Atlantic Ocean – November 11, 1966

Atlantic Ocean – November 11, 1966

 

EC-121 Super Constellation
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On November 11, 1966, a U.S. Air Force EC-121-H “Warning Star” radar picket Constellation, (Ser. No. 55-5262), was on a mission about 125 miles east of Nantucket, Massachusetts, when it suffered a catastrophic event and crashed into the ocean.  The aircraft contained a crew of 19 men, all assigned to the 551st Airborne Early Warning & Control Wing stationed at Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

     The aircraft had departed from Otis at 12:35 a.m., and the last radio contact was made at 1:22 a.m.  The weather was said to be clear with ten miles of visibility.  At 1:30 a.m. the captain of a New Bedford fishing vessel reported seeing a large aircraft with a stream trailing behind it pass over his 70-foot boat, roll onto its back, and crash into the ocean where it exploded on impact.  He couldn’t be certain if the stream was due to an onboard fire or from a jet trail.   The New Bedford vessel as well as several others raced to the scene to look for survivors. 

     No distress call had been received from the aircraft. 

     A large scale search was conducted over the next few days during which debris from the aircraft was recovered, however there were no survivors.

     Wreckage of the aircraft was later recovered off the ocean floor in December of 1966, and serial numbers confirmed it to be the missing airplane.

     The only crew member identified in the press was the aircraft commander, Major Robert A. Baird.  To see a photograph of Major Baird, go to www.findagrave.com, Memorial #101715135.

     The names of the other 18 crewmen are unknown. 

     Sources:

     Cape Cod Standard Times, “Otis Base Radar Picket Plane Crashes, Explodes; 19 Crewmen Believed Dead”, November 12, 1966

     Cape Cod Standard Times, “Otis Sure Debris From Lost Plane”, November 13, 1966

     Boston Sunday Advertiser, “Piece Of Baggage From Radar Plane Identified”, November 13, 1966

     New London Day, “AF Abandons Search For Radar Plane”, November 14, 1966

     New London Day, “Missing Plane Found In Ocean”, December 22, 1966

 

 

New Marlboro, MA. – May 12, 1965

New Marlboro, MA. – May 12, 1965

     On May 12, 1965, two F-100 fighter aircraft of the Connecticut Air National Guard took off from Bradley Field n Winsor Locks, Connecticut, on what was described in the press as an “Air Defense Command mission”.   As both aircraft were passing over the town of New Marlboro, Massachusetts, one was seen to suddenly fall out of formation and crash in a thickly wooded area off Route 57 in New Marlboro.  The resulting fire reportedly burned five acres.   

     The cause of the accident was not given.

     Both crewmen aboard the downed aircraft were killed. They were identified as Captain Carl E. Beck, 31, of East Granby, Connecticut, and 2nd Lieutenant Robert E. Raeder, 24, of Millbrook, New York.  Both men were assigned to the 118th Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the Connecticut ANG.      

     The accident was witnessed by Lt. Raeder’s wife who happened to be visiting New Marlboro at the time.  

     Sources:

     New London Day, “Wife Watches As Husband Is Killed In Jet”, May 13, 1965 

     www.findagrave.com, memorial #125802944 – shows photo of Lt. Raeder and newspaper article “Millbrook Man Dies As His Wife Watches Guard Plane Crash”.

South Weymouth NAS – February 13, 1960

South Weymouth Naval Air Station – February 13, 1960

 

     On the morning of February 13, 1960, the U.S. Navy blimp, ZPG-3W, reportedly the largest blimp in the world, was being towed by a tractor to its hangar at the South Weymouth Naval Air Station when a strong gust of wind lifted the rear of the blimp which caused the tow-tractor to flip on its side.  (The three man crew on the tractor were not injured.)  When the tractor flipped over the tow line broke and the blimp was driven by the wind into the door of the hangar which caused a large rip in the fabric, allowing 1.5 million cubic feet of helium gas to escape.  As the blimp began to settle, the lone crewman aboard had to scramble out of the gondola before it was buried under the weight of the deflating fabric. 

     The $12 million dollar blimp was reported to be a total loss.   

     The ZPG-3-W was 403 feet long, and 118 feet tall.   

     Sources:

     Boston Advertiser, “Biggest Blimp Ripped Open”, February 14, 1960

     Sunday News, (N.Y.), Biggest Blimp, $12 Million Job, Gone With The Wind”, February 14, 1960

     New York Daily News, “Huge Blimp Rips Skin, Deflates”, February 27, 1960

 

Wilbraham, MA. – December 19, 1942

Wilbraham, Massachusetts – December 19, 1942

 

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

     On December 19, 1942, Lieutenant Russel D. Lynn, 24, was piloting a P-47B, (Ser. No. 41-5960), with a squadron of other P-47s over the area of Wilbraham, Massachusetts, when his aircraft suddenly developed engine trouble.  After directing the aircraft away from populated areas, he bailed out  at 2,500 feet.   The P-47 crashed and exploded just in from Stony Hill Road, about a quarter mile from the intersection of Old Boston Road, not far from the Ludlow town line. Lieutenant Lynn landed safely on Burbank Road and made his way to the scene of the crash where he was met by members of the North Wilbraham Fire Department and the state police.     

     Lt. Lynn was assigned to the 342nd Fighter Squadron based at Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts.

     Source:

     Springfield Daily News, “Westover Pilot Bails Out As Ship Crashes In No. Wilbraham”, December 19, 1942

Westover Field – October 25, 1945

Westover Field – October 25, 1945

 

     On October 25, 1945, a four-engine C-54 aircraft, (Ser. No. 42-72321), with a crew of five men aboard, was practicing beam approaches to Westover Airfield when the aircraft developed an unspecified mechanical problem.  The order to bail out was given, and the now unmanned aircraft crashed in a remote area of the airfield and exploded. 

     One member of the crew, Corporal George K. Holloway, 24, reportedly struck a portion of the aircraft when he bailed out and was rendered unconscious, and thereby incapable of pulling the rip cord of his parachute.  He’s buried in Odd fellows Cemetery in Ponca City, Oklahoma. 

     Two other crew members, Sergeant Charles E. Walker of Long Beach, California, was seriously injured when he made a hard landing on a concrete strip, and Sergeant Bernard J. Lance of Flushing, New York, suffered minor injuries when he landed. 

     The pilot and co-pilot were not injured.

     Sources:

     Unknown newspaper, “Flier Killed At Westover”, October 26, 1945

     www.findagrave.com   

 

The pilot and co-pilot landed safely.     

Westover Field – January 14, 1943

Westover Field, Chicopee, Massachusetts – January 14, 1943

 

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

     On January 14, 1943, two P-47B fighter aircraft were over Westover Filed when they were involved in a mid-air collision.  One aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-6005), piloted by 1st Lieutenant Joseph H. Freeman, Jr., of Weatherford, Texas, crashed and burned, killing Lt. Freeman.  The other aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-6002), suffered little damage and landed safely. 

     Both aircraft were part of the 340th Fighter Squadron, 348th Fighter Group, then stationed at Westover.   

     Lt. Freeman is buried in City Greenwood Cemetery in Weatherford, Texas.  To see a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com.  One will note that he was born on January 14, 1920, and died on his 23rd birthday.  

     The aircraft involved in this accident which landed safely, (41-6002), crashed and burned in West Greenwich, Rhode Island, on March 24, 1943.  The pilot did not survive.  The details of that accident are posted elsewhere on this website.

     Sources:

     Unknown Newspaper, “Plane Collision Kills One Pilot At Westover”, January 15, 1943

     www.findagrave.com

 

Westover Field – February 9, 1943

Westover Field – February 9, 1943

 

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

     On February 9, 1943, a P-47 fighter plane was taking off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, when the plane went out of control and struck three men on a snow removal detail.  Two men were killed, the third was injured.  The pilot of the aircraft was not hurt.

     The dead were identified as:

     Pvt. Jacob Adelsky, 22, of Brooklyn, New York.  He’s buried at Beth David Cemetery in Elmont, N.Y.  To see a photo of Pvt. Adelsky, go to www.findagrave.com, Memorial #26119296.

     Pvt. Dewey A. O’Neal, 44, of Blytheville, Arkansas. He’s buried in Maple Grove Cemetery in Blytheville.

     The injured man was not identified.

     Source: The Springfield Union, “Two Soldiers Killed, One Injured By Plane Taking Off At Westover Field”, February 10, 1943, page 1. 

Chicopee, MA. – June 27, 1958

Chicopee, Massachusetts – June 27, 1958

     Shortly after midnight on June 27, 1958, four U.S. Air Force KC-135 jet tankers were scheduled to make a transatlantic flight from Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee to London, England.  The purpose of the flight was to try to establish a new overseas speed record for the aircraft.   

     The first two aircraft took off without incident however, the third aircraft, (Ser. No. 56-3599), stalled just after takeoff and crashed about 1.25 miles off the end of the runway.  The tanker came down across the Massachusetts Turnpike and impacted on a farm located on Fuller Road where it exploded in a massive fireball that was seen for miles.  All fifteen men aboard were killed instantly. 

     The fourth aircraft was then ordered not to take off.

    The Turnpike was covered with debris and had to be closed to all traffic.  Electrical power was knocked out throughout the area as the aircraft had struck some power lines prior to impact.

     Of the fifteen men aboard, eight were civilian journalists.

     The dead were identified as:

     Brig. Gen. Donald W. Saunders, 45, of Athens, New York.  He was Commander of the 57th Air Division at Westover AFB.  To see a photo of Gen. Saunders, go to www.findagrave.com.   

     Lt. Col. George Broutsas, 39, of Brattleboro, Vermont.  He was the aircraft commander. He’s buried in Meeting House Hill Cemetery in Brattleboro.

     Captain James Shipman, 34, of Kansas City, Kansas.  He was the aircraft’s navigator. He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  

     Captain John B. Gordon, 29, of Raleigh, North Carolina.  He’s buried in Mountain Memorial Park in Raleigh.  

     Lieutenant Joseph C. Sweet, 26, of Chandler, Arizona.  He’s buried in Resthaven Park East Cemetery in Phoenix, Arizona.  

     Master Sergeant Donald H. Gabbard, 37, of Los Gatos, California.  He’s buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California.

     Technical Sergeant Joseph G. Hutter, 26, of Miami, Florida.  He’s buried in Arlington, National Cemetery.

     Civilians aboard included:

     Daniel J. Coughlin, 31, of Boston – Associated Press 

     Norman Montellier, 37, of New York City – United Press International

     Glenn A. Williams, 41, of Bethesda, Maryland – U.S. News & World Report

     Robert A. Ginsburgh, (Also spelled Ginsburg in some accounts), 63, of the U.S. News & World Report. He was also a retired brigadier general from the U.S. Air Force.

     James L. McConaughy, Jr., Time and Life Magazine.

     Robert Sibley, 57, of Belmont, Massachusetts – Aviation editor of the Boston Traveler.

     William Cochran – National Aeronautical Association

     William Enyart – National Aeronautical Association

     The aircraft involved in this accident was part of the 99th Air refueling Squadron based at Westover.   

     This was the second accident for a Westover aerial tanker since aerial tankers had been assigned to the base in the spring of 1955.  The first accident occurred on January 22, 1957, when a KC-97 tanker crashed in Rome, New York, killing all seven crewmen aboard.     

     Sources:

     Unknown newspaper, “KC135 Falls In Flames Near Base At Start Of London Record Flight”, June 27, 1958

     Springfield Union, “Residents Terrified As Disaster Strikes”, June 27, 1958

     Fitchburg Sentinel, “Air Force Jet Plane Explodes After Westover Takeoff”, June 27, 1958

     www.findagrave.com

 

Atlantic Ocean – June 6, 1983

Atlantic Ocean – June 6, 1983

 

Lockheed XF-104
U.S. Air Force Photo

      At 11:00 a.m. on June 6, 1983, a flight of three F-104 jet fighters took off from Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, for a routine training flight.   All were part of the 101st Fighter Interceptor Squadron.

     Visibility at the time was described as “somewhat limited”.  The flight headed in a southerly direction towards the Atlantic ocean and climbed to an altitude of 12,000 feet.  Forty minutes later, as the flight was passing about 60 to 90 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, one of the aircraft was noticed to be missing from the formation.

     The two other pilots attempted to make radio contact with the missing aircraft but were unsuccessful, and it was assumed that the missing plane had gone down in the water.  A large scale search and rescue operation was immediately put into effect.     

    The missing pilot was Captain Allan John Lavoie, 31, of Barnstable, Mass.  It was reported that if he was able to eject from the airplane, that he could possibly make use of the life raft and other emergency supplies attached to the ejection seat.  It was further reported that in the event a pilot ejected, a special radio was supposed to begin transmitting, but no emergency radio signal was received.    

     The search and rescue operation involved aircraft from the Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard, as well as military surface vessels, yet despite all efforts, no trace of the aircraft or Captain Lavoie was ever found. 

     Captain Lavoie left behind a wife and three children.

     Sources:

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “More Ships, Planes Join Hunt For Guard Flier Off Nantucket”, June 8, 1983, Page A9

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Search Ends For Air Guard Pilot As The Silent Sea Yields No Clue”, June 11, 1983, Page 1

 

Sunderland, MA. – August 7, 1941

Sunderland, Massachusetts – August 7, 1941

 

Stearman PT-17
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the afternoon of August 7, 1941, a PT-17 Stearman biplane took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a routine training flight.  There were two men aboard, the pilot: Lieutenant Everett J. O’Connor; and a mechanic, Staff Sergeant Charles G. Nowark. 

     While over the Connecticut River Valley the aircraft suddenly lost all power and the pilot was forced to find a place to make an emergency landing.  He aimed for the Connecticut River, and made a perfect water landing near a point known as Whittemore’s Rock.  After the plane glided to a stop the weight of the engine caused the nose to sink in several feet of water, leaving the tail of the aircraft pointing upwards.  Neither man was injured.     

     Lieutenant O’Connor was praised for his skill in landing the airplane under such conditions.

     Both men were part of the 7th Squadron, 34th Bombardment Group.  The PT-17 was one of five stationed at Westover at the time.  Other than water damage to the engine, the plane was salvageable.   

      This was reported to be the “…first crash of an army plane stationed at Westover Field.” 

     Source:

     Springfield Republican, “Army Plane Makes Forced Landing After Motor Fails”, August 18, 1941. (With photo of aircraft in river.)

Ludlow, MA. – July 17, 1944

Ludlow, Massachusetts – July 17, 1944

 

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 17, 1944, a flight of three B-24 Liberator heavy bombers left Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a combat formation training flight.  With the bombers was a P-47 Thunderbolt that was to participate in the exercise by making mock attack runs on the bombers as they flew in a three-ship triangle formation.

     As the formation was passing over central Massachusetts, the P-47 crashed into the lead B-24.  The P-47 immediately broke apart and caught fire, but the pilot, a major, was able to bail out safely.  At the same time, pieces of both aircraft struck a second B-24 in the formation causing serious damage to that aircraft. 

     Immediately after the impact between the P-47 and the first B-24, two crewmen of the B-24 bailed out of the aircraft.  Meanwhile, the nose turret gunner of the second B-24 was pinned in place due to the impact of debris from the first two aircraft and was forced to remain there.      

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

     Debris from the stricken aircraft rained down on the town of Ludlow, Massachusetts.  The P-47 crashed and burned on a farm on Rood Street, narrowly missing the barn.  Wing portions of one of the B-24s landed in the back yard of a home on Center Street, and a propeller landed in the yard of a home on Munsing Street.  Pieces of an engine and other small parts fell elsewhere.  There were no reported injuries to anyone on the ground.

     The major landed safely and made his way back to the air field on his own.  One crewman from the B-24 came down in a tree and was rescued by some telephone workers.  The other was found up by a state police officer. Neither was seriously injured.

     The damaged B-24s managed to limp back to Westover on three engines and land safely.  The trapped turret gunner was freed by the pilot and flight engineer immediately afterwards. 

     The third B-24 was undamaged in the accident, and was put in a holding pattern until the other two Liberators could land. 

     Source:

     Springfield Daily Republican, Fliers Are Safe In Mid-Air Crash Of Three Planes”, July 18, 1944 

Northampton, MA. – June 15, 1942

Northampton, Massachusetts – June 15, 1942

 

C-47 Aircraft – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On June 15, 1942, a C-47, (Ser. No. 41-18377), with three crewmen aboard from Westover Field, was flying low along the Connecticut River on a navigation training flight when it struck a power cable that was strung across the river from MT. Tom to a power substation belonging to the Turner’s Falls Power Company.   The impact snapped the power cable, which was reported to be carrying 13,000 volts of electricity, and also caused damage to the aircraft.  The pilot managed to maintain control and brought the plane in for a crash landing at an open field about two miles away.  None of the crew was injured.

     Source:

     Unknown Newspaper, “High Voltage Wire Knocks Westover Bomber Out Of Air”, June 15, 1942.     

 

Westover Field – February 21, 1942

Westover Army Air Field, Chicopee, Massachusetts 

     At about 8:30 a.m. on the morning of February 21, 1942, 2nd Lieutenant Gordon C. McAthur, 24, of Paris, Texas, was piloting what was described as a “pursuit-type” aircraft that crashed while taking off on runway 33. 

     As the aircraft was leaving the ground the pilot raised the landing gear.  A strong crosswind was blowing at the time, and when the aircraft was at an altitude of about 20 feet it suddenly dropped back to the ground in a flat attitude.  Lt. McArthur was transported in critical condition to the airfield hospital where he succumbed to his injuries later in the day.

     Lt. McArthur is buried in Evergreen cemetery in Paris, Texas.  To see a photo of him, go to www.findagrave.com, memorial #55039852 

     Sources:

     Springfield Republican, “Dies After Crash Of Warplane At Westover”, February 22, 1942, page 1

     www.findagrave.com

 

 

 

 

Westover Field – January 29, 1942

Westover Army Air Field – January 29, 1942

     At about 3:00 p.m. on  January 29, 1942, Lieutenant Thomas Charles Bittner, 21, of Trenton, New Jersey, was attempting to take off from Westover Army Air Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, when his aircraft crashed just after becoming airborne and he was killed.  The specific type of aircraft wasn’t mentioned in the press, and was described only as a “pursuit plane”. 

     Lieutenant Bittner was an experienced pilot, and officials speculated that the cause of the accident might have been due to heavy cross winds or swirling dust fouling the engine, or both.  

     Lieutenant Bitner had a twin brother Robert, who was also serving in the Air Corps.  Both men obtained their pilot’s licenses at the age of 16. 

     It was also reported that Lt. Bittner was the first military fatality at Westover Field.  He’s buried in Our Lady Of Lourdes Cemetery in Trenton, N.J. 

      Sources:

     Springfield Union, “Westover Pilot Is Killed When fast Pursuit Plane Falls, Burns On Take-Off”, January 30, 1942     

     Springfield Union, “Lieutenant One Of “Flying Twins”, January 30, 1942 

     www.findagrave.com, Memorial #102737238

Central Massachusetts – February 20, 1944

Central Massachusetts – February 20, 1944

 

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the night of February 20, 1944, a B-24 Liberator, (Ser. No. 42-7077), from Westover Field in Chicopee, was passing over central Massachusetts on a training flight when one of the four engines caught fire.   The pilot gave the crew the option of bailing out, and seven of the nine member crew did so.  The rest remained with the pilot aboard the aircraft, who was able to make a successful emergency landing back at Westover.

     Of the men who parachuted, two landed in the town of Brimfield, one in Palmer, and the rest came down in the Turkey Hill section of Belchertown.  All landed safely. 

     Source:

     Unknown Newspaper, “Seven Westover Fliers Bail Out Of Blazing Plane”, February 21, 1944

 

Hatfield, MA. – August 27, 1943

Hatfield, Massachusetts – August 27, 1943

 

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

     On August 27, 1943, a pair of P-47 Thunderbolts was passing over the Hatfield area when one aircraft, a P-47B, (Ser. No. 5930), developed engine trouble and the pilot was forced to bail out.  The aircraft plunged into a wooded are in North Hatfield near the Whately town line and exploded.  Some nearby field workers had to scatter as the flames set off ammunition in the aircraft. The pilot landed safely.

     Both aircraft were part of the 320th Fighter Squadron, 326th Fighter group, based at Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts.

     Source: Unknown Newspaper, “Westover pilot Jumps Out Over North Hatfield”, August 28, 1943.     

Chicopee, MA. – June 11, 1943

Chicopee, MA. – June 11, 1943

 

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

     On the morning of June 11, 1943, 2nd Lt. Bruce Cowan, 19, took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, in a P-47-B Thunderbolt, (Ser. No. 41-5956), for a routine training flight.   

     At about 10:45 a.m., his aircraft was observed high over the field by a security guard for the Chicopee Water Supply.   The guard later related how the aircraft appeared to “side-slip” and rapidly loose altitude, before it crashed in a wooded area about 200 feet off Burrett Road, about a quarter-of-a-mile from Westover Field.  Lt. Cowan was killed instantly.

     Lt. Cowan died four months shy of his 20th birthday.  He was assigned to the 321st Fighter Squadron of the 326th Fighter Group.  He’s buried in Forest Hill Cemetery in Birmingham, Alabama.

     Sources:

     Unknown Newspaper, “Westover Pilot Killed In Crash”, June 12, 1943

     Unknown Newspaper, “Pilot Killed As Westover Plane falls In Chicopee”, June 12, 1943  

     Springfield Union & Republican, “Pilot Crash Victim Came from Alabama”, June 13, 1943

 

 

 

Ludlow, MA. – May 4, 1944

Ludlow, Massachusetts – May 4, 1944

 

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On May 4, 1944, a B-24 Liberator with three crewmen aboard took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a training flight.  Shortly after take off, the aircraft experienced complete engine failure in all four engines.  According to two civilian witnesses living on Burnett Road in the neighboring town of Ludlow, all four engines were silent as the aircraft passed over their home, and someone aboard fired a red distress flair from the aircraft.   Moments later the B-24 crashed and exploded in a thickly wooded area, about 3/4 of a mile from Westover Field. The plane came down on land owned by the Chicopee Water Department in Ludlow just before the Chicopee town line.    

     All three crewmen perished in the accident. They were identified by the press as:

     Pilot: Captain Harold H. Melken, 26, of Watertown, Massachusetts.

     Co-pilot: 2nd Lieutenant William F. Davis, 21, of Baxter, West Virginia.

     Tec-Sgt. Harry Schultz, of Kansas City, Mo.

     Source: Springfield Union, “Three Westover Men Die In Ludlow Plane Crash”, May 5, 1944

Granby, MA. – September 17, 1944

Granby, Massachusetts – September 17, 1944

     In the early morning hours of September 17, 1944, what was described as a “heavy bomber”, possibly a B-24 Liberator, was on a night training flight when it crashed into a thickly wooded area in Granby, Massachusetts, about two miles north of Westover Air Field.  The aircraft broke apart on impact and wreckage was reportedly scattered for hundreds of feet.  The area where the crash occurred was on a farm off East Street.  

     All seven crewmen aboard the aircraft perished in the accident.

     Pilot: 2nd Lt. Gene Revere Asay, 28, of Lodi, Colorado.

     Co-pilot: 2nd Lt. John W. Woodrow, 22, of Huntington, Indiana.

    Flight Engineer: Sgt. Neal W. Johnson, 22, of Ashland, Kansas.

     Asst. Flt. Engineer: Pfc. Jack W. Hariston, 18, of Atlanta, Georgia.

     Radio Operator: Cpl. John A. Perry, 21, of Warwick, R.I.

     Asst. Radio Operator: Pfc. Clifford K. Nordby, 18, of Walhalla, North Dakota.

     Air Gunner: Sgt. William Donald Haynes, 26, of Parsons, Kansas.

     The men were assigned to the 112th AAF Base Unit at Westover Field. 

     Sources:

     Springfield Union, “Westover Bomber Crashes In Granby, Killing Seven”, September 18, 1944

     Berkshire Evening Eagle, “Westover Field Bomber Crash Kills Seven”, September 18, 1944

     www.findagrave.com

 

 

Missing Army Bomber – December 13, 1943

Missing Army Bomber – December 13, 1943

 

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     In the early morning hours of Sunday, December 13, 1943, a B-24 Liberator bomber took off from Westover Air Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a training flight in preparation for overseas duty.  It was never seen again, and was presumed to have gone down in the waters off the New England coast.

     There were eight men aboard the missing aircraft, two officers and six enlisted men.  They were identified as:

     2nd Lt. William P. Masters of Klamath Falls, Oregon.

     2nd Lt. Robert Rollin Hansen, age 25, of Corcoran, California.

     Sgt. Dean G. McAffery, age 19, of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

     Sgt. Stanley E. Zagae, of Detroit, Michigan.

     Sgt. Bernard G. Stoeckley, of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

     Sgt. Cicel H. Conklin, of Kansas City, Mo.

     Sgt. Anson G. Wiseman, of Spruce Pine, North Carolina.

     Sgt. Anthony L. Greco, of Pittsburgh, Pa.

     It is believed that the aircraft was assigned to the 759th Bombardment Squadron, which was stationed at Westover at the time before leaving for overseas duty in January of 1944. 

     Sources:

     Unknown Newspaper, “Westover Bomber Missing; Air, Land Search Under Way”, December 13, 1943

     The Fresno Bee Republican, (Fresno, CA.), “Corcoran Flier’s Plane Is Missing”, December 14, 1943, page 15.      

 

East Longmeadow, MA. – December 17, 1942

East Longmeadow, Massachusetts – December 17, 1942

 

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

     At about 11;30 a.m. on December 17, 1942, Lieutenant Raymond Murby, 23, of New York City, was piloting a P-47 Thunderbolt over central Massachusetts when the engine suddenly lost all power.  The aircraft was observed by a ground witness to go into a steep dive, with Lt. Murby fighting to regain control.  When he was almost to the ground, Murby was able to straighten the aircraft out on an even keel, and it was seen to sail overtop of a row of homes and a barn, barely missing the roof tops.  The aircraft then dropped to about 20-25 feet over the snow covered ground before it crashed into a stand of white pines at the edge of a field, shearing off both wings.  When the fuselage came to rest there was no fire, and Lt. Murby was able to extricate himself despite the fact he was seriously injured.  He attempted to walk toward some homes he could see through the trees, but discovered he couldn’t use his legs.  There he lay until rescuers found him about a half hour later.        

     Source: Unknown Newspaper, “Army Plane Crashes Near City – East Long Meadow Line; Pilot Rushed To Hospital”, December 17, 1942

Granby, MA. – January 23, 1956

Granby, Massachusetts – January 23, 1956

Updated June 14, 2018

 

F-86 Sabre – U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 2:25 p.m. on the afternoon of January 23, 1956, an F-86D Sabre jet took off from Runway 05 at Westover Air Force Base for what was to be a routine training mission.  However, just after take-off, the jet crashed in the neighboring town of Granby.  It came down in an open pasture on the east side of Taylor Street not far from where it intersects with Brook and Carver Streets.  The aircraft created a four-foot deep crater where it struck the ground and exploded. 

     The pilot, 2nd Lt. John D. Ritchie, 20, of Lowell, Massachusetts, was killed instantly.  He’d been assigned to the 337th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Westover AFB.    

     Sources:

     Springfield Union, “Pilot Dies In Granby Crash”, January 24, 1956, page 1

     Springfield Union, “Lowell Pilot Crash Victim”, January 25, 1956

Westover Air Force Base – October 9, 1953

Westover Air Force Base – October 9, 1953

 

F-86 Sabre – U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 3:15 a.m. on the morning of October 9, 1953, Captain Joseph Vitale, 35, was preparing to take off on Runway 06 at Westover AFB in an F-86D Sabre, (Ser. No. 51-5948), for a routine training flight.  After receiving instruction from the tower, Capt. Vitale began his start down the runway, but for some unknown reason was unable to become airborne.  The jet left the end of the runway and struck a mound of dirt recently excavated from a trench, and went airborne for a distance of about 200 feet before slamming into the ground.  Captain Vitale was ejected from the aircraft, but it was unclear if it was due to a malfunction, or if he had done so intentionally.   

     When rescue personnel reached his side he was found to be unconscious due to a head injury.  He was admitted to the hospital, but never regained consciousness before succumbing to his injuries on October 16th. 

     Captain Vitale was an experienced aviator who’d flown 100 combat missions during his military career.  He’d earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart, Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, and three battle stars while serving in Korea.  He was survived by his wife and four children.

     At the time of his accident Captain Vitale was assigned to the 60th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Westover AFB. 

     Sources:

     Unknown Newspaper, “Capt. Joseph Vitale and Lt. J.T. Rebo Die In Hospital”, October 10, 1053. (Lt. Rebo dies from injuries in a separate and unrelated accident.)

     usafunithistory.com, 60th F.S. – USAF Orders Of Battle    

 

Barnes Airport, MA. – October 19, 1952

Barnes Airport, Westfield, Mass. – October 19, 1952

 

F-86 Sabre – U.S. Air Force Photo

     Shortly before 4:00 p.m. on October 19, 1952, two F-86 Sabres were taking part in an airshow at Barnes Airport in Westfield, Massachusetts, when they were involved in a high-speed mid-air collision.  The planes disintegrated on impact killing both pilots instantly. 

     The men were identified as Captain Fred H. Stevens, 28, of Salem, Virginia, and 1st Lieutenant Robert H. Danell, 25, of Wakefield, Massachusetts.  

     Both pilots were assigned to the 131st Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.

     The airshow was part of the airport dedication ceremonies, in which four F-86 jets had been taking part.  The accident occurred just after the four had completed a maneuver known as a “bombshell” in which the four jets would go into a steep climb and then peel away in different directions.  

     In October of 2012, sixty years after the accident, a memorial honoring Capt. Stevens and Lt. Danell was dedicated at Barnes Airport.   

     Source:  Unknown Massachusetts Newspaper, “2 Die As Jets Collide At Westfield”, October 20, 1952  

Atlantic Ocean – August 28, 1952

Atlantic Ocean – August 28, 1952

     On August 28, 1952, an Air Force amphibious SA-16 Albatross left Westover Air Force Base and flew out over the Atlantic Ocean to meet with a navy transport ship, the Glen Alexander Patch.  Aboard the Patch was an American soldier from Nebraska who was on his way home for emergency leave.  One of his children had just died, a second was in the hospital, and his wife needed surgery.  

     The SA-16 landed near the ship about 600 miles off the New England coast, but the sea was rough, and as the pilot was attempting maneuver next to the ship one of the aircraft’s propellers struck a lifeboat that was being lowered.   There were no serious injuries reported, but the damage to the prop prevented the aircraft from fulfilling its mission. 

       It was reported that a Coast Guard aircraft would be summoned to transport the soldier. 

     Source: Springfield Union, “Westover Mercy Plane Crippled In Crash At Sea”, August 29, 1952, page 1.   

Westfield, MA. – September 1, 1979

Westfield, Massachusetts – September 1, 1979 

 

C-123K Cargo Plane
U. S. Air Force Photo

     On September 1, 1979, an Air Force C-123 transport plane was passing over central Massachusetts with a team of army paratroopers aboard.  The flight began at Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, at 11:00 a.m., and was to culminate for the paratroopers at the Turner’s Drop Zone at Fort Devens. 

     One of the crewmen aboard was Air Force Master Sergeant Laurent Barbeau, 47, of Pascoag, Rhode Island.   Shortly before 1:00 p.m., as the aircraft was flying at an altitude of 5,000 feet, M/Sgt. Barbeau went to open the side door to the aircraft in preparation for the parachute drop.  As he did so, the door fell away, and M/Sgt. Barbeau fell out of the aircraft with it.  He was wearing a parachute at the time but it didn’t deploy.  His body was recovered in a wooded area near the Little River in the town of Westfield.   

