane crash the night the Fairchild went missing.  Rowley and a local boy John Johnston searched the area for a day and half before finding the burned wreck in an Oak tree on the south side of the lake. (At the time they were looking for the lane, the main focus of the search was off Rocky Point, Long Island, where the plane was last sighted.)   

     William Kirkpatrick had been wearing a parachute, but Daniel Marra was not.  One person came forward who claimed he had heard the plane’s motor sputtering as it passed over the nearby town of Colchester.  Investigators discovered a small field with tire marks that matched the aircraft not far from the crash site, and speculated an attempt at an emergency landing was made there.  It was further surmised that Kirkpatrick could have jumped and saved himself, but chose to remain with Marra.       

Source: New York Times, “Two Fliers’ Bodies Found In Wreckage”, January 15, 1930

    

North Haven, CT – October 2, 1932

North Haven, Connecticut – October 2, 1932

     On October 2, 1932, a Stinson Junior monoplane with four people aboard crashed on the edge of a pasture in North Haven, just north of Clintonville Road. (Today Route 22) The plane had taken off from New Haven Airport shortly before.

     Three of the four persons aboard were killed.  The dead were identified as (Pilot) George A. Smith, 29, and his brother Lester, 23, and Mrs. Beatie Russner, 25, of East Have, Connecticut.  Mrs. Russner’s brother, John A. Hood, 28, of West Haven, survived.

     Source:

     New York Times, “3 Men And Woman Die When Plane Crashes”, October 3, 1932   

   

    

East Granby, CT – November 12, 1995

East Granby, Connecticut – November 12, 1995

     On the night of November 11, 1995, American Airlines Flight 1572 departed Chicago bound for Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. (Bradley Airport is located on the Windsor Locks/East Granby town line.)

     The aircraft was a McDonnell Douglas MD-83, (N566AA) with 73 passengers and a crew of 5 aboard.

     At 1:55 a.m. on November 12, Flight 1572 was making its final approach to Runway 15 at Bradley in scattered clouds when it struck a tree and instrument landing system antenna short of the runway.  The plane came down in a grassy area short of the runway on the East Granby side of the town line.

   Damage to the aircraft was substantial.  One passenger received minor injuries – there were no fatalities.      

     Source:

     National Transportation Safety Board Accident Investigation Report #NTSB-AAR-96/05, PB96-910405, DCA96MA008.

Stratford, CT – July 23, 1933

Stratford, Connecticut – July 23, 1933

     James A. Mollison and his wife Amy Johnson were two famous aviators, each in their own right.  In July of 1933 they decided to fly their private aircraft, Seafarer, (British registration G-ACCV) across the Atlantic Ocean from Pendine Sands, Wales, to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York.   After flying 3, 190 miles in 39 hours, they found themselves over Bridgeport Airport in Stratford, Connecticut.  (Today the airport is known as Sikorsky Memorial Airport.)

     By this time fatigue had set in for both flyers, and the aircraft was also dangerously low on fuel, so landing at the airport seemed their only option as it was clear they’d never make it to Brooklyn.  The Seafarer made several aborted landing attempts before flying out over the marshlands where the Housatonic River empties into Long Island Sound.  It was there the plane made a crash landing in the weeds and flipped over in the muck.   Fortunately both husband and wife weren’t seriously injured, and only required a brief hospital stay.

     The Seafarer was custom built by de Havilland for the couple. 

     Videos of this aircraft and the crash site can be found on Youtube.      

      Source:

     New York Times, “Mollisons Crash At Bridgeport: Both Are Injured, Plane Wrecked; Had Flown From Wales in 39 Hours”, July 24, 1933, pg. 1    

Off Waterford, CT – February 10, 1970

Waterford, Connecticut – February 10, 1970

In Long Island Sound

     At 4:21 p.m., Pilgrim Airlines Flight 203 left Trumbull Airport (Today known as Groton-New London Airport) bound for J.F. K. International Airport in New York.  It had been scheduled to depart at 4:05 p.m., and arrive at 4:55 p.m.  (The sixteen minute delay was due to ground delays, and no fault of the crew.)

     The aircraft was a turbo-prop De Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter, registration N124PM.

     There were five persons on board: the pilot, Alfred Crofts, 44, of North Stonington, Connecticut; the first officer, George B. Fox, 23, of Orient Point, New York, and three passengers; David F. Baker, George T. West Jr., and Willis G. Worchester.  The three passengers had just been visiting the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in Groton, Connecticut.  

     Weather and visibility conditions were poor, and the pilot was flying on Instrument Flight Rules (IFR).  When the flight reached the New York area it was put in a holding pattern for an extended period of time.  

     By 5:00 p.m. conditions at Kennedy had deteriorated.

     At 5:27 p.m. Flight 203 was contacted by Kennedy to establish radar identification, however it was learned that the radar transponder aboard the aircraft wasn’t working.  After several attempts to remedy the problem without success, Flight 203 was diverted to Tweed Airport in New Haven, Connecticut. 

     At 6:13 p.m. Flight 203 was cleared for approach to Tweed.  However, at 6:17 p.m. the pilot reported they’d missed the approach, and the flight was advised to contact the Westchester (NY) Approach Control as part of standard missed-approach procedure.  

     Flight 203 established contact with Westchester and asked for the weather at Groton, Connecticut, and the controller advised he would get the weather and give instructions. 

     The flight responded, “203, roger. We’d appreciate it if you hurry.” 

     Groton weather was then transmitted to 203.

     At 6:18 p.m. Flight 203 again contacted Westchester Approach Control: “Westchester, we’d like to ah get direct Groton right now.”  Westchester advised they were working on getting clearance.

     203 repeated that they had to get Groton, and the Westchester controller replied he had to coordinate with New York, and was in the process of doing so.

     At 6:20 p.m. Flight 203 advised, “Ah, Westchester, 203, ah we got minimum fuel now, we gotta get to Groton.”

     “Pilgrim 203,” the controller responded, “I have advised Kennedy of that, they’re working on your clearance now, and I’ll have something as soon as they give it to me.”  

     Flight 203 was granted clearance shortly afterwards, and made its approach to Groton at 100 feet off the water due to a 200 foot cloud ceiling.  On final approach the pilot was in communication with his company via radio.  As he skimmed over the water hoping to make shore, he reported that one engine had stopped.  Seconds later the other engine quit, and the pilot advised he was going to ditch.  The plane crashed into Long Island Sound in 60 feet of water off Harkness Point.  It had run out of fuel.

     All aboard perished. When the plane was recovered from the bottom, it was discovered that no bodies were inside.  Two of the passengers bodies were recovered at a later date, but the flight crew and the other passenger were never found.  

