Princeton, ME – June 22, 1973

Princeton, Maine – June 22, 1973

     On June 22, 1973, a Piper Aztec with two men aboard was expected at Barring Air Strip, (reported to be located about twenty miles south of Princeton, Maine), but when it failed to arrive a search was instituted.  The plane was spotted from the air the following day.  It had crashed in a thickly wooded area off Route 1 in Princeton.  When a contingent of state troopers reached the plane they found the bodies of both men inside.  


     Providence Journal, “2 Bodies Found In Plane Wreck”, June 24, 1973  

Shirley, ME – August 12, 1973

Shirley, Maine – August 12, 1973

     On August 12, 1973, a Piper Cub float plane with two men aboard took off from Moosehead Lake.  Just after becoming airborne, what was described as a “puff of smoke” from the engine came into the cockpit.  The pilot attempted to turn back towards Moosehead Lake but his passenger suggested he attempt to land in Shirley Pond instead.  Then another “puff of smoke” came into the cockpit before the plane abruptly lost all power and crashed in a field in the town of Shirley.   The plane was wrecked, and both men were transported to a medical facility with non-life threatening injuries.  


     The Moosehead Gazette, “2 escape With Lives In Shirley Plane Crash”, August 17, 1973 (Photo of Airplane)

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Two Survive Maine Air Crash”, August 13, 1973, page 33  


Presque Isle, ME – July 6, 1973

Presque Isle, Maine – July 6, 1973 

     On July 6, 1973, a crop duster aircraft took off from Presque Isle  Airport to spray a potato field about three miles from the airport.  The 31-year-0ld pilot was just beginning spraying operations when his plane suddenly plunged to the ground and he was killed.


     Providence Journal, “Crop Duster Dies In Maine Crash”, July 8, 1973.  

Bangor, ME – June 20, 1973

Bangor, Maine – June 20, 1973


     On June 20, 1973, a Overseas National Airways, Douglas DC-8 airliner, (N863F), was en-route from Tampa, Florida, to Amsterdam when it stopped at Bangor International Airport to refuel.  After refueling, the aircraft was given clearance to take off.  As it began going down the runway a tire blew out rupturing a hydraulic line and starting a small fire.  The plane was brought to a safe stop and the emergency escape chutes were deployed.  Of the 249 passengers and crew aboard, 35 suffered injuries during the emergency evacuation.  One woman suffered a broken leg, arm, and collar bone, while another woman broke her leg.  The other 33 injured passengers were treated and released.


     Providence Journal, “35 Injured As Plane Blows Tire In Bangor”, June 21, 1973, page 3    

Portland Airport, ME. – March 13, 1973

Portland Airport, Maine – March 13, 1973

     On March 12, 1973, two men , both pilots for the Glen Falls, N.Y. division of the International Paper Company, flew a Beechcraft King Aire aircraft from upstate New York to Portland, Maine, and arrived safely at Portland Airport.  The purpose of the flight was for one of the pilots to take an FAA examination the following morning to obtain an additional rating on is commercial pilot’s license.

     The following day the men met an FAA Inspector at Portland Airport who was to administer the exam.   After taking part of the exam on the ground, the three men climbed aboard the King Aire for the practical portion of the test, with the pilot taking the exam at the controls.   

     Part of the exam included touch-and-go landings, and as the aircraft was approaching Runway 36, it suddenly crashed and burned.  It was later determined by FAA investigators that the pilot was executing an “emergency maneuver” at the time of the accident.     

     The pilot taking the test, and the FAA Inspector were killed in the crash.  The third man received non-life-threatening injuries.


     Providence Journal, “Plane Crash Kills Two In Maine”, March 13, 1973

     Providence Journal, “Maine crash Kills Pilot, FAA Inspector”, March 14, 1973.  (with photo of crash.)

     Providence Journal. “Ill Fated Plane Was Executing Emergency Step”, March 15, 1973 





Casco Bay, ME – July 4, 1887

Casco Bay, Maine – July 4, 1887


     At 5 p.m. on July 4, 1887, the balloon “Columbia” made an ascension from Lincoln Park in Portland, Maine, with two men aboard: the pilot, Professor Charles H. Grimby, (or possibly Grimsby), and an unnamed passenger who was a reporter for the Boston Globe newspaper.   

     When the Columbia was fifty feet in the air it was caught by a strong wind and pushed into some telegraph and telephone wires briefly becoming entangled before breaking free.  It then climbed to 3,000 feet where it began drifting eastward towards the waters of Casco Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.  To be blown out to sea would have meant certain death, so Professor Grimby opened the valve to the balloon hoping to land on one of the islands in the bay.  As the balloon began to drop he threw out a long drag rope to slow their speed.  The rope whipped and snapped through the water but did little to halt their progress. 

     The balloon then reportedly began crossing over “Windward Island” where a some men made an attempt to grab hold if it, but they were pulled to the ground and dragged along with it and were forced to let go.  (It should be noted here that contemporary maps do not list a Windward Island for Casco Bay, and it’s possible the island mentioned was actually Cushing, or Peaks Island.)

