Waterville, ME. – July 28, 1984

Waterville, Maine – July 28, 1984

     At 3:50 p.m. on the afternoon of July 28, 1984, a Learjet 25B with a pilot, co-pilot, and three passengers aboard was scheduled to depart La Fleur Airport in Waterville for Westchester Country, New York.  As the aircraft was making what appeared to be a normal take off,  cockpit warning lights suddenly indicated a problem with the engines.  The aircraft went off the runway and into a rocky – brush area and was damaged beyond repair.  The pilot and co-pilot were injured, but the three passengers  were not, and took another flight to New York. 

     Source:

     Providence Sunday Journal, “Private Jet Crashes In Maine; 2 Hurt, One Seriously”, July 29, 1984, page C-1 

Bingham, ME. – July 21, 1984

Bingham, Maine – July 21, 1984

     At 5:15 p.m. on July 21, 1984, a single-engine Piper PA-24 with four men aboard took off from Bingham Airport to return home after a white-water rafting trip.  The plane was barely airborne when it pitched right, then left, and then crashed, injuring the occupants, some seriously.  

     Source:

     Providence Sunday Journal, “4 Men Injured In Plane Crash In Maine Woods; 2 Are From R. I.”, July 22, 1984, page C-1   

 

Alton, ME. – January 30, 1983

Alton, Maine – January 30, 1983

     On January 30, 1983, a Taylorcraft BC-12D, (N95176), with two men aboard took off from Alton bound for Ross Lake, Maine.  When the aircraft was reported overdue a search was instituted which lasted for six days.  The wreckage was finally discovered by a state game warden as he was taking off in another aircraft from Alton Field.  The missing airplane had evidently crashed just after take off and went down in a thickly wooded area only 400 yards off the end of the runway.  Rescue workers found the 46-year-old pilot to be deceased, but the 22-year-old passenger was still alive.   

      Sources:

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Missing Plane Found 400 yards Off Runway”, February 5, 1983, page A-18

     Aviation Safety Network, Wikibase #39107

Near Searsport, ME. – June 18, 1980

Near Searsport, Maine – June 18, 1980

     On June 18, 1980, a Cessna 150G with a man and woman aboard crashed in a wooded area near Searsport.  Both were killed in the crash.   

     Source:

     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), Photo with caption, June 19, 1980, page 17

Atlantic Ocean – April 27, 1975

Atlantic Ocean – April 27, 1975

     On the evening of April 27, 1975, a single-engine Piper Cherokee Six, with a pilot and six passengers aboard, took off from Lawrence, Massachusetts bound for Saint John, New Brunswick.  The passengers were construction workers headed for an oil refinery project.  As the aircraft was passing over Maine it encountered a snow storm and the pilot radioed that he’d be changing course.  When the plane never arrived at its destination a search was begun.

     The search reportedly involved more than a dozen military aircraft and volunteers from the Civil Air Patrol, as well as several Coast Guard and navy vessels.  The search was called off on May 12th after nearly 24,000 square miles had been covered and no trace of the missing plane had been found.

     A few days later, a fishing trawler operating ten miles off the coast of Boothbay Harbor, Maine, caught a large piece aircraft wreckage in its nets.  It was positively identified as being part of the missing plane because it contained the aircraft identification number on it.  

     Sources:

     Hartford Courant, “Small Plane Missing With Seven Aboard”, April 29, 1975  

     Hartford Courant, “Hunt resumes For Plane With Seven Aboard”, May 1, 1975

     Westerly Sun, “End Hunt For Missing Plane”, May 13, 1975 

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Two Fishermen Haul Up Part Of Missing Plane”, May 19, 1975

Littleton, ME. – February 11, 1966

Littleton, Maine – February 11, 1966 

     On February 11, 1966, a 47-year-old man from Norwich, Connecticut, took off from Houlton Airport in Houlton, Maine, in a Piper Commanche, bound for Caribou, Maine, and disappeared in route.  Searchers discovered the man’s body and the wreckage of the aircraft in a field a few miles away, a half-mile from the Canadian border.      

     Source:

     New London Day, “L– S——- Killed In Maine Plane Crash”, February 14, 1966

Porter, ME – August 11, 1982

Porter, Maine – August 11, 1982

     On August 11, 1982, a yellow and white Cessna 180 seaplane with five people aboard crashed into a wooded area in the town of Porter.  The site of the crash was about 15-20 feet off Route 160, near the New Hampshire state line.  Those aboard included the pilot, a husband and wife, and their two children.  The pilot and the husband died in the crash.  The mother and two children were transported to a medical facility.  The cause of the crash was not stated.      

     Source:

     The Westerly Sun, “Two Dead, Three Hurt In Plane Crash In Maine Woods Wednesday Afternoon.”, August 12, 1982, (With photo of crash.)

Eagle Lake, ME. – June 14, 1979

Eagle Lake, Maine – June 14, 1979

     On June 14, 1979, a C-54 aircraft which had been converted for insecticide spraying work, was spraying for spruce budworm over northern Maine.  The spraying program was being conducted in an attempt to halt the spread of the budworm, and prevent it from killing evergreen trees throughout the state.    

