Elephant Mountain, ME. – January 24, 1963

Elephant Mountain, Maine – January 24, 1963

 

B-52 Stratofortress
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On January 24, 1963, an Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber, (Ser, No. 53-0406), left Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for what was to be a low-altitude training flight over northern Maine to practice techniques in evading enemy radar.  Shortly before 3:00 p.m. the aircraft encountered turbulence during which the aircraft’s rear stabilizer suffered a structural failure which sent the plane into the side of Elephant Mountain in Piscataquis County.  Of the nine men aboard, two survived.

     The crewmen aboard were identified as follows:

     Crew Commander: Lieutenant Colonel Dante E. Bulli, (40), Survived.

     Lieutenant Colonel Joseph R. Simpson, Jr., (42).  He’s buried in Barrancas National Cemetery in Pensacola, Florida.  He was a veteran of WWII and Korea.   

     Major Robert J. Morrison, (36).  He’s buried in Maple grove Cemetery in Dodge City, Kansas. He was a veteran of WWII and Korea. To see a photo of him, see www.findagrave.com.

     Major Robert J. Hill, Jr., (37).  He’s buried in Osborne Memorial Cemetery in Joplin, Missouri.  To see a photo of him go to www.findagrave.com.

     Major William Walter Gabriel, (45).  He’s buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California.

     Major Herbert L. Hanson, (42).  He’s buried in Black Hills National Cemetery in Sturgis, South Dakota. 

     Captain Charles Gerson Leuchter, (32).  He’s buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California.

     Captain Gerald J. Adler – Survived.

     Technical Sergeant Michael Francis O’Keefe, (26).  He’s buried in Long Island National Cemetery in East Farmingdale, New York.     

     The crash site where this accident occurred has been preserved and is regularly visited by hikers.  Photos of the site can be found elsewhere on the Internet. 

     Sources:

     Springfield Union, “B-52 Missing In Maine; 9 Men Aboard”, January 25, 1963, page 1.

     Springfield Union, “2 rescued, 2 dead, 5 Still Missing On B52 Lost In Maine”, January 26, 1963, page 1.

     www.findagrave.com

 

 

Western Maine – November 3, 1959

Western Maine – November 3, 1959

Near Flagstaff Lake    

T-33 Shooting Star - U. S. Air Force Photo

T-33 Shooting Star – U. S. Air Force Photo

On November 3, 1959, two Air Force jets, at T-33 trainer, (51-4499), and a Delta F-102 fighter, (56-1497), were taking part in a radar training mission over western Maine in which the T-33 was to act as an enemy aircraft, and the F-102 was responsible for intercepting it via radar.   At some point near Flagstaff Lake, the F-102 made a mock attack run at the T-33, during which a mid-air collision between the two jets occurred. 

     The F-102 sliced the tail off the T-33 sending it into a downward plunge.  The pilot of the T-33, 2nd Lt. Frederick M. Johnson, 22, managed to eject safely from 30,000 feet.   He dropped to 14,000 feet before deploying his parachute, and came down in a tree.  Because of near total darkness, he had no idea how high the tree was, so he remained there for the night before climbing down at first light and hiking to a logging camp.      

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

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

     The second man aboard the T-33, was 1st Lt. Alfred Williams, 26, of Manchester, Connecticut.  He also ejected safely, but became entangled in his parachute lines and was killed when he landed head-first on the north side of Bigelow Mountain at the 1,500 foot level.   

     The partially opened parachute of the F-102 pilot, 1st Lt. Gary N. Sugar, 24, of Seattle, Washington, was located about fifteen miles from where Lt. Williams was discovered, but his body has never been found. 

     On February 27, 1979, a 54-year-old man from Stratton, Maine, was on an ice fishing trip at Flagstaff Lake when he noticed what appeared to be aircraft landing gear protruding from the muck of the lakebed.  The water level was unusually low at the time which explains why the discovery hadn’t been made earlier.  Navy divers were sent to investigate to see if the aircraft was still intact and if it contained the body of Lt. Sugar.                   

     The F-102 was armed with six Falcon missiles, and 24 rockets. 

     Sources:

     Woonsocket Call, “Airman Okay In Collision; 1 dead, 1 Lost”, November 4, 1959, Pg. 9    

     Woonsocket Call, “2 AF Planes Crash; Find 1 Airman, 2 Lost.” November 5, 1959, Pg. 18

     The Hour, (Norwalk, CT.) “Plane Wreckage Found Near Lake Believed To Be From 1959 Crash”, February 27, 1979, Pg. 26.

     Website – www.ejection-history.org

     Wikipedia – Flagstaff Lake Maine

    

 

       

Presque Isle, ME – November 2, 1942

Presque Isle, Maine – November 2, 1942

Lost WWII Plane Discovered in Quebec 

Updated April 19, 2016

 

OA-10 Catalina - U.S. Air Force Photo

OA-10 Catalina – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On November 2, 1942, an Army Air Corps OA-10 Catalina, (#43-3266), left its base in Presque Isle, Maine and landed in the St. Lawrence River at the town of Longue-Pointe-De-Mingan to deliver personnel to a new military airfield in the town.  The water was choppy, and when it was time to leave the pilot had difficulty taking off.  After one failed attempt, he tried again, and as waves buffeted the fuselage the aircraft suddenly capsized. The accident was witnessed by people on shore, and despite the rough water, local fishermen put out in their boats to attempt a rescue.  Four crewmen found clinging to the outside of the wreckage were pulled aboard boats just before the aircraft sank taking five crewmen still trapped inside with it. 

     The wreck lay undisturbed for more than five decades. Then in 2009, a Canadian dive crew working to document ship wrecks in that area located the lost plane and were surprised to see that it was still in one piece and in relatively good condition. The United States government was subsequently notified, and plans were made to recover any human remains which might still be inside.

     The removal took place in 2012, nearly seventy years after the accident.  In addition to human remains, divers found what one source described as “a trove of items that amounts to a time capsule of the war years” which included personal items such as a crewman’s aviator sunglasses, and a log book with the writing still legible. 

     Those lost in the accident included:

     Lt. Col. Harry J. Zimmerman of Bayside, New York.

     Capt. Carney Lee Dowlen of Dallas, Texas. 

     Sgt. Charles O. Richardson of Charlevoix, Michigan.  

     Pvt. Erwin G. Austin, 23, of Monroe, Maine.

     Pvt. Peter J. Cuzins of Cincinnati, Ohio. 

     Those rescued included:

     Capt. John B. Holmberg, of Chicago.

     Tech. Sgt. George C. Peterson, of Welch, Louisiana.

     Cpl. Robert L. Ashley of Riverside, California.

     Pvt. James E. Click of Lexington, Kentucky. 

     A letter written by Private Erwin Austin to his mother only a week before the accident was published in the Bangor Daily News on November 5, 1942. 

     It read in part:

      “For the last two weeks I’ve been on the PBY all the time except fro last Monday.  I have been up a lot, and Saturday we were up all the morning and then again all the afternoon.  I was the engineer in the forenoon and for an hour and a half in the afternoon.  I got tired so “Rich” took over for me. and I strapped myself into bed and went to sleep.  It is a lot of fun and one feels like he is doing his part.

