Portsmouth, N.H. – January 17, 1917

Portsmouth, New Hampshire – January 17, 1917

     On January 17, 1917, a navy airplane, (Serial number 75-A), was flying over the Piscatagua River in Portsmouth, presumably near the Portsmouth Navy Yard.  As the pilot was making a turn, “wind (got) under the tail rudder”, and the plane fell into the water.  It was reported that “…neither the aviator or the machine was injured.”   The type of aircraft, and the pilot’s identity, were not stated.

     Source: The Washington Herald, (Washington, D.C.), “Navy Aeroplane Drops But Aviator Escapes”, January 18, 1917 

New Boston, NH – January 14, 1949

New Boston, New Hampshire – January 14, 1949 


P-51 Mustang U.S. Air Force Photo

P-51 Mustang
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 2:30 p.m. on January 14, 1949, a flight of five P-51 aircraft took off from Grenier Air Force Base in Manchester, N.H. for a scheduled dive bombing and rocket training mission. Each plane carried two 100 lb. bombs and six rockets.

     The flight was led by Captain Elmer V. Kramer, 30, who was piloting a P-51D,  (#44-74965).

     After take off, the flight headed for the New Boston Bombing Range located about ten miles to the west of Grenier Field.  Upon arrival at the range, the first four aircraft took positions at 7,800 feet in anticipation of making their respective “runs” while the fifth aircraft dropped to 4,000 feet to score the bombing results.     

     Captain Kramer decided to make a dry run over the range, and while doing so, while traveling at an approximate speed of 210 mph, the left wing suddenly tore loose at the fuselage sending the aircraft into an uncontrollable series of snap-rolls as it fell.  The plane crashed and exploded into a wooded area near the range killing Captain Kramer.

     Investigation revealed that the left wing had signs of an old crack in the metal which apparently had gone undetected, leading to a total structural failure during the flight.     

     Capt. Karmer was assigned to the 82nd Fighter Wing.   


     Army Air Force Accident Investigation Report #49-1-14-3

Smart’s Mountain, N.H. – September 20, 1971

Smart’s Mountain, New Hampshire – September 20, 1971 

     This accident involved both military and civilian aircraft. 

     On Monday evening, September 20, 1971, a twin-engine Piper Apache took off from Portland, Maine, bound for Lebanon, New Hampshire.  The plane arrived near Lebanon shortly after 8:00 p.m., where thick fog shrouded the area.  As the aircraft was making its approach to Lebanon Airport, it crashed into the side of Smart’s Mountain.  The mountain is about 3,240 feet high, and the aircraft impacted about 1,500 feet from the summit.    

     There were three people aboard, Jeanne Bennett, 47, of Post Mills, Vermont, and Hans Klunder, 42, and Robert E. Stewart, 27.  Mrs. Benet was killed, and Klunder and Stewart were seriously injured.  The men managed to build a fire, the smoke of which attracted rescuers to their location. 

     It was reported that all three aboard the aircraft were pilots, and it was unclear as to who was flying the plane at the time of the crash.  

     A New Hampshire National Guard helicopter arrived at the scene and two guardsmen prepared to repel down a rope to assist the survivors.  The first guardsman landed safely, but the second, Specialist 6 Frederick Bartlett, 33, of Manchester, N.H., fell and was killed.    

     The survivors were brought down the mountain in a motorized vehicle and transferred to Mary Hitchcock Hospital in Hanover, N.H.


     Nashua Telegraph, “Rescuer Killed In Fall At Airplane Crash Site.” September 22, 1971.

Andover, N.H. – July 22, 1959

Andover, New Hampshire – July 22, 1959

     In the early morning hours of July 22, 1959, two U.S. Air Force KC-97 tanker aircraft from Pease Air Force Base were on a night fueling mission over southern New Hampshire.  Shortly before 2:00 a.m., the two tankers were flying one ahead of the other, preparing to re-fuel a flight of jet aircraft at 15,000 feet, when the left wing of the lead aircraft, (#52-2703), suddenly erupted in flames and started going down.  The burning plane crashed in a hay field in the town of Andover and exploded, killing all seven crewmen aboard. 