     As the aircraft was passing near Eagle Lake in Aroostook County, a fire developed in the cockpit.  With no open area to set down, the pilot landed the huge aircraft on Eagle Lake.  The pilot and co-pilot were the only two persons aboard, and neither was injured.  The plane remained afloat and was towed to shore by boaters.  

     A logistical problem concerned just how the aircraft was to be removed.  One suggestion was to cut a one-thousand foot swath through the woodlands from the lake shore to a narrow dirt road leading away from the area.  Another idea was to float the plane to another area where it could be removed via another dirt road.  However, the aircraft has a 117 foot wingspan, which neither road could accommodate.  A third option was to dismantle the plane.   

     Source:

     Providence Sunday Journal, “Me. Officials Trying To Move Bug-spray Plane From Lake”, June 27, 1979, page A2 (with photo of plane in water.)  

Oxford, ME. – August 14, 1992

Oxford, Maine – August 14, 1992 

     In the early evening of August 14, 1992, a twin-engine Beechcraft Baron, was taking off from an airport located behind the Oxford Plains Speedway, when both engines suddenly lost power while the plane was at an altitude of 200 feet.  The aircraft went down in a wooded area near the speedway.  The landing gear was torn away, but the fuselage remained intact, and there was no fire.  

     There were two men aboard the aircraft at the time of the accident.  The student pilot, a 29-year-old man from Providence, Rhode Island, and his passenger, a 29-year-old man from North Andover, were both transported to medical facilities with serious injuries.     

     The accident was video-taped by another student pilot who was at the airport and happened to be filming the take-off.

     Source: Bangor Daily News, “Two Men Injured When Plane crashes Near Oxford Speedway”, August 15, 1992, page 23.

 

Lake Sebasticook, ME. – August 9, 1967

Lake Sebasticook, Maine – August 9, 1967

     On August 9, 1967, a 50-year-old Topsham man took a Cessna 185 equipped with pontoons from its lakeside hangar and attempted to take it for a ‘joy ride” on Lake Sebasticook in Newport, Maine.  The man did not have a pilot license, and the plane did not belong to him.  As he was trying to take off, the plane capsized, but the pontoons prevented the aircraft from completely sinking to the bottom of the lake.  The man managed to escape, and was arrested a short time later when he swam to shore.  The plane was valued between thirty to forty thousand dollars.  

     Source: Bangor Daily News, “Stolen Plane Wrecked”, August 12, 1967

The Loss Of The Old Glory – 1927

The Loss of the Old Glory

September, 1927     

Grim Milestones.  Illustration from Sept. 20, 1927, depicting headstones for those lost on attempted trans-Atlantic flights.

Grim Milestones. Illustration from Sept. 20, 1927, depicting headstones for those lost on attempted trans-Atlantic flights.

     On September 6, 1927, barely four months after Charles Lindbergh completed his historic flight across the Atlantic, three men took off from Old Orchard Beach, Maine, on what was to be a history making non-stop 4,000 mile flight to Rome, Italy.  Their aircraft was large single-engine monoplane named Old Glory capable of carrying three passengers and supplies.

     The project was sponsored by newspaper giant William Randolph Hearst, who sent his representative Philip Payne along as an observer. 

     The pilots, James De Witt Hill, and Lloyd Wilson Bertaud were both experienced flyers who had similar life experiences. 

     Bertaud was born in Alameda, California, on September 20, 1896.  At the age of twelve he built and flew his own glider which he made from plans found in a magazine.  While still in his teens he took a job as a mechanic at a California air field where he spent most of his wages on flying lessons.  By the age of 18 he was a licensed pilot; one of the youngest in the United States.  When America entered World War I, he enlisted in the army where he served as a flight instructor.  After the war he flew as a stunt pilot, and later as a test pilot for an aircraft manufacturer.

     In 1924 he became a postal flyer for the U.S. Mail.  In June of 1926, while flying over a small town in the Allegheny Mountains, he happened to look down and saw a house on fire.  It was still very early in the morning at a time when people would still be asleep, so Bertaud gunned his engine as he swooped low over the house arousing occupants and nearby neighbors. The owner of the burning house later wrote him a letter of thanks for saving their lives.       

     Hill was born in Scottdale, Pennsylvania, March 2, 1885.  While still a boy, he fashioned a parachute made from his mother’s table cloth and used it to jump from a barn roof.  Although the parachute didn’t perform as expected, Hill wasn’t hurt, and the incident didn’t deter him from wanting to fly. 

    He later attended Cornell University to study mechanical engineering, but was forced to quit due to ill health.  After regaining his health, he learned to fly at the Glen Curtis School in California.  Like Bertaud, he too served as a flight instructor with the United States Army during WWI, and also joined the air mail service afterwards.  

     Shortly before take-off Hill won a coin toss for the honor of being at the controls as the plane left America. 

     As the men were climbing aboard, Payne ran back and kissed his wife Dorothy one more time. 