     The door was later recovered for inspection by investigators.  

     M/Sgt. Barbeau is buried in St. Patrick’s Cemetery in Pascoag, R.I.  he was assigned to the 439th Tactical Airlift Wing, a reserve unit based at Westover AFB.

     Source:

     Springfield Republican, “Airman Falls 5,000 Feet To Death”, September 1979. 

     Springfield Union, “Doorway To Death”, September 12, 1979, (photo of door.)

     www.findagrave.com

Westover Air Force Base – October 11, 1977

Westover Air Force Base – October 11, 1977

 

C-123K Cargo Plane
U. S. Air Force Photo

     On October 11, 1977, a Fairchild C-123 cargo aircraft was passing over central Massachusetts when the left engine caught fire.  There were three crewmen aboard: the pilot, Major Gale French, the co-pilot, Captain Richard Gavin, and crewman Staff Sergeant Gary Miller.     

    While Miller attempted to fight the fire, the aircraft was cleared for an emergency landing at Westover Air Force Base.  As the plane was rapidly descending, Miller lost contact with the cockpit, and bailed out.  He landed safely on a farm in Granby, Massachusetts, where he was picked up by a passing motorist and driven to Westover.     

     Meanwhile, the aircraft crash-landed nose down on the runway at Westover, and skidded for 3,000 feet before coming to rest.  All three men were transported to medical facilities for observation. 

     A firefighter was also hospitalized for smoke inhalation.  

     The crew were members of the 731st Tactical Airlift Squadron.

     Source: Springfield Union, “Four Injured In Flaming Westover Plane”, October 1977.

Belchetown, MA. – May 3, 1962

Belchertown, Massachusetts – May 3, 1962

Near Quabbin Reservoir    

F-102A Delta Dart – U.S. Air Force Photo

      At 9:00 p.m. on the night of May 3, 1962, Major William B. Howell took off from Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a routine training flight in an F-102 Delta Dart fighter aircraft.  At 10:32 p.m., as he was passing over the area of the Quabbin Reservoir, the aircraft abruptly disappeared from radar.  The weather at the time was rainy with flashes of lightning.

     A search was instituted, and the aircraft was located the following day in a thickly wooded area of Belchertown near the Pelham town line, to the west of Rt. 202, about a half mile from the nearest home.  The fuselage was demolished and it was apparent that Major Howell had been killed instantly.  The cause to the accident wasn’t stated.  

     Major Howell was assigned to the 76th Fighter Interceptor Squadron based at Westover AFB.

     Sources:

     Springfield Union, “100 Men Searching For Westover F-102 In Quabbin District”, May 4, 1962, page 1

     Springfield Union, “Board Set Up To Investigate Plunge Fatal To Maj. W. B. Howell”, May 5, 1962, page 1 

 

 

 

Quabbin Reservoir – February 28, 1957

Quabbin Reservoir – February 28, 1957

 

U.S.A.F. F-86 Fighter Jet

     On February 28, 1957, two F-86D Sabre jets from Westover Air Force Base were on a routine training flight when they collided in mid-air over the Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts.  

     One aircraft, piloted by Lieutenant Robert Smyth, (28),went down in a wooded area off Bay Road in Belchertown.   Smyth ejected safely, and landed about 1.5 miles from the wreckage.

     The second aircraft, piloted by Lieutenant John Young, (25), dove down through the ice covered reservoir and sank to the bottom.  Young also ejected safely, and came down on a small un-named island in the reservoir.  He was rescued a short time later by helicopter.

     Neither pilot suffered serious injury.

     The men were assigned to the 337th Fighter Interceptor Squadron based at Westover Field in Chicopee, Mass.

     Source: Springfield Union, “Jets Collide Over Quabbin; Two Pilots Bail Out Safely”, February 29, 1957, page 1.

Hyannis, MA. – August 9, 1946

Hyannis, Massachusetts – August 9, 1946

 

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

On August 9, 1946, a navy Lieutenant (Jg.) was taking off from Hyannis Airport in a Grumman F6F Hellcat fighter plane when the aircraft suddenly went into a roll and crashed just after leaving the ground.  The unidentified pilot was badly burned in the accident, and the aircraft was destroyed.  The pilot was found about forty feet from the burning plane, and was transported to the hospital via ambulance. 

     Source: Cape Cod Standard Times, “Navy Pilot Badly Hurt As Plane Crashes, Burns Near Hyannis.”, August 9, 1946, page 1. 

 

Otis AFB – June 5, 1947

Otis Air Force Base – June 5, 1947

     On June 5, 1947, Ensign Orin William Ross, (24), was piloting a navy dive bomber making practice landings and take offs at Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  While making a practice landing, the aircraft suddenly stalled and crashed onto the runway and exploded, killing Ensign Ross.  Ensign Ross was assigned to Carrier Squadron VA-17A stationed at Quonset Naval Air station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. 

     The exact type of aircraft was not stated.

     Ensign Ross is buried in Bristow cemetery in Bristow, Oklahoma.  To see a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com, #25974219.

     Source: Cape Cod Standard Times, “Flyer Killed At Otis Field”, June 6, 1947, page 1

Harwich, MA. – November 24, 1944

Harwich, Massachusetts – November 24, 1944

     Shortly after 8:00 a.m. on the morning of November 24, 1944, Ensign R. N. Kelly of Philadelphia, Penn., was piloting  a single engine aircraft 20,000 feet over Cape Cod when the engine suddenly caught fire.  Knowing he was over a populated area, he stayed with the aircraft until he was able to direct it towards a wooded area, and then bailed out at 3,000 feet.  The plane crashed in the woods near Bassett’s Pond and exploded.  Nobody on the ground was injured. Ensign Kelly sprained his ankle upon landing, but suffered no serious injury.

     The type of aircraft was not stated.

     Ensign Kelly had taken off from Otis Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

     Source: Cape Cod Standard Times, “Navy Plane falls At North Harwich”, November 24, 1944, page 1 

Vineyard Haven, MA. – July 31, 1926

Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts – July 31, 1926

     At 2:15 p.m. on Friday, July 30, 1926, a U.S. Navy, Loeing OL-4,  (Bu. No. A7061), a three seat amphibian bi-plane, left Washington, D.C., bound for Chatham, Massachusetts.  There were three men aboard: The pilot, Lieutenant H. F. Councell, of Hickory, North Carolina, the mechanic, C. T. Gibbens, of Norman Park, Georgia, and Captain E. S. Land, who was to make a survey of some vacant buildings at the naval base in Chatham.

     The plane landed twice on Friday.  The second time was at far Rockaway, New York, to make repairs to the radiator.  There the men spent the night, and after the repairs were made, resumed their trip on Saturday, July 31st, at about 1 p.m.   As they neared the New England coast they encountered fog, and were forced to land near an island called Noman’s Land, which is off the southwest coast of Martha’s Vineyard.  After conferring with each other, it was decided to head for Vineyard Haven; a village in the town of Tisbury on Martha’s Vineyard.  After landing safely at Vineyard Haven, the men went to the Havenside Inn. 

     After a meal, it was decided that Lieutenant Councell and Mechanic Gibbens should fly to Newport, Rhode Island, and obtain more fuel.  Meanwhile, Captain Land would remain behind and be picked up the following morning.

     The plane took off about 4:30 that afternoon with the two men aboard, and began to circle while at the same time climbing steeply.  Those watching on the ground stated that as it entered a cloud the engine suddenly stopped, and the airplane came diving out of the sky and crashed into the harbor with such force that the tail snapped off.  Both men were killed instantly.

     The aircraft was recovered and brought to shore, but it was well beyond any repair.

     The bodies of Lieutenant Councell and Mechanic Gibbens were placed aboard the navy tug, Triton to be taken to Newport, Rhode Island, but the tug developed engine trouble in-route so the destroyer Preston was sent to continue with the task.   

     Source: Vineyard Gazette, “Two Dive To death At Vineyard Haven”, August 6, 1926, page 1.  (photo of aircraft.)

Hyannis, MA. – May 11, 1944

Hyannis, Massachusetts – May 11, 1944 

     On the afternoon of May 11, 1944, navy Lieutenant George E. Orenge was piloting what the press described as a “navy torpedo bomber”, (Type unknown), over Cape Cod, Massachusetts, when the aircraft suddenly caught fire while in flight.  Being over a populated area, Lieutenant Orenge opted to stay with the plane, but was unable to direct it towards an open area, or to make it to Hyannis Airport.  The plane crashed on Barnstable Road about 200 yards from Main Street in the town of Hyannis.  In the process it struck an elm tree and broke in two, pitching Lieutenant Orenge, still strapped to his seat, from the cockpit.  As the aircraft came to rest and was consumed by flames, Lieutenant Orenge landed on the sidewalk in front of 62 Barnstable Road.   

     The homeowner of 62 Barnstable Road, Vernon Coleman, happened to be outside and witnessed the crash.  He later told a reporter from the Cape Cod Standard Times, “I looked up and saw the plane sort of wavering with the motor on fire.” 

     Lieutenant Orenge was transported to Cape Cod Hospital, but remarkably, he’d only suffered some minor bumps, scrapes, and bruises. 

     It was also reported that he flew another aircraft later in the day. 

     This crash wasn’t the only one of Lieutenant Orenge’s  naval career.  On November 5, 1943, he was piloting an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 65895), when a tire blew out on landing at Quonset Point NAS in Rhode Island.  The aircraft went off the runway and struck a truck.  The aircraft needed extensive repairs, but Lieutenant Orenge suffered only minor injuries.

     Source: Cape Cod Standard Times, “Pilot Who Survives Hyannis crash, Goes Aloft Again”, May 12, 1944                 

Mt. Holyoke B-24 Memorial

 

Mount Holyoke, Massachusetts – May 27, 1944

     On May 27, 1944, a B-24 J left Westover Field and struck the side of Mt. Holyoke.  All ten crewmen aboard were killed.  In may of 1989 a memorial was dedicated to honor those who lost their lives.

     For more information see an article written by Stan Freeman titled, “Lost Airmen Get Final Tribute” – The Sunday Republican, May 28, 1989.     

www.chromos-historical.org/mtholyoke/1989monument.html

Mount Holyoke, Massachusetts, B-24 Memorial.

Mount Holyoke, Massachusetts, B-24 Memorial.

Back Side of Mt. Holyoke B-24 Memorial. Photo Taken 2007

Back Side of Mt. Holyoke B-24 Memorial. Photo Taken 2007

Swampscott, MA – September 29, 1950

Swampscott, Massachusetts – September 29, 1950  

 

F-86 Sabre – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the afternoon of September 29, 1950, Lieutenant Thomas Finney was flying an F-86A Sabre (49-1090) in formation with three other Sabres as part of a training exercise when his jet suddenly lost power.  This occurred while the formation was at 20,000 feet and over the Atlantic Ocean off Boston. 

     Finney alerted the flight leader, Lieutenant Jack Schwab, that he had an emergency, and Schwab led him towards shore while giving instructions in the use of the ejection seat.  Just before ejecting at 3,500 feet, Finney turned the jet towards open water. 

     Finney landed in a tree near the town of Marblehead, and climbed down unhurt.  After finding a telephone, he contacted the Coast Guard Air Base in Salem which sent a helicopter to retrieve him. 

     The Sabre crashed on Phillips Beach in Swampscott scattering debris and live .50 caliber ammunition all along the sand.  Nearly 5,000 curious onlookers descended on the area, but were held at bay by police.

     The flight of Sabres was attached to the 58th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron of the 33rd Fighter-Interceptor Group based at Otis Air Force Base.  

Source:

Falmouth Enterprise, “Pilot Parachutes To Safety As Jest Fighter Crashes” October 6, 1950.

 

 

 

 

 

Martha’s Vineyard, MA – August 25, 1944

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts – August 25, 1944 

     On August 25, 1944, navy pilot, Lieut. (j.g.) Robert Stayman Willaman, 25, of Chicago, received a medal at Martha’s Vineyard Naval Auxiliary Air Field.  The exact medal wasn’t specified in the newspaper, but it was mentioned that Willaman had been serving in the South Pacific.  

     Later that same day, Willaman was killed when his plane crashed on Martha’s Vineyard. 

     Lt. Jg. Willaman was survived by his wife Evelyn who he had married on April 10, 1943.  He left for duty in the Pacific as a torpedo bomber pilot on August 1, 1943.  

Sources:

Falmouth Enterprise, “Death Follows Decoration”, September 1, 1944

Tidings – Irving Park Lutheran Church , “11 Who Gave Their Lives”, August, 2007, Vol. 34, #8.  

North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #44-67     

Atlantic Ocean – November 6, 1944

Atlantic Ocean – November 6, 1944

12 miles east of Cape Cod 

     On November 6, 1944, a U.S. Navy blimp from the South Weymouth Air Base was on patrol over the Atlantic Ocean when the crew reported very poor weather conditions.  The craft was ordered back to base and crashed en-route. 

    The blimp carried ten men, eight of which were rescued.  The body of one man was recovered, the other was missing and presumed dead.  

Source; New York Times, “2 Lost With Navy Blimp”, November 8, 1944

 

Squantum Naval Air Station – September 12, 1946

Squantum Naval Air Station - P-47 Thunderbolt - September 12, 1946

Squantum Naval Air Station – P-47 Thunderbolt – September 12, 1946

Squantum Naval Air Station – May 10, 1947

Squantum Naval Air Station - May 10, 1947

Squantum Naval Air Station – May 10, 1947

Otis Air Field – March 27, 1944

   Otis Air Field – March 27, 1944

Falmouth, Massachusetts    

U.S. Army - Douglas RA-24B, U.S. Air Force Photo

U.S. Army – Douglas RA-24B, U.S. Air Force Photo

     On March 27, 1944, Women’s Air Service Pilot, (WASP), Frances F. Grimes, was killed shortly after take-off from Otis Field.  The aircraft was an RA-24B, (42-54552), the army’s version of the U.S. Navy’s SBD Dauntless dive bomber.   Shortly after taking off, the plane developed engine trouble and dove into the ground. 

     Frances Fortune Grimes was born in Deer Park, Maryland and was a graduate of West Virginia University, and the University of Pittsburg.  She entered the service in January 1943 at Ellington Field in Houston, Texas, and began her flight training at Avenger Field in Sweetwater, Texas, on January 15, 1943.   She completed her training as part of the class 43-W-3 on July, 3, 1943, and was designated a ferry pilot, assigned to Love Field in Dallas.  From there she served at Camp Davis, North Carolina, before arriving at Otis Field on December 15, 1943.   She was 32-years-old at the time of her death.   

     Three other WASP pilots were also serving at Otis Field at the time: Shirley Ingalls, Mildred A. Toner, and Mary L. Leatherbee, all of whom acted as pallbearers at Miss Grimes funeral held at Camp Edwards. 

     This was the second fatal accident involving the same type of aircraft from Otis Field within three weeks.  On March 3, 1944, another RA-24B (42-54555) crashed near the entrance of Woods Hole Harbor killing the pilot, 2nd Lt. Joseph H. Gardner, 29.  (See posting on this website for more info.)  

     For a photo of Miss Grimes, and other information about WASP pilots, go Wings Across America/ Wasp On The Web/ Above and Beyond.

Sources:

Falmouth Enterprise, “Woman Pilot Dies In Otis Field Crash” March 31, 1944   

Lawrence Webster, Aviation Archeologist & Historian

Wings Across America/Wasp On The Web/Above & Beyond – www.wingsacrossamerica.org.

 

    

Woods Hole Harbor – March 3, 1944

Woods Hole Harbor – March 3, 1944  

Woods Hole, Falmouth, Massachusetts  

U.S. Army - Douglas RA-24B, U.S. Air Force Photo

U.S. Army – Douglas RA-24B, U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 10:13 a.m. on March 3, 1944, it was reported that an aircraft had crashed into the water at the entrance to Woods Hole Harbor, about halfway between Nonamessett Island and Juniper Point.  The plane had been seen circling low in the sky when it suddenly “pancaked” into the water.

      Observers on shore stated it appeared to be a navy plane with two men inside.  However, the first boats on the scene recovered an army fliers hat and some paperwork from Otis Field in Falmouth. 

     It was later announced by the Navy public relations office in Newport, R.I.  that the aircraft did not belong to the navy, and the Camp Edwards office on Cape Cod stated none of their coastal patrol aircraft were unaccounted for. Boston naval officials also reported that none of their aircraft were missing.  

     The plane was determined to be a U.S. Army RA-24B Banshee, (42-54555) piloted by 2nd Lt. Joseph H. Gardner, 29, of Sierra Blanc, Texas.   Gardner had been on a training flight from Otis Filed to practice stalls and spins. 

     Confusion over the plane’s branch of service was cleared up when it was explained that the RA-24B was the army’s version of the U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless dive bomber.       

Sources:

Falmouth Enterprise, “Plane crashes At Woods Hole” March 3, 1944  

Lawrence Webster, Aviation Historian and Archeologist.    

Off Gay Head, MA – April 16, 1942

Off Gay Head, Massachusetts – April 16, 1942 

     On April 16, 1942, A United States Coast Guard amphibian plane went down in the Atlantic Ocean off the town of Gay Head, Martha’s Vineyard.  The plane had been on a routine patrol when it was sent to the area to investigate a reported submarine sighting.    

     Three men were aboard, and all were killed.  The dead were identified as: Lieutenant Robert James Lafferty, 28, of Port Washington, Long island, N.Y., Stephen Hohn Tarapchak, 37, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and William A. Boutillier, 28, of Walla Walla, Washington.  Of the three, only Boutillier’s body was recovered, found wearing a life vest. 

     Debris from the aircraft washed up on a beach in Lobsterville, Martha’s Vineyard.    

     The aircraft was a Grumman JRF-3 #V190. 

Sources:

      New York Times, “3 Are Lost As Plane Crashes Into Sea”, April 17. 1942

     U.S. Coast Guard, Aviators & Aircrews That Did Not Return…  www.uscg.mil/history/ 

Off Scituate, MA – August 28, 1934

Off Scituate Massachusetts – August 28, 1934 

     On the morning of August 28, 1934, Lt. Maurice J. Connell, 45, of the U.S. Army Reserve, left Marston Mills Airport in Barnstable flying an army bi-plane.  He was headed for Boston where he was to take on a photographer for an aerial photo mission.  As he neared the city he encountered heavy fog conditions and wound up over the town of Scituate which is to the south of Boston.  He tried to land three times: once on a golf course, again on a plowed field, and a third time on a sand bar, but for reasons not stated in the press, was unsuccessful. 

     After his third attempt his plane made a loud noise as if an explosion had occurred, although it could have been the engine backfiring.  The sound was heard by navy personnel stationed at the Fourth Cliff radio station, and immediately afterwards the roar of the plane’s motor stopped.  At the time Connell’s aircraft was over the water off Scituate.

     The Coast Guard was notified and the area was searched, but only small pieces of wreckage were recovered.       

Source:

New York Times, “Flier Falls In Sea Off Scituate In Fog”, August 29, 1934

Wareham, MA – August 14, 1941

Wareham, Massachusetts – August 14, 1941 

     On August 14, 1941, a U.S. Army O-46 aircraft (35-211) was taking part in training exercises in Wareham when the plane came in at a low altitude to drop a message to ground troops and struck electrical wires causing it to crash. 

     The pilot, 2nd Lt. Malcolm F. Nash was taken to the Camp Edwards hospital with serious injuries.  2nd Lt. Alden C. Cole, 25, the observer aboard, was killed.    

Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Killed In Air Crash” August 15, 1941

     Update March 7, 2016

      On August 14, 1941, Lieutenants Nash and Cole were partaking in a message-dropping mission during training maneuvers (War games), being conducted by the 26th Division.  Their job was to observe “enemy” troop movements and drop bags containing written messages about those movements to the Command Post. 

     At about 1:15 p.m., the aircraft made two passes over the “designated drop zone” located near the Command Post; the first at an altitude of 200 feet, and the second at 150 feet, but each time the bag containing the message fell outside the designated area.  As the pilot made a third pass he came in lower, and Lt. Cole tossed the message out.  At the end of the zone were some high tension wires which were difficult to see from that air, and the aircraft struck those wires and crashed.  The high tension wires fell on the aircraft, and Lt. Cole was electrocuted.       

     The aircraft was an )-46A Observation aircraft, assigned to the 101st Observation Squadron based at Otis Field, Falmouth, Mass.  

     Source: U.A. Army Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident, dated August 22, 1941

Northampton, MA – May 13, 1948

Northampton, Massachusetts – May 13, 1948 

Updated March 23, 2018

 

Memorial at the crash site.
Established 1999.

     At 12: 10 p.m. on May 13, 1948, an four-engine Army transport plane, (a Douglas C-54 Skymaster), left Westover Air Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, with three men aboard for a routine instrument training flight.  Four men had initially been assigned to the flight, but one failed to go due to being off-base on official business at the time the flight was to leave.

     While over the area of Northampton, Massachusetts, the aircraft encountered thick cloud cover and drizzling rain, and the crew had to switch to instrument flight rules.  At about 1:30 p.m. the plane disappeared from radar and crashed on the Adams farm on Florence Road in Northampton, killing all aboard.  No distress call had been received.

     The aircraft narrowly missed hitting a barn and the Adams farmhouse with family members inside.  When the aircraft crashed and exploded, Mrs. Adams later described to a reporter how pieces of the plane struck the side of the house and came through the windows. 

     Hundreds of people descended upon the scene creating a massive traffic jam that hindered fire fighters efforts to extinguish the blaze.     

     The dead were identified as:

     Captain Paul Lonquich, 40, of Yonkers, N.Y.

     1st Lt. Wilfred W. Lavinder, 23, of Portsmouth, Ohio.

     S/Sgt. Jack Zaresky, 26, of Queens, N.Y.

     All three men were assigned to the 12th Squadron of the 1st Air Transport Group.  Today, a memorial honoring the three men stands near the crash site.     

     Sources:

     Boston Traveler, “3 Die In Air Crash Near Northampton”, May 13, 1948, page 1.

     Springfield Union, (Springfield, Mass.), “Three Fliers Killed In crash Of C-54 At Northampton”, May 14, 1948, page 1.  

     New York Times, “Army Plane Falls; 3 Die”, May 14, 1948

 

Atlantic Ocean – July 15, 1939

Atlantic Ocean – July 15, 1939

200 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard 

     This particular accident is a tale of irony and coincidence.  It begins with the Woods Hole oceanographic research sailing ship, Atlantis, which on July 15, 1939, was at sea about 200 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard when one the crew, George T. Priest, 36, needed to be evacuated to the mainland.  What had begun as a cold three days before had developed into a serious case of pneumonia. The fastest way to get Priest to the medical attention he required was by air, so a message was sent to the United States Coast Guard which dispatched a V-164 seaplane with six crewmen aboard to rendezvous with the Atlantis.    

     The Coast Guard plane arrived about 11:30 a.m. on the 15th, circling the ship several times before landing the rolling seas. Priest was taken to the plane by rowboat and with difficulty was transferred aboard.  The boat then returned to the Atlantis while the coast guardsmen made preparations to take off. 

     The seaplane began to taxi, and what came next was witnessed by Mate Kelly of the Atlantis’ crew. “She taxied about 150 yards and then taxied directly into a swell.  By throwing her rudder up just as she hit the swell the pilot was able to bounce the plane into the air.  The plane leveled off going about 90 knots and about 20 feet off the water.  She had just leveled off when she hit an air pocket and suddenly dropped about ten feet.  As she fell, a sudden swell rose.  She buried her nose in the sea.  As the plane hit the water I yelled to the boat crew to drop the boat again, and we practically threw ourselves into it.  The plane was about 75 yards ahead of the Atlantis.  As she hit the sea a burst of spray obscured her.  About two seconds later a sheet of flame and smoke shot out of the spray.  There was a sound like an explosion.  Had the bow of the plane not been underwater in a few seconds the whole plane would have burst into flames. The wings of the plane were under water and the ship was settling when the boat from the Atlantis reached her about three minutes later.”

     Four crewmen aboard the V-164 managed to escape as the plane broke apart: Russell Hayes, Charles Whelen, Frank Evers, and Carl Simon.  Debris floating atop the heaving seas made rescue efforts difficult, but eventually all four were pulled aboard the Atlantis’ rowboat.

     The Coast Guard pilot, Lieutenant William Clemmer, Coastguardsman John Radan, and George Priest all went to the bottom with the main portion of the plane.

     The survivors were brought aboard the Atlantis and given first-aid while a message of the disaster was radioed to the Coast Guard.  By 6:00 P.m. another Coast Guard aircraft arrived on the scene, but it was determined that the sea was too rough for a landing, so the Coast Guard boat Pontchartrain was dispatched. 

     It was later reported in the Falmouth Enterprise that at the same time George Priest was dying aboard the Coast Guard plane, his wife at their home in Falmouth was handed a crushed model of an airplane that her son had been playing with in the yard.  The gardener had accidentally run it over with a lawnmower, and had brought it inside the house apologizing to Mrs. Priest.  The plane was a replica of one the couple had flown in while vacationing in Europe some time earlier. 

     Mrs. Priest was quoted as saying, “My husband always said he would die of pneumonia at the age of 36. His father died of pneumonia at that age.”

     In yet another twist, it was later learned that the accident had been photographed by Harold Williams, radio operator aboard the Atlantis, using a “box camera” which were popular at the time.  Another member of the crew, Beverly Hubbard, also filmed part of the incident using a movie camera, and caught the transfer of Priest from the boat to the plane, but ran out of film just as the aircraft was getting ready to take off. 

     The image of the research vessel Atlantis is used for the Wood Hole Institute logo.

 Sources:

Falmouth Enterprise, “Falmouth Man Killed When Plane Explodes At Sea Near Atlantis”, July 18, 1939

Falmouth Enterprise, “As Seaman Died In Plane, Crushed Model Was Handed His Wife”, July 18, 1939

Falmouth Enterprise, “Box Camera Takes Death Scene As Movie Film Fails,” July 18, 1939    

Sandwich, MA – July 12, 1951

Sandwich, Massachusetts – July 12, 1951 

 

F-94 Starfire U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Starfire
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 3:30 p.m. on July 12, 1951, an Air Force F-94B fighter jet (50-873A) was in flight over Cape Cod when the engine flamed out.  The plane crashed near Peters Pond in Sandwich, about a mile south of the Mid-Cape Highway, (Route 6).  Another source put the crash site near Spectacle Pond, “about 1 mile from Quaker Meeting House Road in the direction of West Barnstable, and near Mill Road, between Spectacle Pond and the Mid-Cape Highway.”

    The pilot, 1st Lt. Victor Clapp, 28, of Beverly, Massachusetts, was killed when he ejected but his chute failed to open.   He was survived by his wife, Dorothy, and two children.   

     The radar observer, 2nd Lt. Aaron M. Jones Jr., 27, of Newtonville, MA, ejected safely.  Jones landed in a wooded area south of the Mid-Cape Highway and made his way to the Rof-Mar Lodge.

     The crash ignited several large brush fires.  

     The jet belonged to the 33rd Fighter-Interceptor wing at Otis AFB. 

     Sources:

     Falmouth Enterprise, “Jet Pilot Is Killed As Plane Crashes Near Peters Pond”, July 13, 1951  

     Cape Cod Standard Times, “Otis Base Jet Pilot Is Killed, Companion Safe In Crash”, July 13, 1951, Pg. 1

     Updated March 21, 2016

     On the afternoon of July 12, 1951, Lieutenant’s Clapp and  Aaron took off from Otis Air Force Base for a training flight to practice “ground controlled approach” (GCA) landing procedures.  Their F-94 (#50-873A) carried a full load of fuel, but was not equipped with external wing tanks.

     After making two successful landings, the pilot attempted a third.  As the F-94 approached Otis AFB intending to land on runway 23, it “flamed out” and crashed in a wooded area about 150 yards to the east of Mill Road, and south of Route 6.  This location is gleaned from the official air force crash investigation report, and contradicts the vague locations given to the press, which was likely done for security reasons and to prevent souvenir hunters from converging on the site.  

     Lt. Clapp was a veteran of WWII and earned his pilot’s wings March 2, 1944.  At the time of his death he had recently been re-activated for active duty due to the Korean War.  He’s buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Acton, Massachusetts.

     Sources:

     Air Force Crash Investigation Report #51-7-12-1

     www.findagrave.com, Memorial #114039950

 

 

Sandwich, MA – February 14, 1951

Sandwich, Massachusetts – February 14, 1951 

 

F-86 Sabre – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On February 14, 1951, Major Raymond S. Wetmore was completing the last leg of a cross-country flight in an F-86 Sabre jet when at 8:23 p.m. his aircraft suddenly went down in some woods in South Sandwich and exploded on impact.  The plane was destroyed and the pilot killed. 

     Major Wetmore was the commanding officer of the 59th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron based at Otis Air Force Base. 

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Squadron Leader Killed in Crash; Made Home Here”, February 16, 1951      

 

Sandwich, MA – August 11, 1951

Sandwich, Massachusetts – August 11, 1951 

     On August 11, 1951, Captain Frank C. Newell, 28, of Linden, N.J., was killed when his F-86 Sabre Jet crashed at Scorton Neck in Sandwich.  Newell was a veteran of WWII and Korea, and flew 182 combat missions during his career.  He was survived by his wife and one child.

Sources:

Falmouth Enterprise, “Otis Pilot Killed” August 17, 1951

New York Times, “Third Pilot Loses His Life In Massachusetts” , August 12, 1951 

Pocasset, MA – August 13, 1945

Pocasset, Massachusetts – August 13, 1945 

     On August 13, 1945, Ensign William Orlando Young Jr., 22, was piloting a scout plane from Otis Air Field in Falmouth as part of his training for assignment to the navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Midway.  When overdue for his return to base, he was reported missing, and a search utilizing aircraft from Otis and Quonset Point, R.I. began.  His body and his wrecked plane were found the following day in Pocasset, Mass. 

     Ensign Young’s body was brought to Quonset Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being sent to Gathersburg, Maryland for burial.  He was survived by his wife Hazel.  

     Sources:

     Falmouth Enterprise, “Pilot From Otis Killed In Crash” August 17, 1945   

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-77

 

Plymouth, MA – March 8, 1950

Plymouth, Massachusetts – March 8, 1950 

     On March 8, 1950, 2nd Lt. William Guinther of the 58th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron was piloting an F-84 Thunderjet at 20,000 feet over Cape Cod when the aircraft suddenly lost all power and began to fall.  He aimed the craft towards Cape Cod Bay and bailed out at 9,000 feet, but the plane circled back and crashed into a wooded section of Cedarville, a village in the town of Plymouth. 

     There were no injures to Lt. Guinther, or to those on the ground.

Source:

Falmouth Enterprise, “Pilot Escapes As Fighter Crashes” March 10, 1950

Otis Air Field – April 14, 1945

Otis Air Field – April 14, 1945 

     On April, 14, 1945, Ensign Garn Earl Thalman, 24, was killed when his navy fighter plane crashed 300 yards east of the runway at Otis Field while returning from a night operational flight.  

Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Plane Crashes At Otis”, April 20, 1945 

Otis Air Force Base – November 3, 1949

Otis Air Force Base – November 3, 1949 

     At 2:45 p.m., on November 3, 1949, a flight of four F-84 Thunderjets were returning to Otis AFB after a training flight when one of the aircraft crashed approximately a half-mile northwest of the runway.  The pilot, 2nd Lt. Herbert E. Killian, 22, of Enid, Montana, was killed instantly. 

