Nantucket, MA. – January 11, 1970

Nantucket, Massachusetts – January 11, 1970

     At 9:29 a.m., a U.S. Marine Corps Beechcraft TC-45J training aircraft took off from the South Weymouth Naval Air Station near Boston for a routine training flight to Nantucket island.  There were two men aboard.  The pilot was Captain Robert Girouard, 33.  The other officer was Captain Almon F. Townsend, 30. 

     The airplane made a safe landing at Nantucket Airport and took off again at 11:00 a.m.  Shortly after takeoff, just as the plane reached an altitude of 1,000 feet, the engines suddenly lost all power.  Captain Girouard was able to bring the aircraft in for a crash landing in an open field near the end of the runway.  There was no fire, and neither of the men were hurt. 

     Source:

     Providence Journal, “2 Marines Escape Training Plane Crash In Mass.”, January 12, 1973  

 

Westport, MA – December 17, 1944

Westport, Massachusetts – December 17, 1944

 

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

     At 1:40 p.m. on December 17, 1944, Lieutenant John Brodka left Martha’s Vineyard Auxiliary Naval Air Station in Massachusetts bound for Charlestown Auxiliary Naval Air Station in Rhode Island.  He was piloting an F6F Hellcat, (Bu. No. 41380).

     Twenty minutes into his flight, while passing over the town of Westport, Massachusetts, the engine began to miss fire and the plane began losing altitude.  Forced to make an emergency landing, Brodka picked out a open field.  As he was making his approach the engine suddenly lost all power and stopped which caused the plane to settle faster than anticipated, which put it on a collision course with a wooded area just ahead of the field.  All the while the pilot continued to try restarting the engine.  Just before he was about to crash into the trees, the engine started and ran for three or four seconds before stopping again, but it was enough to carry the plane over the trees and into the field.

     The field was muddy which affected the brakes.  The aircraft crashed through a fence, crossed a road, and struck a telephone pole and went into a roadside ditch.  Despite extensive damage to the plane, Lieutenant Brodka was not hurt.    

     Lt. Brodka was assigned to VF-52.

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report, dated December 17, 1944

Martha’s Vineyard, MA – February 7, 1945

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts – February 7, 1945

 

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

     On February 7, 1945, a navy pilot took off from Martha’s Vineyard Auxiliary Naval Air Station in an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70333), for a routine training flight.  About 45 minutes later, the pilot reported that he had engine trouble and was given clearance to return to the naval station.  By the time the pilot returned to the field, a coating of snow and ice covered the runways.  The plane touched down and began to skid.  It then proceeded to crash through a stone wall and was wrecked.  The pilot was injured because the shear pin on his harness broke loose, but the extend of his injuries were not specified.     

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident Report, dated February 7, 1945

Off Aquinnah, MA – February 17, 1945

Off Aquinnah, Massachusetts – February 17, 1945

 

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

     Aquinnah is a town on the island of Martha’s Vineyard.  Until 1997 it was known as Gay Head. 

     At about 7:35 p.m., on the evening of February 17, 1945, navy pilot Chester Anderson, (Rank not given), was piloting an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 72301), off Aquinnah, Massachusetts, on a night bombing practice training flight.  Anderson and other aircraft in the flight were practicing on a half-submerged wreck off the coast.  Anderson had contacted another aircraft taking part in the exercise just prior to making his “bomb run”.  A short time later he failed to answer his radio.  Nobody had witnessed what happened, but it was presumed he crashed into the water. 

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident Report, dated February 17, 1945

Off Nantucket, MA – December 10, 1944

Off Nantucket, MA – December 10, 1944

 

Hellcat Fighters
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the night of December 10, 1944, a flight of eleven F6F Hellcats were engaged in practicing night breakups and rendezvous off Nantucket Island.  Lieutenant John Ignatius Drew, piloting (Bu. No. 58164), was leading a division of four planes in which Ensign John Daniel Cassidy, piloting (Bu. No. 58277), was the second section wingman.  After the final rendezvous, Lieutenant Drew and Ensign Cassidy didn’t join up with the rest of the flight.  Due to the darkness their absence wasn’t noticed and the other nine aircraft began returning to Nantucket Naval Air Station.  Meanwhile, Drew and Cassidy had joined up together, but didn’t see the other aircraft.  Ensign Cassidy radioed the flight leader asking for their position and was told that the aircraft were nearing the navy base. This was the last communication from Ensign Cassidy.  Both Cassidy and Drew subsequently disappeared and were presumed to have crashed in the ocean. 

     As to the cause of the disappearance, it was stated in the navy accident report, “”Since the night was clear and the pilots were familiar with the area the likelihood of their having become lost is small.  Therefore it is assumed that the pilots may have been victims of vertigo or collision.” 