     The take-off went smoothly, but the heavily laden plane required a mile and a half to become airborne.  Once aloft it continued southward for a bit before turning out to sea and fading into the sky.    

    The plane carried with it a wreath which the men were to drop when they reached the coast of Newfoundland in memory of two Frenchmen, Charles Nungesser, and Francois Coli, who both disappeared in their plane, the White Bird, while attempting a trans-Atlantic crossing earlier that year. The banner on the wreath read; “Nungesser and Coli, you showed the way, we followed. Bertaud, Hill, Payne.”  In a twist of irony, they did follow the two French aviators, and have never been seen since.  A few hours later someone from Old Glory sent a wireless S.O.S. to the ships at sea that the plane was in trouble about 500 miles off Newfoundland. 

    The nearest ship was the Transylvania, roughly eighty-three miles distant, but the weather was bad, and there was no moon, which made for nearly pitch black searching conditions.  

    The steamship Carmania later reported that prior to the SOS, Old Glory had transmitted they were following “the great circle to Rome” at a speed of about 100 mph.  The weather service reported that the weather along this route was unsettled, and speculated that they had run into an unexpected storm.    

     The Old Glory was equipped with fuel tanks that could be quickly emptied in the event of an emergency water landing so the added weight wouldn’t pull the aircraft under, giving the crew time to escape in a rubber raft it carried.  However, with rough seas being reported by ships in the area it was offered that the rubber raft wouldn’t last long.

     Many assumed the Old Glory had suffered the same fate her sister ship, the Saint Raphael, which disappeared on August 31, 1927, while on a flight from England to Canada , taking with it Princess Anne of Lowenstein-Werthiem – Freudenberg, Colonel Frederick F. Minchin, and Captain Leslie Hamilton.

    On September 13th, it was reported that the wreckage of Old Glory had been recovered by the steamer Kyle, about 600 miles east of Newfoundland, and 100 miles away from their last known position.  The message read; “Located wreck of Old Glory, latitude 51.17 north, longitude 39.23 west at 4:20 P.m. No signs of crew.  Particulars to follow” 

    A 47 foot section was brought aboard the Kyle, and eventually to New York.  Those who examined it offered the opinion the plane had hit the water head-on at an approximate speed of 90 mph.  Most likely it had dove in nose first.

     The bodies of Bertaud, Hill, and Payne were never found, but at least the mystery of what happened to the Old Glory was solved.  There were those who felt such dangerous oceanic flights should be stopped, and cited other instances where planes had gone missing and lives lost, but despite these protests, airmen all around the world were determined to continue setting new records and pushing the limits of flight ever higher, faster, and farther.  Would we have ever made it to the moon if they hadn’t?       

 Sources:

Woonsocket Call, “Plane Hops Off From Beach At Old Orchard After Fine Run”, September 6, 1927, Pg.1

Woonsocket Call, “Ocean Liner Searches Without Avail 30-Mile Stretch Of Sea”, September 7, 1927, Pg. 1

Woonsocket Call, “Giant Monoplane Resumes Flight To Windsor England” September 7, 1927

Woonsocket Call, “Message Dropped In Sea Emphasizes Bitter Irony Of Fate AS S.O.S. Is Heard.”  September 7, 1927

Woonsocket Call, “Bertaud Gave Up Engineer’s Career To Become Flyer”, September 7, 1927

Woonsocket Call, “Hill Began Flying Career At Early Age”, September 7, 1927

Woonsocket Call, “Ship Captain Ordered To Report Progress Of Search”, September 7, 1927

Woonsocket Call, “Commander of Carmania Conducts Vigorous Search” September 7, 1927

Woonsocket Call, “Search Bt Steamship Fails To Reveal Fate Of Rome Flyers” September 8, 1927, Pg. 1   

Woonsocket Call, “Royal Windsor Not To Conduct Search For Missing Plane”, September 8, 1927

Woonsocket Call, “Accident While Flying In Fog Chamberlin’s Theory”, September 8, 1927, Pg. 10

Woonsocket Call, “Sentiment Against Perilous Flights Sweeping World”, September 8, 1927, Pg.10    

Woonsocket Call, “No Trace Found Of Old Glory And Canadian Airplane”, September 9, 1927, Pg. 1

Woonsocket Call, “Flyers Still Intent Upon Conquering Atlantic Despite Wave Of Protest”, September 9, 1927, Pg. 1

Woonsocket Call, “Wreckage Of Three Planes, One Of Them Old Glory, Picked Up” September 13, 1927, Pg. 1

Woonsocket Call, “Old Glory Believed To Have Hit Water Head-ON In Fall”, September 21, 1927, Pg.1

Woonsocket Call, “Wreckage Of Monoplane “Old Glory” Arrives In Red Cross Liner At Brooklyn From Newfoundland”, September 29, 1927, Pg.1  

Lake Cauconigumoc, Maine – Sept., 1927

Lake Cauconigumoc, Maine – September, 1927

     In early September of 1927, Connecticut’s Governor John H. Trumbull was visiting Maine’s Governor Ralph Owen Brewster in Maine.  Brewster had arranged for Trumbull to fly from Moosehead Lake to Augusta in a Maine State Forestry airplane, but after inspecting the aircraft, Trumbull decided he didn’t like what he saw, and opted to take a train instead.  