     Killian completed his flight training on January 17, 1947, and received his officer’s commission October 8, 1948 at Williams AFB in Chandler, Arizona.  He was survived by his wife and two-month-old son. 

Source:

New York Times, “Otis Lieutenant Waquoit Resident, Killed In Crash”, November 4, 1949

Otis Air Force Base – May 14, 1950

Otis Air Force Base – May 14, 1950 

 

U.S.A.F. F-86 Fighter Jet

U.S.A.F. F-86 Fighter Jet

       On Sunday morning, May 14, 1950, Major William C. Routt had just completed a training flight in a F-86 Sabre jet, and was approaching runway five at Otis AFB in Falmouth, Massachusetts, when his plane suddenly dove into the ground and exploded near the end of the runway.  The crash occurred close to the southeast gate leading to Sandwich Road. 

     Major Routt was the operations officer of the 60th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron.  He began his Air Force career in 1941, and served in Alaska and England during World War II earning the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Croix de Guerre, and the Air Force Medal with eight oak leaf clusters. 

Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Major Routt Dies In Crash Of F-86”, May 19, 1950    

Otis Air Force Base – June 16, 1954

Otis Air Force Base – June 16, 1954 

     On June 16, 1954, an F-86A Sabre jet piloted by Captain Clifton M. Eisele was approaching Otis AFB when the aircraft flamed out at 1,200 feet.  Eisele aimed the craft towards open space between the runways before bailing out.  He wasn’t injured. 

     The F-86 involved with this accident was the same one used by American fighter ace Major James Jabarra in the Korean War. 

Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Air Guard F-86 Crashes At Otis”, June 18, 1954

F-86 Sabre - U.S. Air Force Photo

F-86 Sabre – U.S. Air Force Photo

Otis Air Force Base – July 16, 1958

Otis Air Force Base – July 16, 1958 

     On July 16, 1958, an F-94 Starfire crashed on the runway while landing at Otis AFB when the nose gear collapsed.  The aircraft skidded for 200 feet off the runway and onto a grassy area.  The pilot, 1st Lt. Richard Reynolds, and radar observer 1st Lt. Vincent Rosselli, were unhurt. 

Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Jet Crashes; Two Walk Our Unhurt”, July 18, 1958

Otis Air Force Base – July 4, 1962

Otis Air Force Base – July 4, 1962 

     On July 4, 1962, Captain Morgan G. Childs Jr., was at the helm of an air force  Super Constellation of the 551st AEW&C wing when the plane suffered an unspecified malfunction.  He was advised to circle Otis AFB to burn off fuel before preparing for an emergency landing. 

    At 5:46 p.m., after six hours of circling, he brought the plane in to land, but as it touched down on the runway the nose wheel collapsed.  The aircraft skidded several hundred yards before coming to a stop. 

    As Otis fire and rescue headed for the plane, Captain Childs and four other crewmen climbed out on their own – uninjured. 

Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Captain Childs Hero of Tense Episode At Otis”, July 6, 1962.

 

Otis Air Force Base – August 13, 1955

Otis Air Force Base – August 13, 1955 

 

F-89 Scorpion - U.S. Air Force Photo

F-89 Scorpion – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On August 13, 1955, an F-89 Scorpion jet crashed 1,500 feet short of the runway at Otis Air Force Base as it was attempting to land. 

     The radar observer, 1st Lt. Donald L. Reilly, 26, of Morton, Illinois, was killed instantly.  The Pilot, Captain Lawrence G. Reichert, 30, died later at the base hospital. 

     The aircraft was attached to the 58th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Otis. 

 Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Fliers Killed In Crash Of Fighter”, August 19, 1955.

 

 

Otis Air Force Base – April 9, 1952

Otis Air Force Base – April 9, 1952 

 

C-47 Aircraft - U.S. Air Force Photo

C-47 Aircraft – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the morning of April 9, 1952, a C-47 transport plane with ten men aboard, took off from Otis Air Force Base en-route to Niagara Falls, New York.  The transport had landed at Otis from Steward AFB in Newburgh, N.Y.  Shortly after take off, while the C-47 was passing over the neighboring Camp Edwards firing range, it was involved in a mid-air collision with an F-94B fighter jet on its way to a gunnery practice mission.  

     The collision occurred in cloud cover between five to seven thousand feet, and officials speculated that poor visibility may have played a role in the crash.  Both planes exploded and flaming debris rained down over a wide area setting several large brush fires.  One parachute was seen but it was found to be empty – likely deployed by the impact.        

F-94 Fighter Jet U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Fighter Jet
U.S. Air Force Photo

     The dead aboard the C-47 were identified as:

     Lt. Col. William C. Bryson, 34, Stewart AFB.

     Major Benjamin Beckham, 34, Cornwall-On-Hudson, N.Y.

     Major L. A. Berg, 36, Goshen, N.Y.

     Capt. William H. Erwin, 31, Herrin, Ill.

     Capt. Lane S. Hendricks, 31, McHenry, Ill.

     Capt. Richard E. Heder, 31, Rock Tavern, N.Y.

     Capt. Clinton C. Foster, 33, Gardner, N.Y.

     Tech. Sgt. Daniel B. Cooper, 41, Stewart AFB.

     Airman 1c Harry E. Hardesty, 21, Campbell Hall, N.Y.

     Tech. Sgt. William D. Pollock, 29, Newburgh, N.Y.         

     The crew of the F-94 jet fighter consisted of the pilot, Capt. Charles J. Smoke, 35, of Shenandoah, Iowa, and the radar observer, 1st Lt. Thaddeus C. Kulpinski. 

     Sources:    

Chicago Tribune, “Two Air Force Planes Collide In Air; 12 dead”, April 10, 1952

New York Times, “Planes Crash Aloft; 12 In Air Force Die”, April 10, 1952

Falmouth Enterprise, “Twelve Are Killed In Otis Air Crash”, April 11, 1952

Falmouth, MA – August 17, 1945

Falmouth, Massachusetts – August 17, 1945 

     On August 17, 1945, Ensign Daniel Ware Goldman, 24, took off from Otis Field in Falmouth in a navy fighter aircraft.  He had no sooner had he taken off when he radioed that he needed to make an emergency landing.  His altitude at the time was about 200 feet, and when he turned to approach the runway his aircraft went into a dive and crashed into a wooded area about a mile from the field.  Ensign Goldman had no chance to bail out and was killed in the wreck.

    Ensign Goldman had been at Otis since May of 1945 training for carrier duty on the new aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Midway. His body was brought to Quonset Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island before being sent to Arlington National cemetery for burial.

     Update: May 17, 2018

     According to a Cape Cod Standard Times article, this accident occurred in the neighboring town of Mashpee.   

Sources:

Falmouth Enterprise, ”Otis Field Flyer Dies In Crash”, August 24,1945

North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-78

Cape Cod Standard Times, “Otis Field Pilot Dies In Mashpee Crackup”, August 18, 1945, page 1.

Mashpee, MA – March 20, 1949

Mashpee, MA – March 20, 1949   

John’s Pond, Mashpee

Republic F-84C - U.S. Air Force Photo

Republic F-84C – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On March 20, 1949, 2nd Lt. William C. Knoy was on a routine training flight over Cape Cod.  As he was returning to Otis AFB his aircraft suffered a power loss.  With only seconds to react, he aimed his jet towards John’s Pond in Mashpee, and crash landed in the water.  The crash was witnessed by Lt. Col. Joseph C. Smith who had been flying in the area.

     Knoy was rescued by Henry F. Godleski a local resident using a rowboat.    

     The newspaper story published five days later stated the aircraft had not yet been recovered.

     The aircraft was an F-84C (Ser# 47-1453) assigned to the 59FS, 33 FG.

Source:

Falmouth Enterprise, “Power Failure Sends Jet Plane Into John’s Pond”, March 25, 1949

Gosnold, MA – November 18, 1944

Gosnold, Massachusetts – November 18, 1944 

     On November 18, 1944, two navy planes from Otis Air Field were on an operational flight when they collided in mid-air over Nashawena Island.  The Island is part of a chain known as the Elizabeth Islands, which make up the town of Gosnold, Massachusetts.

     One plane, piloted by Lieutenant Robert Shane Traverse, 27, of Absecon, N.J., crashed on the island, while the other made it safely back to Otis with minor wing damage. Traverse’s body was recovered by the Coast Guard with his parachute unopened. 

     He was survived by his wife, Margurite. 

Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Otis Field Accidents”, November 24, 1944. 

Falmouth, MA – January 8, 1962

Falmouth, Massachusetts – January 8, 1962 

     On January 8, 1962, 1st Lt. Kenneth L. Winden was piloting an H-21 “Flying Banana” helicopter over Falmouth when the aircraft suddenly lost power.  Sighting a ball field in Falmouth Heights, he aimed the craft for it.  Unfortunately the ground was very soft, and the two main wheels dug into the mushy playing field, causing the craft to lurch forward and turn on its side. 

     Others aboard the helicopter included 2nd Lt. W. P. Bowers, and A2c B. P. Bowell.  There were no injuries.   

     The helicopter was extensively damaged and had to be brought back to Otis by truck.  

Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Copter Crashes In Ball Field Landing”, January 9, 1962. 

 

Camp Edwards, MA – September 2, 1943

Camp Edwards, Massachusetts – September 2, 1943 

     On September 2, 1943, a Curtis A-25A, (42-79670) (Army version of the Navy Helldiver) was taking part in a mock strafing exercise at Camp Edwards on Cape Cod when the aircraft crashed killing both men on board.

     The pilot was identified as Lt. Robert Ruthlein, 23, of Jersey City, New Jersey.  Also aboard was Major Francis M. Reigel, 35, of Dayton, Ohio.  Major Reigel was attached to the AAATC gunnery branch, and was observing the reaction of ground troops from the air.  

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Camp Edwards” (notes), September 10, 1943  

Boston, MA – January 23, 1958

Boston, Massachusetts – January 23, 1958 

 

T-33 Trainer Jet U.S. Air Force Photo

T-33 Trainer Jet
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On January 23, 1958, two Air Force jets collided in mid-air 22,000 feet over Boston.  One was an F-94 Starfire out of Otis AFB, the other a T-33 out of Stewart AFB in Newburgh, New York.  Both were on routine training flights.

     The crew of the F-94 consisted of 1st Lt. Joseph G. Izzea, 23, and 1st Lt. John P. Horan, 21.  Both were killed either in the collision, or when their flaming jet crashed behind a home in Arlington, Massachusetts.  Witnesses felt Izzea may have been aiming for the Arlington Reservoir. 

 

 

 

F-94 Starfire U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Starfire
U.S. Air Force Photo

     The crew of the T-33, consisted of Captain William D. Bridges, 33, and Lt. Harold Woldmoe, 30.  Both got out safely, although Woldmoe said his ejection seat failed, and he got out as the plane was falling end-over-end.  Bridges came down in the icy waters of Quincy Bay about 15 miles away and was rescued by a helicopter twenty minutes later.  Woldmoe landed in the railroad freight yards near Boston’s South Station.  Both were treated at area hospitals.     

Sources:

Falmouth Enterprise, “Two Otis Fliers Die As Jets Crash Above City”, January 24, 1958.

(Troy, N.Y.) Times Record, “Two Airmen Killed As Planes Crash”, January 24, 1958

New York Times, “Jets Collide, Two Die”, January 24, 1958

Atlantic Ocean – February 1, 1957

Atlantic Ocean – February 1, 1957

      On February 1, 1957, Lieut. Jimmie G. Waugh, 22, of Oneonta, Alabama, was piloting a T-33 jet trainer approximately twenty miles east of Provincetown when the plane developed power trouble and was forced to ditch in the sea.  Waugh radioed that he had an emergency and was fortunate to be in an area routinely patrolled by other aircraft. Another Air Force plane followed the T-33 down and watched the crew bail out.  

     Within minutes an SA-16 Albatross from Westover AFB arrived and rescued Lt. Waugh, however the co-pilot, Lieut. Billie J. Bulard, 23, of Longview, Texas, had disappeared beneath the choppy sea.  Despite an intensive search, he wasn’t located. 

     The Albatross sustained damage in the water landing, and was forced to make its way to Provincetown Harbor by water, under the watchful eye of a Coast Guard helicopter.  

     The public wasn’t made aware of the accident until a week later.

     Source:

     Falmouth Enterprise, “Flier Lost When Jet Falls Off Tip Of Cape”, February 8, 1957.         

Atlantic Ocean – December 10, 1944

Atlantic Ocean – December 10, 1944 

     On December 10, 1944, a group of eleven navy fighter planes left Otis Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts, for an operational training flight over the Atlantic, but only nine returned.  By 8:00 p.m. a search was begun for the two missing planes, and aircraft from Otis and Quonset Point, R.I., as well as crash boats from Woods Hole, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket, searched the area north of Nantucket where there had been unconfirmed reports of flares being sighted. 

     Despite the efforts, no trace of the missing aircraft or the pilots was ever found.

     The missing men are: Ensign John D. Cassidy, 21, of Macon, Georgia, and Lieutenant John I. Drew, 27, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 

Source:

Falmouth Enterprise, ”Planes Lost On Training Flight”, December 15, 1944.   

 

 

 

Falmouth, MA – May 31, 1949

 

Falmouth, Massachusetts – May 31, 1949

     On May 31, 1949, a group of U.S. Navy F-8F Bearcats left Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island, bound for Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, to take part in a rocket firing training exercise.  As the planes approached Otis, one of them suddenly dropped out of formation and crashed in a rotary traffic circle near the 33rd Fighter Wing Headquarters. 
     The pilot was identified as Lieut. (j.g.) Ronald J. Whitting of Bergenfield, New Jersey. 

Sources:

New York Times, “Crash Kills Navy Pilot”, June 1, 1949 

Falmouth Enterprise, “Navy Pilot Dies In Crash At Otis”, June 3, 1949 

Franklin Field, Boston – June 24, 1919

 Franklin Field, Boston – June 24, 1919

     On June 24, 1919, a squadron of military aircraft arrived at Franklin Field in the Dorchester section of Boston as part of a New England tour sponsored by the army to exhibit the planes and try to recruit new members.  One aircraft piloted by Lt. Col. H. B. Claggett was attempting to land when strong cross winds began pushing it towards a large crowd that had been awaiting their arrival. Upon realizing this, Claggett abruptly turned his ship away from the crowd and aimed it towards a cusp of trees near the edge of the field.  It was only then that he saw three children standing in the shade of the trees, but it was too late, and his aircraft hit the children and crashed into the trees.    

     While Claggett and his observer, Captain William H. Chandler, survived the crash, the children, John Benaglia, 13, and Beatrice Rosenblatt, 9, were killed, and Sarah Welner, 12, was severely injured.   The rest of the planes landed safely. 

     The New England recruitment tour was postponed until the army investigation was completed.   Franklin Field, by the way, was not an airfield, but a park.

     The name of Lt. Col. Claggett’s plane was “Black Jack”, presumably after General “Black Jack” Pershing of WWI fame.    

Sources:

Woonsocket Call, “Plane Kills Two Children In Park”, June 24, 1919

Woonsocket Call, “Postpone Visit Of Aerial Circus Here”, June 27, 1919, Pg.4

Squantum Naval Air Station – March 30, 1947 (photo)

Squantum Naval Air Station - March 30, 1947

Squantum Naval Air Station – March 30, 1947

The Uxbridge Bomber Crash – May 18, 1944

THE UXBRIDGE BOMBER CRASH

May 18, 1944

 By Jim Ignasher

    

 B-24 Liberator

B-24 Liberator

Tucked away on a two-acre wooded lot in the middle of a quiet upscale neighborhood in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, is a granite monument honoring five servicemen who died in the service of their country when their B-24 Liberator (42-7347) crashed on that spot during World War II. The incident occurred on May 18, 1944, as a formation of three B-24 bombers droned through the sky over the Blackstone Valley.

     The planes were on their way back to Westover Air Field after a day of formation flight training, the purpose of which was to give one of the bomber crews experience in formation flying so they would have enough hours to qualify for overseas duty.  

      24-year-old navigator, Lieutenant Joseph H. Talbot, was sitting in the plexiglass nose of bomber number 42-7347, watching the landscape below take on more definition as the formation descended from 20,000 to 10,000 feet so the crews could come off oxygen.  Then, without warning, the plane suffered a hard jolt accompanied by the sound of crunching metal as it was struck by another B-24 in the formation.  Almost immediately the plane began shaking and shuddering and Talbot heard the pilot’s frantic voice come over his head phones, “Bail out! Bail out!”     

     Talbot was wearing his parachute harness, but not the chute, and the buffeting of the plane made attaching the two difficult.  As the seconds ticked by the plane dropped lower.  Other members of the crew were possibly in the same predicament, for Talbot was one of the first out of the plane. 

      He no doubt breathed a huge sigh of relief as his chute billowed open. He would later recall how quiet it was as he hung in the air over Uxbridge.  The other B-24s had disappeared, and his own was a flaming wreck.  He didn’t know it then, but another crewman, 18-year-old, Corporal Robert Kelly, was the only other member of the crew to get out safely. Three others jumped, but the aircraft was too low to the ground when they did, and their chutes didn’t have enough time to deploy.  The co-pilot had waited the longest, perhaps to make sure the others had jumped first. His remains were found in the bomb bay.  To his credit, the pilot, 2nd Lt. Arnold Moholt, never left the controls, trying to save his men while directing the plane away from the populated downtown Uxbridge area.    

Pathway leading to the Uxbridge Bomber memorial.

Pathway leading to the Uxbridge Bomber memorial.

Talbot came down in a wooded area where he was found by an army sergeant home on leave.  He had lacerated his hands while escaping from the plane, and was taken to Whitinsville Hospital.  There he and Corporal Kelly were admitted and prevented from returning to the crash site.

     The other aircraft involved in the collision, (41-28508), suffered damage, but was able to remain airborne and made it back to Westover.

     Woonsocket Call reporter Russell Krapp was at the downtown Uxbridge field office when he heard the formation passing overhead and happened to look out the window just as the accident happened.  The doomed bomber plummeted to earth in the High Street area where it exploded in a massive fireball sending a plume of smoke hundreds of feet into the air.  Krapp, along with dozens of others, raced to the scene.  

     The fire burned over forty acres before it was brought under control by firemen from Uxbridge, East Douglas, and two state forestry trucks. 

Memorial to those who lost their lives in the Uxbridge Bomber Crash - May 18, 1944.

Memorial to those who lost their lives in the Uxbridge Bomber Crash – May 18, 1944.

The site was cleared of wreckage, and little by little Mother Nature began to reclaim the land.  It remained wooded for many years afterwards, but by the 1980s the land ready for a housing development.  Fortunately, there were those who remembered the crash and sought to have at least a portion of the area preserved.  The result is a two-acre wooded lot across from 84 Chamberland Road, marked by a sign that directs visitors along a well maintained path leading to a memorial honoring those who died.  Next to the monument is a piece of melted aluminum that had once been part of the aircraft.  

The inscription on the monument reads: This spot is sacred to the memory of

2nd Lt. Arnold Moholt

2nd Lt. John T. Goodwin

S/Sgt Thomas L. Cater

Sgt. Merle V. Massar,

Sgt. Anthony J. Pitzulo

 They died when their US Army Airplane Crashed here May 18, 1944.  They Gave Their Lives Four Country And Humanity. 

    The monument was dedicated October 11, 1944.

Uxbridge Bomber Memorial Site - August, 2012

Uxbridge Bomber Memorial Site – August, 2012

 Lt. Arnold Moholt was born December 15, 1920 in Glendive, Montanna, where he lived until he graduated high school.  He went on to attended business college in Spokane, Washington, before enlisting in the Army ordinance division in March of 1941.  In 1942 he transferred to the Army Air Force, and was commissioned an officer in January of 1944 at Maxwell Field, Alabama. He had recently written to his surviving relatives in Missoula, Montanna, that he expected to be sent overseas in the near future.  He is buried in Missoula Cemetery.       

     Sergeant Merle Massar was 21-years-old, born June 7, 1922, and was just shy of his next birthday when the accident occurred.  He was born in Mount Vernon, Washington, where his father was a prominent businessman.  He was an accomplished violin musician, and often participated in musical and theatrical productions at Mount Vernon High School.  He was also a member of the school’s Thespian Society, and Ski Club. 

     After graduating in 1940, he enrolled in college, studying at the University of Washington where he excelled at writing.  One of the university professors, Dr. George Savage, stated Massar’s writing ability “showed great promise”. 

     “With Merle it is more than a personal grief,” said Dr. Savage, “It is the knowledge that a great writer is lost, for Merle was one of the few students I’ve had who was passionate about life – who felt deeply and surely because he loved and sorrowed for his fellow man.” 

     Dr. Savage last spoke with Merle when he was home on furlough.  He recalled Merle saying to him, “If I want to live for my generation, I have to be ready to die with it, too.” 

     Mrs. Mary McDonnell of Chicopee, Massachusetts, wrote to Merle’s mother after the accident.  Part of the letter said, “Just last Monday, he came to the door holding a lilac in his hand. ‘This is for Mother’s Day’ he said, but I know he was just plain lonesome for his own mother.”        

      In April of 1943 Merle entered military training for radio-aerial gunnery school, and at the time of the accident had been serving as a top-turret gunner. 

     He was survived by his mother and brother, Clifford.       

     Sgt. Anthony Pitzulo was two days shy of his 25th birthday when he died. He was born and raised in Lowellville, Ohio, the son of the late Joseph and Mary (Aurclio) Pitzulo.  He entered the army in 1942.  He was survived by a sister, four brothers, two half brothers, and a half sister. 

     Lieutenant Talbot survived the war and later married and raised four children. He later became a grandfather nine times over.  He returned to Uxbridge sometime in the1950s, and again in 1984 at the request of local officials to attend a memorial ceremony.  Forty years after his ordeal, he recalled the details of the crash to reporters.  He passed away in 1995.    

Sources:  

Uxbridge Times, “Three Chute To Safety When Bomber Crashes In Woods Off High Street.”, May 19, 1944, Pg. 1

Uxbridge Times, “Eyewitness Story Of Crash”, May 19, 1944, Pg.1

Uxbridge Times, “Death Toll Reaches 5 In Plane Crash”, May 22, 1944, Pg. 8

Woonsocket Call, “3 Forterss Crew Members Bail Out; Plane Explosion Starts Forest Fires” May 18, 1944.

Woonsocket Call, “Call Reporter Sees Crash, Covers Story And Fights Fire”, May 18, 1944

Woonsocket Call, “5 Airmen Dead In Plane Crash Are Identified”, May 19, 1944

Woonsocket Call, “Plane Crash Victims Remembered –Survivor Returns For Uxbridge Rites 40 Years Later.” May 21, 1984

Mount Vernon Daily Herald, “Merile Massar Loses Life In Bomber Crash”, May 19, 1944, Pg. 1.

Mount Vernon Daily Herald, “Rites Are Set Thursday For Heroic Flyer”, May 23, 1944, Pg. 1

The Daily Missoulian, “A Moholt Is Killed In Plane Crash”, May 20, 1944

The Daily Missoulian, “Rites Today For Army Lieutenant”, May 23, 1944

Youngstown Vindicator, “Air Crash Fatal To Sgt. Pitzulo”, May 19, 1944, Pg. 25

Youngstown Vindicator, “Plan Military Funeral For Sergeant Pitzulo”, May 21, 1944, Pg. A10

www.findagrave.com  Joseph H. Talbot

Squantum N.A.S. – Oct. 15, 1946 (photo)

Squantum Naval Air Station, Mass. - Oct. 15, 1946

Squantum Naval Air Station, Mass. – Oct. 15, 1946

Franklin, Mass – April 4, 1944

Franklin, Massachusetts – April 4, 1944

 

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

     On April 4, 1944, two U.S. Army P-47 fighter planes were conducting “dog fighting” practice over Franklin, Massachusetts, when one aircraft crashed into a wooded area off Maple Street in Franklin.  The plane exploded on impact, killing the pilot, 2nd Lt. William J. Bradt, of Buffalo, N.Y.  The explosion reportedly left a crater 80 ft. wide and 20 ft. deep in a “boggy” area.   Wreckage was scattered for some distance.

     Witnesses said the plane went into a sharp dive trailing smoke before bursting into flames, and it was speculated that the pilot aimed for the wooded area to avoid nearby buildings. 

     News accounts stated “thousands” came to the scene and engaged in souvenir hunting, prompting police to issue warnings about unexploded .50 caliber bullets.  One news reporter found $330 dollars which had been blown from the pilot’s clothing, which he turned over to police.    

     The aircraft flown by Lt. Bradt was a P-47D. serial number 42-22449

Sources:

Woonsocket Call, “Plane Explodes Over Franklin” , April 4, 1944, pg. 1 

Woonsocket Call, “Shells From Plane Wreck Prompt Franklin Warning”, April 5, 1944, pg. 4 

 

 

Westfield, MA. – November 30, 1942

Westfield, Massachusetts – November 30, 1942 

 

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

     On November 30, 1942, 2nd Lt. Daniel B. Austin of Dorchester, Massachusetts, took off from Westover Air Field in Chicopee, Mass., for a routine training flight.  He was piloting a P-47B Thunderbolt, (Ser. No. 41-6024).  At 3:30 p.m. he was killed when his aircraft crashed into Higgins Swamp, a marshy area to the east of Barnes Airport in Westfield.  Although numerous persons witnessed the accident, the cause was not immediately known.

     Lt. Austin was assigned to the 321st Fighter Squadron.

     Source:

     The Springfield Republican, (Springfield, Mass.), “Army Flier Dies In Westfield Crash”, December 1, 1942.  

 

Westhampton, MA. – April 10, 1943

Westhampton, Massachusetts – April 10, 1943

 

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

     On April 10, 1943, 2nd Lt. John Franklin Reed, 26, was piloting a P-47C Thunderbolt, (Ser. No. 41-6095), over the Westhampton area when the engine stopped.  A 12-year-old boy who witnessed the event later told a reporter that he saw the plane, with its motor not running, gliding overhead at a low altitude.  Then he saw the pilot jump, but his parachute didn’t fully open before he hit the ground.  The plane crashed and exploded in a thickly wooded area off Route 66 in the southern portion of town.  The pilots body was found a short distance from the crash site.

     Lieutenant Reed was from Pine Bluff, Arkansas, where he attended Pine Bluff High School and graduated with honors.  He was a 1941 graduate of Ouachita Baptist College, in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, where he earned academic honors, was active in athletics, and enrolled in the Army Reserve Officers Training Program, (ROTC).  After graduation he transferred to the Army Air Corps, and after completion of his training received his pilot wings and officer’s commission at Luke Field, Arizona.

     At the time of the accident he was assigned to the 320th Fighter Squadron based at Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts. 

     He was survived by his mother and his wife whom he married in June of 1942.  Lt. Reed is buried in Graceland Cemetery in Pine Bluff, Arkansas.  

     Sources:

     Springfield Republican, (Mass.), “Westover Field Pilot Is killed At Westhampton”, April 11, 1943, page 1.  

     Arkansas Gazette, “Lt. Frank Reed Of Pine Bluff Crash Victim”, April 11, 1943, page 32

     www.findagrave.com

Off Martha’s Vineyard – September 27, 1943

Off Martha’s Vineyard – September 27, 1943

 

Douglas SBD-6 Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of September 27, 1943, Ensign Thomas James Schmidt, (age 21 or 22), was piloting an SBD-5 Dauntless aircraft, (Bu. No. 28658), taking part in a gunnery practice flight off Martha’s Vineyard.  After making his fourth firing run at fixed water targets, he leveled off and made an emergency water landing.  The aircraft sank within thirty seconds taking Ensign Schmidt with it.  The gunner, ARM3c E. A. Hollomon, was able to escape, and was rescued by a Coast Guard Cutter and taken to Newport Naval Hospital in Rhode Island for treatment. 

     It was later determined that the synchronizing unit regulating the .50 caliber machine gun in the nose of the aircraft had malfunctioned, and that the propeller had been damaged to the point that the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing in the water.    

     Both men were assigned to VC-32

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report, #44-8818, dated September 27, 1943    

 

Martha’s Vineyard – October 22, 1943

Martha’s Vineyard Naval Auxiliary Air Field – October 22, 1943 

 

Douglas SBD-6 Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo

     On October 22, 1943, an SBD-5 Dauntless aircraft, (Bu. No. 28700), crashed on takeoff from the Martha’s Vineyard NAAF.  The aircraft was demolished, but the pilot, Ensign Robert S. Rice, and the gunner, ARM3c Ronald Q. Hoffman, escaped with non-life-threatening injuries.   The men were assigned to VC-33. 

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident Report #44-9238, dated October 22, 1943  

South Weymouth, MA. – September 14, 1944

South Weymouth, MA – September 14, 1944

 

U.S. Navy PV-1 Ventura

     On September 14, 1944, a U. S. Navy PV-1 Ventura, (Bu. No. 33280), with seven crewmen aboard, left Groton, Connecticut, bound for the South Weymouth Naval Air Station.  While landing at South Weymouth, the hydraulic system for the brakes failed, causing the aircraft to go off the end of the runway.  The airplane was damaged beyond repair, but nobody aboard was hurt.

     The aircraft was assigned to VB-128

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report dated September 14, 1944.   

Ayer, MA. – June 12, 1944

Ayer, Massachusetts – June 12, 1944

 

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

     At approximately 10:30 p.m. on the night of June 12, 1944, an Ensign was landing an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42489), at the Naval Auxiliary Air Field in Ayer, Massachusetts, when one of the brakes failed upon touchdown. The right brake was weak, but the left one held, causing the aircraft to ground loop off the runway.  The Hellcat suffered minor damage, and the pilot received minor injuries.  

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident report, dated June 12, 1944

Beverly, MA – June 13, 1944

Beverly, Massachusetts – June 13, 1944

 

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

     On the morning of June 13, 1944, Lt. (jg.) Thomas J. Graham was attempting to land at the Beverly Naval Auxiliary Air Field in an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42495), when the aircraft suddenly lost power while it was at an altitude of 200 feet, and he crashed.  The aircraft was severely damaged, and the pilot was injured.

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report, dated June 13, 1944    

Ayer, MA. – July 14, 1944

Ayer, Massachusetts – July 14, 1944

Ten miles north-west

 

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

     On the morning of July 14, 1944, Ensign Beeman Falwell took off from the Naval Auxiliary Air Field in Ayer in a F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 40748), for a training flight.  When he was about ten miles north-west of the field, at an altitude of 6,000 feet, he began to experience a loss of power to the engine.  As the airplane began loosing altitude, the pilot began looking for a place to make an emergency landing.  Then a fire erupted in the engine, and the pilot knew he would have to jump.  He noted he was still over a populated area, so he decided to stay with the aircraft until it was over woodlands.  At the time he left the aircraft he was at the minimum level to jump and still have an expectation that the parachute would successfully open.  The parachute had just billowed open when the pilot landed in some trees sustaining injuries in the process.

     The aircraft crashed in a wooded are and was demolished.

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report dated July 14, 1944

Beverly, MA. – July 14, 1944

Beverly, Massachusetts – July 14, 1944

Beverly Auxiliary Naval Air facility

 

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

     On July 14, 1944, an Ensign was taking off in an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 65936), for a gunnery training flight when the engine failed just after he left the ground.  From an altitude of only 50 feet, the aircraft crashed at the end of the runway.  The plane was heavily damaged, but the pilot was uninjured.  The aircraft was transported to Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island where it was salvaged.