     Finally the  drag rope became snagged on a grouping of rocks which briefly stopped the balloon and held it, but the strong wind kept rocking the balloon and before long the rope broke and the Columbia continued on out over the water.  Finally enough gas had been released through the open valve to cause it to plunge into the water.  The gondola, with the men inside, was almost completely submerged as fierce winds continued to buffet the balloon and push it across the bay while both men held on for their lives.

     By this time the men were well away from shore and without life jackets.  Fortunately their plight was seen by those aboard the yacht Mermaid, and the boat gave chase.  The Mermaid eventually caught up to the balloon and managed to rescue both men.  The balloon was not recovered. 

     Professor Grimby told the press it was the most exciting and dangerous trip he had ever made.

     Source: The Worthington Advance, (Worthington, Minn.) July 28, 1887



Augusta, ME – July 4, 1892

Augusta, Maine – July 4, 1892

     On July 4, 1892, a female aeronaut identified as “Madame Patti” was scheduled to make a balloon ascension at Augusta, Maine.  The balloon rose briefly before it fell into the swift flowing Kennebec River where Madame Patti became entangled in the rigging.  Fortunately she was rescued and brought to shore where it reportedly took thirty minutes to reviver her. 

     Source: Burlington Weekly Free Press, (Burlington, VT.), “Came Down In The Kennebec”, July 7, 1892  

Kittery, ME – September 24, 1860

Kittery, Maine – September 24, 1860

     On September 24, 1860, Dr. W. H. Helme, along with William Hill and Peter Dean, made a balloon ascension from Providence, Rhode Island.  The balloon traveled north-northeast and after five hours landed in Newton, New Hampshire, a town just over the border from Massachusetts, about ninety miles from Providence.

     A strong breeze was blowing as the men began to allow the gas to escape from the balloon.  When the balloon had partially deflated, it broke free of the netting and sailed off on its own minus the gondola and any pilot.  It was later recovered in Kittery, Maine. 


     Cincinnati Daily Press, (Ohio), “Balloon Ascension”, September 25, 1860     

Spotted Mountain, ME – November 19, 1973

Spotted Mountain, Maine – November 19, 1973


     On the evening of November 19, 1973, a Cessna 172, (N92899), with four people aboard crashed on Spotted Mountain in North Franklin, Maine.  The people, two men and two women, were in-route from Biddeford to Millinocket when the accident occurred.  All aboard were dressed in formal attire.

     One man and one woman suffered leg fractures.  The other two people received relatively minor injuries.   The group spent the night in a small natural depression in the ground with portions of the aircraft placed along the rim to help block the cold winds and snow.  They built a fire using portions of one woman’s evening gown to ignite the wood. 

     The following morning the uninjured man, clad in his tuxedo, made his way down the mountain to a road and flagged down a passing truck.  A helicopter was dispatched to rescue the others still at the crash site.  All were brought to a clinic in Rangeley, Maine, and were expected to recover.

     Source: Nashua Telegraph, “4 Survive Plane Crash”, November 21, 1973      

Portland Airport, ME – March 29, 1956

Portland Airport

Portland, Maine – March 29, 1956


     On the evening of March 29, 1956, Northeast Airlines Flight 124 departed La Guardia Airport in New York City bound for Bangor, Maine, with stops at Boston, Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine.

     The aircraft was a Convair 240, registration # N90659, with 32 passengers and a flight crew of 3 aboard.

     The weather was snowy, and the flight was made on instrument flight rules.  The flight landed at Boston’s Logan Airport without incident, and departed for Portland at 9:20 p.m.

     When the flight arrived at Portland Airport, tower personnel saw the aircraft approaching runway 20, but lost sight of it briefly due to the weather.  It then reappeared, approaching the runway with its landing lights on in an apparently normal final approach.  Just after the aircraft landed the landing gear collapsed and after a short distance the nose suddenly plowed into the snow and the tail section went up in the air before dropping back to the ground. 

     Rescue vehicles were immediately dispatched.  Passengers were evacuated through the front of the plane due to the elevated tail section.  As with any aviation accident, fire is always a possibility after a crash.  The crew did their best to make for a quick evacuation of passengers, but some insisted upon retrieving their personal belongings before leaving the plane.   Thankfully, there was no fire and all aboard were evacuated safely, with only five passengers suffering minor injuries.

     Investigation revealed that the cause of the accident was due to inoperable runway lights on the right side of the runway, as well as other runways lights not being visible to the flight crew due to being covered by heavy drifting snow.   This combined with poor visibility caused the aircraft to set down to the left of the runway. 

     In the final analysis under “Probable Cause”, the Civil Aeronautics Board investigators stated in their report, “The Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was inadequate maintenance of runway lights and incorrect reporting of their condition resulting in an illusionary position of the runway under conditions of low visibility.”


     Civil Aeronautics Board Accident Investigation Report, #1-0048, Adopted September 11, 1956, released September 14, 1956.     

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