     On September 5, Pilot George Maxim of the Maine Forestry Department was flying two passengers over Lake Cauconigumoc in the very same airplane when it crashed and sank in the lake, taking Maxim and one passenger to the bottom.

      Source: New York Times, “Gov. Trumbull’s Judgment Saves His Life; Plane He Refused To Fly In Crashes In Lake”, September 9, 1927   

Rumford, Maine – Sept. 22, 1929

Rumford, Maine – September 22, 1929

     On September 22, 1929, a Waco bi-plane with two men aboard crashed in a gully in Rumford, Maine, killing both the pilot and a passenger.  The aircraft belonged to the Maine Air transport Corp. and was giving sight-seeing flights when the accident happened. 

     The dead are, Roger Swan(26) the pilot, and Henry Richards, (20) of Ridlonville, Maine.  Richards was the 26th passenger of the day when the accident happened.

     Source, New York Times, “Two Men Die In Maine Plane”, Sept. 23, 1929 

Munsungan Lake, Maine – March, 1951

Munsungan Lake, Maine – 1951

     In August of 1954 it was reported that aircraft wreckage had been found (on land) 300 feet from the shore of Munsungan Lake.  Maine State Police identified the wreck as being that of a plane that disappeared in March of 1951 after leaving Fort Fairfield. 

     Three shoes were found at the scene, but no human remains relating to the two men who had been aboard when the plane went missing. 

     The plane had been carrying two men from Aroostook County, Elwood Rasmussen, (37) of Caribou, Maine, and George P. Findlen Jr. of Fort Fairfield. 

Source: Woonsocket Call, “No Bodies Found With 1951 Wreck”, August 18, 1954, Pg. 4     

 

 

Dexter, Maine – May 1941

Dexter, Maine – May 21, 1941

On May 21, 1941, four men took off in a hydroplane from Lake Wassookeag, but shortly after it became airborne the motor failed.  The plane quickly lost altitude and crashed on land bursting into flames on impact. 

All four men were from Dexter, Maine.  One man suffered a broken jaw; another a skull fracture; the next critical burns; and the last a broken leg and burns. 

Source: Woonsocket Call, “Maine Men Hurt In Plane Crash”, May 21, 1941, page 1.     

 

Parachute Accident, Portland, ME., 1909

Portland, Maine – July 4, 1909

Updated June 15, 2017

 

     As part of a July 4th celebration in Portland, Maine, Professor Joseph Laroux of Portland, and his assistant, James Corcoran, 28, of Lowell, Massachusetts, were scheduled to give an exhibition of a triple parachute jump from a hot-air balloon.  The plan was to have Corcoran ascend in the balloon to an altitude of 6,000 feet while Laroux stayed on the ground.  When the balloon had reached the required safe altitude, the Professor was to fire a series of gun shots as a signal for Corcoran to jump. 

     Shortly after 4 p.m., the balloon took off from the Eastern Promenade before a crowd of 5,000 spectators.  When it had risen barely 500 feet, some members of the crowd began firing revolvers into the air which confused Corcoran into believing it was safe to jump.   Corcoran hit the ground before the first parachute could open receiving fatal injuries. 

     Mr. Corcoran was survived by his wife and a child.

     Sources:

     New York Times, “Parachutist Leaps To Death”, July 6, 1909 

     Hartford Courant,(Conn.) , “Parachute Jumper Falls To His death”

 

Lewiston, Maine – September, 1908

Lewiston, Maine – September 8, 1908

     On the evening of September 8, 1908, 18-year-old Fred Owen of Haverhill, Mass. was giving a demonstration of his airship at the Maine State Fair before a large crowd.  While at a altitude of 2500 feet, he apparently lost steering control of the ship, and found himself being carried by wind currents over a dense forest.  Fortunately he managed to land safely in a field near Bowdoin Center roughly twenty-five miles from where he started.

Source: (Woonsocket) Evening Reporter, “Boy Has Wild Ride When Airship Runs Away”, Sept. 9, 1908.      

 

 

Boothbay Harbor, ME. – April 22, 1974

Boothbay Harbor, Maine – April 22, 1974

     At about 5:15 p.m. on April 22, 1974, a small plane containing a student pilot and his instructor took off from an open field in the town of Boothbay Harbor, Maine.  According to witnesses, just after takeoff, the plane lost altitude and crashed in a large body of water known as Adams Pond.  Both men made it out of the plane and began swimming to shore when the student pilot disappeared.  The instructor successfully made it to shore.    

     Source:

     Providence Journal, “Ex-R.I. Man Drowns After Plane Crash”, April 24, 1974, page A-5

Otis, ME. – February 7, 1974

Otis, Maine – February 7, 1974 

     On February 7, 1974, a lone pilot took off in a Cessna 172, (N3527Q), from the ice covered Beech Hill Pond in Otis,  Maine.  (The pond is a large body of water, about 4.5 miles long, and a half-mile wide.)  The plane remained airborne for about ten minutes before the pilot attempted to land back on the pond.  In doing so the plane crashed and he was killed.  