     You might have seen one of these, but I doubt it as I don’t know of any operating down there, also except when landing the pontoons on the wings are retracted to make less drag.

     Yesterday we washed it out, inside and outside, and what a job.  Today it is in the hangar.  “Rich”, the engineer, is asleep on one of the four bunks, and I’m writing this letter on the navigators table.

     There is more room in this than there is in a big trailer, and it is equipped for living just as well.  In short, we can take off and stay up 22 hours before coming down, and all the time have all the conveniences of home.  We have a full load of water and enough food to last the full crew more than a week, and also there is a two plate electric hot spot stove and also a toilet.  So you can imagine how much at home one can be while in one of these.  I guess you can tell by my letters that I like this very much and hope to get one for myself. ”        

     Private Austin was attending the University of Maine when WWII broke out.  He put aside his studies on December 31, 1941, to enlist in the Army Air Corps.  He received his basic training in Jefferson Barracks, Mo., and from there was sent to the Boeing Aeronautical School in Oakland, California, from which he graduated on July 17, 1942. 

Sources: 

Associated Press, “Plane Found By Canadian Divers Believed To Be Maine-Based Catalina Lost In 1942”, August 8, 2009

Postmedia News, “WWII Plane Target Of Huge Recovery Effort In Quebec Waters”, by Randy Boswell, July 10, 2012

Associated Press, “U.S. Recovers Apparent Remains Of WWII Airmen”, July 30, 2012

Providence Journal, “Five Men Missing As Plane Crashes”, November 5, 1942, Pg. 12 

Bangor Daily News, “Monroe Youth Missing In crash Of Army Plane”, November 5, 1942, Page 1

Bangor Daily News, “5 Army Men Lost When Flying Boat Capsizes Off Main Coast”, November 5, 1942, Page 1.

 

Newry, ME – June 27, 1960

Newry, ME – June 27, 1960

     On June 27, 1960, a U.S. Air Force KC-97 Tanker was refueling a B-47 bomber when an explosion occurred.  The tanker crashed on Jonathan Smith Mountain and all aboard were killed. 

     The dead were identified as:

     (Pilot) 1st Lt. William F. Burgess, 26, of Indian Lake, N.Y.

     (C0-pilot) 1st Lt. Lewis F. Turner, 25, of Spokane, Washington.

     (Navigator) 2nd Lt. Raymond S. Kisonas, 26, of Waterbury, Connecticut.

     (Flight Engineer) Master Sgt. Harold E. Young, 40, of Selma, Alabama.

     (Boom Operator)  T/Sgt. Robert P. Costello, 30, of Greenfield, Ill.     

     Some parachutes were reportedly seen.    

     The plane was based at the Plattsburgh AFB in New York, and was assigned to the 380th Bombardment Squadron.  

Sources:

New York Times, “Five Die In Air Crash”, June 28, 1960

New York Times, “Crash Victims Found”, June 29, 1960

  

Lewiston AP, Maine – Nov. 16, 1937

Lewiston Air Port, Maine – November 16, 1937

On November 16, 1937, a BT-9A (36-122) military plane from Boston crashed at Lewiston Air Port.

Source: Lawrence Webster – Aviation Historian

Perham, Maine – Sept. 22, 1942

Perham, Maine – September 22, 1942

 

B-25C Twin-Engine Bomber - U.S. Air Force Photo

B-25C Twin-Engine Bomber – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On September 22, 1942, a flight of B-25 Mitchel bombers left Presque Isle Army Air Field bound for overseas duty.  Shortly after take off the planes were recalled to the base due to poor weather/visibility conditions.   One of the planes, (41-13049), crashed in a wooded area about six miles west of Perham Village, Maine, and exploded.  Local residents stated the blast was heard for miles around, and the site was marked by a large crater. 

      The tail section was discovered about a quarter of a mile away, which would seem to indicate a structural failure with the aircraft.   Two Nazi sympathizers were later arrested for tampering with an aircraft at Presque Isle leading to speculation that the B-25 had gone down due to sabotage.

     The B-25 was attached to the 310th Bomb Group, 379th Bomb Squadron, then based in Greenville, South Carolina.   

     All seven crew members were killed. 

     The dead were identified as:

Pilot: 2lt. John F. Watson  Entered service from New York, (O-790435) Burial location unknown.

Co-Pilot: 2lt. John W. Rieves Jr. , 22.  He’s buried in Asbury Cemetery, McKenney, Virginia. For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com and see memorial #138056088.

S/Sgt. John S. Delano  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

S/Sgt. James A. Kviz   Burial location unknown.

S/Sgt. Eugene J. Crozier He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

S/Sgt. Frederick W. Rowbottom, 23.  He’s buried in Calvary Cemetery in Virginia, Minnesota.  For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com and see memorial #123323580.  

S/Sgt. Richard K. Riddle, 27.  He’s buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Delaware, Ohio.  For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com  memorial#47394120.

     Later in the day another B-25 (41-13098) belonging to the 379th Bomb Squadron took off from Presque Isle also bound for overseas duty, but it crashed shortly after take off in the neighboring town of Fort Fairfield, Maine.  For more information, see Fort Fairfield, ME – September 22, 1942  under “Maine Military Aviation Accidents” on this website.  

Sources:

New York Times, “Plane Falls On Wooded Hill”, Sept 23, 1942

57th Bomb Wing Association website http://57thbombwing.com/379thSquadronHistory.php 

www.findagrave.com

 

 

 

Atlantic Ocean – March 15, 1973

Atlantic Ocean – March 15, 1973

 

     On March 15, 1973, a U.S. Navy Lockheed P-3 Orion with five men aboard left Brunswick Naval Air Station for a routine training flight over the Atlantic Ocean.  While on the flight, the aircraft crashed into the sea about 40 miles south of the air station due to an unknown cause.  Coast Guard and Navy aircraft sent to search for the missing plane reported debris floating on the surface, but no sign of survivors. 

     The aircraft was assigned to Patrol Squadron 10, (VP-10), based at Brunswick.  

     There is a bronze plaque honoring the memory of the crew at the Brunswick Naval Museum at the former Brunswick Naval Air station.

     Those aboard the aircraft were identified as:

     Lt. Cmdr. John E. Boyer of Lewistown, Penn.

     Lt. Grover R. Caloway, age 28, of McGhee, Ark.  To see a photo of Lt. Caloway, see www.findagrave.com, memorial #132360463.

     Chief Aviation Machinist Mate Jeremiah K. Sullivan, Jr., of York, Penn.

     Machinist 1st Class Wayne C. Clendonning, of Vanceboro, Maine.

     AW2 Reginald Lee Walker, of Bristol, Ind.   To see a photo of AW2 Reginald Walker go to www.findagrave.com, memorial# 147983699.

     Sources:

     Providence Journal, “5 Are Believed dead In Crash Of Navy Plane”, March 16, 1973, page 22.

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Navy Hunts 5 Lost In Sea Crash”, March 16, 1973, page 8.