     Both men were assigned to VF-88

    Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report dated December 10, 1944.

Chatham, MA – January 15, 1945

Chatham, Massachusetts – January 15, 1945

 

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

     On January 15, 1945, Ensign Robert C. Baker, piloting an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70161), took part in a gunnery training flight off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  At about 1:15 p.m. as he was returning to base and passing over the town of Chatham,  the engine stopped working.  Baker dropped the landing gear and aimed for an open field.  As he came closer to the field he saw that there was a trench running across the middle of where he intended to set down so he intentionally overshot the area but wound up crashing into some trees lining the edge of the field.  

     Although the aircraft suffered significant damage, Ensign Baker was not hurt.  Investigators believed the engine failure was due to loss of oil pressure.  

     Ensign baker was assigned to VF-88.

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report dated January 15, 1945

Squantum Naval Air Station – January 21, 1945

Squantum Naval Air Station – January 21, 1945

Quincy, Massachusetts

 

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

     On January 21, 1945, Lt. (jg.) Peter Rippa, took off in an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 41789), from Squantum Naval Air station on a routine familiarization flight. 

     As he was returning to the base, he found that the landing gear wouldn’t come down.  After several tires he notified the tower of his situation and was cleared for an emergency landing on Runway 260.  Rippa brought the plane down on its belly and skidded to a stop.  The Hellcat was heavily damaged by Rippa was not hurt.

     The aircraft was assigned to VF-21.

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident Report dated January 21, 1945  

Gardner, MA. – July 29, 1966

Gardner, Massachusetts – July 29, 1966

 

F-84 Thunderjet – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 29, 1966, a Massachusetts Air National Guard F-84 fighter jet left Barnes Air Force Base in Westfield, Massachusetts, for a routine training flight.  The pilot was Captain Daniel Palucca, assigned to the 104th Tactical Fighter Group based at Barnes.  Shortly before noon, while flying over the town of Gardner, the aircraft began experiencing mechanical difficulties to the extent that maintaining control became impossible.  Captain Palucca aimed the aircraft away from the densely populated area of town and ejected. 

     The F-84 crashed into a wooded area where Jackson Hill Road and Kendall Street meet.  It broke into numerous pieces and burned. Captain Palucca landed safely several yards off Route 2A near the Skorko junkyard not far from the Westminster town line with only minor injuries.    

     Source:

    The Gardner News, (Gardner, Mass.), “Plane Crashes, Explodes On Jackson Hill Rd. – Pilot Parachutes To Safety Shortly Before Impact, Avoids Homes In Area”, July 29, 1966  

Granby, MA. – February 1, 1965

Granby, Massachusetts – February 1, 1965

 

F-86 Sabre – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On February 1, 1965, a flight of three Massachusetts Air National Guard F-86 Sabre jets left Tampa, Florida, to return to Barnes Airport  in Westfield, Massachusetts, after completing aerial gunnery training.  As the aircraft entered the New England area they encountered a snowstorm and were diverted to Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts.  There, the three planes circled the Westover Field area for about fifteen minutes, according to a husband and wife who lived Granby, Massachusetts, a town to the northeast of Chicopee.  As they watched the planes, one was seen to crash and explode in a gravel pit located in a wooded area, about 1,000 feet from the nearest home.  The witnesses said it was still snowing heavily at the time of the accident.  

     The downed aircraft had been piloted by Major James Romanowicz, age 45, of the 104th Tactical Fighter Group of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.   Major Romanowicz was a veteran aviator, having served as an army pilot during World War II.   He’s buriend in Gethsemane Cemetery in Athol, Massachusetts.

     Sources:

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Pilot Killed By Jet Crash In Mass. Town”, Date unknown.

     www.findagrave.com, memorial #89990193

Southampton, MA – July 18, 1964

Southampton, Massachusetts – July 18, 1964

 

F-86 Sabre – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 18, 1964, a flight of four Massachusetts Air National Guard F-86 Sabre jets were returning to Barnes Airport after a gunnery training mission.  One of the Sabre’s was piloted by Captain John H. Paris, 33, of Newburgh, New York. 

     As the jets approached the airfield, Paris’s aircraft suddenly lost power and dropped out of formation.  Captain Paris ejected, but his parachute failed to open.  He fell into Pequot Pond and was killed.

     Meanwhile, his F-86 came regained level flight and belly land on its own in an open field about 2 miles northeast of the north end of Runway 20 at Barnes Airport; about 700 feet east of Ross Road.   The aircraft sustained major damage but there was no fire.

     Captain Paris was part of the 131st Fighter Squadron.   

     Source:

     Providence Journal, (R.I.), “Flier Killed In Crash As Thousands Watch”, July 19, 1964

     Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I. 

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