     Sources:

     Providence Journal, “Dies In Plane Crash”, February 8, 1974, page B-2

     Aviation Safety Network, ASN# 7171, Aviation-Safety.net

 

 

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.  

     Source:

     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.  

     Sources:

     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.

     Source:

     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.

     Source: 

     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.

     Sources:

     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. 

     Source:

     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.”

     Source:

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

Biddeford, ME – April 19, 1909

Biddeford, Maine – April 19, 1909

 

    Early balloon with net On the morning of April 19, 1909, a balloon, piloted by William Van Sleet, took off from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, and drifted northeastward.  Four hours and fifty minutes later it came down in some treetops in a forest north of Biddeford, Maine.   Neither Van Sleet, or his passenger, Oscar R. Hutchinson, were injured.  The men climbed down the trees and reached the ground safely. 

     The distance traveled was calculated to be 160 miles in a straight line, but was actually 50 miles longer by the route taken.  It was reported in the Bennington Evening Banner that the men had “completed one of the longest balloon trips ever made in New England”.          

     Source:

    Bennington Evening Banner, “Balloon In Tree Top”, April 20, 1909

Presque Isle, ME – September 13, 1931

Presque Isle, Maine – September 13, 1931

     Shortly after noon time on September 13, 1931, a small plane with two men aboard crashed in a potato field near the Presque Isle Airport.  Witnesses said it failed to come out of a spin. 

     Ralph Morritt, manager of the Presque Isle Airport, was killed instantly.  Raymond Stone, 27, succumbed to his injures at a nearby hospital.   

     No further details were given.

     Source:

     Lewiston Daily Sun, “Two Are Killed In Plane Crash At Presque Isle”, September 14, 1931 

Greenville, ME – May 11, 1973

Greenville, Maine – May 11, 1973

     On the night of May 11, 1973, a Cessna 402, (N-2985Q), carrying six people went down in a wooded area between Greenville Airport and Moosehead Lake.  All aboard were killed in the accident.

     The dead were identified as:

     (Pilot) Claude Goodrich, of Epping, New Hampshire. 

     (Co-pilot) Paul Crawford, of Nashua, New Hampshire.

     Passengers Stuart Kimball and his son David, 12, of Manchester, New Hampshire, and Peter Cook, 41, and his 15-year-old son Forrest, of the Manchester-Concord area.    

     Sources:

     Providence Sunday Journal, “Plane Crash In Maine Takes 6 Lives”, May 13, 1973, page C-10

     New York Times, “Six From New Hampshire Killed In Crash Of Plane”, May 13, 1973

     www.planecrashinfo.com

Oxbow, ME – May 26, 1977

Oxbow, Maine – May 26, 1977

     On may 26, 1977, a Cessna 182F (N3148U) crashed near Black Cat Pond in the town of Oxbow, killing all three persons aboard.  The dead were not identified.

     Sources:

     New York Times, “Plane Crash In Maine Kills 3”, May 27, 1977

     www.planecrashmap.com

  

Waterville, Maine – September 2, 1908

Waterville, Maine – September 2, 1908

     On September 2, 1908, Charles O. Jones was giving an aerial exhibition of his dirigible balloon, the Boomerang,  at the Waterville, Mane, fair grounds, when a small fire erupted while the ship was just over five-hundred feet above the ground.  When Jones realized the danger he pulled an emergency cord to rapidly deflate the envelope.  As he did so the fabric ignited, causing the frame suspended underneath containing Jones and the motor to fall away and crash to the ground.  Jones died about ninety minutes later of his injuries. 

     The accident was witnessed by his wife and child.

     Charles Jones was an intrepid early aeronaut.  Just a few weeks earlier on July 19, he and the Boomerang were almost carried out to sea over Long Island Sound. 

     On the afternoon of July 23, 1908, he made an ascension with the Boomerang from the Palisades Amusement Park during a severe electrical storm saying he needed the experience.  After rising to 3,00 feet he became lost in the clouds.  When he descended below the clouds he found himself in driving rain which short-circuited the batteries of his airship.  The airship was pushed ahead by the strong winds over Hackensack, New Jersey, where he was able to land safely.

     On July 26, Jones once again took off from Palisades Amusement Park, but this time his airship crash-landed on the roof of a house about a quarter of a mile away  from its starting point after being damaged by trees and electrical wires during the take off.     

     Sources:

     New York Times, “Airship Caught By Storm”, July 24, 1908  

     New York Times, “Airship Wrecked, Lands On House”, July 27, 1908 

     Bangor Daily News, “Aeronaut’s Tragedy Shocked State In ’08” by Wayne Reilly, August 31, 2008

Scarborough, ME – March 26, 1946

Scarborough, Maine – March 26, 1946

     On March 26, 1946, pilot David Moores, 19, of Old Orchard Beach, Maine, was alone in his airplane over the town of Scarborough when he developed engine trouble and the plane began to loose altitude.  At a location near Black Point Road, the aircraft snagged on electrical wires causing the plane to crash.  Although the plane was badly damaged, Moores walked away with only minor injuries.