     Sources:

     NTSB Investigation Report, Report # NTSB-AAR-71-1, File #3-0001, SA-418, Adopted January 27, 1971   

    (Connecticut) The Morning Record, “Evidence Probed In Plane Crash”, April 1, 1970 page 20   

    

 

East Haven, CT – June 7, 1971

East Haven, Connecticut – June 7, 1971

     At 7:14 a.m. on June 7, 1971, Allegheny Airlines Flight 485 departed Washington D.C.  bound for Trumbull Airport, (Today known as Groton-New London Airport) in Connecticut.  The flight arrived at 8:13 a.m. but weather conditions prevented landing, and the aircraft was put in a holding pattern.

     The aircraft was an Allison Prop Jet Convair 340/440, registration number N5832.  

     At 8:35 a.m. the weather at Groton-New London was reported to be an indefinite ceiling at 200 feet, with visibility one mile in fog, and surface winds at 220 degrees blowing at 5 knots.

     At 8:41 Flight 485 requested clearance to land under Instrument Flight Rules, and four minutes later clearance was granted. 

     At 8:52 a.m. Flight 485 reported a “missed approach”.  Over the next few minutes the pilot attempted two more IFR landings without success. By this point visibility had dropped to 3/4 of a mile and the cloud ceiling had dropped to 100 feet.

     Flight 485 landed successfully on the fourth attempt and arrived at the gate at 9:23 a.m.

     At that time 20 passengers got off the plane, and 14 new passengers boarded. The aircraft now contained 31 people: 2 pilots, 1 stewardess, 26 adult passengers, and 2 infants.  The flight departed at 9:33 a.m. bound for Tweed Airport in New Haven, Connecticut.

     At 9:48 a.m. Flight 485 was cleared to land on Runway 2 at Tweed Airport.  The weather at Tweed was a partially obscured sky with visibility at 1.75 miles in fog, and wind blowing at 180 degrees at 5 knots.

     As the aircraft was making its final approach, it came in very low over the water of Long Island Sound amid intermittent fog and clouds.  Moments before reaching land, it had dropped to less than 30 feet above the water before it struck the upper portions of three beach houses along the shoreline of East Haven, Connecticut, near Morgan Point.  The impact of the homes was later determined to be only 25 feet above sea level.  (The three homes were set ablaze from the accident and were subsequently destroyed.)  

     After striking the homes, the plane hit the ground, broke apart, and caught fire. It had crashed 4,890 feet short of the end of Runway 2.  (Tweed Airport is located on the New Haven/East Haven town lines. The actual impact took place in East Haven.)  

     There were no reports of anyone on the ground being injured.

     Only three people survived the crash: one crew member and two passengers.  The first officer, James A. Walker, 34, was critically injured when he was ejected from the cockpit as the plane broke apart, but he survived.   The two passengers,  Janet McCaa, 28, and Norman Kelly, 38, escaped the from the burning cabin through an emergency exit.

     As to those who didn’t survive, autopsy results determined that of those on board,  only the pilot, Capt. David G. Eastridge, 39,  received fatal injures from the crash.   The rest of the passengers, and the lone stewardess, Judith L. Manning, 27,  perished due to the smoke and or flames that resulted from the crash.

      

Crash site diagram of  Allegheny Airlines Flight 485,  June 7, 1971,  from the NTSB investigation report  #NTSB-AAR-72-20

Crash site diagram of
Allegheny Airlines Flight 485,
June 7, 1971,
from the NTSB investigation report
#NTSB-AAR-72-20

                                                    Click on image to enlarge.

      Sources:

     NTSB Crash Investigation Report, NTSB-AAR-72-20, File #1-0006, adopted June 1, 1972

     The Daili Illini, “Plane Crash In Fog Kills 28”, June 8, 1971

     (Sumter S.C.) The Daily Item, “Plane Crash Cause Given”, August 28, 1972, Pg. 13B

    

Stratford, CT – April 13, 1911

Stratford, CT – April 13, 1911

Lordship Park

     On April 13, 1911, George C. Nealy, aka “Steeple Jack” Nealy, aka “The Human Fly”, was making a trial flight in a Bleriot aeroplane at Lordship Park in Stratford, when a sudden gust of wind suddenly sent the aircraft plunging forty feet to the ground.  Nealy was tossed out by the impact and suffered only minor injuries.  It was believed the airplane could be repaired. 

     It was reported in The Bridgeport Evening Farmer that “Nealy is one of Stanley Y. Beache’s “stable of aviators”.  Beach has several machines at his hangar in Stratford, two Bleriots, a Curtiss biplane, and others. ”   

     “Steeple Jack” Nealy gained fame when he hung upside down from the spire atop the Singer Tower in Manhattan, N.Y., and took photographs of the view – something that had not been done before.   

     The 47-story Singer Tower was the tallest building in the world from 1908 to 1909.  It was demolished in 1968.

     Nealy had placed an advertisement in the March 1911 issue of Aircraft  that read as follows:

    “Steeple Jack” Nealy, better known as The Human Fly, would like to run an aeroplane for some reliable company.  I am the man that hung by my toes from the Singer Building flag pole 674 feet high.  Have made many parachute descents and have invented an automatic device for stability.  Geo. C. Nealy, 1454 Rockaway Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y.”

     Sources:

     The Bridgeport Evening Farmer, “Steeple Jack Has Mishap In Aeroplane”, April 14, 1911, First Section, Page 4.  

     Aircraft, classified ads, “Steeple Jack Nealy”,March, 1911.

     Wikipedia – Singer Tower

        

 

Stratford, CT – July 11, 1910

Stratford, Connecticut – July 11, 1910

Lordship Park

     On July 2, 1910, it was reported in The Bridgeport Evening Farmer that Stanley Y. Beach, editor of The Scientific American, was planning a flight that afternoon in his new Bleriot monoplane at Lordship Park, in Stratford. 

     The article stated in part, “Mr. Beach is the first aeronaut to hit upon the gyroscope as a means of insuring stability in flying machines, but has not yet succeeded in putting his ideas to a practical test.  He has made many attempts at flight, and each one appears to bring him nearer to his goal.  The occasion of his last attempt, he arose a few feet from the ground and actually flew for a short distance, but not long enough to put his machine through a real trial.”     

     The article also stated that “Mr. Beach’s ultimate project is a flight across Long Island Sound.”

     At about 2:00 p.m. on the afternoon of July 10,1910, Mr. Beach was back at Lordship Park with his Bleriot monoplane preparing for another flight.  Beach had directed his airplane towards a fifty-foot cliff overlooking Long Island Sound at the edge of the park.  After a mechanic started the engine, Beach sped towards the cliff, but when he tried to take off the plane didn’t respond to the controls, and Beach suddenly realized he was in trouble.  Just as he reached the cliff’s edge Beach bailed out and tumbled to the ground.   The aircraft continued over the edge and crashed on some rocks below.   Beach was relatively unhurt, but the aircraft suffered considerable damage.   

     The accident did not deter Beach from aviation.