     The Beverly Auxiliary Naval Air Facility was in use from 1942 to 1945.

     Sources:

     U.S. Navy Accident Report dated July 14, 1944  

     Wikipedia

NAS Squantum – July 6, 1944

Naval Air station Squantum – July 6, 1944

Quincy, Massachusetts

 

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

     On July 6, 1944, a pilot took off from the Squantum Naval Air Station in an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 40340), for a night training flight.  Almost immediately after takeoff the engine began to sputter and loose power.  The pilot attempted to make an emergency landing on another runway, however there was already other aircraft on it, so he was forced to make a water landing along the shoreline.  The aircraft was damaged beyond repair, however the pilot was unhurt.

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report – dated July 6, 1944

Otis Field, MA. – June 15, 1944

Otis Field, Falmouth, Massachusetts – June 15, 1944

 

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

     On June 15, 1944, a flight of F6F Hellcat aircraft were making practice carrier landings on a mock platform designed to resemble the deck of an aircraft carrier.   One aircraft, (Bu. No. 58124), piloted by an Ensign, made a perfect landing, however the arresting cable broke sending the plane into a ground loop off the platform.  The aircraft was damaged, but the pilot was not hurt.    

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report – dated June 15, 1944

Otis Field, MA. – June 14, 1944

Otis Field, Falmouth, Massachusetts – June 14, 1944

 

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

     In the early morning hours of June 14, 1944, a flight of navy aircraft were returning from a night training flight.  As one of the aircraft, an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 58145), was coming in to land, the pilot forgot to lower the landing gear, and belly landed on the runway before skidding to a stop.  The aircraft was badly damaged, but the pilot was uninjured.

     The aircraft was assigned to Fighter Squadron 81, (VF-81) 

     Source:  U.S. Navy Crash Investigation Report, dated June 14, 1944 

Cummington, MA. – December 1, 1942

Cummington, Massachusetts – December 1, 1942

 

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

     On December 1, 1942, three P-47 aircraft left Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a formation training flight.  While passing over the Westborough area, the flight ran into heavy clouds which extended low to the ground, and the planes became separated.  One of the aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-6011), was piloted by 2nd Lt. Jack P. Lastor of the 340th Fighter Squadron.  While encountering severe weather over the town of Cummington, he was forced to bail out of his aircraft.  The P-47B went down in a pasture on a farm belonging to Leslie W. Joyner across from the Cummington-Worthington Highway.  Lt. Lastor landed safely, and although suffering an injury, was able to make his way to a farm house to call for help.             

     Another P-47 aircraft assigned to this training flight crashed in the town of Westborough, Massachusetts.  In that instance, 2nd Lt. Charles C. Hay was killed when his aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-5924), crashed and exploded on Tob Hill.    

     Sources: 

     Springfield Republican, “Planes Crash In Westhampton, Cummington, December 1, 1942.    

     Springfield Republican, “Second Army Pilot Killed; Three Crash In Two Days”, December 2, 1942, page 1.

Westhampton, MA. – December 1, 1942

Westhampton, Massachusetts – December 1, 1942

 

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

     On December 1, 1942, a flight of three P-47 aircraft left Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a formation training flight.  While passing over the Westhampton area, the flight encountered thick cloud conditions and became separated.  The cloud cover extended low to the ground, and one of the aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-5924), piloted by 2nd Lt. Charles C. Hay, crashed and exploded into the side of Tob Hill behind the Congregational Church.  Lt. Hay was killed instantly. 

     Lt. Hay, of Lauder, Michigan, was 21-years-old, assigned to the 340th Fighter Squadron.  He’s buried in Grandlawn Cemetery in Detroit, Michigan.  

     Another aircraft assigned to this flight, a P-47B, (Ser. No. 41-6011), crashed in the town of Cummington, Massachusetts, after the pilot was forced to bail out.  The pilot, 2nd Lt. Jack Lastor, landed safely. 

     Sources: 

     Springfield Republican, “Planes Crash In Westhampton, Cummington”, December 2, 1942  

     www.findagrave.com

Lincoln, MA. – July 10, 1945

Lincoln, Massachusetts – July 10, 1945

 

B-26G Bomber
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At about 11:15 a.m. on July 10, 1945, a U.S. Navy B-26 aircraft took off from Bedford Field in Bedford, Massachusetts, with five men aboard.  The B-26 aircraft was generally used by the Army Air Corps, however this particular airplane had been assigned to the navy.  The purpose of the flight was reported in the press to be “experimental”. 

     Shortly after take-off one of the engines caught fire causing the aircraft to rapidly loose altitude.  Witnesses on the ground reported seeing flames and smoke trailing from the plane as it went down.  The aircraft crashed and exploded on the Jensen Farm on Old Sudbury Road in the town of Lincoln.  All aboard perished.

     One witness to the accident was an unidentified Army veteran who’d flown 57 combat missions on a B-26.  He told a reporter, “I heard the plane take off from my home in Concord.  From the sound of the engine I knew immediately that the boys were in trouble.  It is a ‘hot’ ship, and very likely had a runaway prop.  When the engine in one of those babies cuts out you just have time to come down, unless you have plenty of space underneath.” 

     One of the flyers reportedly bailed out prior to the crash and was found, severely injured, by a group of boys who carried him to a nearby home where he died a short time later.     

     The navy flyers were identified as:

     Lt. William E. Ragsdale, of Artesia, New Mexico.

     Lt. James Thomas Hogan, 26, of Birmingham, Alabama.  He’s buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham.  See www.findagrave.com, memorial #185466812.

     AMM 1/c Edwin T. Luther, of Bristol, Rhode Island.

     AMM Howard T. Marshall, age 22 or 23.  He’s buried in Oakland Cemetery in Moberly Missouri.  See www.findagrave.com, memorial #70597092.

     AMM 3/c Charles P. Rogers, of Sudbury, Pennsylvania.    

     Source:

     Concord Journal, “Plane From Army Air Base Crashes In Woods In South Lincoln Area”, July 12, 1945, page 1.  

Cheshire, MA. – March 9, 1943

Cheshire, Massachusetts – March 9, 1943

 

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

     At 4:15 p.m. on March 9, 1943, a P-47B aircraft piloted by 2nd Lt. Sommers D. Levermore, 22, crashed on the farm of Adolph Geoffron, located on Windsor Road, in Cheshire, Massachusetts. 

     Two children on their way home from school witnessed the accident and ran to a nearby home to alert the homeowner, who then called the state police barracks in Pittsfield. 

     Several nearby residents made their way through the snow to reach the plane, which had come to rest in two pieces at a tree line at the edge of a field.  The pilot was still alive, and first aid was given, but he died a short time later before an ambulance could arrive. 

     The cause of the crash was not stated.

     Lt. Levermore was assigned to the 321st Fighter Squadron at Westover Field in Chicopee, Mass.

     Lt. Levermore was from Rockville Center, New York.  To see a photograph of him, go to www.findagrave.com, memorial #156413374.  

     Sources:

     Unknown Newspaper, “Cheshire Plane Crash Fatal To Army Pilot”, March 10, 1943.  (Article found on www.findagrave.com)

     Springfield Republican, “Cheshire Crash fatal To Young Army Flier; Plane Breaks In Two”, March 10, 1943, page 1

 

 

Westover Field, MA. – August 17, 1943

Westover Army Air Field, Chicopee, Massachusetts – August 17, 1943    

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

     On the evening of August 17, 1943, 2nd Lt. William E. Neudorfer was killed when the P-47B, (Ser. No. 41-6019), that he was piloting, crashed and burned as he was attempting to land at Westover Field.

     Lt. Neuforder was assigned to the 320th Fighter Squadron.

     He’s buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California.  To see a photo of his grave see www.findagrave.com, memorial #3614500. 

     Sources:

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

     www.findagrave.com 

Concord, MA. – July 19, 1945

Concord, Massachusetts – July 19, 1945

 

P-38 Lightning
U.S. Air Force photo

     At about 9:30 a.m. on July 19, 1945, a U.S. Army P-38L, (Ser. No. 44-53016), crashed and exploded in a wooded area of the Concord Country Club.  No further information is known at this time.

     Source:

    Concord Journal, “Another Plane Crashes In Woods – This Time At Concord Country Club”, July 19, 1945, page 1

 

Northborough, MA. – April 15, 1943

Northborough, Massachusetts – April 15, 1943

 

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

     On the morning of April 15, 1943, 2nd Lt. James F. Lyons took off from Bedford Air Field in Bedford, Massachusetts, in a U.S. Army  P-47C aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-6459).  Lt. Lyons was assigned to the 342nd Fighter Squadron. 

     Shortly after 9:00 a.m., he was killed when his airplane crashed and exploded on the Tibbet’s Farm located on West Main Street in Northborough.  The crash was witnessed by a man and wife living across the street from the Tibbet’s Farm.  Their attention had been drawn skyward by the sound of a motor “screaming” overhead.  “It came out of the sky at a terrific speed,” the man later told a reporter, adding, “The thud and the explosion were awful.  It was all over in a few seconds.”  The couple ran to the site of the crash, but were driven back by exploding bullets.  

     The aircraft reportedly left a crater twenty feet across and ten feet deep, with stones and debris thrown up to 300 feet away. 

     Lt. Lyons was reported to be from Newport, Rhode Island.

     The cause of the accident was unknown. 

     Sources:

     The following two articles are from an unknown newspaper.  They were obtained from a scrapbook in the local history collection at the Shrewsbury Public Library, Shrewsbury, Massachusetts.  Shrewsbury borders Northborough.    

     “Pilot Believed Killed In Fire Or Explosion”, April 16, 1943. 

     “Northboro Plane Victim Identified As Newport Flier”, April, 16, 1943 

 

 

Holyoke, MA. – May 22, 1943

Holyoke, Massachusetts – May 22, 1943

 

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

     On Saturday, May 22, 1943, two Army P-47 fighter planes collided in mid-air over the city of Holyoke.  One aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-6072), was piloted by 2nd Lt. Charnelle P. Larsen, 22, of Lakeland, Florida.  The other P-47, (Ser. No. 41-6050), was piloted by another 2nd lieutenant.  Both men were assigned to the 321st Fighter Squadron based at Westover Filed in Chicopee, Massachusetts.   

     The accident occurred at 6:20 pm, and numerous people saw the collision and watched the planes come down.  As both aircraft began to fall, the pilot of P-47 #41-6050 bailed out while the aircraft was at an altitude of only 700 feet, and remarkably, and his parachute opened successfully.  His airplane crashed into a large tree before striking the side of a two-story brick house at the corner of Hampden and Linden Streets where it exploded into flame.  The pilot meanwhile landed safely in a nearby tall tree on Linden Street, but had to wait to be rescued.    

     A mother and her two older sons were in the house at the time, but were not seriously injured.  A mailman was wounded when the flames began setting off the machinegun bullets in the wrecked airplane.  One bullet struck him in the right hand, but the injury was not life threatening.       

     As to Lieutenant Larsen, one wing of his aircraft was severely damaged from the collision, but he fought to maintain control because he was over a heavily populated neighborhood.  Witnesses reported seeing him try to steer his plane away from the area, but it continued to fall despite his best efforts.  He was killed instantly when his plane crashed and exploded in an alleyway between the homes facing Pine and Beach Streets, to the south of Appleton Street.  While some buildings suffered damage, there were no reported injuries. One account stated the aircraft came down behind 200 Pine Street.

     Lt. Larsen was praised by the Mayor for his heroic decision to remain with his aircraft in order to protect civilians on the ground.   

     Source:

     Holyoke Daily Transcript, “Lt. Larsen Dies Avoiding Local Homes In Saturday’s Double Crash”, May 34, 1943, page 1.   

     Unknown newspaper, “Army Flier Killed, Second escapes In Holyoke Collision”, May 22, 1943 

Andover, MA. – March 7, 1943

Andover, Massachusetts – March 7, 1943 

 

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

     On the afternoon of March 7, 1943, two P-47 fighter planes from the 342nd Fighter Squadron based at Bedford Field, were conducting aerial maneuvers several thousand feet over the town of Andover.  The activity was closely monitored by members of the local civil defense who were manning a plane spotting tower. 

      One of the P-47s, (Ser. No. 41-6444), was piloted by 2nd Lt. John R. Prindle, 23, of Erie, Pennsylvania.  The other, (Ser. No. 41-6003), was piloted by another second lieutenant.  At 2:25 p.m., the two aircraft collided in mid-air, with Lt. Prindle’s plane loosing a significant portion of its wing.  As Prindle’s plane fell away, he bailed out and deployed his parachute, and northerly wind’s pulled him towards a large forested area. 

     Meanwhile his plane crashed and exploded on the estate of John B. Towle on Porter Road, barely missing the main house.  The resulting fire set off the live ammunition in the machine guns sending bullets flying in all directions and hindering firemen from extinguishing the blaze.  The house was unoccupied at the time and there were no injuries to those on the ground. 

     The other aircraft involved in the collision was able to safely make it back to Bedford Field. 

     The plane spotters immediately reported the crash, and the result was perhaps the largest search and rescue effort ever mobilized by the town.  Hundreds of military men, local and state officials, civil defense units, and volunteer civilians from Andover and nearby towns took part in the search to locate the missing pilot. The Red Cross supplied thousands of gallons of coffee and hundreds of pounds of food.   The search lasted throughout the night, with temperatures dropping to near zero.  One 15-year-old boy was reported to have frostbite. 

     Lt. Prindle was finally located the following morning, alive and in good spirits, in a wooded area near the Boxford town line.  His injuries received from the collision and bail out prevented him from walking out of the woods on his own.  He’d been able to keep warm due to the fact he’d been wearing his leather and fleece flying suit.   

     Sources:

     The Evening Tribune, (Lawrence, Ma.), “Pilot Found In Wooded Area”, March 8, 1943, page 1.       

     The Andover Townsman, “Army Flier Improves After Crash Sunday”, March 11, 1943, page 1.

 

Martha’s Vineyard, MA. – May 8, 1945

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts – May 8, 1945

 

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

     At 2:00 a.m. on the morning of May 8, 1945, an F6F-5N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70543), was approaching the runway of the Martha’s Vineyard Naval Air Station when one of the wings clipped an unlighted obstruction which caused the aircraft to crash.  The plane suffered considerable damage, but the pilot was not seriously injured.    

     Source: U. S. Navy crash report 4-45

 

Martha’s Vineyard, MA. – April 8, 1945

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts – April 8, 1945

 

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

     On the night of April 8, 1945, an Ensign piloting an F6F Hellcat, (Bu. No. 71551), was approaching the runway at Martha’s Vineyard Air Field, but forgot to lower the landing gear.  The aircraft landed with the wheels up and began to skid along the tarmac during which time the belly fuel tank ruptured and burst into flame.  Fortunately the pilot was able to escape the burning plane unharmed.  The aircraft was destroyed by the fire.

     Source: U.S. Navy crash report

 

Nantucket, MA. – March 4, 1945

Nantucket, Massachusetts – March 4, 1945

 

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

     On March 4, 1945, an Ensign piloting an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 77477),  taxied into position for takeoff at the Nantucket Naval Air Station.  After being granted clearance, he proceeded down the runway. When the aircraft had reached an altitude of about 20 feet, the engine suddenly cut out and lost all power.  The plane touched down approximately 100 feet beyond the end of the runway while still traveling at a considerable speed, where it struck a small mound and again left the ground.  It then stalled, and fell again, landing on the left wing and flipping over. 

     The pilot suffered a fractured vertebra, and the plane was wrecked, but did not burn.  The aircraft had been assigned to VF-92.

     Source:  U. S. Navy crash report, 10-45. 

Off Martha’s Vineyard – March 8, 1945

Off Martha’s Vineyard – March 8, 1945

 

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

    Shortly before noon on March 8, 1945, an Ensign was piloting an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Ser. No. 42764), on a bombing practice flight off shore from Martha’s Vineyard.  After completing a run, the engine began to race and the prop began to spin at 3500 RPM.  Corrective measures were taken by the pilot but to no avail, and then the engine began to cut out and loose power.  The pilot made an emergency landing in the water and managed to escape from the aircraft before it sank.  He was rescued, but suffered from exposure from being in the cold water.

     According to the U.S. Navy crash investigation report, the aircraft was not salvaged.   The reason for the engine failure could not be determined.

     Source:  U. S. Navy crash investigation report

 

 

Plum Island, MA. – September 4, 1951

Plum Island, Massachusetts – September 4, 1951

 

P-51 Mustang – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On September 4, 1951, two F-51D Mustang fighter planes, (A.K.A P-51), took off from Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, Maine, for a navigational training flight.  Both aircraft were assigned to the 173rd Fighter Squadron of the 132nd Fighter-Bomber Wing.  One aircraft, (Ser. No. 44-72724), was piloted by Lt. Donald W. Stewart, Jr., 27; and the second aircraft, (Ser. No. 45-11383), was piloted by Lt. Bernard L. Packett, 26. 

     At about 4:15 p.m., while both aircraft were passing over the Portsmouth, New Hampshire, area, they were involved in a minor mid-air collision.  A radio conversation between the pilots discussing the situation was picked up by the radio operator at the Salem, Massachusetts, Coast Guard Station.  Lt. Stewart’s aircraft was more seriously damaged than that of Lt. Packett’s, and he was having trouble maintaining control.  The Salem operator immediately notified the station’s commanding officer.

     Lt. Steward was instructed to head for Logan International Airport in Boston, where emergency crews would be standing by, but when he arrived over the area of Newbury, Massachusetts, a town north of Boston, he radioed that he was having a greater difficulty maintaining altitude and control. 

     A Coast Guard rescue helicopter was dispatched with two men aboard: the pilot, Lt. Clarence R. Easter, and a crewman, Eugene J. Batkiewicz.       

     Lt. Stewart bailed out at 7,000 feet while over the area of Plum Island, in Newbury.  The parachute opened successfully, and he came down in the cold water a few hundred feet from shore.   The rescue helicopter was equipped with pontoons for a water landing.  Lt. Easter, seeing the parachute atop the surface, landed the helicopter on the water next to it, and dove in to assist Lt. Stewart who hadn’t surfaced.  Both he and Bathkiewicz managed to pull the unconscious Stewart aboard the chopper, and then raced to the Merrimac River Coast Guard station at the northern end of Plum Island.  There, doctors were unsuccessful in their attempts to revive Lt. Stewart, and pronounced him dead about forty-five minutes later.

     Lt. Stewart’s aircraft crashed into a sandy area of the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge on Plum Island where it exploded and burned.    

     Lt. Packett was able to successfully fly his aircraft back to Dow AFB.

     Lt. Stewart was a 1946 graduate of West Point, and was survived by his wife and two children.  He’s buried in Lincoln Memorial Park, Lincoln, Nebraska.  To see a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com, memorial # 95846596. 

     Sources:

     Newburyport Daily News, “Pilot Dies Despite Rescue Efforts By Coast Guard Off Plum Island Beach”, September 5, 1951, page 1

     www.findagrave.com

 

 

 

 

 

Atlantic Ocean – April 29, 1965

Atlantic Ocean – April 29, 1965

     On April 29, 1965, a U. S. Navy, Grumman C-2A Greyhound prototype aircraft, (Bu. No. 148147), took off from Long Island, New York, for a test flight over the Atlantic Ocean.  (News accounts did not state the airplane’s intended destination.)

     The pilot was Commander Murdoch M. McLeod, (40), of Minneapolis, Minnesota; and the co-pilot was Lieutenant Commander Thomas A. Eades, (30), of Dallas, Texas.   

     Both men were assigned to the Patuxent River Naval Station in Maryland.

     At about 5:30 p.m. the pilot radioed that they were having engine trouble and that he was making an emergency landing in the water.  A search and rescue operation was instituted, during which an oil slick was sighted off the coast of Charlestown, Rhode Island, (One report states Block Island Sound.)  The oil was analyzed and found not to be the type used for aviation, and was presumed to have been from a fishing vessel. 

     At one point a navy helicopter from Quonset Point, Rhode Island, that was taking part in the search, was forced to make an emergency water landing in Peconic Bay, Long Island, due to lack of fuel.  There were no injuries, and the helicopter was towed to shore by a Coast Guard boat.  

     The search encompassed a huge area of open water ranging from Long Island, New York, to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, but no wreckage of the aircraft was found.  One Coast Guard vessel involved in the search was the 210-foot Vigilant.  Others included the 95-foot Cape Fairweather, and the 82-foot Point White, as well as the Cape Star and Point Wells. 

     On May 1st, the bodies of Commander McLeod and Lt. Cmdr. Eades were recovered from Buzzard’s Bay, Massachusetts, west of Cuttyhunk Island.  According to all newspaper reports, they were the only two crewmen aboard the aircraft.  

     Sources:

     Unknown Newspaper, Associated Press report,  “Test Plane, crew Sought In Sound”, April 30, 1965.

     The Berkshire Eagle, (Pittsfield, Mass.), (UPI report), “Search Goes On For Missing Navy Plane”,  April 30, 1965, page 30.

     Newport Daily News, (R.I.), “Planes Hunt Sound For Lost Fliers”, April 30, 1965, page 2.

     New London Day, “Air, Sea Units Searching For Missing Navy Plane”, April 30, 1965 

     Sag Harbor Express, (N.Y.), “Bodies Were Recovered”, May 6, 1965.

     Biddeford-Saco Journal, (Biddeford, Maine), under “Personals”, May 11, 1965.  The funerals of Fireman Frederick R. Fredette, of Biddeford, and Electrician’s Mate 3/C Arthur J. Brown, of Old Orchard Beach, Me. were listed together.  It was stated that both had been serving aboard the Coast Guard cutter Vigilant during the search for the missing aircraft ten days earlier.  No details were given.       

Westfield, MA. – October 4, 1974

Westfield, Massachusetts – October 4, 1974

     On October 4, 1974, a Massachusetts Air National Guard F-100D fighter jet was landing at Barnes Airport in Westfield when the drogue parachute failed to deploy properly.  (The parachute is designed to help slow and stop the aircraft during landings.)  

     The fighter jet then overshot the runway after touchdown, and continued at approximately 175 mph through 1,000 feet of brush and two fences before reaching the Massachusetts Turnpike, (aka Rt. 90), where it crashed into a passing car killing the lone 22-year-old woman driver.  The jet then flipped over and came to rest upright on the opposite side of the highway.  There was no fire as a result of the crash, and the 26-year-old pilot wasn’t seriously injured.    

     The aircraft was attached to the 104th Tactical Fighter Group of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.

     Source:

     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “Woman Killed As Airplane Hits Her Car”, October 8, 1974, page 8.

The Williamsburg, Mass. B-24 Bomber Crash – May 1, 1945

The Williamsburg, Massachusetts B-24 Bomber Crash – May 1, 1945

 

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the morning of May 1, 1945, a flight of U. S. Army B-24 Liberator aircraft left Westover Field Air Base  in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a combat formation training flight.  Briefing for the flight had been held at 3:00 a.m. during which the pilots had been told that there would be a low cloud overcast covering the area, but that it was expected to clear.  However, after the flight was airborne for nearly two hours, instead of improving, weather conditions had continued to deteriorate, and the overcast gradually extended lower and lower to the ground.        

      Shortly before 8:30 a.m., one aircraft, a B-24J, (Ser. No. 42-50995), began to drop down through the overcast, which by now extended nearly to the ground.  The crew however, was unaware of this.  The pilots watched the altimeter closely.  It was reading 1,500 feet when they suddenly broke through the mist and found themselves at tree-top level over the town of Williamsburg, Massachusetts.  The pilots attempted to climb and gave the engines full throttle but it wasn’t enough.  The plane barely missed a private home before it began clipping tree-tops for a third of a mile and then crashed into a wooded area of second-growth trees off Briar Hill Road. The B-24 plowed several hundred feet though the woods knocking down trees and smashing through stone walls, breaking apart in the process.  Although its fuel tanks held high-octane aviation fuel, there was no fire which saved the lives of crew members trapped in the wreckage.    

     Two of the crew were killed instantly in the crash, a third died two days later.  The other seven suffered serious injuries. Only the co-pilot was able to extricate himself form the wreckage.  

     Among the first to reach the scene were some local residents including Doctor Ruth V. Hemenway, and a group of wood cutters who had been working nearby.  Fire and rescue crews from Williamsburg, Northampton, and Westover Field, as well as state and local police, also arrived to help.  It reportedly took rescuers more than an hour to free those trapped in the wreckage.  The injured were transported Cooley Dickinson Hospital in Northampton.       

     Those who lost their lives were identified as:

     (Nose Gunner) Corporal Kenneth Virgil Powell, age 19, of Urbana, Ohio.  

     (Gunner) Corporal Donald R. McKenzie, of Spokane, Washington. Cpl. McKenzie was survived by his wife and daughter. 

     (Gunner) Corporal Joseph Skwara, of Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Cpl. Skwara survived the initial crash, but later succumbed to his injuries. 

    The following images of the crash scene are from the U.S. Air Force investigation report.

 Click on images to enlarge.

Air Force photo from crash report.

Air Force photo from crash report.

Air Force photo from crash report.

Air Force photo from crash report.

     Sources:

     Army Air Forces Report Of Major Accident, #45-5-1-5

     Research Paper, “Burgy Plane Crash, Briar Hill, 1945”, by Ralmon Jon Black, Williamsburg Historical Society, 2012.  Includes articles from the Springfield Union News, and Daily Hampshire Gazette, and other information about the accident.  

     Daily Hampshire Gazette, “Third Member Of Crew In Bomber Dies From Injuries”, May 3, 1945 

     Daily Hampshire Gazette, “Fire Chief Is Commended By Colonel Henry”, May 8, 1945

     Book, “History Of The Williamsburg Fire Department”, by Mary S. Bisbee, Roger A. Bisbee, Peter B. Banister, c. 1998

     Obituary for Cpl. Donald McKenzie, Spokane Daily Chronicle, May 5, 1945, page 6.

 

 

 

 

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, (Ser. No. 0-22019), 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 with the 10th Tactical Fighter Group.  He’d been serving with the Massachusetts Air National Guard since 1948, and had been rated a command pilot since 1959.   He’s buried in Gethsemane Cemetery in Athol, Massachusetts.  He left behind a wife and six children.

     The other two aircraft landed safely.

     Sources:

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

     www.findagrave.com, memorial #89990193

     Springfield Union, “Athol Pilot Loses Life In F-86 Crash In Granby”, February 2, 1965

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. 

Springfield, MA. – March 9, 1963

Springfield, Massachusetts – March 9, 1963

 

B-52 Stratofortress
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On March 9, 1963, a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress was on a flight from Westover Air Force Base when the escape hatch door beneath Lt. Col. John T. Ertler, the B-52’s Radar Navigator, suddenly blew open and he was sucked out of the aircraft while the plane was at 30,000 feet.  Fortunately Lt. Col. Ertler was wearing his parachute and landed in a tree in Springfield where he suffered cuts and a broken arm.   

     The escape hatch came down in the back yard of a private home in Springfield.   There were no injuries to the occupants of the home.  

     Source:

     Providence Journal, “Tossed From Bomber 30,000 Feet In Air”, March 10, 1963  

     Update, May 19, 2018

     The escape hatch measured about 3ft by 5 ft.  It reportedly came down in the yard of 37 Linden Street which is directly across from Sacred Heart School where classes were in session at the time.

     An air force helicopter was able to land in the back yard of 51 Cunningham Street to take the injured flyer to the hospital. 

     Source: Springfield Union, “Navigator Is Sucked Out Opening, lands Near Van Horn Dike”, Mach 8, 1963   

Atlantic Ocean – May 1, 1958

Atlantic Ocean – May 1, 1958

 

Douglas AD-4N Skyraider
Naval History And Heritage Command

    On May 1, 1958, U.S. Navy Lieutenant(jg.) Willaim C. Cox, 25, of Wickford, Rhode Island, was piloting a Douglas AD-5 Skyraider on a training flight off Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.  At 11:30 a.m. he reported that he had an emergency and was bailing out from an altitude of 2,000 feet.  No position was given. 

     Two witnesses reported seeing the plane go down in Vineyard Sound about 8 miles west of Martha’s Vineyard, about half way between Noman’s Land and Cuttyhunk Islands, but did not see a parachute.  A search was instituted, but neither Lt. Cox or his aircraft were recovered.     

     Source:

     Cape Cod Standard Times, “Navy Plane, Body Found Off Vineyard”, July 10, 1958.   This headline refers to a WWII navy Hellcat that was found in the waters off Martha’s Vineyard with the pilot’s remains still inside.  The last part of the article mentions Lieutenant (jg.) Cox’s accident.   The two incidents were not related.

Plymouth, MA. – October 5, 1943

Plymouth, Massachusetts – October 5, 1943

 

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On October 5, 1943, navy Lieutenant John H. Sandor was descending from a high altitude flight over Cape Cod in an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 26127), when he noticed that the oil pressure for his engine had dropped to 50 pounds.  Normal oil pressure readings should have been between 80 to 95 pounds.  Sandor began preparations for an emergency landing, and steered for an auxiliary air field in Plymouth.  As he was making his approach the oil pressure continued to drop even further and then the propeller suddenly froze as the engine seized.   The aircraft came down and struck some small trees before flipping over onto its back.  Although the aircraft was severely damaged, Lieutenant Sandor escaped with minor injuries.    

     Source:

     U.S. Navy Accident Report #44-8941

Mt. Greylock, MA – April 2, 1958

Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts – April 2, 1958

Observation Tower on Mt. Greylock.

     On April 2, 1958, a U.S. Navy twin-engine Beech SNB-5 left Grosse Ile Naval Air Station in Michigan bound for South Weymouth Naval Air Station in Massachusetts, on a scheduled navigational training flight.   The plane carried a crew of two: the pilot, Commander Robert D. Vandenberg, 38, of Trenton, Michigan, and the co-pilot, Lieutenant Eugene B. Ganley, 24, of Grosse Ile.

     At about 1:30 p.m. the aircraft was in the vicinity of Albany, New York, where Commander Vandenberg communicated with the tower at Albany Airport.  The weather was snowy, with low clouds and poor visibility.  Just minutes after Vandenberg’s last transmission the Beech plowed into the cloud covered peak of Mt. Greylock.  The impact occurred on the southwest ridge just 50 feet below the 3,491 foot summit.     

     Lt. Ganley initially survived the crash, but succumbed to his injuries about an hour later.  Commander Vandenberg was seriously injured, and had to wait twenty-one hours in the frigid temperatures before help arrived. 

     A search and rescue helicopter circled twice overhead, but failed to see the wreckage due to the weather.  On the third pass the clouds lifted and the downed aircraft was seen.  Medical corpsmen T/Sgt. Charles Kansaku, and S/Sgt. Eugene Slabinski, were lowered from the hovering copter to treat Commander Vandenberg’s injuries.  Vandenberg was then airlifted off the mountain and brought to North Adams Hospital.   Kansaku and Slabinski were ordered to remain behind at the crash site until navy personnel arrived to take over.    

     Heavy snowfall hindered recovery and salvage operations.

     This is the only military aircraft accident known to have occurred on Mt. Greylock.   

     There are have been at least two civilian airplanes that have crashed on the mountain. One on August 12, 1948, and the other on September 17, 1988.  Both resulted in fatalities. 