     Source: Lewiston Daily Sun, “Pilot Gets Minor Cuts As His Plane Crashes”, March 27, 1946 

 

Old Orchard Beach, ME – April 18, 1932

Old Orchard Beach, Maine – April 18, 1932

     Very little was stated in the newspaper article about this accident.  On April 18, 1932, Joseph Snow, of Pine Point, Maine, and Wendell S. Carney, of South Portland, Maine, were seriously injured in a plane crash at Old Orchard Beach and taken to Webber Hospital.     

     An even briefer article was found in the Montreal Gazette which stated the plane went down in the water.  That article also mentioned a Sam Snow was killed in the crash and another man was rescued.   

     Sources:

     Lewiston Evening Journal, “Old Orchard Crash Victims Improved”, April 19, 1932.

     Montreal Gazette, “One Killed In Plane Crash”, April 19, 1932

Manchester, ME – August 19, 1971

Manchester, Maine – August 19, 1971

Allen Hill

     At 8:28 p.m. on August 19, 1971, Downeast Airlines Flight 88 departed Boston’s Logan Airport bound for Rockland, Maine, however, due to fog conditions the flight was re-routed to Augusta State Airport in Augusta Maine.  There were eight people aboard; the pilot and seven passengers.   

     The aircraft was a Piper PA-31, registration N595DE. 

     The flight reached the Augusta area just after 9:00 p.m. and was cleared for a VOR landing approach, but at 9:27 p.m. the pilot reported he’d missed the approach and received clearance to try another.  Intermittent clouds and fog were over the Augusta area hampering visibility.  

     At 9:40 p.m. the pilot radioed that he was now “four miles out” from the airport. This was the last transmission received from the aircraft. 

     Two minutes later the tower at Augusta tried to contact the flight and got no response.

     Flight 88 had plowed into the side of Allen Hill, a thickly wooded prominence in the town of Manchester.  Allen Hill is about 640 feet high, and the aircraft struck at about the 520 foot level.  The wreckage path extended for 325 feet from the point of impact along a heading of 170 degrees.  The crash site is about four nautical miles from the airport’s runway 17.

     The pilot, Dwight French Jr., and two passengers were killed.  Two other passengers were seriously injured, and three other passengers received minor injuries.       

    

     Source: NTSB report# NTSB-AAR-72-6, File No. 3-0388, adopted Dec. 29, 1971

Auburn, ME – August 25, 1985

Auburn, Maine – August 25, 1985

 

     At 3:30 p.m. on August 25, 1985, Bar Harbor Airlines Flight 1793, left Bangor, Maine, for Boston.  The aircraft was a Beech BE-99, (N300WP). 

     The flight was part of a regularly scheduled commuter route between Logan International Airport in Boston, and Bangor International Airport in Maine, with intermediate stops at Auburn, Augusta, and Waterville, Maine.

     Flight 1793 arrived safely at Boston, and flew back at Bangor arriving at 6:24 p.m., about twenty-five minutes behind schedule.  At this time, weather conditions along the flight route were deteriorating, and continued to do so, causing delays in arrival and departure times.  

     At 6:40 p.m., the aircraft once again took off from Bangor this time as Flight 1755, and landed at Augusta at 7:05 p.m.

    At 7:15 p.m., Flight 1755 departed for Boston and arrived there at 8:15 p.m., twenty-five minutes later than its scheduled arrival time.   

     The aircraft departed Boston at 9:17 p.m. with six passengers and a crew of two aboard, this time as Flight 1808.   Two passengers were flying to Auburn-Lewiston Airport, three to Augusta, and one to Waterville.  Two other passengers had been ticketed for the flight, but they were transferred to a non-stop flight to Bangor, and thus their lives were saved.  

     Shortly before 10:00 p.m. Flight 1808 began an instrument approach to Auburn-Lewiston Municipal Airport, in Auburn, Maine.   

     At 10:05 p.m. the aircraft crashed and burned in a wooded area about one mile southwest of Runway 4, and all aboard were killed.

     The coordinates of the crash site were listed in the NTSB crash report as 44 degrees, 02′ 22″ N. Latitude, 70 degrees, 17′ 30″ W. Longitude, 4,007 feet from the approach end of Runway 4.

     Among the passengers who lost their lives, was 13-year-old Samantha Smith, famous for being America’s Good Will Ambassador to the Soviet Union.  (More information about Samantha can be found elsewhere on the Internet.)

     Bar Harbor Airlines ceased operations in 1991.

     Sources:

     National Transportation Safety Board Crash Investigation Report #NTSB/AAR-86/06, Govt. Accession No. PB86-910408.     

     Lewiston Daily Sun, “Eight Dead In Fiery Auburn Crash”, August 26, 1985  

     Bangor Daily News, “Nation Grieves For Samantha Smith”, August 27, 1985

     Orlando Sentinel, “Samantha Smith Dies In Maine Plane Crash”, August 28, 1985.