     Sources:

     The Bridgeport Evening Farmer, “With New Aeroplane Beach Plans Flight From Lordship Park”, July 2, 1910, Page 3.

    The Bridgeport Evening farmer, “Stanley Beach Plunges From Flying Machine As It Dashes Over Cliff At Lordship Park”, July 11, 1910, Page 2.

     New York Tribune, “Beach Monoplane Falls”, July 12, 1910, Page 3.

 

West Haven, CT – August 17, 1907

West Haven, Connecticut – August 17, 1907

Updated February 7, 2018

 

    balloon On August 17, 1907, Theodore French, a young aeronaut from New Haven, Connecticut, was scheduled to give a parachute performance at Savin Rock in West Haven.  Three weeks earlier, he’d accepted a dare to go up in a balloon and be shot out of a seven-foot long tin “cannon”, and parachute to the ground.  On that occasion he landed safely.  On this day the performance was to be repeated, but with a slight change.  This time, the cannon would drop away from the balloon, it’s descent slowed by a parachute.  Then, as the cannon floated towards the ground, French would be shoot out of it, and land via use of a second parachute attached to his body.   

     When the balloon had reached a height of about 2,600 feet  the cannon was cut loose, and reportedly “swung clumsily” before French was discharged.  Once free of the cannon, French’s parachute failed to open, and he plummeted downward landing on the roof of a nearby piano factory and was killed instantly.  The cannon came down a few feet away.

     It was reported that Theodore’s father, Robert French, was the Chief of Police in New Haven, Connecticut.   Some sources put Theodore’s age at 19, others at 20.

     Sources:

     Topeka State Journal, “He Drops To Death”, August 19, 1907

     (A London England Newspaper) The Age, “Aeronaut Killed – Parachute Fails To Open” August 21, 1907

     Taranaki Herald, “Aeronaut Killed – Failure Of A Parachute”, August 20, 1907

     Evening Post, “Dashed To Pieces – Fate Of Aeronaut”, August 20, 1907, Page 7

     New York Times, “Half-Mile Fall From Sky Kills Boy”, August 18, 1907. 

 

 

Woodstock, CT – September 16, 1913

Woodstock, Connecticut – September 16, 1913

Updated April 30, 2017

Woodstock, Conn. Fair Advertisement

Putnam Patriot – 1913

     On September 16, 1913, 12-year-old George Bernier of Mechanicsville, Connecticut, was attending the annual Woodstock Fair in the town of Woodstock.  One attraction at the fair was to be a balloon ascension and parachute drop.  As preparations for the ascent were being made, a call went out for volunteers to hold ropes attached to the balloon to keep it earthbound until the signal to let go was given.  George was one of the volunteers who stepped forward and took hold of a rope.  When the signal to let go was finally given, George released his hold, but the rope somehow became entangled around his left leg and he was jerked skyward as the balloon rose into the air.

     Despite shouts form the crowd of spectators, the man piloting the balloon seemed unaware of what was happening.  As the balloon continued to rise, George was seen trying to grasp the rope with his hands, but fell away when the balloon reached a height of about 500 feet, and landed in front of the grandstand.      

     George’s parents sued for negligence, and filed suit against the Woodstock Agricultural Society and the balloon operator.  The civil trial took place in the neighboring town of Putnam in March of 1914.  Witnesses for both the plaintiffs and the defense testified, some among them had been standing nearby when George was swept upwards.  Others included George’s cousin, Frank Bernier, and a family friend, both of whom had accompanied George to the fair, and one man who was an amateur photographer from Putnam, who happened to take a picture while the balloon was about 300 feet in the air with George dangling underneath.  The photo was submitted as evidence.  

     After deliberation, the jury found no blame with the Woodstock Agricultural Society or with the balloon’s pilot.  

     According to www.findagrave.com, George is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Putnam, Connecticut.  Newspaper accounts gave his age was 13, but testimony given by his mother at the civil trial stated he was 12 years and nine months old. 

     Sources:

     Putnam Patriot, (Putnam, CT.), “Fell Five Hundred Feet From Balloon”, September 19, 1913, pg. 1

     Putnam Patriot,(Putnam, CT.), “Bernier Case – Claim $10,000 For Life Of Boy killed At Fair”, March 27, 1914, pg. 1 

     Putnam Patriot, (Putnam, CT.), “Woodstock People – Pleased At Jury’s Verdict In Bernier Case”, April 3, 1914, pg. 1

     Norwich Bulletin, (Norwich, CT.), “Charge of Negligence”, March 25, 1914 

     The Hawiian Gazette, “Boy Loses Life In Balloon Accident”, September 30, 1913, Pg. 2

     The Citizen, (Honesdale, Penn.), “Boy Drops 500 Feet To Death”, September 19, 1913 

Stafford Springs, CT – April 15, 1949

Stafford Springs, Connecticut – April 15, 1949

     On April 15, 1949, a small plane carrying two men was en-route from Florida to Smithfield, Rhode Island, when they encountered foggy conditions over Connecticut, and crashed on a farm in Stafford Springs. 

     The plane, an Aeronca “Champion”, was a total loss, but the two men escaped with only minor injuries. 

     The pilot was identified as Peter J. Vecchio, 21, of Miami, Florida, and the passenger as Edward Hayden, 20, of Wallingford, Connecticut.   

     Source:

     St. Petersburg Times, “Pilot Escapes Plane Crash”, April 16, 1949

Stafford Springs, CT – January 5, 1929

Stafford Springs, Connecticut – January 5, 1929

     On January 5, 1929, a small plane carrying mail for the U.S. Postal Service crashed in poor weather conditions on the outskirts of Stafford Springs, Connecticut.   

     The plane was a Fairchild FC-2, (NC5650), owned by Colonial Air Transport. 

     The 26-year-old pilot was killed.   

     Sources:

     www.planecrashinfo.com

     Hagley Digital Archives at digital.hagley.org

Middletown, CT – July 29, 1911

Middletown, Connecticut – July 29, 1911 

     On the afternoon of July 29, 1911, well known Connecticut aviator Nels J. Nelson of New Britain, Conn., was giving a flying exhibition at what was called by the press at the time the “State Insane Hospital” in Middletown.  Roughly 2,000 spectators sat on the lawn of the grounds to watch the show. 

     At one point Nelson came in for a landing and struck a telephone wire which caused the plane to turn sideways and crash.  The aircraft was wrecked, and although Nelson was pitched to the ground, he was not seriously injured.  

     It was noted by the press that this “flight was the first one ever held in this county”,  meaning Middlesex County, Connecticut. 

     At the time of this accident Nelson was just beginning his career, but he went on to become famous as one of Connecticut’s early aviators.  For more information about Nels Nelson, see www.earlyaviators.com

     Mr. Nelson would also survive another aircraft accident at Rocky Point, Rhode Island, on July 4, 1913, when a hydro-plane he was flying crashed in the water.    For further details, look under “Civil Aviation Accidents” – “Rhode Island” on this website.  