      Sources:

     North Adams Transcript, (Ma.), “Injured Pilot Improving; Body Of Second held Here”, April 4, 1958  

     Naval Air Station Grosse Ile Virtual Museum – Crash On Mt. Greylock Page – NASGI SNB Crash on Mount Greylock

     Boston Globe, “Pilot Found Alive, 2 Presumed Dead After Plane Crash On Mt. Greylock”, September 19, 1988

     The Recorder – Greenfield, Mass.,, “Recorder Columnist Hikes Mount Greylock To Plane Wreckage”, by Chip Ainsworth, June 3, 2016  

Quabbin Reservoir Land – April 3, 1955

Quabbin Reservoir Land – April 3, 1955

Town of Petersham, Massachusetts

F-94 Starfire
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On April 3, 1955, 1st lt. Dewey B. Durrett, 25, of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, took off from Barnes ANG base in Westfield, Massachusetts, for a navigational training flight.  He was piloting an F-94A Starfire jet, (#49-2552), assigned to the 131st Fighter Interceptor Squadron based at Barnes.  The weather was poor, requiring IFR (Instrument Flight Rules). 

     Lt. Durrett left Barnes at 12:02 p.m.  By 1:25 p.m. he was on his way back to Barnes when he was instructed to land at Westover Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, because it was snowing at Barnes.  Lt. Durrett acknowledged, but not long afterwards radar contact with his aircraft was lost due to weather conditions.  

     The tower at Westover tried to reestablish contact through standard means and was unsuccessful.  At about 2:15 p.m., being unsure of his position, and the fact that the aircraft was now very low on fuel, Lt. Durret was advised to bail out.   

     When his chute deployed and he came out of the clouds, Lt. Durret saw that he was over the Quabbin Reservoir.  The F-94 crashed in a wooded area on reservoir land within the town limits of Petersham.     

     Lt. Durrett landed safely in a thickly wooded area. After accessing his situation, he carried his parachute to an open area where he spread it on the ground so it would be visible from the air.  He then placed a rescue dingy on top of it to hold it in place, and began to hike his way out of the woods.    

     Lt. Durrett had a successful military career, and eventually retired from military service a Lieutenant Colonel.   (To read a biography of Lt. Col. Durrett, see www.findagrave.com, Memorial #72272325.)   

     Source: U.S. Air Force crash investigation report, #55-4-3-3

     The crash site of the F-94 can still be seen today.  It is against federal and state law to remove any portions of the wreckage from the crash site.        

Click on images to enlarge.   

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir
The marks on the stick are 12 inches apart on center.

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir.
The marks on the stick are 12 inches on center for scale.

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

A portion of the F-94 Starfire that Crashed at the Quabbin Reservoir in 1955.

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site, Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site, Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site, Quabbin Reservoir.

F-94 Crash Site, Quabbin Reservoir

 

 

Boston Harbor – December 19, 1928

Boston Harbor – December 19, 1928 

     On December 19, 1928, a U.S. Army O2C biplane, (#627) took off from Boston Airport for a training flight.  At some point the aircraft nose-dived into the harbor from an altitude of 500 feet – the cause was not stated.  Fortunately it stayed afloat long enough for both men aboard to be rescued. 

     The pilot was Joseph A. Wilson.  The identity of the second crewman is unknown.

     Sources:

     The Milwaukee Sentinel, “Army Plane Dives 500 Feet Into Boston Bay”, December 26, 1928  

     Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, R.I.

 

Boston Harbor – May 30, 1936

Boston Harbor – May 30, 1936

     On May 30, 1936, two army mechanics at Boston Airport took a military airplane for a flight over the harbor.  While stunt-flying in the plane, they crashed in Boston Harbor after coming out of a loop.   

     The men were identified as:

     Pvt. 1st Class  Robert W. Fancher, 24, of Red Bank, New Jersey.  (He has been miss-identified in some news accounts as Robert Tancker.)  He’s buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in West Long Branch, New Jersey. (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #29817757.)

     Pvt. William E. Hallowah, (Some sources spell it Hallawah), 24, of Charlottesville, Virginia.     

     It was not stated which man was piloting the airplane, nor was the type of aircraft specified.  When it hit the water several nearby pleasure boats raced to assist, and managed to rescue Pvt. Hallowah who was brought ashore in critical condition.  (Later reports stated he was expected to recover.) Pvt. 1/C Francher went to he bottom with the plane, and both were recovered the following day.  

     Sources:

     St. Petersburg Times, (Fla.) “Plane Crashes In Boston; One Dead, one Hurt.”, May 31, 1936

     Lewiston Daily Sun, (Maine) “Submerged Plane Wreck Found In Boston Harbor”, June 1, 1936

     www.findagrave.com

        

Quincy, MA – February 16, 1948

Quincy, Massachusetts – February 16, 1948

    

F4U Corsair National Archives Photo

F4U Corsair
National Archives Photo

     On February 16, 1948, Lt (Jg.) Richard Stephansky took off from Squantum Naval Air Station in a F4U Corsair for a training flight.  Shortly after take off, while at an altitude of 500 feet, the aircraft suffered engine failure.  Lt. Stephansky was forced to make an emergency crash landing in a marshy area along the banks of the Neponset River about four miles from the air station.  He was not injured. 

     Source:

     Lewiston Evening Journal, “Navy Pilot Escapes Injury As Plane Crashes In Swamp”, February 16, 1948        

Quincy, MA – July 7, 1947

Quincy, Massachusetts – July 7, 1947 

    

SB2C Helldiver U.S. Navy Photo

SB2C Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

     On July 7, 1947, a U. S. Navy, SB2C Helldiver, took off from Squantum Naval Air Station with two men aboard for a routine training flight.  There was the pilot, Ensign George E. Curley, 26, and Storekeeper 3/C Hugh F. Ahern, 20, both of Boston.    

     Shortly after take off the aircraft suffered a sudden engine failure and crashed into three homes on Faxon Road in the Wollaston neighborhood of Quincy.  The plane tore the chimney off the first home, then struck the roof of the second, before crashing into a third where it burst into flames and destroyed the home.      

     Ensign Curley was killed, but Ahern was thrown clear, and although he suffered serious injuries, he survived.

     The 60-year-old homeowner of the third house suffered burns while escaping.  The only other reported injury was to a fireman who suffered smoke inhalation while battling the blaze.  Both recovered.      

     Sources:

     Lewiston Daily Sun, “Plane Crashes Quincy House; Pilot Killed”, July 7, 1947 

     New York Times, “Navy Plane Dives Into Three Houses”, July 7, 1947

     The Spokesman-Review, (Spokane, Wash.) “Navy Plane Hits House; 1 Killed”, July 7, 1947

Hamilton, MA – September 10, 1960

Hamilton, Massachusetts – September 10, 1960

     On Saturday, September 10, 1960, two U.S. servicemen were killed when their aircraft, described in the press as a “light plane”, crashed on the race track of the Flying Horse Farm located in South Hamilton, Massachusetts.  

     The men were identified as:

     1st Lt. Peter A. Alldred Jr., 28, assigned to Pease Air Force Base, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

     1st Lt. Donald E. Griffith, 24, assigned to Homestead Air Force Base in Florida.  Lt. Griffith was survived by his wife.  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

     Sources:

     Nashua Telegraph, “2 Pease Airmen Killed In Crash”, September 12, 1960

     www.findagrave.com, Memorial #49193788.

Hanscom Air Force Base – August 8, 1962

Hanscom Air Force Base – August 8, 1962

Bedford, Massachusetts

     On August 8, 1962, a U.S. Air Force KC-135A Strato-Tanker, (Ser. no. 55-3144), crashed and exploded while landing at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, Massachusetts.  All three crewmen aboard were killed. 

     They were identified as:

     (Pilot) Captain Clarence E. Kerr, 38, of Beach Grove, Indiana.  He’s buried in Union Chapel Cemetery in St. Paul, Minn.  

     (C0-Pilot) Captain William D. Leng, 30, of Mt. Vernon, New York.  He died two days after his birthday.  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

     Airman 1st Class Norman E. Ford, age unknown, of Dayton, Ohio. 

     The aircraft was coming from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

     Sources:

     Nashua Telegraph, “Hanscom Aircraft Crash Kills 3; Probe Started”, August 9, 1962 

     www.findagrave.com, Memorial #54366385, and 49246665. 

     Aviation Safety Network

Boston/Mattapan – November 1, 1944

Boston/Mattapan – November 1, 1944

    

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

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

     The following incident involves self-sacrifice and dedication to duty.  The unknown pilot truly deserves to be called, “an officer and a gentleman”.

     On the evening of November 1, 1944, a navy Hellcat pilot out of Squantum Naval Air Station was on a training flight over Boston when his airplane developed engine trouble.  After alerting Squantum of the situation, he radioed, “I don’t want to bail out, some civilian might be hurt if the plane crashed.  I’m going to try to pancake it in a pond down below.”   With that he dumped the plane’s ammo and set the sputtering Hellcat on a glide.  Ahead he saw the Neponset River in the Mattapan section of Boston and aimed for it.  As he neared the ground he skimmed over several roof tops before catching a wing in some trees and crashed in a marshy section along the river where the plane burst into flames.  The pilot did not survive.  

     Unfortunately, although the navy gave credit to the pilot, his name was not released, presumably pending notification of kin.    

     Source:

     The Milwaukee Journal, (United Press) “Stays With Plane To Spare Civilians, Navy Flier Killed”, November 2, 1944.

Off Cape Cod – July 19, 1944

Off Cape Cod – July 19, 1944

    

U.S. Navy TBM Avengers  National Archives Photo

U.S. Navy TBM Avengers
National Archives Photo

     At about 10:45 p.m., on the night of July 19, 1944, an unspecified number of navy airplanes were conducting night training maneuvers off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, when two aircraft, both TBM-1C Avengers, were involved in a mid-air collision. 

     One plane, (Bu. No. 45716), was able to make it back safely to Otis Air Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts; the other, (Bu. No. 45706), plunged into the sea and both men aboard were lost and never recovered.  They were identified as:

     (Pilot) Ensign Leo Henry Reimers, 22, of Yamhill, Oregon.  There is a memorial to Ensign Reimers in Willamette National Cemetery, in Portland, Oregon.  To see a photo, and learn more information about Ensign Reimers, see www.findagrave.com, Memorial, # 36351469.)  

     Aviation Radioman 3/c Herbert W. Burke, of Milton, Oregon. 

     Sources:

     The Register-Guard, (Eugene, Ore.), “Two Oregon Fliers Lost Off Cape Cod.”  

     www.findagrave.com

Atlantic Ocean – August 16, 1963

Atlantic Ocean – August 16, 1963

    

F-86 Sabre - U.S. Air Force Photo

F-86 Sabre – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On August 16, 1963, four Massachusetts Air National Guard F-86 Sabre jets were engaged in target practice about 60 miles southeast of Nantucket, taking turns making live firing runs at a 30 by 6 foot canvas target being towed behind a fifth aircraft.  The aircraft were all part of the 104th Tactical Fighter Group. 

     At one point a section of the target was shot away, and it struck the wing of an F-86 piloted by Captain Hugh Lavallee, 29, of Springfield, Massachusetts.  Lavalle’s aircraft suddenly became uncontrollable, and he was forced to eject while at 20,000 feet over the water.  

     After his parachute deployed, he dropped safely to the water, landing about 3/4 of a mile away from the Russian fishing trawler, Johannes Ware.  Captain Lavallee was rescued by the trawler, and once aboard was treated well, handed dry clothing, and given medical attention.  A Coast Guard helicopter from Falmouth, Massachusetts, arrived awhile later and brought Capt. Lavallee to Otis Air Force Base.        

     Keeping in mind that this incident occurred while the Soviet Union and the United States were involved in what was known as “The Cold War”, the incident received a lot of positive press, and was even featured in the September 13, 1963 edition of Life Magazine.

     Unfortunately, Captain Lavalle was killed a few weeks later on November 16, 1963, while flying another F-86 over the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York.  On that date, he and another F-86 pilot were on a navigational training flight, and Capt. Lavallee was last seen entering a cloud bank before all contact with him was lost.  The wreckage of his aircraft was found two days later, in a rural area about eight miles from the town of Stony Creek.     

     Sources:

     (Toledo, Ohio) The Blade, Soviet Seamen Save U.S. Flier”, August 16, 1963

     The Blade, “Russian Rescuers Kind, Hospitable, Flier Says”, August 17, 1963

     Wilmington Morning Star, “Survivor Of Crash At Sea Killed In Second Wreck”, November 18, 1963

  

Otis Air Force Base – December 3, 1967

Otis Air Force Base – December 3, 1967 

Falmouth, Massachusetts

    

P2V Neptune U.S. Air Force Photo

P2V Neptune
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On December 3, 1967, a U.S. Navy P2V-Neptune with twelve crewmen aboard departed the Brunswick, Maine, Naval Air Station for a routine patrol flight.  At some point the aircraft developed mechanical problems and received clearance to land at Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  As the aircraft was making its final approach it crashed a half-mile short of the runway.  All twelve men aboard escaped; four of them suffered minor injuries.   

     Source: Nashua Telegraph, “Plane Crash At Otis base”, December 4, 1967 

Otis Air Force Base – September 21, 1954

Otis Air Force Base – September 21, 1954

Falmouth, Massachusetts

    

U.S. Air Force F-94 Starfire U.S. Air Force Photo

U.S. Air Force F-94 Starfire
U.S. Air Force Photo

      At about 9:30 p.m., on the night of September 21, 1954, a flight of three F94-C Starfire aircraft were returning to Otis AFB during a driving rain storm in what was described as “zero visibility”.  The first of the three jets, piloted by 1st Lt. Frederick J. Luddy, 25, was cleared to land, but upon touchdown a landing gear tire blew out bringing the jet to a skidding halt and disabling it in the middle of the runway.  Lt. Luddy tried to call the control tower via radio to inform them of the situation, but got no response due to radio communication problems. 

     The men in the tower, unable to see Luddy’s disabled plane, cleared the second of the three F-94s to land.  That aircraft, piloted by 2nd Lt. Anthony Cunningham, 26, and his radar observer, 2nd Lt. Joseph Gallagher, 24, fell short of the runway due to poor visibility and crash landed amidst some small trees and brush.  Neither man was injured, but the aircraft suffered damage.  There was no fire afterward.

     Those in the tower had failed to see the crash, and were still unaware that Lt. Luddy’s aircraft was still sitting in the middle of the runway.   They therefore cleared the third F-94 to land.  That aircraft was piloted by 2nd Lt. Russell H. Olson, 24, and radar observer, 1st Lt. John T. Steele, 24. 

     Lt. Olsen made his approach unaware of the situations involving the other two aircraft.  Meanwhile, Lt. Luddy, and his radar observer, had climbed out of their aircraft and attempted to signal Olsen with a flashlight, but it was of no use.  At the last moment both were forced to dive for cover just as Olsen’s jet crashed into Luddy’s and exploded in flame.  Both Olsen and Steele were killed. 

     Lt. Olson is buried in Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery in Minneapolis, MN.

     Lt. Steele is buried in Machpelah Cemetery in Le Roy, New York.   

     Source:

     Lewiston Daily Sun, “Two Airmen Killed In Otis Field Crash”, September 23, 1954 

     www.findagrave.com, Memorial # 114350887, and 156686268  

Off Nantucket – December 10, 1944

Off Nantucket – December 10, 1944

    

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

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

     On the night of December 10, 1944, a flight of eleven U.S. Navy planes were engaged in practicing night carrier breakups and rendezvous near Nantucket Island.  One of those aircraft, was an F6F-5 Hellcat, (#58277),piloted by Ensign John Daniel Cassidy, 20, of Fighter Squadron 88, (VF-88).  Ensign Cassidy was second section wingman in Lt. John Ignatius Drew’s squadron.  Lt. Drew was also piloting an F6F-5, (#58164). 

     At some point Cassidy and Drew became separated from the group, but their absence wasn’t noted until Cassidy called the flight leader asking for their position.   The position was given, and no further communications from Cassidy or Drew were received.  Neither of the two pilot’s or their aircraft were ever seen again. 

     The night was very dark, but clear, with scattered clouds at 2,000 feet. The pilots were familiar with the area, and investigators determined that the likelihood of them becoming lost was small, and theorized that they may have been involved in a mid-air collision of suffered the effects of vertigo and crashed into the sea.   

     A memorial marker to Ensign Cassidy was erected in Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, Georgia.  It states he was “lost at sea”.    

     Sources:

     U.S. Navy Crash Briefs for each aircraft/pilot dated December 10, 1944

     www.findargave.com, Memorial# 30180216

So. Weymouth NAS – May 22, 1964

South Weymouth Naval Air Station – May 22, 1964

Weymouth, Massachusetts 

    

Douglas AD-4N Skyraider Naval History And Heritage Command

Douglas AD-4N Skyraider
Naval History And Heritage Command

     On the afternoon of May 22, 1964, navy lieutenant Philip D. Brodeur, 25, was practicing “touch and go” landings in a Douglas AD-5W Skyraider at the South Weymouth Naval Air Station.  On his last approach, a gust of wind caught the plane while it was still in the air and flipped it on its side.  One of the wings touched the ground, but the plane managed to stay in the air barely missing a cluster of homes before crashing behind them.  Lt. Brodeur was killed. 

     Lt. Brodeur was survived by his wife and two children.  He was a 1962 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, and is buried in St. Michael Cemetery in Hudson, Massachusetts. 

     To view a photograph of Lt. Brodeur, see www.findagrave.com, Memorial# 107680639.   

     Sources:

     New York Times, “Navy Pilot Killed In Landing”, May 23, 1964

     Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, Rhode Island.  

Westover AFB – August 12, 1953

Westover Air Force Base – August 12, 1953

Chicopee, Massachusetts

     On August 12,1953, a U.S. Navy R6D-1 (#131586) crashed on take-off from Westover Air Force Base, for what was to be a routine train1ng flight.  According to witnesses, the plane had just lifted off, and while at an altitude of about 200 feet, it suddenly banked sharply to the right, and dropped low enough for the right wing to strike the ground.  The plane then cart-wheeled, broke apart, and burst into flames.   All four navy men aboard were killed. 

     The dead were identified as:

Lt. Frank A. McGinnis

Lt. Frank A. McGinnis

     (Pilot) Lieutenant Frank A. McGinnis, 34, of Haledon, New Jersey.  He served in the Pacific Theatre during WWII.  He was survived by his wife and three children.  

Lt. Cmdr. Chester E. Perkins

Lt. Cmdr. Chester E. Perkins

     (Co-pilot) Lieut. Commander Chester Earl Perkins, 35, of Corpus Christi, Texas.  He was a veteran of WWII, having served as a ferry service pilot.  He’s buried in Sunset Memorial Park in South Charleston, and was survived by his wife, Catherine.  To see other photographs of Lt. Cmdr. Perkins, and learn more info, see www.findagrave.com, Memorial #128688567  

J. T. Carew

J. T. Carew

     (Flight Mechanic) Aviation Machinist’s Mate, J. T. Carew, 24, of Maynard, Massachusetts.  (Carew was only identified by his first initials, and attempts to learn his first name were unsuccessful.)

William A. Holmes

William A. Holmes

     Aviation Machinist’s Mate William A. Holmes, 23, of Merrian, Kansas.  He joined the navy in 1948, and had been stationed at Westover since 1949.  In 1950 he married a girl from Holyoke, Massachusetts, and they had two sons.  He’s buried in Maple Hill Cemetery in Kansas City, Kansas, Block #20.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #147995382)

     The Douglas R6D-1 was a four-engine cargo-transport aircraft that was also known as a DC-6. 

     Source:

     Unknown Newspaper, “Probe Crash OF Navy Plane That Killed 4 At Westover”, August, 13 or 14, 1953.   

     

Missing British Airmen of WWII

Missing British Airmen Of WWII

     Unfortunately no further details are available as of this posting. 

     On October 8, 1943, it was announced by the U.S. naval commander of the Squantum Naval Air Station in Quincy, Massachusetts, that units of the fleet arm of the British Royal Navy would be engaged in operational training at Squantum.   

     On December 7, 1943, three British naval fliers disappeared and were presumably killed when their plane went down in the water while on a training flight off Plymouth, Massachusetts.  The Coast Guard was unable to locate any trace of the missing plane, which carried two officers and one enlisted man.  The identities of the airmen and the type of aircraft were not released. 

     On March 14, 1944, a similar disappearance occurred while another British aircraft was “some distance at sea” while on a training flight out of Squantum.  That aircraft also carried two officers and one enlisted man, and their identities, and type of aircraft, were not released.

     Sources:

     Nashua Telegraph, “British Naval Airmen Train At Squantum”, October 8, 1943

     Schenectady Gazette, “Three Missing In Squantum Crash”, December 8, 1943

     Lewiston Daily Sun, “British Plane Missing From Base At Squantum”, March 16, 1944

UPDATE – March 6, 2017

     More information has been learned about the December 7, 1943 incident.  The three men aboard the missing plane were:

     Sub-Lieutenant Henry H. Lilley, son of Hugh Lilley of 12 Council House, Wisbech Road, Thornley, Peterborough, Northants, England. 

     Sub-Lieutenant Geoffrey J. Walters, son of William Waters of 103 Green Dragon Lane, Winchmore Hill, London, England.

     Leading Airman Donald Afford, son of Mrs. F. E. Afford, 273 Belgrace Road, Balasll Heath, Birmingham, England.

     All were members of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve, (RNVR)

     Source:

     Patriot Ledger, “Reveal Identity Of Squantum Fliers Lost In recent Accident”, December 8, 1943    

     Those airmen lost in the March 14, 1944 incident have been identified as:

     Sub-Lieutenant Kenneth L. Leapman

     Sub-Lieutenant John R. Purton

     Leading Airman Henry T. Seddon

     The men were flying the British version of the U.S. Navy Grumman Avenger, (Bu. No. JZ-496) when they were lost on an anti-submarine training mission.

     Sources:

     RNVR Officers 1939-1945,  www.unithistories.com

     Royal Navy Casualties, Killed and Died, March 1944,  www.naval-history.net   

 

 

Quincy Bay, MA – July 27, 1917

Quincy Bay, Massachusetts – July 27, 1917 

    

      Little information exists about this early military aviation incident. 

     On July 24, 1917, a severe electrical storm formed over the Boston metropolitan area causing heavy winds and widespread damage.  At the time of its arrival, two military aircraft from the Squantum air training station were airborne on a routine training flight and were caught in the squall and blown out to sea.  The types of aircraft and the pilot’s names were not released by the military. 

     Immediately after the storm, navy boats were ordered to search for the missing airmen in the Dorchester Bay, Quincy Bay, and Hough’s Neck areas.  The search was called off after two hours after both men were found to be safe, however the details of their recovery were also withheld by the military. 

     It was stated in the Meriden Morning Record: “One of the patrol boats were reported to have rescued an aviator from the water of Quincy Bay and another boat was said to have on board a portion of a wrecked machine”     

     The rest of the news article focused on three persons killed by the storm.

     One of those killed was Pvt. James F. Broderick, of the Massachusetts 2nd Field Artillery who was struck by lightning in his tent where the unit was camping in Boxford, Massachusetts.

     Two women were killed when the unfinished building they’d sought shelter in collapsed.

     Source: Meriden Morning Record, “Aviators Caught In Thunderstorm”, July 28, 1917 

Atlantic Ocean – June 15, 1943

Atlantic Ocean – June 15, 1943

     There are few details known about this incident.   

     The type of aircraft is unknown.

     On June 15, 1943, Ensign Raymond John Macgregor, USNR, was killed and declared missing when the aircraft he was aboard went down in the ocean off Gloucester, Massachusetts.   His body was recovered on or about August 19th by the Gloucester fishing trawler Mayflower, about two miles south of Thatcher’s Island, near Gloucester.  

     Ensign Macgregor is buried in Milford Cemetery in Milford, Penn.  To see photographs of Ensign Macgregor go to www.findagrave.com, Memorial #75051586.

     Source: Nashua Telegraph, “Identify Body Of Naval Officer” August 20, 1943

Mt. Tom B-17 Crash – July 9, 1946

Mt. Tom B-17 Crash – July 9, 1946

Massachusetts

B-17G "Flying Fortress" U.S. Air Force Photo

B-17G “Flying Fortress”

U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the night of July 9, 1946, a B-17G, (#43-39136), with twenty-three servicemen and two civilians aboard was en-route from Goose Bay, Labrador, to Westover Air Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, on a transport mission.  Since the war was over, the aircraft had been stripped of its guns and converted to a transport aircraft.  Some of the men aboard were getting ready to be discharged from the service after having served in WWII.   

     According to the Army crash investigation report, at about 10:15 p.m. the pilot asked Westover Tower for landing instructions and they were given.  He also asked if the runway lights were on, and was advised that they were, as well as two search lights at either end of the runway.  The pilot acknowledged, and this was the last heard from the plane.  At 10:20 p.m. the B-17 slammed into the southeast slope of Mt. Tom at an elevation of 900 feet, and immediately burst into flame.  Another large explosion occurred about ten minutes later.  When the first would-be rescuers arrived on the scene they were driven back by the intense heat. 

     The time of 10:20 p.m. was established by a gold watch found at the scene that had stopped at that time. 

    According to an Associated Press article that appeared in The Tuscaloosa News, a reporter for the Holyoke Transcript found what appeared to be the pilot’s log book and turned it over to army investigators.  The book was of interest for it mentioned a possible fire aboard the aircraft.  

     There was an entry dated July 9th that read, “Took off BW at 1400 with 24 passengers for the states”, but the next part was undated.  The article then went on in part; “but the subsequent penciled entry was undated and there was a lack of evidence that it concerned the flight which ended in disaster.  It contained a reference to Mitchell Field, a notation that oil pressure was low in the No 2 engine,, and that the cylinder head temperature was so high that it was beginning to smoke.”   

    The next paragraph stated; “Then followed the words ‘fire on the port side of naceile.  Arriving Westover on three engines at 10:20.  Will have engines changed and on inspection made for return to Newfoundland.'” 

     All 25 men aboard were killed in the crash.  Passengers included men from the Army/Army Air Force, Coast Guard, and two civilians.  They were identified as:

     Army/Army Air Force

     (Pilot) Herman J. Valdrini, Jr., 24, of Phoenix, Arizona.  A photo of him can be seen at www.findagrave.com, Memorial #51808993.  He’s buried in St. Francis Cemetery in Phoenix, Arizona.

     (Co-pilot) 1st Lt. Wayne L. Austin, 23, of Fort Collins, Colorado. He’s buried in Grandview Cemetery in Fort Collins, Colorado.

     (Navigator) Flight Officer Samuel A. Turrentine, 20, of Greenville, South Carolina.  He’s buried in Springwood Cemetery in Greenville, South Carolina.  To see an obituary for more information, go to www.findagrave.com, Memorial #9901580.   

     (Radio Operator) Daniel R. Roe, 20, of  Prescott, Arizona.

     Capt. Henry A. Lebrecht, 43, of Brooklyn, New York.

     Pfc. Howard E. Carson, 20, of South New Berlin, New York.

     Pfc. Eulogio Sanchez, 19, of Detroit, Michigan.

     Pfc. Rex A. Tansey, 20, of Salem, Oregon.  He’s buried in Clear View Cemetery in Salem, Oregon. 

     U.S. Coast Guard

     Lt. (jg.) Frank G. Meriam, 32, of Melrose, Massachusetts.

     Lt. Wilfred U. Johnson, 25, of Winonah, New Jersey.  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

     Lt. (jg.) George E. Orford, 29, of Garden City, New Jersey.  He’s buried in Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, New York.  

     Chief Yeoman Hugh J. Worth, 31, of Boston, Massachusetts.

     RM2c Lee Winnard, 19, of Dearborn, Michigan.

     BM2c Russell S. Scott, 24, of Clayton, New jersey.  He’s buried in Cedar Green cemetery in Clayton, New Jersey, Section Q-171.

     RM3c Alfred L. Warm, 19, of Brooklyn, New York.

     RM3c Arnold J. Simons, 19, of Providence, Rhode Island.

     RM3c Ernest R. Gillis, 26, of Beverly, Massachusetts.  He’s buried in Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, New York.   

     ETM3c George R. Benfield, 18, of Dallas, Texas.

     ETM3c George E. Fleming, 18, of Indiana, Pennsylvania.  He’s buried in Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, New York.  

     S1c Arthur C. Miller, 19, of Springfield, Illinois. 

     S1c Stanley P. Warshaw, 19, of Brooklyn, New York.

     S1c Gregory S. Davenport, 18, of Rhode Island.  He’s buried in Oak Grove Cemetery, Pawtucket, Rhode Island, Section K4.

     S2c David F. Archilles, 18, of Dorchester, Massachusetts.

     U.S. Public Health Service    

     Lt. Pasquale P. Coviello, 32, of North Bergen, New Jersey – surgeon assigned to U.S. Coast Guard.  He’s buried in St. James cemetery in Woodbridge, New Jersey. 

     American Red Cross

     Arthur L. Bailey, 32, of Farrbury, Nebraska.  He’s buried in Fairbury Cemetery in Fairbury, Nebraska. 

     In 1996 a memorial honoring those who lost the lives in the crash was erected on Mt. Tom by a group of private citizens.    

    Sources:

     Army Air Force crash investigation report  

     City of Holyoke, Massachusetts, vital records.

     www.check-six.com

     Springfield Republican, “21 In B-17 Killed on Mt. Tom”, July 10, 1946, page 1 

     Lewiston Daily Sun, “23 Die In Plane Crash On Mt. Tom, Holyoke”, July 9, 1946

     Boston Traveler, “Plane crash dead 25 – All But Five Service Men, B-17 Burns On Mt. Tom”, July 10, 1946, page 1

     St. Petersburg Times, “23 Reported Dead In Plane Crash”, July 10, 1946

     Gettysburg Times, “25 Are Killed As Army Plane Hits Mountain”, July 10, 1946

     Ludington Daily News, “B-17 Crashes; 24 Are Killed”, July 10, 1946

     Fitchburg Sentinel, “25 Die As Bomber Hits Mountain”, July 10, 1946

     Springfield Republican, “…Destroyed At Summit”, “Converted Bomber, Twice Unable To Land At Westover, Fails To Clear Peak”  July 11, 1946, page 6 

     The Tuscaloosa News, “Log Notation Tells Of Fire”, July 11, 1946

     www.findagrave.com

Off Cape Cod, MA – September 15, 1948

Off Cape Cod, Massachusetts – September 15, 1948

    

F4U Corsair National Archives Photo

F4U Corsair
National Archives Photo

     On September 15, 1948, Lieutenant Commander Willard T. Gove, 29, was piloting an FG-1D Corsair, (Bu. No. 88072), over the Atlantic Ocean 12 miles to the east of Cape Cod when the plane developed engine trouble.  (The FG-1D was similar to the F4U Corsair.)  He attempted to make it back to Cape Cod, but was forced to make a water landing about five miles from the coast.  The plane hit the water at an estimated speed of 85-90 knots, causing back and head injuries.  

     Lt. Cmdr. Willard was able to get out of the plane before it sank, but due to his injuries was unable to remove the life raft from the cockpit.  He inflated his life vest and floated in the 50 degree water for about one hour before being rescued by a Coast Guard rescue plane. 

     The life vest was credited with saving the pilot’s life, as the rescue plane had dropped a life raft, but the pilot was unable to climb inside due to his injuries. 

