Stratford, CT. – September 15, 1974

Stratford, Connecticut – September 15, 1974

Sikorsky Airport

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

     All five persons aboard suffered severe injuries and burns.

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


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

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


Long Island Sound – June 29, 1945

Long Island Sound – June 29, 1945


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     In the early morning hours of June 29, 1945, Lt. (Jg.) George H. MacBride was piloting an F6F-5N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 78176), on a radar mapping flight over Long Island Sound off the coast of Connecticut.  He was part of a three aircraft flight that had left Charlestown Auxiliary Naval Air Station in Charlestown, Rhode Island. 

     At 1:40 a.m., while flying over the area of Fisher’s Island, south of New London, the pilots of the other two aircraft observed an explosion on the water followed by a fire.  (The location was about two miles southwest of Fisher’s Island.)  A rescue PBY aircraft was sent from Charlestown NAS and arrived on scene within twenty minutes, and rescue boats arrived at about 3:00 a.m., but neither Lt. (Jg.) MacBride or his aircraft were recovered.  The cause of the accident could not be determined.

     Source: National Archives, 54-45, TD 450629CT, via Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I. 

East Haven, CT. – May 23, 1945

East Haven, Connecticut – May 23, 1945


F4U Corsair
US Navy Photo

      On the morning of May 23, 1945, a civilian test pilot took off from Bridgeport Airport in Bridgeport, Ct., in a U. S. Navy F4U-4 Corsair, (Bu. No. 81778), for a production test flight.  At an altitude of 12,000 feet the engine began to misfire, and the pilot radioed that he would be making an emergency landing at New Haven Airport.  At approximately 3,000 feet, and while making a turn to begin his final approach, the aircraft caught fire and smoke and flames began to fill the cockpit.  While attempting to turn off the fuel selector valve the pilot received minor burns on his left wrist and both ankles.  At 2,000 feet the pilot bailed out and parachuted safely, coming down in the middle of  a creek.  He was assisted from the water by some local residents who took him to New Haven Airport where he was treated for shock and minor burns.

     Meanwhile, the unmanned aircraft crashed 75 feet from a home in the area of 263 Short Beach Road in East Haven.  There were no injuries to those on the ground, but the plane was completely destroyed.    

     Source: National Archives, ATR-1 (revised), TD450525CT, via Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I. 

Ledyard, CT. – May 6, 1945

Ledyard, Connecticut – May 6, 1945


F4U Corsair
US Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of May 6, 1945, a flight of seven navy Corsair fighter airplanes took off from Groton Naval Air Station in Groton, Connecticut, for a training flight.  About eight miles north of the air base the pilots began practicing a series of various maneuvers and formation flying.  At one point the flight leader initiated a “follow the leader” exercise.  One of the pilots, Lt. (jg.) David Lee Johnson, 23, of Jamaica, Long Island, N.Y., was the last man in the first flight division.  As the line of planes were going through a series of rolls at 3,000 feet, Johnson’s aircraft, an F4U-4 Corsair, (Bu. No. 81395), suddenly nosed over and crashed.  The aircraft exploded on impact and Johnson was killed. The aircraft came down on a farm in Ledyard, impacting just fifty feet in from the roadway.      

     Lt. (jg.) Johnson was assigned to VBF-152.

     Source: National Archives, TD450506CT, via Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.    

Preston, CT. – February 2, 1945

Preston, Connecticut – February 2, 1945


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On February 2, 1945, Ensign Nelson L. Hazard was piloting an F6F-3N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70211), over Connecticut on a routine training flight.  After using up the fuel from the right main tank, he turned on the emergency fuel pump and switched to using the fuel in his droppable fuel tank suspended beneath the aircraft.  The engine ran normally for about five minutes before it abruptly stopped.  Ensign Hazard then switched to his reserve fuel tank but the engine wouldn’t start.  He then tried switching to the left main tank but with no results.  The aircraft was at 6,000 feet at this time, and Hazard decided to remain with the aircraft and attempt an emergency landing. 

     After seeing an open field below, Hazard aimed for it, and came in with the wheels up.  At the edge of the field the plane scraped over the top of a tree which ripped away the droppable fuel tank.  The tank fell against a boulder and exploded.  Meanwhile, the aircraft hit the ground and skidded for 100 yards before coming to rest.  A small fire erupted on one wing, but burned itself out.  The pilot was not injured.

     The location of the crash was in a field off Brickyard Road in the town of Preston.     

     Source: National Archives TD 450202CT, via Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

Bradley Field, CT. – April 19, 1944

Bradley Field, Windsor Locks, Connecticut – April 19, 1944 


P-47 Thunderbolt – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the evening of April 19, 1944, 2nd Lieutenant Horace W. Cotton was piloting a P-47D Thunderbolt, (Ser. No. 42-8021), from Bradly Army Air Field when he developed engine trouble and requested clearance for an emergency landing.  Clearance was granted, and as Lieutenant Cotton was attempting to make it to runway 33,  his aircraft crashed about 100 yards short of the tarmac, and he was killed.   