     Mr. Nelson died in 1964.

     Source: New York Tribune, “Flies For The Insane”, July 30, 1911   

Bridgeport, CT – July 12, 1910

Bridgeport, Connecticut – July 12, 1910

     On July 12, 1910, famous Connecticut aviator, Gustave Whitehead, flew his monoplane into the side of a bridge in Bridgeport.  The impact from the crash threw him out of the aircraft and knocked him unconscious.   The aircraft was wrecked.  No further details were given.

     Source: (Ottumwa, Iowa) Ottumwa Tri-weekly Courier, “Connecticut Aviator Hurt”, July 14, 1910

 

New Britain, CT – April 29, 1871

New Britain, Connecticut – April 29, 1871 

   balloon  On April 29, 1871, Professor J. W. Hayden, an aeronaut with the Stone & Murray Circus, was giving a balloon exhibition in New Britain.  (Hayden was often advertised as having made 10,000 balloon ascensions. )

     On this particular day, the balloon with Hayden inside rose to an altitude of 1,000 feet and suddenly burst.  The escaping gas caused a rapid fall and when the basket hit the ground Hayden suffered a broken leg.   

     Sources:

     New Orleans Republican, (News item, no headline) May 4, 1871, Page 4.

     Cambridge Chronicle, Circus Advertisement, June 3, 1871

    

    

    

Cheshire, CT – January 18, 1946

Cheshire, Connecticut – January 18, 1946

 

   DC-3  At 9:55 a.m. on January 18, 1946, Eastern Airlines Flight 16-B left Miami, Florida, en-route to Charlestown, South Carolina, Washington, D.C., La Guardia Airport in New York City, and finally Boston.  The plane was a twin-engine DC-3,  a former C-47 used by the U.S. military that had been converted for civilian use.  (Civilian registration # NC19970)

     Shortly after leaving New York for Boston, a fire erupted in the left-wing engine.  Witnesses reported seeing the airliner trailing flames and smoke shortly before the left wing collapsed causing the plane to drop from the sky.  The fuselage “pancaked” into a brush choked area about 1.5 miles north of the Cheshire State Reformatory in the town of Cheshire, Connecticut.    All 16 persons aboard were killed.   

     According to an article that appeared in The Cheshire Herald  on January 11, 2011, the crash occurred near present-day Wolf Hill Road and Copper Valley Court

     The dead were identified as:

     (Pilot) Roy A. Kuser, of Trenton, New Jersey.

     (Co-pilot) Robert S. Knight, Jackson Heights, New York.

     (Flight Steward) Willard Bassett, of Jackson Heights, New York.

     Navy Lieutenant Scott Faron, USNR, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

     Mrs. Charlotte Sturman and her baby daughter Jean, 2, of Newton Center, Massachusetts. Mrs. Sturman was traveling with her 2-year-old daughter and Barbara Thompson, a nurse for the child.  They had been vacationing in Miami, but cut the vacation short to fly back to Newton to be with Mrs. Sturman’s husband, Captain Hyman Sturman. 

     Barbara Thompson, of Standish, Maine.

     Mr. and Mrs. Saul Miller, of Montreal, Canada.

     David McVeigh, of New York City.

     Norman E. Falt, of Chevy Chase, Maryland.

     Professor John B. Mitsch, of Milton, Massachusetts.  He was an associate professor of engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  (Although some sources list his address as New York City, his home was in Milton, Mass.)  He was survived by his wife and two children.  

     Mrs. Constance Ludwig, of New York City.

     Paul Maynard, of Caldwell, New Jersey.

     Gerard Voetlink, of Brooklyn, New York.

     Henry Berger, of New York City.

     Separate investigations were conducted into the incident.  One by the federal Civil Aeronautics Bureau, others by Connecticut state aeronautics officials, state and local police, and the New Haven County Coroner’s Office.   

     Investigators blamed a faulty fuel line for the crash.  

     It was reported that this accident was the first in New England involving loss of life on a regularly scheduled commercial flight, according to the Massachusetts State Aeronautics Commission.

     Sources:

     Woonsocket Call, “Sixteen Perish In Connecticut Plane Disaster”, January 18, 1946, Pg. 1

     Woonsocket Call, “3 Probes Started In Airline Crash”, January 19, 1946, Pg. 1

    Woonsocket Call, “3 Bay State Victims”, January 19, 1946, Pg. 9

     Providence Journal, “All Aboard Airliner Killed In Crash At Cheshire, Ct.”, January 19, 1946, Pg. 1

   Aviation Safety Network

     The Cheshire Herald, “Plane crashes Near Boulder Road”, by John Rook, January 11, 2011.  (This article also talks about a small plane that crash-landed near Boulder Road in Cheshire.  There were no injuries.)    

    

    

    

 

Brainard Field, CT – September 3, 1940

Brainard Field

Hartford, Connecticut – September 3, 1940

    DC-3

      On September 3, 1940, an American Airlines DC-3 (NC19974) left Boston at 6:10 a.m. bound for New York City with an intermediate stop at Brainard Field in Hartford.  As the flight neared Hartford, it encountered fog conditions, and after circling the field twice, the pilot elected to land the plane.   As he was making his final approach, the pilot chose to set down on the grassy area parallel to the runway because by doing so he could use the administration building as a guide in lining up for a straight landing as the area where the building was located was clear of ground fog which was obscuring the rest of the field.   

     The available landing area that would have been afforded the incoming plane was 3,880 feet, however, the plane didn’t actually touch down until it had passed over 2, 450 feet, leaving only 1,430 feet to stop.  When the pilot applied the brakes he was unable to stop due to the wet grass, but he managed to steer the aircraft past the airport boundary onto soft bumpy ground where it abruptly stopped, nosed over, then fell back hard on its tail, resulting in extensive damage to the plane, and minor injury to one passenger.  

     The plane carried fourteen passengers and a crew of three, a pilot, co-pilot, and stewardess. 

     Source:

     Civil Aeronautics Board accident investigation report, #2893-40

 

Hartford, CT – February 3, 1930

Hartford, Connecticut – February 3, 1930

Brainard Filed

   

Issued In 1930

Issued In 1930

  On February 3, 1930, airmail pilot Carey E. Pridham, 29, took off from Newark Airport in a Pitcairn biplane bound for Brainard Filed in Hartford, Connecticut.  As he was attempting to land at Brainard, the plane struck an observation platform located on the roof of the field house, tearing off the left wing, and sending the aircraft into the Connecticut River about 100 feet off shore.  The plane landed upside down pinning the pilot inside.  By the time someone could reach the site by boat Pridham was dead.

     Mr. Pridham was born in Virginia, and lived in Lexington, Massachusetts, with his wife and three children.   He’d been flying for over eight years and had 2,500 hours of flight time.  He’d been flying the mail since July of 1929. 

     The aircraft belonged to Colonial Air Transport.