     Providence Sunday Journal, “Navy Ends Search”, March 18, 1973, page B-7

     www.findagrave.com

Rockland, ME – April 28, 1944

Rockland, Maine – April 28, 1944

 

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

     On April 28, 1944, Ensign Kenneth C. McKay, age 22, was killed while piloting an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42238), on a gunnery training flight over Rockland, Maine.  The crash occurred about 300 yards north of the Naval Auxiliary Air Field. 

     Source: U.S. navy Accident Report

Off Cape Porpoise, ME. – May 4, 1944

Off Cape Porpoise, Maine – May 4, 1944

 

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

On May 4, 1944, Ensign William Donald Larson was piloting an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 41489), on a glide-bombing training flight off the coast of Cape Porpoise, Maine.  While flying in the #2 position in a column following the flight leader, Ensign Larson entered into his first dive-run from an altitude of 6,000 feet. While making his dive, he was killed when his aircraft plunged into the water an disappeared.  Approximately twenty minutes later an oil slick and some pieces of flotsam were seen on the surface of the water in the area where his plane went in.  

     Ensign Larson was assigned to VF-44.

     To see a picture of Ensign Larson, go to www.findagrave.com, memorial #75446469. 

     Source:

     U.S. Navy Accident Report #44-13810   

Brunswick Naval Air Station – April 14, 1952

Brunswick Naval Air Station – April 14, 1952

Brunswick, Maine

    

P2V Neptune U.S. Air Force Photo

P2V Neptune
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On April 14, 1952, a U.S. Navy, twin-engine, P2V Neptune, (Bu. No. 124255), took off from Brunswick Naval Air Station with a crew of ten men aboard.  Shortly after take off one engine failed, and the pilot made an attempt to return to the base.  Heavy fog shrouded the area, and the aircraft missed its first approach and circled around for a second try.  As the pilot was making his second approach the other engine began running erratically and the Neptune crashed into some trees near the end of the runway.   Five men in the tail section were killed when it ripped away during the crash.  The seriously injured co-pilot was trapped in his seat as the plane caught fire, and was rescued by the pilot, who received burns to his arms and face.  Three others escaped. 

     The dead were identified as:

     AO1 Walter N. Polen, Jr., 26, of Alden, New York.  He’s buried in Lancaster Rural Cemetery in Lancaster, Penn.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #20695271.)

     ALC Sherman L. Moore, Jr., 36, of Oakland, California.  He’s buried in Santa Rose Odd Fellows Cemetery in Santa Rosa, California.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #75725570.)

     AL3 Oscar Krampf, 25, of New York.  He’s buried in Greenwich Cemetery in Greenwich, New York.  He died 12 days shy of his 26th birthday.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #50634823.)

     AOAN George W. Thompson, Jr., 26, of Stevenson, Alabama.  He’s buried in Price Cemetery in Hollywood, Alabama. (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #24417218.)

     AO3 Robert L. Schafer of Berlin Center, Ohio.  (No further info.)

     The co-pilot, Lt. Jg. Frederick C. Sachse, Jr., 39, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, died of his injuries eleven days later on April 25, 1952.  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery. (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial#91460650.)        

     Those who survived were identified as:

     (Pilot) Lt. Jg. Thomas N. Pole of Hackettstown, New Jersey.

     (Navigator) Lt. Jg. Edward G. Buck of Miskogee, Oklahoma.

     ADC Raymond R. Fussell of Auburn, Maine, and Pineapple, Alabama.

     AT3 Jacob G. Karl of New Brunswick, New Jersey.  

     The Brunswick Naval Air Station was in operation from 1943 to 1946, and from 1951 to 2010.

     Sources:

     New York Times, “5 In Navy Plane Die In Crash In Maine”, April 15, 1952

     (Utah) The Deseret News, “Navy Pilot Hero Of Plane Crash At Maine Base”, April 15, 1952

     www.findagrave.com

     VPNAVY – VP-11 Mishaps Summary Page, www.vpnavy.com

     Wikipedia – Brunswick Naval Air Station

Kench Mountain, ME – April 11, 1961

Kench Mountain, Maine – April 11, 1961

 Dedham, Maine    

McDonnell F-101 Voodoo Fighters U.S. Air Force Photo

McDonnell F-101 Voodoo Fighters
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On April 10, 1961, two F-101B Voodoo fighter jets took off from Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, Maine, on an intercept mission to identify an unknown aircraft which had appeared on radar.  After completing the intercept, both aircraft set a course back to Dow.  By this time it was after midnight, and the jets flew in a driving rain with zero visibility.  At about 1:00 a.m., one of the F-101’s, (#57-0401), crashed into the top of Kench Mountain, a hill just south of Bald Mountain, in the town of Dedham.  Both the pilot and radar observer were killed. 

     The crew was identified as:

     (Pilot) Captain Vernal W. Johnson, 27, of Bangor, Maine.  He was survived by his wife Deanna and two sons.  He’s buried in Rose Hills Memorial Park in Whittier, California.

     (Radar Observer) 1st Lt. Edward C. Masaitis, Jr., 27, of Brewer, Maine.  He was survived by his wife Barbra Ann, and his son and daughter.   He’s buried in St. Teresa Cemetery in Summit, New Jersey.  

     Both men were assigned to the 75th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Dow AFB.

     Sources:

     Bangor Daily News, “Air Force Jet Smacked Into A Dedham Hill On A Dark And Rainy Night”, January 1, 1997

     www.findagrave.com, memorial numbers 115784815, and 130206171

     Maine Aviation Historical Society, Dirigo Flyer, “Kench Mountain F-101B Crash Hike”, Vol. IV, No. 7, July, 1996. 

  

Dow Air Force Base – September 20, 1955

Dow Air Force Base – September 20, 1955

Bangor, Maine 

     On September 20, 1955, a U.S. Air Force KD-97 tanker-refueling aircraft crash landed and burst into flames at Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, Maine.  Five of the twelve crewmen aboard were injured, but none critically.  All escaped the burning aircraft, the smoke from which was seen for miles.  Two base firemen were also injured fighting the blaze, but not seriously.    

     The aircraft was assigned to the 341st Air refueling Squadron, part of the 4060th Air Refueling Wing stationed at Dow. 

     Source: Lewiston Daily Sun, “Aerial Tanker Crashes, burns At Dow Base”, September 21, 1955.  

Dow Air Force Base – September 9, 1960

Dow Air Force Base – September 9, 1960

Bangor, Maine 

     On Friday, September 9, 1960, six  U.S. Air Force F-100 Super Sabres, all belonging to the famous Air Force Thunderbirds aerobatic flight team, left Pease Air Force Base in Newington, New Hampshire, for Dow AFB in Bangor, Maine, to take part in the Downeast Air Fair being held that weekend.  When the jets arrived they made two passes in formation around the field before peeling off to land one at a time.  As one of the F-100s came down on the runway, its landing gear suddenly collapsed.  The aircraft skidded on its belly across the runway, then across a taxi way, before coming to rest in a ditch.  There was no fire, and the pilot was not hurt.     