     Gainsville Sun, “Panel Concludes Pilot Error Caused Crash That Killed Samantha Smith”, October 1, 1986, Page 8B

     Wikipedia – Bar Harbor Airlines

   

Penobscot Bay – July 2, 1967

Penobscot Bay, Maine – July 2, 1967

     On July 2, 1967, a pusher Seabee carrying five people crashed in Penobscot Bay about 500 feet from shore in 35 feet of water.  The plane was nearly torn in half by the impact, and there were no survivors.

     The dead were identified as:

     (Pilot) Victor Quintinella Jr., 37.

     David A. Mahoney, 46, his wife, Marjorie, 36, and their two sons, David J. 4, and Thomas D. 2.    

     Source: New York Times, “5 from State Dean In Maine Air Crash”, July 4, 1967 

 

Pittsfield, ME – December 15, 1943

Pittsfield, Maine – December 15, 1943

     At 3:55 p.m. student pilot Rowland Kenneth Quinn, 18, took off from Pittsfield Airport in a Piper J5A (NC 35953) for a practice flight.  At 4: 45 p.m. while he was about four miles form the airport, the engine began running roughly and loosing r.p.m.  Quinn put the plane into a glide and throttled back to 1100 r.p.m.  At an altitude of 600 feet the engine stopped completely and Quinn aimed for an open field. 

     The aircraft struck hard and the landing gear was torn away.  The plane came to rest on its nose.     

     It was noted that the temperature was 10 degrees below zero at the time of the crash, which likely contributed to the engine failure.

Source: Civil Aeronautics Board Investigation Report No. 5234-43, Adopted May 22, 1944.

Lewiston, ME – September 5, 1906

Lewiston, Maine – September 5, 1906

     On September 5, 1906, two aeronauts, Carl Smith, of Brocton, Massachusetts, and Ida Merrill, of Boston, were scheduled to give a balloon exhibition/parachute jump at the Maine State Fair, during which the balloon would rise and each would  drop with a parachute.

     As the balloon began to ascend above a crowd of 2,000 spectators, both made preparations to jump.   They climbed out of the gondola and onto two trapezes suspended beneath.  Each trapeze was connected to a parachute.  Just after Smith sat on his trapeze and released his parachute line, one of the ropes to his trapeze broke, and he fell about 125 to the ground landing amidst the crowd.  Nobody on the ground was injured.    

     Smith broke several bones in the fall and was transported to a hospital in what was reported as an “insensible condition”, and was not expected to live. 

     Police later examined the ropes to his trapeze and determined they’d been partially cut prior to the performance, and announced they were looking for two men they suspected of the deed.  

     Merrill landed safely, but came down in a wooded area not far away.

     Despite his severe injuries, Smith recovered from his ordeal.  One year later he was back at the fair grounds to give another performance.  

     Sources:

     The Nashua Telegraph, “Serious Accident On Fair Grounds In Maine”, September 6, 1906 

     New York Times, “Balloonist Falls 125 Feet; Trapeze Rope Breaks And he Crashes To Ground”, September 5, 1906

     The Utica Herald-Dispatch & Daily Gazette, “Aeronaut Falls; Say Rope Was Cut”, September 6, 1906, Pg. 1

     Lewiston Evening Journal, “Balloon Ascension – One Of Best Ever Seen On Grounds – Carl Smith The Aeronaut”, September 3, 1907

Northern Maine – May 19, 1972

Northern Maine – May 19, 1972

Several miles southeast of St. Pamphile, Quebec  

    

The TBM-3E Avenger modified for crop spraying  as it looked in 1991.  Note the engine is missing, and the cowl ring lies in the foreground.  Photo courtesy Larry Webster,  Quonset Air Museum.

The TBM-3E Avenger modified for crop spraying as it looked in 1991. Note the engine is missing, and the cowl ring lies in the foreground.
Photo courtesy Larry Webster,
Quonset Air Museum.

     On May 19, 1972, a former World War II, U.S. Navy TBM-3E Avenger that had been converted to a crop sprayer was on a flight from New Brunswick to Ottawa, Canada, on a course that took it over U.S. airspace.  While over northern Maine, the plane developed engine trouble and the pilot, Alan Woytaz, 40, was forced to make an emergency crash-landing in the Maine wilderness. 

     The former warbird belonged to Hicks & Lawrence Ltd., an aerial spraying company based in Ontario, Canada.   On the day of the crash, Woytaz was piloting one of four aircraft sent to New Brunswick to have the sprayers calibrated.  Afterwards, as the four planes made their way to a spraying job north of Ottawa, the carburetor on Woytaz’s plane malfunctioned.

     “I was real lucky,” Woytaz told reporters, “everything happened right, including the soft spruce saplings I could see below.  There I was, in the trees, not injured, but without a map.  My buddy had a map and his aircraft was flying away.”