     Source:

     New York Times, “Mail Flier Killed In Hartford Crash”, February 4, 1930  

 

Greenwich, CT – November 8, 1957

Greenwich, Connecticut – November 8, 1957

    

DC-3 Airliner

DC-3 Airliner

     Shortly before 7:30 p.m. on November 8, 1957, a DC-3 aircraft owned by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) was approaching Westchester County Airport in heavy rain in anticipation of landing.  Visibility was poor, and cross winds buffeted the aircraft. 

     Westchester County Airport is located in White Plains, New York, almost directly on the New York- Connecticut state line.  Just as the aircraft was about to land, a gust of wind pushed it off course, sending it over Hangar D and crashing onto King Street (AKA Route 120A) in the town of Greenwich. 

     The aircraft was a total loss, but fortunately all four persons aboard suffered only minor injuries.   (Pilot, co-pilot, and two passengers, both of which were top executives for RCA.)

     Source:

   New York Times, “Wind-Buffeted DC-3 Falls In Greenwich”, November 9, 1957

Danbury, CT – October 4, 1947

Danbury, Connecticut – October 4, 1947

     At 2:25 p.m. on the afternoon of October 4, 1947, two planes, each with a pilot and student aboard, collided in mid-air over edge of the Danbury Fair grounds.  The crash occurred at an altitude of only 800 feet, in full view of thousands of people.    

     The collision tore a wing off each aircraft.  One plane crashed in a field next to Route 6, while the other came down on the farm of J. Arthur Keeler, just missing his house.  Keeler put the flames of the burning wreckage out with a garden hose before fire fighters arrived.   

     The plane that crashed on the Keeler farm was a Cessna 140.  Both the pilot, Walter James O’Neill, and his student, Mrs. Edith Dowswell, of Hartsdale, New York, were killed.  Mrs. Dowswell reportedly jumped from the plane just before impact.

     The other aircraft was an Aeronca, piloted by Howard C. Dunn, 33, of North Stamford, Connecticut.  Both he and his student, Mrs. Edith R. Heydt, 38, of Darien, Connecticut, were killed.   

     According to one elderly witness, the planes were doing stunts just before the crash, however investigators didn’t feel this was accurate.  An employee of the nearby Danbury Airport was driving past in his car at the time, and it was his opinion the planes were attempting to land at the airport. 

     Source:

     New York Times, “4 killed As Planes Collide Near Danbury Fair Crowd”, October 4, 1947 

 

Willington, CT – September 3, 1927

Willington, Connecticut – September 3, 1927

Missing Airmail Pilot 

      At 7:15 p.m. on the evening of September 2, 1927, a U.S. Airmail plane belonging to Colonial Air Transport Inc. left Boston bound for Brainard Field in Hartford.  The pilot was identified as E. G. Cline, reported to be “one of the most experienced in the service of Colonial.”  There was also an unidentified passenger aboard.

     The trip was to take one hour, but while en-route Cline encountered misty rain and foggy weather, and was forced to make a landing in a field in Duxbury, Massachusetts.  There he waited for the weather to clear. 

     At 10: 15 p.m. he took off again, but left his passenger behind.  However foul weather forced him to make another emergency landing, this time in Webster, Massachusetts.  There he waited until after midnight to resume his journey.  After Cline’s departure, officials at Brainard Filed were informed that his aircraft  was once again airborne, and should be arriving within a half-hour.   But Cline never arrived, and when no word of another forced landing was received, a search was instituted.

     The missing plane was discovered in a thickly wooded area on the farm of John Hitsky, located in an area known as Moose Meadows in the town of Willington, Connecticut.  Cline’s body was found inside.   

     Sources:

     Woonsocket Call, “Air Express Plane 16 Hours Overdue, Believed To Be Lost”, September 3, 1927, pg. 1   

     New York Times, “Air Express Pilot Dead After Crash”, September 4, 1927

 

    

East Hampton, CT – August 1, 1968

East Hampton, Connecticut – August 1, 1968

     On the morning of August 1, 1968, the tower at Hartford’s Bradley International Airport received a “very weak and garbled radio distress signal” from a small aircraft piloted by Richard A. Smith, 39.    A search was instituted, and the aircraft was located in a thickly wooded section of East Hampton.  The pilot’s body was still inside.

     Source:

     Woonsocket Call, “Welles In-Law Killed In Plane”, August 2, 1968, pg. 1

Windsor, CT – August 3, 1928

Windsor, Connecticut – August 3, 1928

     On August 3, 1928, actor Fred Stone was piloting an airplane over Windsor, Connecticut, when it crashed in a field in the Poquonock section of that town.  Stone suffered numerous broken bones and was admitted to a hospital in critical condition, but he survived his ordeal.    

     Stone was a famous vaudeville and later film actor.  He passed away in 1959. 

     Source:

     New York Times, “Injuries May Keep Fred Stone Off Stage”, August 5, 1928 

    

New Milford, CT – September 11, 1987

New Milford, Connecticut – September 11, 1987

     At about 9:00 a.m. on September 11, 1987, a Piper Cherokee crashed in the Gaylordsville section of the town of New Milford.  The plane had been en-route from Hyannis, Massachusetts, to Dutchess Co. Airport in upstate New York when the accident occurred. 

     The body of an unidentified man was found in the wreck.   

     Source: New York Times, “A Series Of Crashes Of Private Aircraft Kills At Least Three”, September 13, 1987  (The article covered other crashes besides this one.)

Brooklyn, CT – August 4, 1986

Brooklyn, Connecticut – August 4, 1986

 

TBM-3E Avenger National Archives Photo

TBM-3E Avenger
U.S. Navy Photo

     On August 4, 1986, a former U.S. Navy TBM-3E Avenger (With civilian registration N6581D) took off from Danielson Airport in Danielson, Connecticut, en-route to Florida for its annual inspection.  Shortly after takeoff the engine began to sputter and skip, and then the aircraft began trailing black smoke.  On witness told state police that the plane was low over the tree tops, and when the engine quit, the plane rolled over and crashed upside-down and exploded.  

     The plane crashed in a wooded-swampy area off Route 6,, between Church St. and Day St., and firefighters had to clear a path to the site.  It then took four hours to put out the flames because they were fed by the magnesium metal used in the plane’s construction.

     The lone pilot, Charles A. Sewell, 56, of Setauket, Long Island, N.Y. was killed.  Sewell was a highly decorated former U.S. Marine Corps pilot having served in both Korea and Vietnam with 330 combat missions to his credit, and more than 10,000 hours flying time. 

     During his 20-year military career he earned the Legion of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Corsses, fifteen Air Medals, and two Purple Hearts.  He retired a lieutenant colonel 1969, went to work for Grumman Aircraft on Long Island.  Within two years became their chief test pilot, and was still employed as such at the time of his accident.