     Source: Lewiston Daily Sun, Thunderbird In Dow Base Crash”, September 10, 1960

Dow Air Force Base – May 26, 1949

Dow Air Force Base – May 26, 1949

Bangor, Maine

    

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

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

     On May 26, 1949, an Air Force F-84B Thunderjet, (#45-59537), was returning to Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, Maine, due to an onboard fire.  The plane crash landed in a wooded area next to the field, smashing its way through 100 feet of brush and small trees before erupting in flame.  The pilot managed to escape unharmed. 

     The pilot was identified by the press as being 2nd Lt. Albert H. Bull, 22, of Verbank, New York, assigned to the 49th Fighter Squadron at Dow AFB.   

     Source: Lewiston Daily Sun, “Dow Air Base Pilot Survives Jet Crash”, May 27, 1949    

4.5 Miles West of Amherst, ME – April 22, 1948

4.5 miles West Of Amherst, ME – April 22, 1948 

 

    

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

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

     At 1:55 p.m. on April 22, 1948, a USAF P-84B Thunderjet, (#45-59580), piloted by 1st Lt. Herbert F. Hawes, Jr., 27, departed from Dow Air Force Base for what was to be a local transition flight.  At some point during the high altitude flight, Lt. Hawes was blown off course.  The reason, according to the Air Force investigation report, may have been due to strong high-altitude winds, for the report stated in part: “Winds aloft for the general area, at altitudes the mission was flown, were reported as being from a westerly direction and varying from 39 to 62 miles per hour.”   

     At approximately 2:45 p.m., Lt. Hawes contacted Dow tower and requested a homer bearing.  He was advised to switch to “F” channel for further instructions. 

     At 3:00 p.m., he was given a heading of 273 degrees.  Eight minutes later he asked the tower for a recheck as he was still uncertain of his position, and advised he was beginning to run low on fuel.  Successive headings were given at three to five minute intervals.

     At 3:20 p.m., Lt. Hawes reported his altitude to be 26,000 feet with 60 gallons of fuel remaining, and asked Dow tower how far he was from the base.  Dow tower replied that by their estimate he was fifty miles out. 

     At 3:36 p.m. Lt. Hawes advised that he was still unable to orient himself to his location.  At that time he was given a course correction to 276 degrees. 

    Ten minutes later Lt. Hawes had descended to 16,000 feet and found himself over Deblois airstrip in Deblois, Maine, with 25 gallons of fuel remaining.   At about that time Hawes was in contact with a captain who was piloting another P-84 in the vicinity. Hawes asked him for advice, and the captain advised to “throttle back to idling fuel pressure and establish a glide of 170 mph.”

     Lt. Hawes also contacted Dow tower and asked for instructions, and was advised to attempt to make it back to Dow AFB, which is about 40 miles distant from Deblois. 

    Another captain piloting a P-84 in the area contacted Hawes and advised him to attempt to land at Deblois, but Lt. Hawes elected to head for Dow AFB instead. 

     At 3:58 p.m., while still about 19 miles east of Dow AFB, Lt. Hawes reported he was now out of fuel and was going down.  Instead of bailing out, he elected to remain with the aircraft and aimed towards a small open field amidst hilly and wooded terrain.  With no engine with which to guide the aircraft, he crashed about one mile short of the field and was killed.    

     The crash was witnessed by the P-84 pilot who had advised Lt. Hawes to attempt an emergency  landing at Deblois airstrip. 

     The “P” in the P-84 aircraft designation stood for “pursuit”.  The designation was later changed to “F” as in F-84, which stands for “fighter”.  The P-84 and the F-84, were essentially the same aircraft.    

     At the time of this accident Lt. Hawes was assigned to the 14th Fighter Group, 49th Fighter Squadron, then based at Dow AFB in Bangor, Maine.  This was the first fatal accident for the 49th FS since its activation on December 21, 1946. 

     Lt. Hawes is buried at the U.S. Military Academy Cemetery at West Point.

     Sources:

     Report Of Special Investigation Of Aircraft Accident Involving P-84B, No. 45-59580. 

     The Hangman’s News, (The Official Publication Of The 49th Fighter Squadron Association), “From Props To Jets Part 4 – 1 Apr. 1948 To 30 June 1948”, by Paul Scoskie, September 2008, Vol. 6, Issue 3.    

     www.findagrave.com, memorial #41509101.          

 

 

Atlantic Ocean, ME – February 2, 1943

Atlantic Ocean, Maine – February 2, 1943

    

WWII Civil Air Patrol Insignia

WWII Civil Air Patrol Insignia

     On the morning of February 2, 1943, a Civil Air Patrol airplane with two men aboard took off from Trenton, Maine, for a routine patrol flight off the Maine coast.  Shortly after 9:00 a.m. the aircraft developed engine trouble and the pilot was forced to ditch in the sea about 45 miles off Brunswick.  

     The pilot, 1st Lt. William B. Hites, 30, of Jamestown, New York, and the flight officer/observer, 1st Lt. Welles L. Bishop, 34, of Meriden, Connecticut, were able to escape from the plane before it sank.  Another aircraft radioed their position to a shore control station, but rough seas made rescue operations difficult.  Although both men wore life-vests and waterproof coveralls, they perished before help could reach them.    

     Both men were survived by their wives.

     Update July 15, 2016

     In 1970, twenty-seven years after the crash, Lt. Welles L. Bishop was posthumously honored by the town of Meridian and the Connecticut Civil Air Patrol during ceremonies marking the 29th anniversary of the establishment of the national Civil Air Patrol, (Dec. 1, 1941).  

     Sources:

     Bangor Daily News, “2 CAP Officers Killed On Duty Off Maine Coast”, February 3, 1943

     Lewiston Daily Sun, “Two Fliers Killed Off Maine Coast”, February 3, 1943

     The Morning Record, “Meridian Pilot Lost In War To Be Honored”, November 13, 1970.

Pond Island, ME – July 25, 1924

Pond Island, Maine – July 25, 1924

     On the morning of July 25, 1924, a storm over Lakehurst, New Jersey, broke a navy observation balloon free of its mooring at the Lakehurst Naval Air Station setting it adrift on its own without a crew.   The balloon was carried on an easterly course across Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.  By the afternoon it was sighted near Isle au Haut off the Maine coast with 1,500 feet of cable still hanging beneath it.  By this time the balloon was beginning to settle, and was even brought lower to the water when the cable began to drag across the waves. 

     The navy had dispatched two ships, the destroyer Putnam, and the tugboat Wandank, to chase and capture the runaway blimp if possible, but before they could do so, the balloon came down and crashed into a tree on the eastern side of Pond Island.  (Pond Island is a small island at the mouth of the Kennebec River.)   

     By the time the Wandank reached the scene the balloon was badly damaged and torn, however the basket and instruments was still in good condition.   

     In all, the runaway balloon had traveled 450 miles on its own.   