     The men were identified as:

     (Pilot) Capt. James H. White.  

     Lt. Harold G. High, of Deluth, Minn. 

     Lt. Dean H. Holzworth, 24, of Worland, Wyoming.

     Sgt. Marion C. Akerman, of Vevay, Indiana.

     Sgt. Owen Q. Combs, 24, of Bloomfield, Indiana.

     Sgt. Jake Schmidt, of Riverton, Wyoming.

     Airman 3c Phillips K. Darst, of Norman, Oklahoma.

     The men were part of the 509th Air Refueling Squadron at Pease AFB.

     The cause of the accident was determined to be the mechanical failure of a turbocharger in the left wing which caused an ignition of fuel lines or fuel cells in the wing.


     (Utah) The Deseret News, “2 West Men Die In Air Tanker Crash”, July 22, 1959

     (Washington) Spokene Daily Chronicle, “7 Men Killed In KC-97 Crash”, July 22, 1959

     (Texas) The Victoria Advocate, “7 Tanker Airmen Die In Fiery Crash”, July 23, 1959 

     Aviation Safety Network


Pease Air Force Base – November 5, 1964

Pease Air Force Base – November 5, 1964

Portsmouth, New Hampshire

     On November 5, 1964, five U.S. Air Force KC-97 tanker planes were scheduled to take off from Pease Air Force Base as part of an airborne refueling training mission.  The first three took off successfully, however the forth aircraft crashed and exploded on take off, scattering debris across the Pease golf course, and nearby Route 101.  All five crewmen aboard were killed.

     They were identified as:

     (Pilot) Capt. Robert L. Thompson, 33, of Vernon, Connecticut.

     (C0-Pilot) Capt. Michael P. Valavon, 27, of Jersey City, New Jersey.

     (Navigator) 1st Lt. Larry C. Dennis, 25, of Richmond, Virginia.

     (Boom Operator) S/Sgt. Gerald W. Schulz, 32, of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

     (Flight Engineer) S/Sgt. Richard E. Towle, 36, of Kittery, Maine.   

     The men were assigned to the 100th Air Refueling Squadron. 

     Two civilians, a mother and her daughter, were slightly burned when the accident occurred.  They had been sitting in a car on Route 101 watching the aircraft take off. 

     Source: (Spokane, Washington) The Spokesman-Review, “5 U.S. Airmen Crash Victims”, November 6, 1964


Pease Air Force Base – April 15, 1958

Pease Air Force Base – April 15, 1958

Portsmouth, New Hampshire


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

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

     On the night of April 15, 1958, a U.S. Air Force B-47E Stratojet, (#52-562), crashed on take off from Pease AFB in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.  The aircraft had risen to about 700 feet before it suddenly plunged into a swamp near the end of the runway and burst into flames.  The smoke from the fire could be see for fifteen miles.

     One witness to the accident later told a reporter, “I could see the plane spilling fuel, then it just lit up, as though on fire, before it crashed.”


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

     (Aircraft Commander) Captain Richard D. Burns, 27, of Royal Oak, Michigan.  He’s buried in Gilgal Cemetery in Heltonville, Indiana.  To see a photograph of  Capt. Burns, go to www.findagrave.com, Memorial #63005578.  

     (Pilot) 1st Lt. Edward S. Starley, 25, of Delta, Utah. He’s buried in Delta City Cemetery in Delta, UT.  He was survived by his wife Helen.  (For more info see www.findagrave.com, Memorial #42217304.

     (Navigator) 1st Lt. Edward S. McKinney, 25, of Casper, Wyoming.  He’s buried in Highland Cemetery in Casper, WY.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #58413512.)

     (Crew Chief) S/Sgt. Jennings V. Ware, 23, of Webster, West Virginia.  He’s buried in Cool Spring Cemetery in Webster County, W.V.  To see more info go to www.findagrave.com, Memorial #93245519.

     All four men were assigned to the 830th Bomb Squadron, 509th Bomb Wing, stationed at Walker Air Force Base in New Mexico.  