     Investigators who examined the wreckage determined that the #8 and #10 piston heads each had a hole burned through them, and others showed signs of head damage.  The last inspection on the plane had been conducted September 7, 1983, and the aircraft had been issued a special permit for this flight.

Sources:

New York Times, “Grumman’s Chief Test Pilot Dies In Crash Of World War II Bomber”, August  5, 1986.   

NTSB brief #NYC86FA196, microfiche #33675  

Providence Journal Bulletin, “A Top Test Pilot Dies As WWII Bomber Slices Into Woods After Takeoff In Danielson, Conn.”, August 5, 1986, page A9.

Providence Journal, “Top Test Pilot Crashes WWII Craft Near Foster”, August 5, 1986, page 1, (2 photos of crash.)

Westerly Sun, “Vintage Plane’s Crash Kills Grumman Pilot”, August 5, 1986, page 17.

Norwich Bulletin, “Brooklyn Plane Crash Kills Pilot”, August 5, 1986, page 1. (2 photos of crash.)

 

 

 

East Granby, CT – September 12, 1987

East Granby, Connecticut – September 12, 1987

     On the morning of September 12, 1987, a Piper Cherokee crashed in a heavily wooded area of East Granby near the Suffield town line, about a half-mile from the nearest road. The plane burned on impact and the bodies of an unidentified man and woman were recovered.

     Witnesses told police that they saw the plane doing stunts before the accident.

     Source: New York Times, “A Series Of Crashes Of Private Aircraft Kills At Least Three”, September 13, 1987.  (The article covered other crashes besides this one.)

North Haven, CT – July 7, 1941

North Haven, Connecticut – July 7, 1941

     On July 7, 1941, an airplane carrying three people crashed and burned in North Haven Connecticut.  Witnesses stated the craft swooped low roughly 50 feet off the ground and flew between two trees at the edge of a field, before accelerating and clipping a wing on another tree 250 feet away.  After striking the tree, the ship nosed into the ground and burst into flames.

     The pilot, Harry Lesnow, 35, and one of the passengers, Anna Lesnow, were thrown clear by the impact but received fatal injuries.  The other passenger, Miss Theresa Gans, (about 30) was pulled from the flaming wreckage by several men who were working nearby, but she did not survive. 

     It was surmised that Mr. Lesnow was attempting to land in the field when he aborted the attempt due to rough terrain.  

     Mr. Lesnow was the plant manager for Lesnow Brothers Inc. a shirt manufacturing business in East Hampton, Massachusetts.  Miss Lesnow was the office manager, and Miss Gans was a stenographer for the company.   

     Source: New York Times, “Air Commuter Killed With Two In Crash”, July 8, 1941

    

Brooklyn, CT – December 26, 1977

Brooklyn, Connecticut – December 26, 1977 

     On December 26, 1977, a Piper Cherokee with three people aboard was passing over Brooklyn, Connecticut, approaching Danielson Airport in the neighboring town of Killingly.  When the plane was about 2,000 yards from the runway, it fell in a wooded section on the Brooklyn side of the town line. 

     A 54-year-old man was killed in the crash, the other two persons aboard were injured.

          Source: New York Times, “One Killed, 3 Hurt In Connecticut Crashes Of Two Small Planes”, December 27, 1977       (The headline refers to another crash earlier that same day where two men were inured when their small plane crashed just after takeoff at Tweed-New Haven Airport.) 

Waterford, CT – February 11, 1960

Waterford, CT – February 11, 1960

     On the night of February 11, 1960, a twin-engine airplane carrying four men en-route from Washington to Connecticut crashed into a water-filled quarry in the town of Waterford, Connecticut.  One of the men, Richard A. Georgetti, 25, managed to escape before the fuselage sank to the bottom carrying the others down with it. 

     The bodies of the other three, (the pilot) Elwin Hendricksen, 24, Richard Edwin Opdyke, 29, and Fred Luecke, 27, were later recovered by divers.  

     Source:, New York Times, “Two Die In Air Crash, Another Is Missing As Craft Falls In Connecticut”, February 12, 1960

Sikorsky Memorial Airport – April 27, 1994

Sikorsky Memorial Airport – April 27, 1994

Town of Stratford, Connecticut

     On the evening of April 27, 1994, a chartered passenger plane with nine people aboard left Atlantic City, New Jersey, bound for Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford, Connecticut.  (The aircraft was a twin-engine Navajo Chieftan.)

     Shortly before 11:00 p.m. as the plane neared Stratford, it encountered heavy fog conditions with only 100 feet visibility.  The control tower at the airport had closed at 10:30 p.m., and was unmanned as the plane approached, leaving the pilot to attempt the landing unaided.

     Due to the age of the aircraft, it did not contain a “black box” or other data recording devices, so it’s unclear if the pilot attempted to abort the landing while over the runway, or simply overshot it due to poor visibility.   What is known is that the aircraft crashed into an eight-foot metal barrier placed on an embankment at the end of the runway, and exploded.  Some of the debris went over the embankment and landed on Main Street which was just beyond the barrier.  

     Seven of the nine people aboard were killed in the crash, but two survivors were taken to Bridgeport Hospital in critical condition with severe burns.  One of them died hours later.

     Their names were not immediately released.

      Sources:

     New York Times, “Seven Killed In Fiery Crash Of Airplane”, April 28, 1994

     New York Times, “Cause Is Sought In fatal Crash Of Airplane On Casino Trip”, April 29, 1994

     New York Times, “Flawed Airport Design Is Called Cause Of 8 Deaths In Crash”, December 14, 1994

Stratford, CT – December 26, 1991

Stratford, Connecticut – December 26, 1991

     Just after 9:00 a.m. on December 26, 1991, a single-engine Piper Comanche, with a lone pilot aboard, left Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford bound for Oxford, Connecticut.   Just after take off the pilot radioed that he was having engine trouble and didn’t think he could make it back to the airport.   He opted to set the plane down on Interstate 95, which runs north and south along Connecticut’s shoreline.  The aircraft came down in the southbound lanes of the highway where it skidded into a guardrail then careened across all three southbound lanes and slammed into a Jersey barrier.   

     The pilot was trapped in the wreck with critical injuries, and it took rescue workers 30 minutes to extract him from the cockpit. Meanwhile traffic backed up for six miles in both directions.  

     Miraculously no automobiles or trucks were involved in the accident, and state police attributed this to a nearly empty highway at the time of the crash, due to it being the morning after Christmas when most people had the day off.    

     Source:

     New York Times, “Small Plane Crash Lands On Highway”, December 26, 1991    

Mount Higby, CT – August 15, 1966

Mount Higby, Connecticut – August 15, 1966  

     On August 15, 1966, a single-engine Cessna 172, (N6003R), with two men aboard left Block Island, Rhode Island, bound for Hartford, Connecticut.  En-route the plane encountered foul weather and crashed into the summit of Mount Higby, roughly sixteen miles from their destination.  