     Source:

     The Lewiston Daily Sun, “Maine Tree Halt Runaway Balloon”, July 26, 1924      

Charleston, ME – May 16, 1949

Charleston, Maine – May 16, 1949 

    

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

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

     On the morning of May 16, 1949, a flight of four U.S. Air Force F-84 jets was scheduled to take off from Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, for a routine training mission.  Shortly before take off, the pilot of one aircraft advised the flight leader that the tail pipe temperature gauge on his F-84 wasn’t working.  He was advised to change aircraft, and while he was doing so, the other three F-84’s took off. 

      After being assigned another F-84, (#45-59538A), the pilot took off and was going to rejoin the other three F-84’s, but was advised against doing so, and ordered to fly solo around the Bangor area.  After flying for about an hour, the pilot noticed another flight of three F-84’s from his squadron and according to the air force investigation report, “in accordance with an unwritten squadron SOP. joined the formation.”  

     The pilot moved into the number four position of the three ship formation, however he never radioed the flight leader, and the flight leader didn’t ask for identification.  What followed next was a case of follow the leader, and after the flight went through a series of aerobatic maneuvers, it was noticed that the fourth plane was no longer with them.   The missing aircraft wasn’t immediately reported as the flight leader assumed the fourth plane had run out of fuel and returned to base.  In reality, the missing F-84 had crashed and exploded in the town of Charleston.  The other three F-84’s returned to base without incident.

     Exactly what occurred to the fourth plane is unclear.  The last thing the pilot remembered was beginning a series of rolls, and then waking up on the ground with a civilian doctor administering to his injuries which had evidently been obtained when he bailed out of the aircraft.   

     Investigators discovered that the entire left wing, the right wing outboard panel, empennage, and canopy, were not at the crash site.  These were later found in a heavily wooded swampy area, indicating they may have broken free while the aircraft was in flight or while it was falling.

     Source: Air Force Crash Investigation Report, #49-5-16-1       

Portland Airport, ME – May 17, 1949

Portland Airport, Maine – May 17, 1949

    

P-51 Mustang U.S. Air Force Photo

P-51 Mustang
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the afternoon of May 17, 1949, an F-51D Aircraft, (#45-1164A), piloted by a USAF 1st Lieutenant took off from Grenier Air Force Base for a routine training flight.  While at 20,000 feet, his aircraft began to experience engine problems by backfiring and cutting out.  Checking his instruments, all appeared to be reading normal, but the problem persisted, so he declared an emergency and began heading for Portland Airport which was the closest to his position.  Just before turning for his final approach, engine coolant suddenly spewed all over his windshield cutting visibility and causing a further loss of power to the engine.  When he landed on the runway he discovered that the aircraft wasn’t going top stop before reaching the end, so he retracted the landing gear and allowed the P-51 to skid to a stop on its belly.   Although the aircraft was damaged, the pilot was unhurt.

     F-51 was the air force designation given to the P-51 used by the Army Air Force during WWII. 

     Source: Air Force Accident Investigation Report, #49-5-17-2     

Dow Field, ME – June 13, 1947

Dow Field, Maine – June 13, 1947

    

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

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

     On June 13, 1947, 1st Lt. James B. Clouse was piloting a P-47 Thunderbolt, (#44-89427) from New York to Dow Field in Bangor when the aircraft’s canopy became covered with oil and dust obscuring his vision.  To further complicate matters, the aircraft’s radio had ceased working.   

     He reached Dow Field just before 9:00 p.m., and circled in an attempt to establish radio contact, but was unsuccessful.  Those in the control tower realized something was wrong, and turned on the lights of runway 22.  The night was dark and there was no moon, further hindering the pilot’s vision.  

     As Lt. Clouse came in to land he realized he’d over shot the runway and went around for a second try.  On his second approach the landing gear struck soft ground at the end of the runway and broke free.  The aircraft’s momentum carried it down the runway on its belly causing major damage to the plane.  Fortunately Lt. Clouse escaped without injury.     

    

     Source: Air Force Crash Investigation Report, #47-6-13-2 

Bucksport, ME – August 7, 1954

Bucksport, Maine – August 7, 1954

    

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

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

     On August 7, 1954, a flight of four F-84F aircraft took off from Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, for an instrument practice, and aerial refueling, training mission.  The flight took off at 8:28 a.m. and climbed to 20,000 feet, where the pilots practiced formation flying for about 25 minutes before beginning instrument flight practice.  It was at this time that the pilot of the number 2 aircraft reported to the flight leader, 1st Lt. Richard C. Hafenrichter, that he was unable to get fuel flow from his pylon tanks.  Lt. Hafenrichter directed to the flight to rendezvous with the air-tanker at 10,000 feet for refueling. 

     As the number 2 aircraft was refueling, Lt. Hafenrichter positioned himself off the tanker’s right wing to observe the operation.  As he slowed his aircraft to match the tanker’s speed he noticed a vibration in his aircraft, (#51-1464A).  The vibration would cease as he increased his throttle, but then come back when he reduced power.  At this time he turned command of the flight over to another pilot and turned his F-84 towards Dow AFB. 

     As he approached Dow at 10,000 feet, he began a wide circle around the base in preparation of making a flame out landing on runway 33, but as he eased back the throttle the vibration returned, and then began to increase.  He tried to reduce the vibration by increasing the throttle, but discovered that this no longer worked.  The F-84 then began to shake violently and the engine RPM suddenly dropped to zero. 

     Lt. Hafenrichter ejected safely, and the aircraft crashed and burned in a wooded area of Bucksport, about 8.5 miles from the base. 

    Source: Air Force Crash Investigation Report, #54-8-7-3

          

5 mi. east of Howe Brook, ME – May 24, 1942

 5 miles east of Howe Brook, Maine – May 24, 1942

     On Sunday, May 24, 1942, a U.S. Army C-40D aircraft, (Ser. No. 42-22249) crashed  5 miles east of Howe Brook, Maine while on a transport mission from Bolling Field in Washington, D.C., to Montreal, Canada, to Presque Isle, Maine.   The plane dove in at a steep angle, (Estimated by investigators to be 75 degrees.) with such force that debris was thrown up to 1,000 feet ahead of the impact. 

     Due to the total destruction of the aircraft, investigators were unable to determine the cause of the accident, but noted that weather “was undoubtedly a strong causal factor”.  

     All aboard the aircraft were killed instantly.  They were identified as:

     (Pilot) 1st Lt. Clarence A. Wright.  He’s buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #3059564)

     (Flight Engineer) S/Sgt. Frederick J. Taylor.  (10th Ferrying Command.)  He’s buried in  Chester Rural Cemetery, Chester, Penn. (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #88208245)

     Lt. Col. Louis H. Gimbel.  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #22787359)

     Capt. John D. Franciscus.  He’s buried in Calvary Cemetery and Mausoleum in St. Louis, Mo.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #49551001) 

     Capt. Gilbert M. Herbach.  He was from New York.  Place of burial unknown.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #88680256)

     2nd Lt. Earl R. Wilkenson.  He’s buried in St. Joseph Cemetery, Batavia, New York.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #75139854)

     Sources:

     U. S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-5-24-13

     www.findagrave.com

    

New Brusnwick, Canada – October 4, 1989

New Brunswick, Canada – October 4, 1989

     At 6:00 a.m. on the morning of October 4, 1989, a U.S. Air Force KC-135 strato-tanker based at Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine, was returning to base after a six hour refueling operation over Canada when the aircraft suddenly exploded in a massive fireball.  Debris was scattered over a wide area, but the main portion of the plane came down about two miles northwest of Perth-Andover, just to the east of the U.S./Canadian Boarder.  All four crewmen aboard were killed.