     Source: U.S. Navy crash brief, serial #28-48

        

Plymouth Bay, MA – March 20, 1945

Plymouth Bay, Massachusetts – March 20, 1945

    

F4U Corsair National Archives Photo

F4U Corsair
National Archives Photo

     On March 20, 1945, Ensign Richard C. Forisso was piloting an F4U-1D Corsair, (Bu. No. 50513), over Plymouth Bay making practice bomb runs.  At one point while at 4,000 feet, hydraulic fluid and gasoline began spraying from under the instrument panel followed by smoke filling the cockpit. The fluids got all over the pilot’s lower extremities and partially obscured his vision. 

     Ensign Forisso elected to stay with the aircraft and aim it for a safe area of the water away from shore and watercraft.  He cut the engine and made a wheels up water landing, suffering minor cuts and bruises in the process.   He was able to escape before the plane sank to the bottom. 

     Maintenance records showed that the hydraulic lines on this particular aircraft had broken twice previously.  Rough weather put off the recovery of the aircraft for four days.  Once it was recovered, mechanics discovered a 1/2 inch crack in the hydraulic line behind the instrument panel.  This aircraft was later scrapped due to the time it had stayed submerged in salt water.

     Sources: 

     U.S. Navy accident brief.     

     Cape Cod Standard Times, “Otis Field Airman Prevents Crash On Plymouth Buildings”, March 21, 1945

Hopkinton/Westborough, MA – June 24, 1943

Hopkinton/Westborough Massachusetts – June 24, 1943 

    

P-47 Thunderbolt Fighter Aircraft U.S. Air Force Photo

P-47 Thunderbolt Fighter Aircraft
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the morning of June 24, 1943, a flight of four P-47 Thunderbolt fighter planes took off from Hillsgrove Army Air Field in Warwick, Rhode Island, on what was to be a routine formation training flight. 

     The flight leader was 2nd Lieutenant Thomas J. Beasley, flying in the number one position; followed by 2nd Lieutenant Douglas Edward Smith, 2nd Lieutenant Donald L. Murrie, and 2nd Lieutenant Max Itzkowitz, in the second, third, and fourth positions.  To put it in layman’s terms, the flight formation would resemble a game of “follow the leader”.  

     The aircraft headed north towards central Massachusetts, and just before noontime, they’d reached the vicinity of Westborough, Massachusetts.  At that time Lt. Beasley signaled a 45 degree turn to the left that would bring the formation in a line abreast of each other after the completion of the turn.  It was during this maneuver that Lt. Smith and Lt. Murrie’s P-47s (#42-8186, and #42-8208) collided in mid-air causing severe damage to both aircraft.     

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

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

     Almost immediately Smith’s P-47 burst into flame and fell away from formation.  Smith managed to bail out, but his parachute only partially opened and he was killed when came down in the town of Hopkinton.  The burning aircraft came down on railroad tracks the belonging to the Boston & Albany Railroad which ran along the Southborough and Westborough town lines.

   Meanwhile, Lt. Murrie’s P-47 went into an uncontrolled spin, but he was able to bail out safely.  His plane came down and exploded in a swamp in Westborough.  Murrie landed in a nearby wooded area and was able to signal Lt. Itzkowitz circling overhead that he was alright.  

     The situation then got worse when Lieutenants Beasley and Itzkowitz realized that a passenger train was heading towards the wreckage of Lt. Smith’s airplane resting on the tracks.  The train was roughly five miles away, so the two pilots attempted to stop it by flying low and trying to signal the engineer.  Unfortunately, he failed to interpret their signals and continued on. 

     At the same time, others on the ground also tried to warn the approaching train. Among them were two small boys who went running along the tracks waving their arms.   

     Another was a woman whose house abutted the tracks close to where the P-47 had crashed.  She phoned the railroad station in Westborough to have them stop the train, but was told the train had already passed by.  She then ran out onto the tracks and tried to wave down the train.   

     By the time the engineer realized the danger it was too late, and the train slammed into the burning wreckage and derailed.  The locomotive was pulling five passenger cars and one baggage car, which tore up a considerable portion of track before coming to rest.  As the dust began to settle, two of the passenger cars caught fire, but fortunately no serious injuries were reported.

     Numerous people descended on the area, and state and local police had their hands full keeping onlookers and souvenir hunters at bay until military officials could arrive and take charge.   

     Lt. Smith is buried in Memorial Park Cemetery in Memphis, Tennessee.  (To see a photo of Lt. Smith go to www.findagrave.com, Memorial #40494983.)  Although news sources place the accident in “Southville” and “Westboro”, Lt. Smith died in the town of Hopkinton.  This fact was established through town of Hopkinton death records.

     All of the pilots on this flight were members of the 58th Fighter Group, 311th Fighter Squadron.  

     This particular Massachusetts World War II aviation accident is unusual due to the fact it involved a train derailment.   

     Sources:

     U.S. Army Crash Investigation Report #43-6-24-10

     Marlboro Daily Enterprise, “Pilot Dies After U.S. Planes Hit In Air Over Westboro”, June 25, 1943, Pg. 2

     New York Times, “Plane Wrecks A Passenger Train; Crashes In Path In Massachusetts”, June 25, 1943

     Town of Hopkinton Massachusetts death records

 

Fall River, MA – March 30, 1943

Fall River, Massachusetts – March 30, 1943

    

U.S. Navy Wildcat Fighter U.S. Navy Photo

U.S. Navy Wildcat Fighter
U.S. Navy Photo

     On March 30, 1943, The aircraft carrier USS Ranger was off the coast of Massachusetts heading to the Boston Navy Yard for re-fitting.  As such, the ship’s compliment of aircraft were sent inland, ultimately bound for Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island. 

     As the aircraft neared shore they encountered a weather system with thick cloud cover that started at 200 feet and rose all the ay to 7,000 feet.  Besides zero visibility, radio communications were also affected, and the aircraft became separated. 

     One of the aircraft, an F4F-4 Wildcat, (#12196), piloted by Lieutenant Theodore A. Grell, of VB-42, began experiencing engine trouble while over a rural portion northern Fall River.  As his aircraft began to rapidly loose altitude he was forced to bail out even though he was below the recommended safe altitude for doing so.  His parachute had barely opened when he landed in an apple tree and crashed through its branches, which broke his fall.  His Wildcat crashed on a farm about a half-mile away.    

     Local residents found him the orchard and administered first aid until an ambulance arrived and took him to Trusedale Hospital. 

     This wasn’t Lt. Grell’s first brush with death. He survived being shot down over North Africa during Operation Torch in 1942.  He survived the war and retired from the Navy as a Captain.

     Sources:

     U.S. Navy Crash Brief, #43-6410

     Fall River Herald News, “Plane Falls; Pilot Drops In Parachute”, March 31, 1943, pg. 1  

       

      

Off Swampscott, MA – March 30, 1943

Off Swampscott, Massachusetts – March 30, 1943

    

U.S. Navy SBD auntless National Archives Photo

U.S. Navy SBD auntless
National Archives Photo

     On March 30, 1943, the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Ranger was off the coast of Massachusetts en-route to the Boston Navy Yard for re-fitting.   As such, the Ranger’s compliment of aircraft were to be sent inland, their final destination to be Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island.    

     One of those aircraft from the Ranger was an SBD-4 Dauntless, (#06826), piloted by Lieutenant Lykes M. Boykin.  As Lt. Boykin neared shore, the engine began running rough due to ice build-up in the carburetor.  After trying several measures to clear the ice, he was forced to ditch in the water off the town of Swampscott.   

     As the plane sank in 45 feet of water, Boykin and his radioman (2c) H. H. Reed escaped in an inflatable life raft, and were rescued a short time later by a Coast Guard boat from nearby Winter Island. 

     At the time of this accident, Lt. Boykin was assigned to VB-42 aboard the Ranger.  Later in the war he would be promoted to commanding officer of Fighting Squadron 4 aboard the U.S.S. Essex.   

     Sources:

     U.S. Navy Crash Brief, #43-6399

     Lynn Telegram, “Plane Falls Into Sea Off Swampscott Shore”, March 31, 1943

     Lynn Telegram News, “Rescue Pair In Navy Plane After Crash, “March 31, 1943, page 11

            

Westover Field, MA – June 6, 1942

Westover Field, Massachusetts – June 6, 1942

    

P-40 Warhawk  U.S. Air Force Photo

P-40 Warhawk
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On June 6, 1942, army 2nd Lt. J. M. Connelly took off from East Boston Airport in a P-40E aircraft, (#40-452) for a local familiarization flight.  Upon his return it was discovered that the left landing gear would not fully extend downward, even when Lt. Connelly attempted to do so manually.  After continuing to circle the airport while working on the problem without success, Lt. Connelly was ordered to fly to Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, and make a crash landing there.   Following instructions, Connelly crash landed at Westover, and although the aircraft was substantially damaged, he was unhurt.

     At the time of this incident, Lt. Connelly was assigned to the 64th Fighter Squadron.  He received his pilot’s rating on April 29, 1942. 

     Source: U.S. Air Corps Technical report Of Aircraft Accident, #42-6-6-2

 

Westover Field, MA – May 8, 1942

Westover Field, Massachusetts – May 8 1942

    

B-24 Liberator  U.S. Air Force Photo

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     Just after 4:00 p.m. on May 8, 1942, an LB-30 bomber aircraft (#AL-590) came in for a landing at Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts.  After the aircraft had rolled approximately half-way down the runway the pilot, Capt. Kermit A. Harcos, applied the brakes and the nose wheel began to shimmy violently before it broke off causing the nose of the plane to strike the runway.  The LB-30 skidded to a stop at the intersection of runways 15 and 19.  Although the aircraft suffered damage, none of the four-man crew were hurt.

     Besides Capt. Harcos, the other crewmen were identified as:

     (Co-pilot) Capt. James A. Johnson

     (Engineer) S/Sgt. Gilbert E. Bardo

     (Radio Operator) Cpl. H. M. Cunningham

     The LB-30 aircraft was an early version of the B-24 Liberator. 

     The aircraft involved in this accident was repaired and flown to England on July 20, 1942.  On December 8, 1943, it ran out of fuel in bad weather and crash landed near Cazes, Morocco.   

     Sources:

     U.S. Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident, #42-5-8-11

     www.joebaugher.com website

      

Otis Air Force Base – July 10, 1951

Otis Air Force Base – July 10, 1951

Falmouth, Massachusetts

    

U.S.A.F. F-86 Fighter Jet

U.S.A.F. F-86 Fighter Jet

     On the morning of July 10, 1951, two F-86A Sabre Jets were scheduled for take off from Otis Air Force Base for a routine training flight.  The first jet took off without incident, but the second jet, (#49-1112), was only airborne for a moment or two when it fell back to the runway while traveling at an estimated 120 knots.  The pilot attempted to apply brakes, and skidded into a runway light, which blew the front tire of the aircraft, and tore away the landing gear.  The plane finally skidded to a stop and caught fire.  The pilot escaped with minor injuries.

     The pilot later told investigators that the engine was making a rising and falling noise just before the accident.

     Source: U.S. Air Force Crash Investigation Report, #51-7-10-1  

Bedford, MA – August 17, 1946

Bedford, Massachusetts – August 17, 1946

    

P-51 Mustang U.S. Air Force Photo

P-51 Mustang
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On August 17, 1946, a flight of two P-51 aircraft took off from Bedford Army Air Field in Bedford, Massachusetts, to participate in an air show.  They were scheduled to take part in a escort formation flight with a B-29 that was also participating in the show. 

     As the B-29 was flying at an altitude between 2,500 and 3,000 feet, the two P-51’s swooped down on it from above and broke away in a roll.   One of the P-51 pilots was 25-year-old 1st Lt. Severino B. Calderon, flying aircraft  #44-64315.   After rolling away from the B-29, Lt. Calderon climbed again and made another pass, this time coming within 50 to 100 yards of the bomber.  As he did so, the P-51 rolled over into a “split-S” and began diving towards the ground.   The plane crashed on the tracks of the Boston & Maine Railroad just ahead of a train bound from Boston to Chicago.  Fortunately the train engineer was alerted to the wreckage and stopped before hitting it.      

B-29 Super Fortress U.S. Air Force Photo

B-29 Super Fortress
U.S. Air Force Photo

     Lt. Calderon was a veteran of WWII.  He earned his pilot’s wings on December 5, 1943, and served with the 8th Air Force in England.  He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the American Campaign Medal, the European – African – Mideast Campaign Medal, and the WWII Victory Medal.     

     To see photographs of Lt. Calderon, Google, “Severino B. Calderon American Air Museum Britain”.  www.americanairmuseum/person/203944

     During his time in England, Lt. Calderon flew a P-47 Thunderbolt named “SNAFU”.  There is presently a P-47 that has been restored to the markings of Lt. Calderon’s aircraft in England.  Photos of this airplane can been seen elsewhere on the Internet.    

     Lieutenant Calderon’s accident wasn’t the only incident to occur relating to the air show.  

     On August 15th, a flight of three P-51’s and two P-47’s left Mitchell Filed on Long Island, New York, to take part in the airshow at Bedford.  The aircraft were supposed to arrive two days earlier, but poor weather had kept them grounded at Mitchell Filed. Therefore they didn’t have ample time to rehearse their maneuvers before their first scheduled demonstration. 

     Their first flight was an aerial parade over Boston to advertise the opening of the air show.  A B-29 carrying news reporters was part of the parade, and the reporters requested that the escorting aircraft fly close to the bomber  so they could obtain photographs of the planes flying in formation.  As the planes were maneuvering into different formations, one P-51, (#44-64305), was suddenly caught in the prop-wash of the plane ahead of him, (P-51, #44-64308), and the propeller of 44-64305 caught the right wing of 44-64308 causing damage to the aileron and trailing edge of the wing.  Fortunately both aircraft were able to land safely.   

     Sources:

     Army Air Force Crash Investigation Report, #47-8-17-3 

     Army Air Force Crash Investigation Report, #47-8-15-4

     New York Times, “Plane Misses Train”, August 18, 1946

     American Air Museum In Brittan 

     Daily Mail Article: “Aces High: Re-built P-47 Thunderbolt To Take To The Skies In Recreation Of World War II Dogfights 70 Years Ago”, by Ben Griffiths for the Daily Mail, June 26, 2102. 

Shirley, MA – August 30, 1936

Shirley, Massachusetts – August 30, 1936

 

     On August 30, 1936, an Army Air Corps 2nd Lieutenant took off from Groton, Massachusetts, after signaling to his family that he intended to land at Fitchburg-Leominster Airport.  (How this signal was accomplished was not explained in the investigation report.)  From Fitchburg, his family was to drive him back to his home in Groton.   

      The Lieutenant was piloting an O-1G observation aircraft, (Ser. No. 31-476).  As his family drove in their car, the Lieutenant circled above monitoring their progress.  At about 1:00 p.m. he saw the family car pull into an open field in the northern part of the town of Shirley, and the occupants got out and signaled the pilot.  Realizing there had been a misunderstanding, the Lieutenant glided down over a ravine at the edge of the field to signal for his family to drive on.  As he was doing so, he failed to notice a 75 foot tall tree looming ahead, and slammed into it about twenty feet from the top.  The plane spun around and crashed to the ground roughly 200 feet away.

     Although the plane was a total loss, the pilot survived.   

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident, dated September 1, 1936.      

Boston Airport – September 27, 1930

Boston Airport – September 27, 1930

 

     At 1:30 p.m., on September 27, 1930, Capt. Clarence J. A’Hearn was landing at Boston Airport when the landing gear collapsed as the plane touched down.  The aircraft, a PT-1 trainer, (Ser. No. 27-145), slid to a stop and neither Capt. A’Hearn or his passenger, Pvt. John Talbert were injured. 

     Investigators determined the pilot did nothing wrong, and the accident was due to a defect in the metal of the struts.

     Source: Army Air Service Aircraft Accident Report, dated September 27, 1930 

Boston Airport – December 19, 1925

Boston Airport – December 19, 1925

 

     On December 19, 1925, a Curtiss JN-4, (Ser. No. 24-100), piloted by an Army Air Service 1st Lieutenant, was approaching the runway at Boston Airport, when the plane’s landing gear struck a pile of iron pipes at the end of the runway.  The landing gear was torn away and the plane crashed and broke in two on the pavement.

     The pilot was knocked unconscious and required three stitches in his face, nostril, and mouth.  The aircraft was a total wreck. 

     This aircraft had been involved in a previous accident in Cranston, Rhode Island, on September 8, 1925.  In that incident the aircraft lost power on takeoff and struck a fence. 

     Source: Army Air Service Aircraft Accident Report, dated January 11, 1926.        

Boston Harbor – March 17, 1930

Boston Harbor – March 17, 1930

     On March 17, 1930, three U.S. Army PT-1 trainer aircraft were getting ready to take off from Boston Airport for a formation training flight.  As the planes were warming up, a sudden snow squall passed over the area lasting about fifteen minutes and leaving behind about 3/8 of an inch of snow. 

     The light snow covered the wings of the aircraft, but ground crews didn’t bother to  brush it off as it was assumed it would blow off on its own once the planes began their take off runs.  However, a bit of sleet had fallen at the beginning of the squall and had formed as ice on the wings before being covered by the snow, thus adding additional weight to the aircraft and changing the wing aerodynamics.  The pilots were unaware of this, and each began to take off towards Boston Harbor.         

     The first two planes slowly made it into the air, but the third, (Ser. No. 27-147), piloted by Captain Clarence J. A’Hearn, had difficulty gaining altitude once it left the ground and gradually settled lower until it went down in the water about 2,000 feet off the end of the runway.  

     Captain A’Hearn and his observer, Private Buell E. Warner, were rescued from the cold water without injury.

     Investigators blamed ice build-up on the wings as the cause of the accident.

     Source: Army Air Corps Aircraft Accident Report dated March 17, 1930

Fort Devens, MA – May 4, 1942

Fort Devens, Massachusetts – May 4, 1942

      

U.S. Air Corps O-52 Aircraft #40-2713 U.S. Army Air Corps Photo Ft. Devens, Mass.  May 4, 1942

U.S. Air Corps O-52 Aircraft
#40-2713
U.S. Army Air Corps Photo
Ft. Devens, Mass.
May 4, 1942

     At about 11:30 a.m., on May 4, 1942, 2nd Lt. Howard E. Conklin, and 1st Lt. Arthur L. Miller, took off from Fort Devens Field in an O-52 observation plane, (Ser. No. 40-2713), for a routine patrol flight.  Upon their return at 1:00 p.m., strong gusty winds were buffeting the field.  After circling the field, Lt. Conklin decided it would be better to land on the west runway.  Just as the plane touched down a strong crosswind caught the tail and swung the plane to the right.  Lt. Conklin applied full rudder and brake, but there was no response as the plane continued to swing to the left.  Then the wingtip hit the ground and swung the plane to the right before coming to rest. 

     Although there was damage to the plane, neither man was hurt.

     The aircraft was assigned to the 152nd Observation Squadron at Fort Devens. 

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident, #42-5-4-15  Photo of wrecked aircraft is from the report.  

 

 

 

Boston Airport – August 9, 1932

Boston Airport – August 9, 1932

     At about 10:25 a.m. on August 9, 1932,  a 1st Lieutenant of the Massachusetts National Guard, taxied an O-38B observer type aircraft (Ser. No. 32-106) out of the hangar at Boston Airport and made his way to the end of the runway in preparation for take off.  Meanwhile, for some unknown reason, a Boston Parks Department truck that was in the area, began moving towards the lieutenant’s airplane, approaching the aircraft on the runway from straight ahead.  Due to the way the O-38 was sitting, with its nose up and tail down, the pilot couldn’t see the truck that was operating in his “blind spot”.  As the aircraft began to make its run for takeoff the truck and plane collided. 

     Both plane and truck were damaged, however no injuries were reported.  It was noted by the accident investigation committee that the O-38 was constructed in such a way that a blind spot was created while taxying.   

     The aircraft was assigned to the 101st Observation Squadron at Boston Airport.

     Source: Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident, dated August 26, 1932.          

Norwood, MA – June 16, 1942

Norwood, Massachusetts – June 16, 1942

    

P-40 Warhawk  U.S. Air Force Photo

P-40 Warhawk
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On June 16, 1942, 2nd Lt. Herbert C. Chamberlain was piloting a Curtiss P-40E (Ser. No. 41-25161) over Norwood, Mass., when the aircraft experienced engine trouble.  Lt. Chamberlain attempted an emergency landing at Norwood Airport, but went down in a swampy area near the edge of the field.  The plane was damaged by Lt. Chamberlain was unhurt.     

     Lt. Chamberlain was killed a few days later in another P-40 crash at Hillsgrove Air Field in Warwick, Rhode Island, on June 24, 1942.  For more information, see that posting on this website under “Rhode Island Aviation Accidents”.

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident, #42-6-16-37  

East Boston Airport – June 22, 1942

East Boston Airport – June 22, 1942

    

P-40 Warhawk  U.S. Air Force Photo

P-40 Warhawk
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On June 22, 1942, 2nd Lt. Malcolm A. McNall, Jr., was piloting a Curtiss P-40E, (Ser. No. 40-390) over Boston Harbor towing a gunnery target, as part of a target practice mission.  At about 2:00 p.m. he was attempting to return to East Boston Airport when he discovered that he was unable to release the target. 

     After trying five times to do so, he radioed East Boston tower of his situation, and was advised to fly low over the water at the north end of the field so that the target would get caught in the water and tear away form the plane.   Following instructions, Lt. McNall came in low over the water, but when the target dug in to the water, it didn’t tear free as expected.  Instead, the target pulled the aircraft down into the water.  Fortunately Lt. McNall wasn’t seriously injured. 

     The accident investigation committee blamed poor aircraft maintenance by maintenance personnel.

     At the time of the accident Lt. McNall was assigned to the 64th Fighter Squadron.     

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident, #42-6-22-18 

 

Mattapoisett, MA – May 12, 1942

Mattapoisett, Massachusetts – May 12, 1942

     On May 12, 1942, 2nd Lt. Clarence V. Jones was piloting an L-1 observation aircraft, (Ser. No. 40-276) on a patrol mission over the Buzzards Bay area of Cape Cod.  At  1:30 p.m., he turned inland over the town of Mattapoisett.  Shortly afterwards the plane’s engine began to run rough and the aircraft began to rapidly loose altitude.  The aircraft dropped so low that it was headed straight for a private home, so Lt. Jones banked to the left to avoid crashing into it.  He was hoping to make for an open area when the wing struck a telephone pole and wrecked the plane.  The plane landed upside down, but there was no fire.  Lt. Jones and his passenger, 2nd Lt. William E. Plumer escaped with minor injuries.   

     The men were assigned to the 101st Observation Squadron at Otis Field, In Falmouth, Massachusetts. 

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident, #42-5-12-6    

Fort Devens Airport, MA – December 23, 1941

Fort Devens Airport

Fort Devens, Massachusetts – December 23, 1941

    

L-3C  Ser. No. 42-459 Ft. Devens Airport, Mass. December 23, 1941 U.S. Air Corps Photo

L-3C Ser. No. 42-459
Ft. Devens Airport, Mass.
December 23, 1941
U.S. Air Corps Photo

     On December 23, 1941, 2nd Lt. Lorenz F. Kubach was attempting to take off from Fort Devens Airport for a training flight when the engine of his airplane suddenly quit after he’d left the runway and had reached an altitude of 100 feet.  Knowing he didn’t have sufficient altitude to turn around, he attempted to get the plane back on the ground before reaching the end of the runway.  Going beyond the runway was not an option due to the rough terrain and a cliff that lay ahead at the edge of the field.   Therefore he dove the plane to the runway hoping to ground loop it, but his instead the plane bounced on one wheel and nosed over onto its back. 

     The aircraft was an L-3C, ser. No. 42-459.

     Although the plane was badly damaged, Lt. Kubach, and his passenger, 1st Lt. Hartzel R. Birch, received only minor injuries.

     The men were assigned to the 152nd Observation Squadron based at Fort Devens. 

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-12-23-5 

    

Boston Airport – July 3, 1929

Boston Airport – July 3, 1929

     On July 3, 1929, an O-1B army observation aircraft, (Ser. No. 27-285) was landing at Boston Airport when a gusty cross-wind caught the left side of the aircraft and flipped it so that the plane crashed on its right wing and nose.  Neither the pilot, 2nd Lt. T. R. Starratt, or his passenger, 1st Lt. S. G. Frierson, were injured. 

     Source:  Air Corps Aircraft Accident Report, dated July 3, 1929  

Holyoke, MA – November 4, 1955

Holyoke, Massachusetts – November 4, 1955

   

C-47 Aircraft - U.S. Air Force Photo

C-47 Aircraft – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the night of November 4, 1955, a U. S. Army C-47 transport plane (#43-48276) en-route from Bolling Air Force Base in Washington D.C to its home base at Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, crashed into the Connecticut River during a heavy rainstorm in an area known as Smith’s Ferry, in the town of Holyoke.  There were eight men aboard, and when the plane hit the water four managed to get away before the aircraft sank taking the rest with it.   

     A civilian later told reporters he heard the plane’s engines sputtering and backfiring before the crash.

     The four survivors were identified as :

     U.S. Navy Captain Henry C. Nichols of Salem, Mass.  

     1st Lt. Joseph M. Delaunentis, 40, of South Hadley, Mass.

     S/Sgt. Alex Wermeichik, of Brooklyn, New York.

     T/Sgt. Richard Gearhard, 32, of Rochester, New York.

     The heavy rains caused the level of the river to rise, and the current to flow faster, which hampered recovery efforts.  The water was so muddy that visibility for rescue and recovery divers was zero.   

     The dead were later identified as:

     Capt. Wilmer R. Paulson, 35.  He was survived by his wife Barbara and three children.

     A2C Gerald J. Jolicoeur, of Augusta, Maine.

     A2C John Carrington, of Rutland, Vermont.

     Navy Pharmacist Mate Emanuel Casserly, 19, of Washington, D.C..  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Section 33, Site 2485.  To see a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com, memorial #49165016.

     Sources:

     New York Times, “4 lost In Air Crash”, November 6, 1955

     Spokane Daily Chronicle, “C-47 Falls Into River; 4 Saved And 4 Missing”, November 5, 1955

     Lowell Sun, “Muddy Water Curbs Search For Missing Men In Holyoke Crash”, November 6, 1955

Hyannis Airport, MA – June 13, 1942

Hyannis Airport, MA – June 13, 1942

 

     On June 13, 1942, an L-1 military observation aircraft, (Ser. No. 40-282), with two men aboard, lost power and crashed on takeoff from Hyannis Airport.  The plane was wrecked, but the pilot, 2nd Lt. Benjamin H. Shiffrin, and his observer, Raymond D. Cawyer, escaped with minor injuries.

    The aircraft was assigned to the 103rd Observation Squadron based at Hyannis. 

    Lt. Shiffrin received his pilot’s rating on August 15, 1941.    

    Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-6-13-2

 

Boston Airport – February 27, 1925

Boston Airport – February 27, 1925 

     At about 10:30 a.m. on February 27, 1925, Army 1st Lieutenant Max Balfour took off from Boston Airport in a De Havilland DH4B  bi-wing aircraft (Ser. No. 64609).  With him as a passenger was Major Louis H. Beuer of the Medical Corps.  Strong wind gusts of 35-40 mph were blowing from the northwest, and as the plane lifted off from the runway  it was hit by a powerful wind gust and crashed at the waters edge.  Neither man was injured, but the plane was described as “completely washed out.”

     Prior to taking off, Lt. Balfour had been experiencing trouble with frozen water lines in the engine, and they had to be thawed before the flight.  However, investigators didn’t believe that this had any bearing on the crash.     

     Source: Army Air Service Crash Report dated February 27, 1925

Westover Air Field, MA – May 19, 1942

Westover Army Air Field, Chicopee, Mass. – May 19, 1942 

    

B-25 Mitchel bomber USAF Museum photo

B-25 Mitchel bomber
USAF Museum photo

      At 1:00 p.m., on May 19, 1942, a B-25B twin-engine bomber, (Ser. No. 40-2230), piloted by 1st Lt. John P. Henebry, took off from Westover Field for a two hour training flight.  Besides Lt. Henebry, there were five other men aboard:

     (Co-pilot) 1st Lt. Edgar H. Dunn

     (Engineer) S/Sgt. Charles E. Scarborough

     (Gunner) Cpl. Charles K. Hatton

     (Radio Operator) Cpl. Abraham L. Saluk

     (Bomber) Pfc. Gerald F. Kiefer

     Upon their return to Westover, it was discovered that the landing gear would not come down due to a loss in hydraulic pressure.  Lt. Henebry radioed the tower of the situation, and began circling the base while the crew set about fixing the problem.

     The nose landing gear was successfully lowered via the emergency hand-cranking system.  However, while attempting to lower the left and right landing gear, the emergency crank broke under the strain after the wheels had been lowered half-way. 

     Lt. Henebry then put the plane into a series of sharp maneuvers in an effort to bring the landing gear completely down and into a locked position, but he was only successfully in bringing down the left wheel. 

     With the plane running low on fuel, and a crash landing seemingly the outcome, Lt. Henebry was granted permission to salvo the four depth charges aboard.  It was then he discovered that the bomb bay doors wouldn’t open due to low hydraulic pressure, so he tried to open them with the pilot’s emergency bomb release, but that didn’t work either.   The doors were finally opened using the emergency hand-crank.  Another problem occurred once the doors were opened – the depth charges suddenly dropped away on their own!  Fortunately the charges weren’t armed, and caused no damage when they fell.

    

B-25B  #40-2230 Westover Field, Massachusetts May 19, 1942 U.S. Army Air Corps Photo

B-25B #40-2230
Westover Field, Massachusetts
May 19, 1942
U.S. Army Air Corps Photo

Afterwards, someone tried to close the bomb bay doors using the hand-crank, but the crank broke, and they remained partially open.

     Lt. Henebry and the flight engineer, S/Sgt. Scarborough, tried again to get the right landing gear to come down but all efforts to do so were unsuccessful. 

     The B-25 circled the field for two hours and forty minutes before the pilot had no choice but to try and land the plane.  The crew was told they could bail out if they wished, but none did.  Lt. Henebry brought the plane in from the southwest and landed on a soft, damp, dirt area which had been graded.  He successfully landed on only the front and left wheel.  Towards the end of its run the plane fell on the right wing and skidded to a stop with no injuries to the crew.

     The Aircraft was assigned to the 39th Bomb Squadron stationed at Westover Field.

     Lt. Henebry went on to have a distinguished military career, and recounted some of his memoirs in a book he wrote called, The Grim Reapers: At Work In The Pacific Theatre: the Third Attach Group Of The U.S. Fifth Air Force, published in 2002. 

     He retired a Major General.       

     Source: U. S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-5-19-10     

    

       

Boston Airport – September 15, 1941

Boston Airport, Massachusetts – September 15, 1941

    

P-40 Warhawk  U.S. Air Force Photo

P-40 Warhawk
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On September 15, 1941, a U.S. Army P-40C fighter aircraft (Ser. No. 41-13393) was cleared for take off from Boston Airport.  As the army plane was becoming airborne it was involved in a collision with a Stinson civilian aircraft (NE-87) belonging to Northeast Airlines, Inc.

     The army pilot escaped with minor injuries.  However, the Stinson pilot, and two of the three passengers were seriously injured.