     Lieutenant Cotton is buried in Fairmont Cemetery, in Denver, Colorado.  


     U.S. Army Air Forces Report Of Aircraft Accident, #44-4-19-30

Bradley Field, CT. – May 28, 1944

Bradley Field, Windsor Locks, Connecticut – May 28, 1944 


P-47 Thunderbolt – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the afternoon of May 28, 1944, 2nd Lieutenant William A. Benson, was piloting a P-47D Thunderbolt, (Ser. No. 42-74853), as part of a four aircraft, high altitude, training flight.   Soon after take off from Bradly Field, Lieutenant Benson radioed the flight leader that he had gasoline coming into his cockpit, and he was cleared to return to base.  At this point the flight was about ten miles distant from Bradley Field.

     Lieutenant Benson called for an emergency landing and was given clearance by control tower personnel.  It appeared to those in the tower that Benson’s aircraft was making a normal approach to the runway, when flames suddenly erupted from the right side of the engine and then engulfed the cockpit.  The aircraft then nosed over and crashed and exploded 200 yards short of the end of the runway.  

     Lieutenant Benson had received his pilot rating on March 12, 1944.

     Lieutenant Benson is buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery, in Saginaw, Michigan.  To see a photo of Lieutenant Benson, go to,  Memorial #99788097. 


     U.S. Army Air Forces Report Of Aircraft Accident, #44-5-28-15


Bradley Field, CT. – August 19, 1944

Bradley Field, Windsor Locks, Connecticut – August 19, 1944 


P-47 Thunderbolt – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On August 19, 1944, 1st Lieutenant Walter L. Gibson Jr., took off from Bradley Army Air Field for a test flight in a P-47D Thunderbolt, (Ser# 42-8307).  The reason for the test flight was due to troubles previously reported with this aircraft.  Prior to take off, Lt. Gibson had spoken with the line chief, and performed two thorough “run-up checks” of the aircraft.  Almost immediately after take off, when the plane had reached an altitude of only 250 feet, the engine began to cut out and emit black oily smoke.  Lt. Gibson called the tower and advised he was making an emergency landing and the tower replied that he could use any runway as all were clear.  As Gibson began to make a left turn the engine lost all power and the plane fell into a wooded area about a half-mile from the end of the runway.   The plane was wrecked and Lt. Gibson was killed.

     Lt. Gibson had attained his pilot rating on August 5, 1942. 

     Source: U.S. Army Air Forces Report Of Aircraft Accident #45-8-19-17 


Bradley Field, CT. – July 16, 1943

Bradley Field, Windsor Locks, Connecticut – July 16, 1943


P-47 Thunderbolt – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 16, 1943, 2nd Lieutenant George S. Palmer, 24, took off from Bradley Air Field for a scheduled high altitude training flight in a P-47D Thunderbolt, (Ser. No. 42-22356).  Shortly after takeoff he joined a formation of four aircraft.  When the formation reached an altitude of 15,000 feet, Palmer radioed the flight leader that the propeller on his P-47 wasn’t running right and that he was returning to Bradley Filed.  On the way back Lieutenant Palmer was killed when his P-47 went into an uncontrolled dive and crashed near Bradley Field.    

     Lt. Palmer was assigned to the 362nd Fighter Squadron, 379th Fighter group. He’s buried in Claquato Cemetery in Chehalis, Washington.


     U.S. Army Air Forces Report Of Aircraft Accident, #44-7-16-2, memorial #45179701

Bradley Field, CT. – August 4, 1944

Bradley Field, Windsor Locks, Connecticut – August 4, 1944



P-47 Thunderbolt – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On August 4, 1944, a flight of four P-47 Thunderbolt aircraft took off from Bradley Field for a formation training flight.  Just after take off, one aircraft, a P-47D, (Ser. No. 42-22514), piloted by Lt. Sylvester F. Currier, began experiencing engine trouble.  After informing the flight leader of his situation Lt. Currier was ordered to return to Bradley Field.  As Currier was about 1.5 miles from the field black smoke began coming from the airplane’s exhaust.  The flight leader advised the lieutenant to land on the nearest runway as there was very little wind.  Unfortunately Lt. Currier’s aircraft didn’t make it to the runway, and crashed in a wooded area about a quarter of a mile from the end of Runway 6.  The engine and landing gear were torn away, and although Lt. Currier was strapped to his seat, the seat broke loose and the lieutenant was slammed against the instrument panel.  A small fire erupted, but was extinguished quickly by rescue crews.  The aircraft was a total wreck.    

     Lt. Currier was not seriously injured.  He’d received his pilot’s rating on April 15, 1944.


     U. S. Army Air Forces Aircraft Accident report #45-8-4-15    

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