     The dead were identified as:

     (Pilot) Lt. Col. Wiliam H. Northcutt, 42, of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

     (Co-Pilot) 1st Lt. Robert D. Weinman, 27, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

     (Navigator)  2nd Lt. Albert H. Taft, 25, of Urbana, New York.

     (Boom Operator) Airman 1st Class Jack D. Cupp, 24, of Athens, Tenn.        

     The reason for the explosion is unknown.  

     Source: Bangor Daily News, “Loring Tanker Explodes In Air”, October 5, 1989, pg. 1

Loring Air Force Base – November 25, 1958

Loring Air Force Base – November 25, 1958 

Limestone, Maine

     On November 25, 1958, a U. S. Air Force KC-135 stratojet tanker crashed and burned on approach to Loring Air Force Base.  Two crewmen, Captain Herman J. Dosenbach, and T/Sgt. Charles A. Holsclaw, managed to escape the flaming wreck with non-life threatening injuries.  The other five members of the crew perished.

     The dead were identified as:

     (Pilot) Captain John P. Eifolla, 41.

     (C0-pilot) Major John B. Brown, 39, of San Benito, Texas.

     Captain Bernard Morgan, 40, of Hope, Kansas.  He was survived by his wife Maxine and four children.

     1st Lt. Donald R. Gladdings, 29, of Shreveport, La. He was survived by his wife Patricia, and a daughter.

     (Boom Operator) T/Sgt. Ronald L. Champion, 26.  He was survived by his wife Joan, and a son.   

     The KC-135 happened to crash 100 yards from the wreck of a B-47 bomber that had crashed three days earlier on November 22.  The men guarding the wreck dove for cover as the plane approached.

     All four men aboard the B-47 had been killed in the crash.

     Sources:

     New York Times, “5 Die At Maine Base In Air Tanker Crash”, November 26, 1958  

     Rome (N.Y.) Daily Sentinel, “Jet Tanker Crash Kills Five Airmen”, November 26, 1958

      

        

Fort Fairfield, ME – September 22, 1942

Fort Fairfield, Maine – September 22, 1942

    

B-25C Twin-Engine Bomber - U.S. Air Force Photo

B-25C Twin-Engine Bomber – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On September 22, 1942, a U. S. Army B-25C bomber, (41-13098), left Presque Isle Maine Army Air Base en-route to overseas duty in England when it crashed in the nearby town of Fort Fairfield, Maine, off Fort Fairfield, Road.  All seven crewmen aboard were killed.  

     The plane was said to be flying in poor visibility conditions.

     Civilian witnesses stated they saw the aircraft burst into flames while still in the air. 

    

      The dead were identified as:

     (Pilot) 1st Lt. Ralph L. Drogula, 26.  He’s buried in Arlington national Cemetery.  Newspaper accounts list Lt. Drogula as a Second Lieutenant, but an internet photo of his grave indicates he was a First Lieutenant.  (See www.findagrave.com  memorial #49175499)

     (C0-pilot) 2nd Lt. James O. Crokcer

     S/Sgt. William H. Finch, 35. Buried in Fairview Cemetery, Fairview, Michigan.  

     S/Sgt. Billy John Hill, 22. Buried in Nocona Cemetery, Nocona, Texas.  

     S/Sgt. George E. Simmons, 22.  Buried in St. Catherine’s Cemetery, Du Bois, Penn. (See www.findagrave.com memorial #58284089 for a photograph of S/Sgt. Simmons.)

     S/Sgt. Lawrence A. Robinson, 26.  Buried in Pine grove cemetery, Marlborough, N.H.

     S/Sgt. Joseph Mortino

     There was another B-25C that left Presque Isle earlier in the day which crashed in the town of Perham, Maine, just a few miles north-west of Fort Fairfield.  (The tail number of that plane was 41-13049.)   In that crash, the tail section was reportedly found 1/4 mile from the wreck site possibly indicating a structural failure.  (See “Perham. ME – September 22, 1942” under Maine Aviation Accidents on this website for more information.)  

      Both aircraft were part of the 379th Bomb Squadron, 310th Bomb Group, then based in Greenville, South Carolina.    

     Sources:

     New York Times, “14 Army Men Lost In Two Maine Crashes”

     57th Bomb Wing Association http://57thbombwing.com/379thSquadronHistory.php

     www.findagrave.com

 

Portland Airport, ME – August 30, 1941

Portland Airport, Maine – August 30, 1941

     At 1:45 p.m., on August 30, 1941, a U.S. Army  O-52 observation plane (Ser. No. 40-2705), was making a landing at Portland Airport, on the north-south runway.  Just as the plane was about to touch down, a civilian plane crossed its path from the east-west runway and a collision between the two occurred. 

     The O-52 was wrecked, but the pilot and his passenger escaped with minor injuries.  The two civilians aboard the other aircraft were uninjured.

     The O-52 was assigned to the 152nd Observation Squadron.

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident dated September 18, 1941.

Near Springfield, ME – November 15, 1941

Near Springfield, Maine – November 15, 1941

     According to the Army Air Corps investigation report on this accident, the aircraft involved crashed about ten miles south of Springfield, Maine.  Other sources put the location closer to Lee, Maine.      

Douglas B-18 National Archives Photo

Douglas B-18
National Archives Photo

     At 4:45 p.m., on November 15, 1941, two Douglas B-18A bomber aircraft, left Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, bound for Bangor Air Base in Maine.  The two planes were not cleared as one flight, but as two individual flights.

     The first B-18, (Ser. No. 37-521) was piloted by 2nd Lt. Peyton W. Beckham, and the other by a pilot identified only as Lt. Offers.  The two men had agreed to stay in sight of each other during the trip, and had further agreed that in the event they had to fly above any overcast in the vicinity of Bangor that that Lt. Beckham would wait until Lt. Offers landed first.  This was due to the weather forecast for Bangor stating there was cloud cover over the area.

     At a point about half way between Concord and Augusta, both aircraft climbed to 5,500 feet to get above the 3,500 foot overcast.  When they reached Bangor shortly after 6:00 p.m., Lt. Offers made his descent first as per their agreement. The overcast ceiling at Bangor at this time was 1,400 feet, and dropping, and darkness was coming on.    

     At 6:32 p.m., after some garbled radio dialogue with the Bangor control tower due to interference with the radio signals from a Canadian source, Lt. Beckham advised he would try to make it to Portland, Maine, as his aircraft wasn’t equipped for instrument flying. 

     By 6:46 the overcast had dropped to 400 feet.