     The P-40 was assigned to the 66th Pursuit Squadron in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-9-15-3, dated September 17, 1941

           

Boston Harbor – August 18, 1941

Boston Harbor – August 18, 1941

     On August 18, 1941, a O-47A observation aircraft, (Ser. No. 38-306), was pulling anti-aircraft targets over the waters of Boston Harbor when the pilot needed to land for refueling.  After flying for two hours, the fuel in the two main tanks was exhausted, so the pilot switched to the reserve tank, which according to the fuel gauge in the cockpit held 50 gallons, and began to approach the field.   As he was making the approach the engine suddenly quit, forcing the pilot to ditch in the water.  The plane sank, but the three crewmen aboard were able to climb out and be rescued. 

     The crewmen were identified as:

     (Pilot) 1st Lt. J. F. Barrett

     Pvt. Melvyn A. Cady

     Pvt. Harold E. Sutcliffe

     The men were assigned to the 152nd Observation Squadron based at Ft. Devens, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod.  

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Air Craft Accident dated August 27, 1941         

Lunenburg, MA – June 4,1941

     Lunenburg, Massachusetts – June 4, 1941

     On June 4, 1941, an O-38E observation plane, (ser. No. 34-14), was landing at Lunenburg Airdrome when the wheels hit a soft spot in the unpaved runway and the plane nosed over onto its back.  The pilot, 2nd Lt. John F. Barrett, and the observer, 2nd Lt. Ernest O. Lindblom, (Spelled with one “o” in report.) escaped with minor injuries, however the plane was reportedly “demolished beyond economical repair.”    

     The men were assigned to the 152nd Observation Squadron based at Hillsgrove Army Air Field in Warwick, Rhode Island.  

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #41-6-4-1

    

    

Fitchburg-Leominster Airport – May 21, 1941

Fitchburg-Leominster Airport – May 21, 1941

     At 2:00 p.m., on May 21, 1941, a O-38E observation plane (Ser. No. 34-16) was taking off from Fitchburg-Leominster Airport for a photo reconnaissance flight, when it was hit  by a strong cross-wind gust that pushed the aircraft off course and into a pile of dirt left by a construction crew.  Although the airplane was demolished, the pilot, Captain Augustus Becker, and his observer, 1st Lt. Arthur L. Miller, escaped with only minor injuries. 

     The men were assigned to the 152nd Observation Squadron based at Hillsgrove Field in Warwick, Rhode Island.    

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical report Of Aircraft Accident #41-5-21-5   

Atlantic Ocean – October 10, 1958

Atlantic Ocean – October 10, 1958

    

C-123K Cargo Plane U. S. Air Force Photo

C-123K Cargo Plane
U. S. Air Force Photo

     On October 10, 1958, a C-123 cargo plane based out of Otis Air Force  Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, was returning to Otis from Miami, Florida, when a fire erupted on board while the plane was off the coast of Virginia.  There was a crew of three aboard: the pilot, Captain Frederick W. Meyer, 29, the co-pilot, Captain Warren W. Swenson, 37, and Staff Sergeant Paul F. D’Entremont. 

     Captain Meyer gave the order to bail out, and the three men parachuted into the ocean.  Meyer and Swenson were rescued by a navy helicopter, and D’Entremont was pulled from the water by the crew of a Coast Guard boat.

     D’Entremont had suffered unspecified injuries, and was transported to the Portsmouth, Virginia, Naval Hospital, where he passed away.  He had been assigned to the 551st Periodic Maintenance Squadron.

     Source:

     Falmouth Enterprise, “Sergeant Dies After Plane Crash”, October 14, 1958      

Fort Devens Airport, MA – April 21, 1942

Fort Devens Airport, Fort Devens, Massachusetts

April 21, 1942

     Fort Devens Airport was active at Fort Devens, Massachusetts, during World War II.  It was later named Moore Field after Chief Warrant Officer 2 Douglas Moore, who was killed in Vietnam.  The field closed in 1995.

     At 7:55 p.m., on April 21, 1942, an O-52 observation plane (Ser. No. 40-2702) was returning to Fort Devens Airport after a reconnaissance flight when the aircraft crashed in four feet of water at the edge of a pond.  The plane fell from an altitude of 500 feet while making a turn in preparation for landing.   Both the pilot and observer were killed.

     (Pilot) 2nd Lt. Robert W. Booker, 24, of Illinois.  He’s buried in Macon County Memorial Park, Section 14, in Harristown, Illinois.  He received his pilot’s wings on October 31, 1941. 

     (Observer) 1st Lt. Gerald P. Kennedy, 27, of Rhode Island.  He’s buried in St. Francis Cemetery, Section 51, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

     The men were assigned to the 152nd Observation Squadron (M)

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-4-21-23

     Wikipedia – Fort Devens Airport 

Off Scituate, MA – February 24, 1942

Off Scituate, Massachusetts – February 24, 1942

    

P-40 Warhawk  U.S. Air Force Photo

P-40 Warhawk
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On February 24, 1942, 2nd Lt. Dennis J. Dowling, 22, was on a formation flying training flight when his P-40E (Ser. No. 41-5692) inexplicably crashed into the water two-and-a-half miles off the coast of Scituate, Massachusetts, from an altitude of 2,000 feet.    

     Lt. Dowling did not survive, and a search for his body was instituted.  It’s unknown as of this posting if he was recovered.  

     The accident investigation committee was unable to determine a cause for the crash, but mechanical failure was suspected based on two witnesses who stated they saw intermittent smoke trailing from the airplane shortly before the accident.

     Lt. Dowling had recently been married only two weeks earlier in Revere, Massachusetts.   He’d received his pilots wings December 12, 1941, at Turner Field, in Alabama.  At the time of the crash he was assigned to the 64th Pursuit Squadron (I), stationed in Boston, Mass.

     Sources:

     U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-2-24-1.   

     Daily Record, “Bridegroom Dies In Plane Plunge”, February 25, 1942

     Boston Herald, “Plane Plunge Kills Army Bridegroom”, February 25, 1942

     Boston Evening Globe, “Army Flyer, Wed 10 Days, Killed; Body Still In Sea”, February 25, 1942

    

Westover Field, MA – March 20, 1942

Westover Field, Massachusetts – March 20, 1942 

    

U.S. Army A-29 Attack Bomber - U.S. Air Force Photo

U.S. Army A-29 Attack Bomber – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On March 20, 1942, a U.S. Army A-29, (ser. no. 41-23329) lost power and crashed and burned on take off at Westover Field.  Fortunately the entire six man crew was able to escape through the rear of the aircraft.

      

     Source: U.S. Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-3-20-2

    

      

 

Cape Cod Bay – March 25, 1954

Cape Cod Bay – March 25, 1954

    

F-94 Starfire U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Starfire
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 12:45 p.m., on March 25, 1954, 2nd Lt. Boyd L. Erickson, 24, was killed when the F-94 Starfire jet he was piloting crashed in Cape Cod Bay near Orient during a routine training flight.

     The newspaper account mentioned that there was a radar observer aboard who was “missing”.  He was not identified.  

     Lieutenant Erickson was from Grand Forks, North Dakota, and he’s buried there in Memorial Park Cemetery.  He was survived by his wife Dona Mae Erickson.

     Lieutenant Erickson entered the U.S. Air Force in early 1951, and began his pilot training in August of 1952.  He received his wings and officer’s commission August 1, 1953, and had been assigned to Otis Air Force Base at the time of the accident.

     Sources:

     Falmouth Enterprise, “Pocasset Pilot Dies In Crash Of Aircraft”, March 26, 1954        

     Findagrave.com  Memorial # 24523991

Cape Cod Bay – July 14, 1991

Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts – July 14, 1991

     On July 14, 1991, an A-4 Skyhawk jet (Bu. No. 154622) took off from the South Weymouth Naval Air Station for a training flight over Cape Cod Bay.  While over the water the pilot experienced mechanical problems with the aircraft and was forced to eject.  The plane crashed in the bay about four to five miles from the mouth of the cape Cod Canal.  The unidentified pilot was rescued by the fishing vessel Tigger Two. 

     The pilot was transported to Falmouth Hospital as a precautionary measure.  

     The aircraft was assigned to VMA-322 at South Weymouth.  The squadron was deactivated June 27, 1992. 

     Sources:

     Lewiston Sun Journal, “Navy Jet Crashes Into Cape Cod Bay”, July 15, 1991 

     New York Times, “Navy Jet Crashes Into Bay”, July 15, 1991 

     www.a4skyhawk.org

     Wikipedia – VMA-322

Otis Air Field/Litchfield, N.Y. – February 14, 1943

Otis Air Field, Falmouth, Massachusetts/Litchfield, New York

February 14, 1943

    

B-25C Twin-Engine Bomber - U.S. Air Force Photo

B-25C Twin-Engine Bomber – U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 6:23 p.m. on February 14, 1943, a U.S. Army B-25C, twin-engine bomber, (#42-53401), left Rome, New York, en-route to its home base at Otis Air Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  The temperature that evening was well below zero, and snow was falling.  Near Albany, New York, the aircraft encountered blizzard conditions and was forced to turn back towards Rome.  As the plane flew over the Mohawk Valley it is speculated that the pilot began looking for a place to make an emergency landing because witnesses remembered hearing the plane circling, and seeing a pink flare light up the sky shortly the B-25 crashed in an area of the town of Litchfield known as “Cranes Corners”.    

     The crash occurred at 7:25 p.m. on the farm of John Wheelock. (Contemporary maps show a Wheelock Road in Litchfield.)  According to one newspaper account, “The bomber, which plowed though the snow as it crashed, burrowed through the field and skidded along to the road, stopping less than 200 yards from the Richards’ home.”  Debris was scattered over a wide area and the plane burned on impact.  There were no survivors.

     Volunteer fire crews from the town of Ilion, (which is about six miles to the north), arrived with great difficulty, hampered by mounting snow drifts, sub-zero temperatures, and gale-force winds.  A snow plow from the town of Litchfield managed to clear a path to the site.  Many of the first responders, which besides the firemen, included state and local police, and military personnel from Rome, suffered frostbite due to the extreme weather conditions. 

     The B-25 took down power lines which left many area homes in darkness. 

     The dead were identified as:

     (Pilot) 1st Lt. John R. Rogers, of Gouverneur, New York. 

     (Co-pilot) 2nd Lt. Richard Lee Vance, of Scraggy Neck, Cataumet, (Town of Bourne) Massachusetts.  He was 21-years-old.  he’s buried in Greenlawn cemetery in Columbus, Ohio.     

     (Crew Chief) Technical Sergeant Arthur A. Sobczak, of Milwaukie, Wisconsin.  (This name is misspelled in newspaper and other accounts as “Sobzak”.  The correct spelling is “Sobczak”) T/Sgt. Sobczak is buried in St. Adalbert’s Cemetery, Milwaukie, Wisconsin, Section 15, Block 8, Lot 20.  (Findagrave.com Memorial # 115077354)

     The men were assigned to the 14th Anti-Submarine Squadron stationed at Otis Field.

     Sources:

     Rome Daily Sentinel, “Three Airmen Killed After Leaving Rome”, February 15, 1943, pg. 2

     (Unknown Newspaper), “Cold, Snow, Wind Hamper Salvage Of Wrecked Plane”, February 18, 1943 

     (Book) Litchfield Through The Years, by the Litchfield Historical Committee, C. 1976

     Findagrave.com

     With thanks to the Ilion Free Public Library, Ilion, N.Y.

 

 

Worcester, MA – July 18, 1957

Worcester, Massachusetts – July 18, 1957

   

T-33 Trainer Jet U.S. Air Force Photo

T-33 Trainer Jet
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 18, 1957, a flight of three National Guard T-33 trainer jets left Grenier Air Force Base in Manchester, New Hampshire, for a routine training flight.   While over the city of Worcester, Massachusetts, one T-33 exploded over a residential neighborhood spewing flaming fuel and debris over a wide area setting six homes on fire.  The main fuselage came down in front of a home on Forest Street.  The home was destroyed by fire.    

     Both crewmen aboard the aircraft were killed.  They were identified as:

     Captain John F. Murphy Jr., 32, of Worcester, Massachusetts.

     1st Lieutenant Lawrence C. Guild, 26, of Quincy, Massachusetts.

     The crash occurred about a half mile from Captain Murphy’s home.

     There were no reported injuries to civilians on the ground.

     Sources:

     The Toldeo Blade, “Pilots Killed As Jet Crash Fires Homes”, July 19, 1957

     Desert Sun, “Resident(s) Escape From Death Called Miracle”, July 19, 1957

     Nashua Telegraph, “6 Sue For Jet Crash Damage In Worcester”, July 16, 1959

Atlantic Ocean – March 1, 1945

Atlantic Ocean – March 1, 1945

Updated April 29, 2016

     On March 29, 1945, the body of Richard Parr Harper, 19, (United States Navy) was found floating in the Atlantic Ocean eight miles north of Race Point Lighthouse located in Provincetown, Massachusetts.   He had been aboard a navy airplane that was lost at sea on March 1, 1945.  No further details of the accident are known. 

     Harper was born in Lincoln Park, Michigan.  His body was brought to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being sent to Detroit for burial.    

     Source: North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-27 

     Updated Information   

U.S. Navy Grumman Avenger National Archives Photo

U.S. Navy Grumman Avenger
National Archives Photo

     The United States destroyer U.S.S. Schenck (DD-159) was launched in 1919, and served various duties during its career including service in World War II.  In September of 1944 she was re-designated AG-82, and served the remainder of the war as a surface vessel that provided target practice for student pilots.  

     On the night of March 1, 1954, the Schenck was ten miles off Provincetown, (The tip of Cape Cod), Massachusetts, serving in her role as a target vessel, when a navy TBM-3D, (Bu. No. 22955), crashed into her superstructure and plunged into the ocean taking both crewmen to the bottom with her.

     Those aboard the Avenger included the pilot, Ensign Chapman W. Lucas, and ADM 3/c Richard P. Harper.    

     A crewman aboard the Schenck was also killed in this incident, but he was not identified in the newspaper articles.

     Sources:

     Lewiston Evening Journal, (ME.) “Navy Plane Collides With Surface Craft; Two Fliers Missing And Seaman Dead”, March 2, 1945  

     Norwalk Hour,(CT.) “2 navy Filers Lost In target Practice”, March 2, 1945

     Wikipedia – U.S.S. Schenck

Martha’s Vineyard – May 8, 1945

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts – May 8, 1945 

Updated January 12, 2018

    

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

     On the morning of May 8, 1945, Lieutenant Joseph F. Koll, Jr., 29, of Boise, Idaho, was taking off from Martha’s Vineyard Naval Auxiliary Air Field in an F6F-5N Hellcat, (Ser. No. 70448), for a scheduled training flight.  When the aircraft had reached an altitude of about 50 feet it suddenly rolled over and dove into the ground and exploded, killing Lt. Koll.   The cause of the accident was undetermined.

     Lieutenant Koll’s body was brought to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being transported to Idaho for burial.  He’s buried in Morris Hill Cemetery in Boise, Section N 68-2.  To see a photo of Lt. Koll, see findagrave.com Memorial #53030333.   

     Sources:

     U.S. Navy crash investigation report

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records.

       

Gloucester, MA – November 10, 1929

Gloucester, Massachusetts – November 10, 1929

     On November 10, 1929, a U.S. Coast Guard amphibian aircraft with a crew of three aboard took off from Gloucester Harbor for a routine patrol flight.  No sooner had the plane become airborne when it was struck by a downdraft causing it to loose altitude and strike the forestay and rigging of an outward bound fishing schooner, the Jackie B.   The impact ripped the right wing from the airplane, and caused damage to the schooner’s masts. The plane’s momentum carried it another 100 yards where it crashed into the water and flipped upside down. 

     All three crewmen aboard the aircraft were seriously injured.  The pilot, Lt. L. M. Melka, was rescued from the sinking plane by Herman Mathisen who just happened to be passing by in a small boat when the plane hit the water near him.   The other two coastguardsmen, William Kenley, and Arthur J. Descoteau, were rescued by the crew of the Jackie B.  All three airmen were taken to Addison Gilbert Hospital where they were treated for a variety of injuries including fractures, shock, and hypothermia.  

     The aircraft was assigned to Coast Guard Station 7 in Gloucester.

     Source: Lewiston Daily Sun, “Coast Guardsmen Injured In Crash”, November 11, 1929

    

Hyannis, MA – November 20, 1944

Hyannis, Massachusetts – November 20, 1944

     Very little information about this accident.

     On November 20, 1944, Ensign Andrew Charles Butko, 24, was killed in an aircraft crash at what was listed as “Cape Cod Airport” in Hyannis.  (This was likely present-day Barnstable Municipal Airport in Hyannis, Mass.)   

     Ensign Butko was assigned to Quonset Point Naval Air Station at the time of his accident.  He’s buried in McKeesport, Penn.

     Source: Rhode Island Department Of Health death certificate

Northfield, MA – September 15, 1920

Northfield, Massachusetts – September 15, 1920

     On September 15, 1920, army aviator, 2nd Lt. Haven H. Spencer, 27, flew a de Havilland, DH-4B, biplane (AS-63454) from Mineola, Long Island, N.Y. to Northfield, Massachusetts, and crashed into a tree on landing.  Lt. Spencer was killed, but his passenger, Herbert McMillian, a student at Dartmouth College escaped with minor injuries. 

     In recent weeks, Lt. Spencer had accompanied the body of Lt. Irving C. Stenson, a fellow aviator from Chelsea, Massachusetts, who was killed in a plane crash at Kelly Field in Texas where both had been stationed, home for burial. 

     Lt. Spencer entered the Aviation Corps in August of 1917.  He was assigned to the 166th Aero Squadron. He was a native of Northfield, Massachusetts, born February 22, 1894, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Rev. George Spencer.  He’s buried in Center Cemetery in Northfield.

     Sources:

     Oklahoma Leader, “Aviator Killed When Plane Drops”, September 17, 1920  

     The Butte (Montana) Daily Bulletin, “Aviation Chief Killed”, August 21, 1920

     The (Washington DC) Evening Star, “Army Aviator Killed”, September 17, 1920, page 15.

     www.findagrave.com  memorial #127956908      

     www.accident_report.com

Off Provincetown, MA – May 8, 1944

Off Provincetown, Massachusetts – May 8, 1944

41 52.1N/70 16.4W

     Few details are available about this accident. 

     Updated March 2, 2016

     On May 8, 1944, a navy plane out of Quonset Point Naval Air Station crashed in the ocean off Provincetown, Massachusetts, resulting in three fatalities.  The coordinates of the crash are listed above.  They were obtained from the Rhode Island Department of Health Death Certificates.

     The dead were identified as:

     Lt. Jg. Norwood Harris Dobson, 27, of Ellenboro, North Carolina.  He’s buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Ellenboro. 

     ARM 3c Arthur Normand Levesque, 18, of Lonsdale (Lincoln) Rhode Island. He’s buried Notre Dame Cemetery in Pawtucket, R.I.    

     (Missing) Aviation Ordinance man 3c John Werner Dahlstrom, 19, believed to be from Michigan.  Information about him was not listed among the death certificates.         

     Sources:

     Rhode Island Department of Health Death Certificates (N.K. GOV. 77) and (N.K. Gov. 78)

     Lewiston Evening Sun, “Identifies Fliers Killed In Cape Cod navy Plane crash”, May 10, 1944

Mansfield, MA – September 13, 1945

Mansfield, Massachusetts – September 13, 1945

    

SB2C Helldiver U.S. Navy Photo

SB2C Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

     On April 19, 1945, Ensign Thomas Daniel Murphy, 21, of Chicago, was killed when the SB2C Helldiver he was piloting crashed and burned in Mansfield, Massachusetts.  No further details of the accident are available.

     Ensign Murphy was assigned to Bombing Squadron 4 (VB-4) based at Groton Field in Groton, Connecticut.  His body was brought to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being sent to Chicago for burial.  

     Sources:

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-87

     Naval History & Heritage Command – U.S. Navy, www.history.navy.mil

    

Yarmouth, MA – June 17, 1989

Yarmouth, Massachusetts – June 17, 1989

     Late on the night of June 16, 1989, an Army National Guard UH-1 Bell Helicopter left T.F. Green State Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island, bound for Camp Edwards in Mashpee, Massachusetts.  Just after midnight on June 17, while flying in heavy fog conditions over the town of Yarmouth, Massachusetts, the helicopter went down in a wooded area behind some houses.  The aircraft cut a swath twenty feet wide and debris was thrown thirty feet in all directions.

     All six men aboard were killed.  The dead were identified as:

     1st Lt. David Joseph Hendry, 26, of Wilmington, Delaware.

     Chief Warrant Officer Hugh Bryan Pearce, 35, of Wilmington, Delaware.

     M/Sgt. Robert E. Lucey Jr., of Emporia, Virginia.

     S/Sgt. Benjamin Robert Greenplate, 40, of Newark, Delaware. 

     Sgt. Ward Arthur Cornell, 43, of Mansfield, Connecticut.

     Specialist Samuel K. May, of Richmond, Virginia.

     Hendry, Pearce, and Greenplate were all members of the Delaware Army National Guard stationed in New Castle, Delaware, and had just completed the first week of their annual two week training period at Camp Edwards.

     M/Sgt. Lucey and Specialist May were part of the 80th Maneuver Training Command of Virginia.

     Sources:

     (Fla.) Ocala Star-Banner, “National Guard Helicopter Crashes; 6 Crewmen Killed”, June 18, 1989  

     Philly.com, “Six Guardsmen Die In Helicopter Crash”, by Amy S. Rosenberg, June 18, 1989

     Los Angeles Times, “6 Killed As National Guard Copter Crashes In cape Cod Fog”, June 18, 1989

     (Ore.) The Register-Guard, “Military Helicopter Crash Probed”, June 19, 1989

 

 

Boston Harbor – May 2, 1925

Boston Harbor – May 2, 1925

     On the morning of May 2, 1925, Lieutenant Alexander V. MacAulay, and his observer, Private Angus D. MacPhee, both of the Massachusetts National Guard, took off from East Boston Airport to join other military aircraft circling overhead for a formation flight over Boston in celebration of Loyalty Day.  When MacAulay’s aircraft reached 800 feet, it suddenly went into a spin and dove into the mud flats of Boston Harbor.    

     Lt. MacAulay died later that day.  Private MacPhee was seriously injured, but not fatally. 

     Lt. MacAulay, a veteran of World War I, was from Beverly, Massachusetts, and is buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in that town.  (See www.findagrave.com memorial #87490098)

     Source: New York Times, “Dies After Plane Dive, Honored As Safe Flyer”, May 3, 1925

Plymouth, MA – August 13, 1912

Plymouth, Massachusetts – August 13, 1912

     On August 12, 1912, two army lieutenants, identified only by their last names as Kirtland and Arnold, took off from Marblehead, Massachusetts, in a “hydro-aeroplane” bound for an army maneuvers field situated along the Housatonic River in Connecticut, to take part in war simulation games.  The distance between the two points was about 200 miles, which was quite considerable for the time.

     The men had only gone as far as Duxbury, Massachusetts, when the plane developed engine trouble forcing them to land and make repairs.  After spending the night in Duxbury, they resumed their flight the following morning on the 13th.  While attempting to negotiate a turn over Plymouth Bay, the aircraft “volplaned” and fell into the water.  Fortunately the plane came down in shallow water and neither man was reported to be injured.  However, the aircraft suffered a broken propeller, pontoon, and other damage rendering it inoperable, and it had to be towed to shore.

     Source: (Providence, RI) The Evening News, “Army Aviators Give Up Flight”, August 13, 1912.

     Although the first names of the lieutenants were not stated in the article, it’s possible, given the date of the accident, that their full names were Roy C. Kirtland, and Henry H. Arnold, both of whom were military aviation pioneers.  Kirtland Air Force base in New Mexico is named for Colonel Roy C. Kirtland, and General Henry “Hap” Arnold was the Commander of the United States Army Air Forces During World War II.        

 

        

Atlantic Ocean – June 21, 1945

Atlantic Ocean – June 21, 1945

Updated June 8, 2018

     On the night of June 21, 1945, navy pilot John Huddleston Heath, 27, was killed when his aircraft crashed in the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.   His body was not recovered until September 13, 1945, about two miles off Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.

     The type of plane, Heath’s rank, and details of the accident are unknown.

     Heath’s body was brought to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before burial.  The location of his burial is unknown.  He was originally from New Orleans, La.  He died just three days before his 28th birthday.  

     Source: North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-86  

     Update:

     Source: Cape Cod Standard Times, “Navy Searches For Two Bodies”, June 22, 1945, page 1.

     According to an article found in the Cape Cod Standard Times, there were two men aboard the aircraft at the time of this accident.  The article reported how search vessels were operating south of Hyannisport, Massachusetts, searching for two navy men believed lost when their airplane was observed to crash into the water approximately three miles south of Hyannisport around 10:00 a.m. on June 21st.   

     The aircraft was described as an advanced trainer with two officers aboard.  Their names were being withheld.   

Hyannis, MA – April 20, 1945

Hyannis, Massachusetts – April 20, 1945

     On the night of April 20, 1945, Ensign Roger Lee Thornton, 22, was killed when the navy aircraft he was piloting crashed about 1.5 miles N.N.E. of the Hyannis Naval Auxiliary Air Field.  The type of plane and cause of the crash are unknown.

     Ensign Thornton’s body was brought to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being sent to Columbus, Ohio for burial. He was survived by his wife Laura Katherine Thornton.  

     Sources:

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-39 

     Cape Cod Standard Times, “Navy Pilot Killed In Crash”, April 21, 1945

      

Rochester, MA – May 13, 1946

Rochester, Massachusetts – May 13, 1946

     On May 13, 1946, Ensign Ralph Raymond Reid, 23, was killed when the navy plane he was piloting crashed on a farm in Rochester, Massachusetts.  The type of aircraft and mission is unknown. 

     Ensign Reid was from Casper, Wyoming, and a photo of his grave can be found at:

     www.uscemeteryproj.com  At the site, scroll to bottom, click on Wyoming, and enter his name. 

     Ensign Reid was survived by his wife Margaret.

     His body was brought to Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being sent to Wyoming.

Source: North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #46-33

Douglas, MA – September 12, 1944

Douglas, Massachusetts – September 12, 1944 

Updated February 15, 2018

 

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

      At 1:50 p.m. on the afternoon of September, 12, 1944, a flight of F6F Hellcat aircraft took off from the naval auxiliary air field at Westerly, Rhode Island for a high-altitude oxygen training flight.   One of those assigned to the flight was Ensign Arthur Joseph Stockus, 23, piloting an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42800).

     When the planes had reached an altitude of about 13,000 feet, the flight leader lead the squadron in a northerly direction towards Massachusetts, all the while continuing to gain altitude.  The goal was to reach 30,000 feet.      

     At approximately 2:50 p.m. while the flight was at 28,000 feet, Ensign Stockus’s aircraft was seen to suddenly break away from formation, go into a slow roll, and then disappear into an alto cumulus cloud.  Efforts to contact him via radio were unsuccessful.

     Ensign Stockus was killed when his Hellcat crashed and exploded in a wooded area about two miles west of the center of Douglas, Massachusetts.    

     Navy investigators later speculated that his oxygen system had failed, which could lead to disorientation or unconsciousness.  

     Ensign Stockus was from Monessen, Penn., and had been assigned to CASU-27.  He entered the navy on October 15, 1942, at Washington, D.C.  He died just two days after his 23rd birthday.

     Ensign Stockus had a brother Robert who was also serving as a naval officer.

     Sources:

     U.S. Navy Investigation Report

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #44-72   

     The Daily Republican, (Penn.), “Plane Crash Kills Monessen Ensign”, September 18, 1944

     Newport Mercury, (R.I.), “Dead Flyer Identified”, September 22, 1944, page 6.

     Copy – Application for World War II Compensation Form – Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Atlantic Ocean – June 20, 1947

Atlantic Ocean – June 20, 1947

15 Miles South of Nantucket, Mass.

     On June 20, 1947, Ensign Malcolm Sillars was on an operational flight over the Atlantic Ocean, 15 miles south of Nantucket Island, when the Hellcat fighter he was piloting developed engine trouble.  He was forced to make a water landing, and when his plane sank he inflated his life vest.  There he floated in the water as fellow Hellcat pilots circled above.

     A crash-rescue flying boat was dispatched, but when it arrived on the scene the water was too choppy for a safe landing.  The pilot was ordered not to attempt the rescue, but disregarded the command, and landed anyway, successfully plucking Sillars from the water.

     During take-off, a large wave reportedly tossed the rescue-craft 30 feet in the air, but the pilot successfully made it into the air. 

     Source: New York Times, “Pilot Rescued At Sea” , June 21, 1947      

Ayer, MA – September 30, 1944

Ayer, Massachusetts – September 30, 1944

Naval Auxiliary Air Facility

     On September 20, 1944, Seaman 1st Class John Harding Bell, 19, was working at the Ayer, Massachusetts, Naval Auxiliary Air Facility  when he accidentally backed into a spinning aircraft propeller and was killed.

     He was born in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and is buried in Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery , Section A, Site 254-A.

     The Ayer NAAF was built for the army in 1929, but was turned over to the navy during WWII to support the Squantum Naval Air Station.  After the war it reverted back to the army as part of Fort Devens. 

     Sources:   

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #44-77

     Findagrave.com memorial # 350676

     Wikipedia – Moore Army Airfield 

 

Dorchester Bay – July 16, 1944

Dorchester Bay – July 16, 1944

    

F6F Hellcat U.S. Navy Photo

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On July 16, 1944, Ensign William O. Seymour Jr., 23, was piloting an F6F-5 Hellcat,(Bu. No. 58882), with other aircraft based at the Squantum Naval Air Station, on an air-to-air target practice mission over Dorchester Bay.  (Seymour’s aircraft was assigned to tow a cloth target sleeve behind it while other aircraft took turns making attack runs.)

     Afterwards, as the planes returned to Squantum in preparation for landing,  the engine of  Seymour’s Hellcat began misfiring.  Being over a heavily populated area, the pilot opted to stay with the aircraft rather than bail out.  The plane rapidly lost altitude as it passed over Dorchester’s Savin Hill neighborhood, heading towards Malibu Beach where the pilot hoped to make an emergency landing.  Unfortunately, it being a hot summer day, the beach was crowded with roughly 3,000 people.  As Seymour approached the beach at barely 100 feet off the ground, his vision of the crowd was blocked by a sea wall.  It wasn’t until the last second that he saw all the people and quickly yanked the Hellcat towards the water.  He crashed about 200 yards from shore in about 15 feet of water.   

     One lifeguard who witnesses the accident later told reporters, “It hit first on the left wing, because he swung away from the beach sharply to avoid striking the crowd.  It snapped over so fast that it went end over end, and then the fuselage seemed to crumple up and the plane sank.”

     Several men swam out to the spot where the Hellcat went down in an attempt to rescue the airman, but they were unsuccessful.  Seymour’s body was later recovered by men from the crash-rescue boat sent form Squantum.  

     Ensign Seymour was born in Monroe, North Carolina, and graduated Valedictorian of his high school class in 1938.  He volunteered for the navy in July of 1942, and received his pilot’s wings and Ensign’s commission on October 9, 1943.  He is buried in Monroe Cemetery. 

     For his actions and quick thinking in sacrificing himself in order to save others, he was posthumously awarded a Presidential Citation and the Navy & Marine Corps medal for bravery.

     Sources:

     NAS Squantum: The First Naval Air Reserve Base, by Marc Frattasio (Pgs. 218-219)

     The Boston Post, (No headline available) Monday, July 17, 1944

     The Gold Star Mothers Homepage – William O. Seymour, Jr.