     The pilot, Richard Grimaldi, 32, of Newington, Connecticut, was killed in the initial crash, but the passenger, John Emanuel, 39, survived, and was pinned in the wreckage. 

     The plane was reported missing and a search was instituted, but the plane wasn’t located until August 21st, six days after the crash.  The wreckage was located in a rocky-cliff area about 45 feet from the top of Mount Higby.  Remarkably, John Emanuel was still alive.  He was airlifted off the mountain and brought to Meriden General Hospital in critical condition.  Unfortunately he succumbed to his injuries three days later.     

     Sources:,

     New York Times “Flier Is rescued In Connecticut After 6 Days In Plane Wreckage”, August 22, 1966

     New London Day, “Man Survives Six days Trapped In crashed Plane”, August 22, 1966

     New York Daily News, “Man Pinned In Plane 6 Days Should Recover, Doc Say”, August 23, 1966, (With photo of airplane.)

     Lewiston Evening Journal, “Hartford Man Dies As Result Of Plane Crash”, August 24, 1966, pg. 9 

     New London Day, “Man Who Spent 6 Days Trapped In Plane Dies”, August 24, 1966

Wallingford, CT – November 23, 1940

Wallingford, Connecticut – November 23, 1940

     On November 23, 1940, Omar Simonds, 20, a student at Yale University, and part of the University’s student pilot training program, was taking off from Lufbery Airport when the aircraft pancaked into a gully near the end of the runway.   He was transported to New Haven Hospital with non life-threatening injuries.  It was reported that the airplane, although heavily damaged,  could be repaired.   

     Source: New York Times, “Student Pilot In Crash”, November 24, 1940

Mt. Lamentation, Berlin, CT – September 17, 1929

Mt. Lamentation, Berlin, Connecticut – September 17, 1929 

     On the night of September 17, 1929, Henry H. Tallman, 33, a U.S. air mail pilot with Colonial Air Transportation, departed Brainard Field, in Hartford, bound for Newark, New Jersey, with 500 pounds of mail.  The weather was foggy, and ten minutes into the flight Tallman plowed into the side of 720 ft. high Mt. Lamentation.  The plane, a Pitcairn PA-6 Mailwing, exploded and burned on impact killing Tallman instantly. 

     Shortly before the crash Tallman was reportedly flying low to the ground, and almost struck a bus, and then a house, before hitting the mountain.  The owner of the home told reporters that the plane was within twenty feet of the ground seconds before the crash.

     Mr. Tallman had been flying the Boston to Newark route since January of 1929, having replaced Edward C. Carrington who died in a mail-plane crash at “Bald Hill”  Connecticut, on January 5th.  (The town and location of Bald Hill not specified.)  Carrington had replaced another air mail pilot, Daniel G. Cline, who died on September 3, 1927 while flying over Willington, Connecticut. 

     Henry Tallman was a veteran of World War I.  He was survived by his wife and daughter in Ridgewood, New Jersey.  He’s buried in Valleau Cemetery in Ridgewood.  (See www.findagrave.com  memorial # 39889207)

     Sources:

     New York Times, “Jersey Mail Pilot Killed In Crash”, September 18, 1929

     The Troy Times, “Pilot Killed When Plane Hit Mt. In Fog, September 18, 1929

      

         

          

Ridgefield, CT – June 11, 1983

Ridgefield, Connecticut – June 11, 1983

     Shortly before 2:00 p.m. on June 11, 1983, a Beechcraft Bonanza, took off from Danbury, Connecticut.  There were four people aboard, three men and one woman.  Roughly ten minutes after leaving Danbury, the aircraft crashed in a wooded area off Mopus Bridge Road in the town of Ridgefield, less than 200 yards from the New York Border.  

     The occupants of the plane were found in the badly burned wreckage.  Positive identification was to be made by the Medical Examiner’s Office.    

     Source: New York Times, “Four Die As Small Plane Crashes Minutes After Leaving Danbury”, June 12, 1983  

Tolland, CT – July 4, 1973

Tolland, Connecticut – July 4, 1973

Updated July 20, 2017

     On July 4, 1973, a Piper Cherokee with a father and his two sons aboard left Orange County, New York, bound for Hopedale Airport in Hopedale, Massachusetts.  Shortly after 6:00 p.m. the aircraft crashed into a home on Columbine Road in the Hillside Estates section of Tolland.  All three occupants of the airplane were killed instantly.  The plane did not catch fire, however the house suffered major damage. 

     The homeowner was not home at the time of the crash.

     One witnesses told reporters that the plane had suddenly appeared from the low cloud cover with its “engine roaring”.  It looked as if it would clear the house, but then its right wing dipped and struck a tree near the home.  The fuselage slammed into the home and came to rest about 50 feet away near a wooded tree line.            

     Police and firefighters had trouble reaching the scene due to curious people clogging the road with their cars.   

      Sources:

     The Hartford Courant, “Plane Rams House; Three Die”, July 5, 1973 (Two Photos)

     Pawtucket Times, (R.I.), Photos of house with caption, July 5, 1973, Page 12

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Conn. Air Crash Kills Mass. Father, Sons”, July 5, 1973, page 12

     Providence Journal, “3 Die In Crash Of Light Plane In Connecticut”, July 5, 1973, page 19 

     The Hartford Courant, “Witness Knew None Survived”, July 5, 1973    

      New York Times, “3 killed In Crash Of Private Plane”, July 5, 1973

Long Island Sound – November 17, 1958

Long Island Sound – November 17, 1958

     On November 17, 1958, a four-passenger Piper aircraft left New York’s La Guardia Airport, (Now J.F.K. Airport) on a return trip to North Central Airport in Smithfield, Rhode Island.  The aircraft was piloted by Albino Beltrami, 36, of Providence.  His passengers, George W. Horton, 49, of Cumberland, R.I., and Eugene Sullivan, 50, of Shrewsbury, Mass., were in the aluminum manufacturing business, and had been in New York on business.   Somewhere over Long Island Sound the plane disappeared. 

     No distress call had been received, and it was surmised that whatever had happened, had been quick.  Residents along the Connecticut shore in the area of Madison, Connecticut, reported hearing a low flying plane and then an explosion the night the plane went missing. 

     Three days later a hat believed to belong to Mr. Horton washed up on Hammonasset State Park Beach in Madison.  A friend of Horton’s stated he was “reasonably certain”  that the hat was one the missing man had bought a few days earlier due to the certain way Horton was known to crease his hats. 

     On November 21st, a tobacco pouch washed ashore at Madison, and was positively identified as belonging to the pilot of the missing plane.      

     A large scale search was concentrated in that area involving Coast Guard and Civil Air Patrol personnel, but nothing further was found.   

     On April 28, 1960, a lobster fisherman was dragging for bait off Meig’s Point at Hammonasset Park when his net snagged on the missing airplane in 58 feet of water.  A month later divers confirmed it was the missing Piper with the remains of three men aboard.  