     At about 7:20 p.m. Lt. Beckham’s aircraft was seen approaching Springfield, Maine.  Ten minutes later it passed over the Carry Farm about ten miles south of Springfield, where three hunters later said it passed over their camp at a very low altitude heading southwest, and shortly afterwards they heard it crash. 

     According to the hunters, the weather in the area was very bad, with poor visibility due to fog and rain.    

     The plane had crashed in a remote and thickly wooded area surrounded by bog and swampland.  Investigators concluded that the left wing caught in the tree tops near the bottom of a hill, dragging the aircraft down and causing it to swing to the left for 10 to 15 yards before it began to cartwheel up the hill for 200 yards.  It was at this point the plane broke apart and caught fire.  Debris was scattered in all directions for 200 to 300 yards. 

     All four crewmen aboard the plane were killed.  They were identified as:

     (Pilot) 2nd Lt. Peyton W. Beckham   

     (Co-Pilot) 2nd Lt. Wyman O. Thompson, 21.  He’s buried in Underwood Cemetery in Underwood, North Dakota.  To see photo of Lt. Thompson, and one of his gravesite, go to www.findagrave.com, and see Memorial #21814620.

     (Engineer) Corporal Jacob L. Parson, 30.  He’s buried in Rosemont Cemetery in Rogersville, Penn.

     (Radioman) Pfc. Lee E. Rothermel, 20.  He’s buried in Trinity Lutheran cemetery in Valley View, Penn.   

     One of the cockpit instruments that was recovered at the scene was the plane’s airspeed indicator, which was stuck at 195.

     The men were assigned to the 63rd Bomb Squadron, 43rd Bomb Group.

     This crash is said to be the first fatal military aviation accident to occur in the State of Maine.  To see photos of the crash site as it appears today, see www.mewreckchasers.com.   

    Twenty-two days after this accident, the United States was drawn into World War II. 

     Sources:

     U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #41-11-15-6

     www.findagrave.com

    

       

Bangor Air Base, ME – December 30, 1941

Bangor Air Base, Maine – December 30, 1941

    

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 December 30, 1941, an A-29 bomber aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-23302) crashed and burned on take off from Bangor Air Base.  The seven man crew escaped, but the pilot and copilot were injured.   

     The crew were identified as:

     (Pilot) 2nd Lt. James J. Hayes

     (Copilot) 1st Lt. Jonathan H. Knox

     (Engineer) Pfc. Richard A. Turner

     (Radio Operator) Cpl. James L. Wilson

     Pfc. Homer W. Read

     Pfc. George F. Nichols

     Pvt. Walter E. Taylor

     The men were assigned to the 65th Bomb Squadron (H)

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-12-30-1

Bangor Air Base, ME – December 19, 1941

Bangor Air Base – Bangor, Maine – December 19, 1941

    

B-17A  Ser. No. 37-369 U.S. Air Force Photo

B-17A Ser. No. 37-369
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 10:30 a.m., on December 19, 1941, a Boeing B-17A (Y1B-17A) (Ser. No. 37-369) crashed and burned on take off from Bangor Air Base.  All nine crewmen aboard escaped, however three were seriously injured.

     Crew members were identified in the aircraft accident investigation report as:

     (Pilot) Major Carl T. Goldenberg

     (Co-pilot) 2nd Lt. D. W. Johnson

     2nd Lt. D. S. Winslow

     (Photographer) (Rank Unknown) J. C. Robinson

     (Engineer) T/Sgt. John W. Freeman

     (Radio Operator)  S/Sgt. T. L. Young

     S/Sgt. L. H. Waltman

     Cpl. L. P. Lawfer

     Pfc. P. S. Keever

     Only first initials were used to identify the crew in the accident investigation report with the exception of the pilot and engineer.

     This New England military aircraft accident is some-what historically significant due to the fact that the aircraft was one-of-a-kind.   

    The fuel system for this aircraft had been changed (Upgraded) the previous day by a Master Sergeant who’d been sent to Bangor specifically to do the job.  The reason for such an unusual measure was because this B-17 was a testing prototype fitted with superchargers on the engines, and the Army Air Corps, had much time, money, and resources devoted to this project. 

     At the time of this crash, the Air Corps was in the process of developing a modern four-engine, high-altitude bomber.  This B-17 (37-369) was the fourteenth produced by Boeing, but the only one designated an “A” variant, and the first to be equipped with turbo-superchargers, which were considered necessary for the aircraft to operate at higher altitudes with greater speed.      

      The accident investigation committee tasked with finding the cause of the accident made the following two conclusions which are transcribed here.   

      1)  “A change of the fuel system for this aircraft had been completed the day previous to the accident by M/Sgt. ———– sent to Bangor Air Base by rail from Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, specifically for the purpose of making the change from hydro power to a direct drive fuel pump.  A thorough test of the new installation was made previous to the take off and no indication of malfunctioning was revealed.  Also, upon examination of the number four engine fuel pump after recovery, the same was found true.  The fuel pump drive on all other engines was melted beyond recovery.  It is the opinion of the committee that in no way was the fuel system change a contributing factor to the accident”   

     2) “It is the opinion of the committee that the pilot reduced the power on the right hand side to overcome the yaw to the left, and that the number three and number four engines failed upon reapplication of the power to those engines.  It is believed that the failure was only momentary due to choking, but sufficient to cause a violent yaw to the right; also that this engine failure was sufficient to make it impossible for the pilot to pull up the right wing.”

     Sources:

     U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-12-19-1

Atlantic Ocean – March 23, 1951

Atlantic Ocean -March 23, 1951

     In the early morning hours of March 22, 1951, a U.S. Air Force C-124 transport (49-0244) left Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana bound for Loring Air Force Base in Limestone, Maine.  The aircraft arrived safely at 12:30 p.m. the same day.  After refueling, the plane left for Mildenhall, Royal Air Force Base in England. 

     At 1:00 a.m. on March 23, the pilot reported a fire on board in the cargo area, and ditched the plane in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 800 miles off the southwest coast of Ireland.  The aircraft landed intact, and all 52 servicemen aboard managed to get out safely wearing life jackets.  The men were able to climb into life rafts equipped with survival provisions and emergency radios.

     A U.S. Air Force B-29 was sent from England to search for survivors and found the men alive floating in the life rafts.  The aircraft circled the area waiting for other rescue craft,  but was forced to leave due to being low on fuel before any additional help arrived.  Apparently no other aircraft had been sent to relieve the B-29.

     It was hours later before the first ship arrived in the area on March 25th, but the only thing found were some charred crates and a partially deflated life raft.  All 52 men had simply vanished and were never seen again.  Speculation as to their fate focused on the Soviets.  At the time, the United States and the Soviet Union were immersed in what was called “The Cold War” , a nuclear game of cat-and-mouse with each side vying for superiority.  It was noted that many of the men aboard were involved with the U.S. nuclear weapons program, which would indicate they may have possessed valuable intelligence information.    

     A massive air-and-sea search was conducted over the next several days, but nothing more was found.  As stated, the men were wearing life jackets, but no bodies were ever recovered.

     Those aboard the C-124 aircraft were: (In alphabetical order.)