     U.S. Navy Accident Report dated July 16, 1944

  

             

    

        

Sandwich, MA – August 29, 1961

Sandwich, Massachusetts – August 29, 1961 

    

RB-57F.  The U.S. Version of the English Electric Canberra.  U.S. Air Force Photo.

RB-57F. The U.S. Version of the English Electric Canberra. U.S. Air Force Photo.

     On August 29, 1961, Major Harold D. LaRoche, 27, took off from Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, in a Martin B-57 Canberra en-route to Andrews Air Force base in Virginia.  (He was the only person aboard.)

     Shortly after take off  LaRoche radioed Otis tower that he had an emergency and turned back towards the base.  On his approach he crashed in the Forestdale section in the town of Sandwich, Massachusetts.  The plane exploded and the major was killed. 

     Major LaRoche was assigned to Ent Air Force base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and had been on a cross-country flight.     

 

Source:

Falmouth Enterprise, (Photo) “Wreckage Of Bomber Which Crashed In Forrestdale”, September 1, 1961

Boston Airport – February, 1934

Boston Airport – February, 1934 

    

Early Air Mail Advertisement

Early Air Mail Advertisement

     On March 1, 1934, the U.S. Army Eastern Zone Air Service announced it had cancelled until further notice all air mail flights to Boston due to hazardous landing conditions at the airport there.  The decision came after there had been three air mail plane accidents on the narrow runways within four days.  Apparently the runways had been plowed of recently fallen snow, but the mounds were piled high right at the edges.

     On February 26th and 27th, two air mail planes were damaged upon landing when their wings clipped the snow drifts. 

     On the morning of February 28th, a plane piloted by Lt. Charles E. Flaherty, carrying 81 pounds of mail hit another snowdrift damaging the propeller and both wings.  (It wasn’t stated if Lt. Flaherty was injured or not.)  

     Source: New York Times, “Air Mail Cancels Trips To Boston”, March 1, 1934

    

 

 

 

Nomans Land Island – September 2, 1949

Nomans Land Island – September 2, 1949

     On September 2, 1949, a 35-foot New Bedford fishing boat with three men aboard tied up at a wharf on Noma’s Land Island and began cutting up sharks they had caught.  The island was (And still is.) off limits to all civilian personnel due to the fact it was utilized by the U.S. Navy for gunnery practice by ships and aircraft.   (The boat’s captain would later claim he was not aware that the dock was part of the restricted area.)

     As the men sat near their boat, a military fighter aircraft came zooming at them about 20 feet off the water and opened fire spraying the boat and surrounding area with machine gun bullets.  Twenty rounds pierced the boat while others spattered the nearby water and ground.  Fortunately none of the men were hit. 

     The fishing boat captain field a complaint which was investigated.  He stated that several other military planes were flying over the area at the time, but the one that shot at them had been flying alone. 

     Military officials for both the army and navy denied responsibility.  It was reported that several aircraft from Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island had been scheduled to fly to the island that day, but according to officials, when they arrived they found other “unscheduled” aircraft already there, and returned to Quonset without firing a shot.

     Source:

     Lewiston Daily Sun, “Fishing Vessel Strafed By Mystery Plane off Mass; Navy Denies Responsibility”, September 3, 1949 

      

    

    

Off Nantucket – April 25, 1967

Off Nantucket – April 25, 1967

     At 6:30 p.m. on April 25, 1967, a “radar picket plane” with sixteen men aboard took off from Otis Air Force Base for patrol duty over the Atlantic.  “A half hour later,” it was reported, “eye witnesses heard the plane roaring over their homes at Madaket on the western end of Nantucket.”   

     The plane crashed into the sea off the western end of the island.  A commercial pilot flying in the area saw the plane go down, and said the Air Force pilot had made a deliberate effort to avoid crashing in the center of town.      

     The plane was piloted by Col. James P. Lyle Jr., 47, commander of the 551st Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing based at Otis.

     Of the sixteen men aboard, there was only one survivor: the navigator, Lieut. Joseph H. Guenet, 29, of Montreal, Quebec. 

     This was the second radar plane out of Otis to be lost within two years.  The other went down in July, 1965, with sixteen lives lost.   

Sources:

New York Times, “Plane with 16 Crashes Off Coast”, April 26, 1967

New York Times, “Air Force Seeks Survivors Of Crash Off Nantucket”, April 27, 1967

New York Times, “Hope Gone For 13 On Plane”, April 28, 1967

Atlantic Ocean – December 12, 1943

Atlantic Ocean – December 12, 1943

    

B-24 Liberator  U.S. Air Force Photo

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On December 12, 1943, a B-24 Liberator (42-7225) took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a nighttime high altitude navigational and gunnery training flight over the Atlantic Ocean.  The aircraft was never seen again.

     The air crew was assigned to the 758th Bombardment Squadron, 459th Bomb Group.  

     The lost crewmen were listed as follows:

     (Pilot) Lt. William P. Masters

     (Co-Pilot) Lt. R. R. Hansen  (First name unknown)

     (Gunner) Sgt. Cecil H. Conklin

     (Gunner) Sgt. Anthony L. Greco

     (Gunner) Sgt. Dean G. McCaffrey

     (Radio Operator) Sgt. Bernard G. Stoeckley

     (Gunner) Sgt. Anson G. Wiseman

     (Flight Engineer) Sgt. Stanley E. Zajac

  

A bronze memorial plaque at the New England Air Museum honoring the lost crew of a B-24 Liberator (42-7225)

A bronze memorial plaque at the New England Air Museum honoring the lost crew of a B-24 Liberator (42-7225)

   A memorial to these men can be seen at the New England Air Museum in Winsor Locks, Connecticut.

     Click on image to enlarge.

     Source: 459th bombardment Group website

www.459bg.org/758th_squadron_servicemen.cfm

Missing Aircraft – April 27, 1966

Missing Aircraft – April 27, 1966

    

B-57 Reconnaissance Bomber U.S. Air Force Photo

B-57 Reconnaissance Bomber
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On April 27, 1966, an Air Force B-57 reconnaissance bomber was on a training flight from Newburgh, New York, to Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, when it disappeared after radioing a distress signal, presumably  somewhere near the Falmouth area. 

     There were two men aboard the aircraft: (Pilot) Major Malcolm T. Kalser, 42, of Biggs, California, and (Navigator) Major Frank N. Guzzetta, 40, of Darby, Penn.    

     After a widespread search nothing was found, and the Air Force called off the search after eight days.

     Then, on Sunday, May 9, 1966, two fishermen from Cuttyhunk Island reported finding what they though might be pieces of the missing aircraft on a nearby beach.  “The wreckage”, it was reported, “included one part about five feet long and a rubber de-icing boot.” 

     The pieces were turned over to the Air Force.

    Source:

    Woonsocket Call, “Plane Search May Resume; Parts Found”, May 9, 1966, Pg. 6       

Atlantic Ocean – July 12, 1965

Atlantic Ocean – July 12, 1965

Approx. 100 miles northeast of Nantucket, Massachusetts

    

EC-121 Super Constellation U.S. Air Force Photo

EC-121 Super Constellation
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the night of July 12, 1965, an Air Force EC-121H Super Constellation radar aircraft with a crew of 19 aboard, was flying over the Atlantic when a fire in one engine forced the pilot to ditch in the water. 

     The last radio transmission received from the pilot was , “Altitude 200 feet, I am ditching.”   

     The Constellation broke up when it hit the water. 

     The aircraft carrier U.S.S. Wasp and several other ships were in the area on naval exercises, and immediately launched a search and rescue operation.  Of the 19 men aboard, only three were rescued.  Nine bodies were recovered.  The other seven were listed as “missing, presumed dead”.

     Those rescued were :

     1st Lt. Bruce E. Witcher, navigator, of Redding, CA.

     Airman 1c John N. Puopolo, of Roslindale, Mass.

     Airman 2c David A. Surles, of Raleigh, N.C.

     The dead and missing were identified as:

     Capt. Murray J. Brody, pilot, of New York City. 

     2nd Lt. Fred Ambrosio, pilot, of Otis AFB.

     1st Lt. Thomas Fiedler, pilot, of Davenport, Iowa.

     2nd Lt. Ira J. Husik, navigator, of Philadelphia.

     Capt. Edward N. Anaka of Akron, N.Y.

     Capt. Michael R. Barbolla, of the Bronx, N.Y.

     T. Sgt. Gilbert T. Armstrong, flight engineer, of Newport, VT.

     T. Sgt. Eugene J. Schreivogel, of Springfield, Colorado.

     S. Sgt. Raymond M. Washam, of Wilmington, Del.

     S. Sgt. Francis J. Griffin, of Toronto, Canada.

     S. Sgt. John L. Howard, of Sanford, PA.

     Airman 1c George R. West, of Wyoming, Mich.

     Airman 1c Charles K. Sawyer, of Anderson, S.C.

     Airman 2c William E. Howe Jr., of North Augusta, S.C.

     Airman 2c Charles H. Williams, of Worcester, Mass.

     Airman 3c Charles J. Podjaski, of Evergreen Park, Ill.

     The aircraft was assigned to Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

     There is much more information available relating to this accident.  To find out more, go to http://www.heinzalbers.org/aircrash.htm  to read numerous articles from the Cape Cod Standard Times about this incident.    

Sources:

New York Times, “9 Airmen Perish In Plane Ditching”, July 13, 1965

New York Times, “Crash Survivors Describe Ordeal”, July 14, 1965

Chicago Tribune, “Buddies Tell How Airmen Died In Crash”, July 14, 1965, Pg. 2

New York Times, “Coast Guard Halts Search For Airmen In Plane Crash”, July 18, 1965

  

       

Otis Air Force Base – May 25, 1958

Otis Air Force Base – May 25, 1958

    

EC-121 Super Constellation U.S. Air Force Photo

EC-121 Super Constellation
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On May 25, 1958, an Air Force RC121 Super Constellation radar aircraft was destroyed by a series of explosions while sitting at Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  The crew of fourteen managed to escape with only minor injuries. 

     The plane was valued at $2,225,000. 

     The cause of the explosions was not apparent. 

     Source: New York Times, “Plane Explodes At Base”, May 26, 1958  

 

Otis Air Force Base – May 8, 1957

Otis Air Force Base – May 8, 1957

Falmouth, Massachusetts

     On May 8, 1957, Lieutenant Donald J. Flower Jr., 26, of Yonkers, New York, was killed when the fighter jet he was piloting crashed and burned upon landing at Otis AFB.  He had flown to Otis from Shaw AFB in South Carolina. 

     The exact type of aircraft wasn’t stated.  

     Flower joined the Air Force in 1953 after graduating from Iona College in New Rochelle, New York.  He was survived by his parents and four siblings.

     Source: New York Times, “Yonkers Pilot Killed”, May 10, 1957

Off Sandwich, MA – June 24, 1956

Off Sandwich, Massachusetts – June 24, 1956

     

F-94 Fighter Jet U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Fighter Jet
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the evening of June 24, 1956, a flight of three F-94 Starifre jets left Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, en-route to Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  When they arrived at Otis they encountered poor weather conditions, and Otis tower held off their landing.  As the F-94’s circled in a three-jet formation, two of the jets ran out of fuel and crashed into the sea. 

     The pilot and radar observer of one jet were rescued after they bailed out over the ocean.  The pilot of the second plane was not recovered.  (His aircraft did not have a radar observer aboard.)      

     A Coast Guard helicopter out of Boston taking part in the search and rescue operations crashed in Boston Harbor where it encountered thick fog upon its return.  Two crewmen were rescued, a third was lost.

     No names were listed in the source article.

     Source: New York Times, “Two Jet Planes Crash”, June 25, 1956  

Vineyard Sound – August 10, 1952

Vineyard Sound – August 10, 1952

Between Martha’s Vineyard and Falmouth, Massachusetts

    

F-94 Fighter Jet U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Fighter Jet
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On August 10, 1952, a U. S. Air Force F-94 fighter jet piloted by Captain Hobart R. Gay, 28, took off from Otis Air Force base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, for a training flight.  As he was returning to base, Gay radioed for landing instructions.  Just afterwards, a Coast Guard watchman reported seeing his aircraft suddenly plunge into the water of Vineyard Sound and disappear. 

     The crash was also witnessed by a Falmouth auxiliary policeman who reported he saw a “streak of light” drop from the sky.

     A search and rescue mission was immediately launched, but all that was found was an oil slick, and fragments of Captain Gay’s aircraft.  His body was never recovered.  

     Captain Gay was a 1946 graduate of West Point.  He flew 105 combat missions in Korea, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross, and Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters.

     He was survived by his wife Jane, and his son, Hobart R. Gay III. 

     Source:

     New York Times, “Jet Crash Victim Found To be Hero”, August 12, 1952

     Falmouth Enterprise, “Auxiliary Policeman Sees Jet Plane Fall”, August 15, 1952

    

 

    

 

 

From Otis Air Force Base – August 7, 1951

From Otis Air Force Base – August 7, 1951

    

T-33 Trainer Jet U.S. Air Force Photo

T-33 Trainer Jet
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On August 7, 1951, a T-33 trainer jet with two men aboard left Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, for a training flight to Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, New York.  The pilot was Major C. H. Imschweiler, 34, of Schuylkill, Penn. The second man was Lieutenant John A. Carver Jr., 30, of Ann Arbor, Michigan.   

     When the plane reached Griffiss, they encountered bad weather, and made two unsuccessful attempts to land.  By this time the T-33 was low on fuel, and rather than risk another attempt at landing, the crew was advised to fly north and bail out of the plane.  At 6:03 p.m. Imschweiler radioed Griffiss that they were bailing out.  Nothing more was heard of the plane, and large-scale search and rescue operation was begun. 

     It took five days to locate the downed aircraft .  The crew was found to be still inside the wreck. 

Sources:

Geneva Daily Times, “City CAP Joins Search For Missing Jet Pilots” August 10, 1951, Pg. 7

New York Times, “2 Missing Fliers Hunted”, August 11, 1951

New York Times, “2 Lost Jet Airmen Are Dead In Wreck”, August 12, 1951

 

    

    

Chatham, MA – July 11, 1949

Chatham, Massachusetts – July 11, 1949

    

Republic F-84C - U.S. Air Force Photo

Republic F-84C – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 12, 1949, 2nd Lt. William M. King, 25, of Kenmore, N.Y., was piloting an F-84 Thunderjet (Ser. No. 47-1475) on a gunnery practice mission over Cape Cod, Massachusetts, when he crashed on Monomy Point in the town of Chatham and was killed.   

     King was assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing at Otis Air Force Base.

     Source: New York Times, “Pilot Killed In Jet Crash”, July 12, 1949   

Mashpee – Falmouth, MA – October 9, 1951

Mashpee-Falmouth Area

 Massachusetts – October 9, 1951 

     

F-94 Starfire U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Starfire
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On October 9, 1951, a U. S. Air Force F-94 Starfire jet was coming in for a landing at Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, when a wingtip fuel tank, reported to be, “probably empty”, unexpectedly fell away and came down in a wooded area somewhere to the west of a traffic rotary on Route 28 in the nearby town of Mashpee, Massachusetts.  The pilot estimated that the tank might have landed far enough to the west of the traffic rotary that it came down in Falmouth.  

     A search for the missing tank was instituted, but as of October 12th it hadn’t been found.  The tank was described as being about five feet long, cigar-shaped, and made of aluminum.  Citicens with any information as to its whereabouts were asked to notify Falmouth police or Otis base.    

    

 

Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Wingtip Gas Tank Falls From Otis Jet”, October 12, 1951

Otis Air Force Base – April 14, 1958

Otis Air Force Base – April 14, 1958 

Falmouth, Massachusetts

    

F-94 Fighter Jet U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Fighter Jet
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On April 14, 1958, an F-94 Starfire jet was returning to Otis Air Force Base after a training flight when it was discovered that the landing gear wouldn’t come down.  The pilot, 2nd Lt. Ragner Erickson,and his radar observer, 1st Lt. Francis DePipi, circled the area for 45 minutes using up the fuel supply as base fire crews coated the runway with foam.    

     When it was time, Lt. Erickson brought the aircraft in for a wheels-up belly landing.  The foam did its job and there was no fire.  The crew was uninjured.

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, (no headline) (two photos) (short narrative)    

Otis Air Force Base – November 6, 1958

Otis Air Force Base – November 6, 1958

Falmouth, Massachusetts

   

F-94 Starfire U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Starfire
U.S. Air Force Photo

      On November 6, 1958, an F-94 Starfire jet was taking off from Otis Air Force Base when both auxiliary fuel tanks unexpectedly fell from the wings, struck the runway, and exploded.  The F-94, piloted by 1st Lt. Raymond Nishibayashi, managed to get airborne, and circled the base while ground crews put out the fires.

     Nishibayashi and his radar observer, 1st Lt. Allen E. Freiberg landed safely.

     Both men were assigned to the 60th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Otis.

     Source:

     Falmouth Enterprise, “Fire On Runway”, November 7, 1958   

Otis Air Force Base – July 9, 1954

Otis Air Force Base – July 9, 1954

Falmouth, Massachusetts

     On the afternoon of July 9, 1954, air force captain Robert J. Fox was scheduled to fly a single-engine L-20 airplane on a routine training flight from Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts.   As he was lifting off the runway at 4:05 p.m., the aircraft suddenly lost altitude dipping its wing which caught the ground causing the plane to crash.  Despite heavy damage to the plane, was no fire, and Captain Fox escaped without injury. 

     Fox was assigned to the 4707th Air defense Wing as a communications electronics officer.         

     Source:

     Falmouth Enterprise, “Capt. Robert Fox Unhurt In Crash”, July 9, 1954

Saugus, MA -October 21, 1915

Saugus, Massachusetts – October 21, 1915

     On October 21, 1915, Capt. Charles P. Redding of Melrose, Mass., and his mechanic, Phillip Bowman, of Malden, Mass., left Marblehead, Mass. in a Burgess biplane bound for Saugus Aviation Field. 

     The duo landed successfully, and later in the day took off again for a flight over Lynn, Massachusetts.  On their way back to Saugus Field, the plane crashed into a pool of water in the marshes of Saugus.   

     Charles Upham, a witness to the crash, made his way to the wrecked airplane and found both men still alive, however, they died within ten minutes.

     Source:

     (Vermont) The Bare Daily Times, October 22, 1915, Page 3.

Saugus, MA – June 6, 1918

Saugus, Massachusetts – June 6, 1918

     On June 6, 1918, U.S. Army Lieutenant Torrey H. Webb was piloting a Curtis JN-4H “Jenny” airplane, (#39366) from New York to Franklin Field, (a.k.a. Atwood Field) in Saugus, Massachusetts.  The purpose of the flight was to deliver sacks of mail containing 4,400 letters, weighing 228 pounds. 

     It was reported that this flight marked the first New York to Boston aerial mail service.

     Lt. Webb made the historic trip in three hours and twenty-two minutes by following the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad tracks.  While en-route his compass developed a malfunction, so he landed briefly at Shailerville, Connecticut, a village within the town of Haddam, to make repairs.   After adjusting the compass, Webb took off again for Saugus.  Upon landing at Saugus, the wheels of his aircraft sank into soft ground causing the plane to abruptly nose over and toss Webb and his mechanic, Raymond Heck, from their seats.  Neither was injured.  The aircraft was sufficiently damaged to prevent an immediate return to the air.

     The mail was taken to Boston by automobile.

     A photograph of this accident can be seen at Digital Commonwealth. (Click on site below) 

     http://ark.digitalcommonwealth.org/ark:/50959/6682z638q

1918 Hamilton Watch Advertisement mentioning Torrey Webb as one of the aviators who wore a Hamilton watch.

     Sources:

     (Norwich CT.) Norwich Bulletin, “First New York – Boston Airplane Mail Service”, June 7, 1918

     The Sun, (New York), “Plane With Boston Mail Damaged When It Lands”, June 7, 1918 

 

    

   

Atlantic Ocean – June 29, 1948

Atlantic Ocean – June 29, 1948

Near “No Man’s Land” Island, Martha’s Vineyard

    

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

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

     On June 29, 1948, a Grumman Hellcat which had been converted into a remote control drone was launched from Otis Air Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts, for a test flight.  Once airborne the aircraft was controlled by equipment aboard the U.S.S. Providence sailing in Buzzards Bay off Falmouth.  After flying over portions of Massachusetts and Rhode Island it went out to sea where it failed to respond to further signals from the Providence.  It crashed in the ocean near “No Man’s Land” Island, off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.  The total flight covered nearly 190 miles.    

     Parts of the wrecked aircraft were later recovered by fishing boat in the area and turned over to the Coast Guard.   The aircraft had been painted red as part of the conversion.

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Radio-Controlled Target Plane Crashes Into Bay”, July 2, 1948

 

East Boston Airport – December 22, 1937

East Boston Airport – December 22, 1937

     On the afternoon of December 22, 1937, the Army Air Corps detachment stationed at East Boston Airport was giving a Christmas party for children of the servicemen.  Part of the celebration was to include Santa Clause arriving by parachute from an airplane.  

     Dressed in a Santa suit was Corporal Harold Kraner, 35, of Winthrop, Massachusetts, who boarded an airplane piloted by Captain Richard E. Cobb, the commanding officer of the detachment.   The plane took off and began circling the airport at 1,500 feet as roughly 100 children gathered on the tarmac to await Santa’s arrival.   At the designated time, Kraner stepped outside the aircraft and jumped.  The parachute opened, however a strong wind blowing at 40 miles-per-hour carried Kraner out over Boston Harbor where he landed in the icy water and drowned. 

     Captain Cobb landed immediately, and after obtaining a life preserver, took to the air again and dropped it in the spot where he saw the parachute in the water.

     “I don’t know whether he got it,” he later told the press, “but he seemed to be above the water then.”

     Meanwhile calls for help went out to Boston police and military bases in the area.  A Boston police car racing to the waters edge with under-water searchlights collided with an army plane which had just landed and was taxiing to a stop.  The accident seriously injured Boston Police Sergeant Edward J. Seiboldt, and to a lesser extent, Patrolman John Clorin, both of whom were taken to Boston Relief Hospital. 

     Darkness was falling, and about the same time as the police car – airplane accident occurred, a small boat with two army men inside capsized spilling both into the water.  Both men, Richard Miller and Earl Jordan were rescued by a nearby Coast Guard boat and treated for hypothermia.

     Kraner’s body was recovered on the 24th in about 15 feet of water, with the parachute cords wrapped around his neck.  He was survived by his wife and child, both of whom had witnessed his jump.   

     Sources:

     New York Times, “Flying Santa Lost In Boston Harbor”, December 23, 1937  

     New York Times, “Kraner’s Body Is Found”, December 25, 1937  

Martha’s Vineyard – January 6, 1945

Martha’s Vineyard – January 6, 1945

    

U.S. Navy TBM Avengers  National Archives Photo

U.S. Navy TBM Avengers
National Archives Photo

     Just after midnight on the morning of January 6, 1945, navy Lieutenant Robert L. deVeer was making a night training flight from Martha’s Vineyard to Otis Air Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts, when his plane, a TBM Avenger, went down in a wooded area near the Mayhew Memorial Chapel in North Tisbury, on Martha’s Vineyard.  Although seriously injured, deVeer was able to extricate himself from the burning wreckage.  He was transported to Chelsea Naval Hospital for treatment.  

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Injured Flyer Has Home Here”, January 12, 1945

         

Fort Devens, MA – April 21, 1942

Fort Devens – April 21, 1942

     At about 7:45 p.m. on April 21, 1942, a U.S. Army O-52 (40-4702) was returning from a training flight when it suddenly crashed near a small pond at Fort Devens killing both occupants. 

     The dead were identified as 1st Lt. Gerald Patrick Kennedy, 26, of Providence, R.I., and 2nd Lt. Robert Wright Hoeker, 24, of Illiopolia, Ill.   Later in the evening Kennedy was scheduled to attend a party in his honor due to his recent promotion to first lieutenant.  As a point of fact, Lt. Hoeker wasn’t scheduled to be on that flight, but he had taken the place of another officer.   

     The aircraft was part of the 152nd Observation Squadron, and it was reported that these were the first airplane related fatalities in the history of the 152nd.  The 152nd had been stationed at Hillsgrove Airport in Warwick, R.I. prior to being transferred in the summer of 1941 to  Fort Devens. 

     Today there is a hanger named for Lt. Kennedy  at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, R.I. (Formerly Hillsgrove)

Source:

Woonsocket Call, “Army Probing Devens Plane Crash In Which 2 Met death”, April 22, 1942, Pg. 1

    

Boston Airport – June 28, 1942

Boston Airport – June 28, 1942

Updated March 7, 2016

     

P-40 Warhawk  U.S. Air Force Photo

P-40 Warhawk
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On June 28, 1942, 2nd Lt. Albert J. Wiebe was on a formation training flight over the Boston area when his aircraft, a P-40E, (Ser. No. 40-539) developed engine trouble.  He left the formation to return to Boston Airport.  As he was making his approach to land when his plane lost power and crashed.  Lt. Wiebe did not survive.

      Lt. Wiebe was from West New York, New Jersey.  He enlisted in September of 1941, and received his commission on April 23, 1942.  He was survived by his wife.    

     At the time of his death he was assigned to the 64th Fighter Squadron.

     Sources:

     New York Times, “4 Army Fliers Die In Ohio”, June 29, 1942  (The article covered more than one accident.)

     U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident, dated July 12, 1942

Braintree, MA – April 4, 1939

Braintree, Massachusetts – April 4, 1939

     On April 4, 1939, a flight of six U.S. Navy biplanes were cruising at 2,000 feet over the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts, as part of the launching ceremony for the Navy’s new aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Wasp, (CV-7).   (The Wasp was launched April 4, 1939, and commissioned April 25, 1940. )

     While passing overhead, the aircraft began to execute a maneuver where each in turn would roll over and dive downward.  As they were doing so, the second and third planes in the formation collided in mid-air, and both crashed as a result.     

     The incident was witnessed by West Williams, a flight instructor who was flying another airplane nearby at the time.  West told reporters, “The second plane was just torn to pieces and plunged downward and crashed into a house, setting the house afire.  There were just pieces of fabric left floating down.  The pilot of the (other) plane may have been stunned for a moment and then tried to regain control.  The ship staggered and partially righted itself and then shot down in a power dive.  It seemed to hit a house about half a mile away from the first, and went up in flames.”        

     Both planes came down in the neighboring town of Braintree.  The first slammed into the home at 26 Edgemond Road, which was occupied by 74-year-old William Madden.  Madden escaped the burning house with only minor injuries, but died of a heart attack later in the day.   

     The second plane hit the roof of 30-32 Shepherd Avenue.   J. C. Kirkbride of the Cities Service Company’s refinery saw the second plane glance off the roof of the house where it then “bounced the length of two city blocks, and plowed into the living room of another house.” 

     John Tower, a World War I veteran, suffered sudden death as he tried to assist at the site of the second crash.  

     Another employee of the refinery told reporters he saw the body of one aviator lying on the ground with his parachute partially opened.  

     Each plane carried a pilot and an observer.  The dead were identified as:

     Lieutenant Commander Waldo H. Brown, 43, of Milton, Mass. (Naval Reserve)  (There is a memorial to Brown at Wychmere Beach in in the town of Harwich, Massachusetts.) 

     Aviation Cadet Ellsworth Benson,26, of Newton, Mass.  (Naval Reserve) Buried in Arlington, National Cemetery, Section 6, Site 9183.    

     Aviation Chief Carpenters Mate Walter Kirk, 40, of Quincy, Mass. (Naval Reserve)

     Aviation Chief Machinists Mate John Ausiello, 35, of Revere, Mass.  

 Sources:

Woonsocket Call, “Navy Biplanes Fall On Houses At Braintree”, April 4, 1939, Pg. 1

The Palm Beach Post, “Fatal Air Crash Mars Launching”, April 5, 1939

(Book) NAS Squantum: The First Naval Air Reserve Base by Marc J. Frattasio, C. 2009

Cape Cod Chronicle, “Waldo Brown: The Man Behind The Wychmere Jetty Memorial” November 6, 2003    

www.findagrave.com – Ellsworth Benson

New York Times, “Wing-Crash Kills Four Navy Fliers”, April 5, 1939

    

    

Boston Airport – July 24, 1923

Boston Airport – July 24, 1923

     On the afternoon of July 24, 1923, Lieutenant Kitchell Snow of the 101st Observation Squadron of the Massachusetts National Guard,  took off from Boston Airport in a former British training aircraft.   There were two passengers aboard, Sergeant Oscar D. Lecain, and his cousin, 10-year-old Howard Carkin of North Chelmsford, Mass. 

     As the plane rose off the runway and headed out towards the water, the engine suddenly quit.  Not wanting to land in the water with two passengers aboard, Snow banked the plane back towards shore, and when he did the aircraft suddenly dove nose first into the mud flats.  

     The impact drove the motor into the cockpit crushing Lieutenant Snow. Both passengers survived.

     It was reported that Lieutenant Snow was “the second victim of accidents at the field since its opening in June.”  The particulars of the first accident weren’t stated. 

     Another accident involving a plane from the 101st Observation Squadron occurred on December 18, 1924, when Chester E. Wright, flying a JNS-1 (23-536) crashed in Boston Harbor.   

Source: Woonsocket Call, “Lieut. Snow Killed In Airplane Crash”, July 25, 1923, Pg. 5

 

Nantucket Sound – April 3, 1945

Nantucket Sound, Massachusetts – April 3, 1945     

Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz

Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz

    

The F6F-5 Hellcat flown by Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz undergoing restoration at the Quonset Air Museum in R.I.  Photo taken June, 2008.

The F6F-5 Hellcat flown by Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz undergoing restoration at the Quonset Air Museum in R.I. Photo taken June, 2008.

     On April 3, 1945, a flight of seven U.S. Navy Hellcats were on a training mission off the coast of Nantucket when one suffered a loss of oil pressure; an F6F-5, Bu. No. 70185.   The pilot, Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz, notified the flight leader of his predicament, and was ordered to land at Martha’s Vineyard, and began heading that way.  While en-route, the engine seized, and he was forced to ditch in the water.  Frankwitz scrambled from the plane before it sank, and was seen bobbing in the 42 degree water for the next twenty minutes.  Rescue craft were launched, but Ensign Frankwitz succumbed to hypothermia before help could arrive, and his body sank beneath the waves.  It was never recovered.

     On August 13, 1993, a Massachusetts Army National Guard helicopter was flying over Nantucket Sound when the crew chief saw what he thought was an aircraft wreck on the ocean floor.  The Coast Guard was notified, and investigation revealed that the wreck was an old one, draped with fishing nets.      

A portion of the Hellcat flown by Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz, removed during restoration, with the original blue paint still visible - Quonset Air Museum

A portion of the Hellcat flown by Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz, removed during restoration, with the original blue paint still visible – Quonset Air Museum

      Later in 1993, the aircraft was identified by Larry Webster, an aviation archeologist and historian with the Quonset Air Museum in Rhode Island, as likely being the one flown by Ensign Frankwitz.   Divers who examined the wreck later confirmed this to be the case.    

     The  Hellcat was in remarkably good condition despite its years in salt water.  On December 4, 1993, the aircraft was raised and brought to Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, where it was carefully dismantled before it was shipped to the Quonset Air Museum for restoration.    

     As of this writing, the Hellcat is still undergoing restoration, and when it’s completed, it will serve as a memorial to Ensign Frankwitz, and all Navy and Marine airmen who lost their lives in WWII.   

      The name of Ensign Frankwitz can be found on the Charlestown Auxiliary Landing Field  memorial in Ninigret Park, in Charlestown, Rhode Island.  

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