Sources:

Providence Journal, “Hat Found On beach Linked To Lost Plane” November 20, 1958, Pg.1

Providence Journal, “Pilot’s Pouch Found On Beach”, November 21, 1958, Pg. 11

Providence Journal, “Skin Divers Locate Bodies Of Two R.I. men In Plane” May 17, 1960, Pg. 26 

    

    

    

Windham Airport – June 18, 1946

Windham Airport – June 18, 1946

Town of Windham, Connecticut

     On June 18, 1946, a Pan-American Constellation passenger liner took off from La Guardia Airport in New York City bound for Newfoundland and England.  The four-engine aircraft,  known as the Atlantic Clipper, carried 42 passengers and a crew of 10.  Among the passengers were two well known actors, Laurence Olivier, and Vivian Leigh.  

     Shortly after take off, while the aircraft was over Plainfield, Connecticut, one of the four engines caught fire, then abruptly broke free of the wing and fell away to earth. The pilot, Captain Samuel H. Miller, declared an in-flight emergency and set a course for Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut, but en-route spotted Windham Airport below and made for it.   

    Captain Miller didn’t drop the landing gear as he made his final approach because he didn’t know if the burning engine had set the underside of the plane on fire, and he didn’t want to risk any flames igniting the fuel tanks.  He brought the plane in for a perfect belly landing, and when it skidded to a stop everyone was evacuated safely.       

     There was no mention as to what happened to the flaming engine when it hit the ground.

     Source:

     New York Times, “Atlantic Clipper Drops Engine, But Lands Safely In Connecticut”, June 19, 1946 

Hartford, CT – July 4, 1866

Hartford, Connecticut – July 4, 1866

     On July 4, 1866, a balloon exhibition was scheduled to take place at State-House Square in Hartford, however as the balloon lay tethered to the ground, clouds began to move in and the wind began to increase.  Despite the change in weather, the two aeronauts, identified only as Sweet and Bassett, insisted the show would go on.

     Once the balloon was aloft, Sweet was to give a performance on a trapeze suspended beneath the gondola, but as the wind began to blow harder he began having second thoughts.  Bassett, however, did not, and climbed into the gondola and gave the signal to release the balloon.  Unfortunately, there was a delay by some who were holding the tether ropes, for they all didn’t let go in unison.  Consequently the balloon swung into some telegraph wires which cut the string which held the anchor rope.  The anchor released without Bassett’s knowledge, and as the balloon began to rise the anchor snagged in the wires, causing the balloon to uncontrollably blow back and forth with the increasing wind.     

     Bassett, still unaware that the anchor was holding the balloon down, began tossing ballast overboard to get it to rise, but without success.  Once he realized the situation, he called to those on the ground to cut the rope, which they were unable to do because the wires on the poles were out of reach.  

      The wind continued to grow stronger and pushed the balloon into some trees where the emergency cord which would allow the balloon to be rapidly deflated was severed, leaving Bassett no way to bring the balloon down.  Then the wind began pushing the balloon back and forth, smashing it into the trees, and then away.  At one point as it came into the trees, Basset leaped out and grabbed hold of the branches.  He did so not a moment too soon, for as he was clinging to the upper part of the tree, the anchor rope suddenly ripped free from the gondola, which sent the balloon shooting skyward with nobody inside!  

     The balloon, which was valued at somewhere between $800 to $1,000, was last seen heading northward and upward, until it was nothing more than a mere speck in the sky.  What became of it is not recorded.

     Source: New York Times, “The Fourth In Hartford”, July 7, 1866  

Stonington, CT – January 15, 1932

Stonington, Connecticut – January 15, 1932

     On January 15, 1932, a plane carrying three men left Boston bound for New York.  The pilot, Glenn Parker, 22, of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, was ferrying Cresson Parker, 31, and Earl Johnson, 22, both of Newport, New Hampshire, to New York so they could fly two new airplanes back to New England.  While traveling along the southern coast of Rhode Island they encountered heavy fog, so the pilot dropped the airplane low to the ground.  As they passed over the town of Westerly, R.I., they barely missed scraping the roofs of several buildings.  Shortly after the plane passed from Westerly to the neighboring town of Stonington, it crashed near the New Haven Railroad tracks in the Pawcatuck section of town.     

      Cresson Parker later died at Westerly hospital from injuries he received in the crash.  The other two men suffered cuts and abrasions, but recovered.

     Source:

     New York Times, “Crash In Connecticut”, January 16, 1932

Bradley International Airport – June 4, 1984

Bradley International Airport – June 4, 1984

Windsor Locks, Connecticut

     On June 4, 1984, a Learjet 23, (N101PP) left Lorain County Airport in Ohio with scheduled stops at Cleveland, Syracuse, N.Y., Bradley International Airport, and then on to Philadelphia.  At 11:40 p.m., as the plane was making its final approach to Bradley, it veered to the right and crashed in a massive fireball to the right of runway 33, about 1,000 feet from the airport fire department.  All three people aboard were killed. 

     The dead were identified as:

    (Pilot) Charles Huffman, 32, of North Canton, Ohio.

    (Co-pilot) Ronald Dulay, 26, of Lakewood, Ohio.

    (Passenger) Eldridge Sheetz, 71, of Warsaw, Indiana.

    The cause was blamed on a malfunction of the wing spoiler system which led to a loss of control.    

Sources:

The Bulletin, UPI article, “Crash of Learjet Takes Three Lives”, June 6, 1984 (Bend and Duthces Co. Oregon)

Aviation Safety Network – Flight Safety Foundation, NTSB

Lake Waramaug, CT – July 7, 1929

Lake Waramaug, Connecticut – July 7, 1929

     Lake Waramaug lies in three towns, Kent, Warren, and New Prospect.  It is unclear in which town this accident occurred. 

     On July 7, 1929, two men, Martin F. (Texas) Brown, 34, and Gordon Spencer Whittley, 19, were in an open cockpit biplane heading to an outing at Lake Waramaug.  Brown was an experienced airman, and of late had been teaching Whittley how to fly.  (Brown was married to Wittley’s older sister, Eleanor.)  The aircraft was equipped with dual controls, and its unknown which of the two was piloting the plane as it approached a small landing strip known as Hopkins (Field) along the shores of the lake.  

     Whittley’s older brother Phillip had been awaiting their arrival at the air strip, and as the aircraft passed overhead he signaled which way the wind was blowing.  As the plane began to turn around to land against the direction of the wind, it suddenly lost power and dove nose first into the ground from an altitude of about 400 feet.  Both occupants died instantly.

     Martin Brown was a veteran military pilot (and ACE) of World War I. During his service he was wounded three times by anti-aircraft fire.  After the war he became a pilot for the U.S. Mail.         

Source: New York Times, “Connecticut Crash fatal To 2 Fliers”, July 8, 1929

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