     SSG Glenn E. Adler

     Capt. Phillip B. Adrean

     Sgt. George W. Ambrose

     Cpl. Sterling L. Ambrose

     SSG Robert D. Amsden

     2Lt. Karl R. Armstrong Jr.

     Major Robert Bell

     S/Sgt. Bartin C. Bemis

     Pvt. Dwight A. Berenberg

     Sgt. Robert R. Bristow

     Sgt. Joseph D. Broussard

     Cpl. Arthur F. Chute

     Capt. Emmette E. Collins

     Capt. John E. Counsell

     Cpl. Jack R. Crow

     Brig. Gen. Paul T. Cullen

     Capt. Francis N. Davis

     Capt. Mark O. Dubach

     Capt. Dudek Miezslaw

     S/Sgt. Gene D. Dughman

     1Lt. Jack R. Fife

     2Lt. William E. Fisher Jr.

     Col. Kenneth N. Gray

     T/Sgt. Charles E. Green

     S/Sgt. Thomas E. Green

     Lt. Col. James I. Hopkins

     S/Sgt. Homer Jones Jr.

     Capt. Robert F. Kampert

     Capt. Thomas R. Kelly

     Capt. Carl N. Krawiec

     2Lt. Max D. Lee

     S/Sgt. Nicolo A. Lengua

     Samuel P. Lutjeans

     2lt. Howard P. Mathers

     Sgt. Ronald D. McGee

     Lt. Col. Edwin A. McKoy

     Sgt. Frank A. Meckler

     Capt. Walter T. Paterson

     Capt. Calvin Porter

     Lawrence E. Rafferty (rank unknown.)

     M/Sgt. Everett D. Scarbrough

     Major Gordon H. Stoddard

     Cpl. Clarence G. Swisher

     Cpl. Bobby G. Thomas

     M/Sgt. Taylor H. Vangilder 

     Capt. Roger S. Vincent 

     Capt. Walter A. Wagner Jr.

     M/Sgt. H. C. Williamson

     Raymond L. Witkowski (rank unknown.)

     Capt. Edwon D. Zabawa 

     Capt. Frank B. Zalac

     Capt. John C. Zweygarti

     Sources:

     Article by Don Wagner, “Last Flight Of The Missing Airmen, March 1951”, Walker Aviation Museum, Roswell, New Mexico  (Don is the son of Captain Walter A. Wagner Jr.)

     Air Force Times, “Plane’s 1951 Disappearance Still A Mystery”, by John Andrew Prime

 

      

 

    

 

       

 

 

 

 

Atlantic Ocean – February 26, 1965

Atlantic Ocean – February 26, 1965

About 700 miles east of Bangor, Maine, and 220 miles south of Cape Race, Newfoundland

     

B-47 Stratojet during refueling operations. U.S. Air Force Photo

B-47 Stratojet during refueling operations.
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On February 26, 1965, a flight of three B-47 bomber aircraft, and one KC-135 tanker plane, were en-route from Torrejon Air Force Base in Madrid, Spain, to Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.   The planes were returning to the U.S. after a three week deployment overseas.  

     The B-47s were assigned to the 100th Bomb Group assigned at Pease, and the tanker was part of the 71st Air Refueling Squadron at Dow Air Force Base, but all were under the command of the 8th Air Force.    

     As the formation was about 800 miles from the coast of Maine, the tanker began refueling operations.  After refueling one of the B-47s, a second moved into place.  At 9:40 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, a mid-air collision took place between the tanker and the second B-47 resulting in a massive fire ball.  Both aircraft went down in flames and into the icy water. 

RB-47E Stratojet U.S. Air Force Photo

RB-47E Stratojet
U.S. Air Force Photo

     No parachutes were seen by crew of the other aircraft, and even though the planes carried life jackets and rubber rafts, Air Force officials doubted any survivors could last long in the frigid water and cold temperatures.

     Between both planes, eight servicemen were lost.

     The crew of the B-47 consisted of:

     (Pilot) Capt. James B. Redding, 27, of Webster, N.Y.

     (Co-pilot) Capt. Milton S. Stone, 32, Normal, Ill.

     (Navigator) Capt. Frank Valasquez, 31, of Brooklyn, N.Y.

     (Instructor Pilot) Major Charles E. Michigan, 34, of Medford, Mass.

     The crew of the KC-135 consisted of:

     (Pilot) Capt. Leland W. Payn, 32, of Lampassas, Texas.

     (Co-pilot) Capt. Robert G. Lowe, 29, of Arlington, VA.

     (Navigator) Lt. Milburn D. Taylor, 22, of Carbondale, Ill.

     Mstr. Sgt. Carey A. Addison Jr., 32, of Louisiana. 

 

Source: New York Times, “8 Crewmen Lost In Fueling Crash”, February 27, 1965

    

    

    

    

   

    

Blue Hills Bay – February 13, 1943

Blue Hills Bay – February 13, 1943

Surrey, Maine

     Little information is available about this accident as press reports were vague.

     On February 13, 1943, a two-man Navy plane crashed into Blue Hills Bay while on a training flight.  The type of plane was not identified.

     The pilot, Lieutenant John Shelley, of Wellesley, Massachusetts, was rescued by townsmen from Surrey, who braved the icy waters in a small boat to get to the downed airman.  

     An unidentified radioman was lost in the crash.  Lt. Shelley stated that both he and the radioman had managed to climb onto a wing of the partially submerged aircraft and the radioman attempted to swim the mile or so to shore.  The water was cold, with floating ice and strong currents. 

     Sources:

     Providence Journal, “4 Lost, 2 Rescued In Plane Mishaps”, February 14, 1943, Pg. 5    

     (The headline does not match the story because two crashes were included in the same article.  The other accident occurred in Rhode Island.)

     Bangor Daily News, “Navy Man feared Lost After Crash In Blue Hill Bay”, February 15, 1943 

Portland, ME – June 26, 1949

Portland, Maine – June 26, 1949

Updated March 16, 2016

    

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

C-47 Aircraft – U.S. Air Force Photo

      On the morning of June 26, 1949, a Maine National Guard C-47A, (Ser. No. 4292076), took off from Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, Maine, to transport 22 members of the of the 195th Army Band (Maine National Guard) to Portland, Maine, for an authorized drill.  Besides the members of the band, the plane carried a pilot and co-pilot, for a total complement of 24 men.

     Upon reaching Portland Airport, the pilot attempted to land on runway 10 and over shot it.  After touching down, the pilot attempted to control the aircraft, but due to its weight and momentum found it impossible to do so.  At the time it touched down, the plane was loaded with 3,700 pounds of fuel, 4,800 pounds of passenger weight, and an estimated 500 pounds of band equipment, bringing the total of 9,000 pounds over and above the static weight of the aircraft. 

     The plane left the end of the runway and crossed 100 feet of open ground before plunging into the Fore River.  Despite the large amount of fuel aboard, there was no fire, and the aircraft didn’t flood or sink.  However, the plane was a complete loss, and all 24 men aboard were transported to area hospitals with varying degrees of injury.  

     Source: U.S. Air Force Accident Report, #49-6-26-4 

 

 

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