    The area Woytaz had gone down in 1s extremely remote, and under other circumstances he might never have been found. Fortunately, one of the other pilots witnessed the crash, and circled briefly before having to fly on due to oncoming thunder storms. Woytaz was forced to spend the night in the aircraft until he was rescued the following day.     

Another view of the crash site.   Note brush and trees have been cleared.  Courtesy of Larry Webster Quonset Air Museum

Another view of the crash site.
Note brush and trees have been cleared.
Courtesy of Larry Webster
Quonset Air Museum

     The aircraft was not recovered, and remained where it fell for the next 19 years.  During that time portions of the plane were removed.  Three brothers from St. Pamphille, Quebec, hiked to the wreck, and over a period of three weekends, carefully disassembled and removed the engine, hauling it in sections through the thick forest and across a river to their home.  This was no easy endeavor, for the fully assembled motor weighs 2,600 pounds.  At their home, they reassembled the engine and preserved in in working order. 

     Other parts such as cockpit gauges were removed by the occasional souvenir hunter, and at one point a family of bears used the fuselage for their home, but overall the aircraft remained in good condition.     

 

The tail, wings, and nose of the aircraft   had been painted orange.   Courtesy of Larry Webster Quonset Air Museum

The tail, wings, and nose of the aircraft
had been painted orange.
Courtesy of Larry Webster
Quonset Air Museum

     Eventually the wreck came to the attention of the Rhode Island Aviation Heritage Association, which was interested in recovering and restoring it as a warbird.  The plane held special significance because it was the same type flown by former President George H. Bush during World War II, and Bush had received his flight training in Charlestown, Rhode Island.  If the plane could be salvaged, the plan was to restore it with the markings of Bush’s aircraft.  The association sought, and was granted, permission to salvage the Avenger.

     An incredible amount of planning and logistics went into the recovery.  As stated, the plane had gone down in a remote area, and the only practical way to bring it out was by air-lifting it via helicopter – a very big helicopter.   Yet before that could happen, the land surrounding the wreck had to be cleared, which meant cutting down trees and removing thick brush.  Over the years the plane had settled into the soil, which had to be dug away, and the wings had to be removed to reduce weight.     

Courtesy of Larry Webster Quonset Air Museum

Courtesy of Larry Webster
Quonset Air Museum

     Arrangements were made with the Connecticut Army National Guard to use one of their helicopters to air-lift the plane from the woods.  This was done as a three-day training operation for the Guard.  Once the plane had been extricated from the wilderness,  it had to be transported to Rhode Island by flatbed trucks.   Numerous man-hours went into this project.

     The engine wasn’t overlooked, and a deal was struck to purchase it from the men who recovered it.   It too had to be transported to Rhode Island.

      

    

How the Avenger looked upon arrival at the  Quonset Air Museum - 1991 Courtesy Larry Webster, Quonset Air Museum

How the Avenger looked upon arrival at the
Quonset Air Museum – 1991
Courtesy Larry Webster, Quonset Air Museum

  

Front view prior to restoration. Courtesy Larry Webster Quonset Air Museum

Front view prior to restoration.
Courtesy Larry Webster
Quonset Air Museum

     The removal took place on September 17, 1991, and within a few days the Avenger arrived at the Quonset Air Museum in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.  Over the next several years volunteers worked diligently to bring it back to its former glory.  As a result, the TBM-3E Avenger, (Bu. No. 53914) is now on display at the Quonset Air Museum.

     Of the 9,839 TBM/TBF Avengers built, less than 200 survive today.     

Photo showing the interior restoration of the  TBM-3E Bu. No. 53914 Photo by Jim Ignasher

Photo showing the interior restoration of the
TBM-3E Bu. No. 53914
Photo by Jim Ignasher

Restoration nearly complete.  Photo by Jim Ignasher

Restoration nearly complete.
Photo by Jim Ignasher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Bangor Daily News, “Three Brothers Treated Engine Like Baby For Nearly 20 Years”, September 21, 1991, Pg. 1

Bangor Daily News, “Recovery Operation Had Its Exciting Moments, But It Was Scary Too.”, September 21, 1991.

Bangor Daily News, “Bomber Recovery Called ‘Fantastic'”, September 21, 1991, Pg. 1

Bangor Daily News, “Pilot Recalls Day Plane Crashed”, September 21, 1991

The Westerly Sun, photo and caption, October 23, 1991, Pg. 3

The Westerly Sun, Recovered Plane May Be Shown Locally”, September 20, 1991

Morning Sentinel, “WWII Bomber Recovered”, September 20, 1991, Pg. 6

Morning Sentinel, “WWII Bomber Retrieved”, more detailed article than one above- no date.

Kennebec Journal, “WWII Bomber Lifted Out Of Northern Maine”, September 20, 1991

Providence Journal, “Rivet By Rivet, Plane Aficionados Restore WWII Torpedo Bomber”, January 11, 1998, PC4C4 

Warbirds International, “Avenger Recovery” by Howard Weekly, Jr., January/February 1992

Other information and photos provided by Larry Webster, Aviation Archeologist and Historian, Quonset Air Museum.

 

 

 

 

     

                       

Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