     Nashua Telegraph, “Four Killed In Pease Jet Crash”, April 16, 1958


Wolfboro, N.H. – April 2, 1985

Wolfboro, New Hampshire – April 2, 1985


     On April 2, 1985, two Air National Guard F-106 fighter jets were on a training flight 30,000 feet over the Lake Winnipesaukee region when they accidentally collided in mid-air.  One aircraft, piloted by Capt. Paul Worcester, was able to make it to Pease Air Force Base about fifty miles distant and land safely.  The other F-106, piloted by Col. John Anderson, crashed in a wooded area off Route 28 in the town of Wolfboro.  Col. Anderson was able to eject and land safely.

     Source: Nashua Telegraph, “Fighter Jets Collide, One Crashes; Pilots Safe”, April 3, 1985    


New Boston/Lyndeboro, N.H. – August 15, 1959

New Boston/Lyndeboro, New Hampshire, August 15, 1959

     On August 15, 1959, two air force jets en-route from England Air Force Base in Louisiana, to Westover AFB, in Chicopee, Massachusetts, each ran out of fuel and crashed in New Hampshire. 

     One plane, piloted by Capt. Russell Nelson, 27, of Big Spring, Texas, crashed in an isolated part of New Boston, a town west of Manchester.   Capt. Russell was seen ejecting from the aircraft, but according to witnesses his parachute didn’t open.  His body was found next to his ejection seat after a twelve hour search. 

     The other jet, piloted by Capt. James Howard, crashed and burned on a mountain in the neighboring town of Lyndeboro, about six miles from the New Boston crash site.  Capt. Howard parachuted safely.  

     Both men were assigned to the 31st Tactical Fighter Wing at George Air Force Base in California.   They type of aircraft they were flying wasn’t mentioned in the newspaper article, but they were likely F-100s, based on the operational history of the 31st Tac. Ftr. Wing.  (Wikipedia) (F-100)   

     Capt. Nelson is buried in Trinity Memorial Park Cemetery in Big Spring, Texas. (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #48111436.)

     Source: Nashua Telegraph, “Two Jet Planes Crash In State; One Pilot Killed”, August 17, 1959 


Fremont, NH – August 10, 1959

Fremont, New Hampshire – August 10, 1959 

Spruce Swamp


     On August 10, 1959, a B-52C Stratofortress bomber aircraft, (#54-2682) left Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a routine flight.  Approximately fifteen minutes into the flight, while at 21,000 feet and climbing, crew members heard a loud “thud”.  The noise was described in the Air Force investigation report as being “Like a water jug that had fallen from its rack and struck the floor”.     

     The aircraft commander, Captain George E. Kusch, made a check with the crew to see if anyone could identify the source of noise, but none could.  The aircraft continued its climb to 34,000 feet where it leveled off.  Then somewhere in the vicinity of the Boston-Concord area a series of sharp noises were heard believed to be related to the radar antenna, shortly before the radar system became inoperative.    

     A few minutes later there was a loud “bang”, followed by a rush of air.  The gunner notified the pilot that he’d seen parts of the aircraft fly past his position.  These parts were determined to be from the plane’s chin-radome.  At this time the altimeter indicated a change in altitude, and the air-speed indicator read zero, and a mild vibration set into the aircraft frame.  

     The pilot notified Westover of the situation and was directed to land at Goose Bay, Labrador.  As the plane was crossing Saddle Back Mountain, at an altitude of 29,000 feet, the vibration turned to buffeting.  The crew attempted several standard measures to compensate but none were successful.  The buffeting grew progressively worse while the aircraft began dropping at the rate of 1,000 to 1,500  feet per minute.    

     When the aircraft had dropped to 14,000 feet, the order was given for the crew to bail out, which they did.   Two minutes later, Capt. Kusch, who was still with the aircraft, advised that the buffeting had suddenly ceased, and that he thought he might be able to land safely.  However, less than three minutes later the buffeting suddenly returned, shaking the plane so violently that Capt. Kusch thought it was going to break apart, so he ejected.

     The B-52 crashed and exploded in Spruce Swamp, in the town of Fremont, New Hampshire, at 2:50 p.m.  (Some sources have placed the crash site in Epping, New Hampshire, and others in the town of Brentwood, but the site of the crash is in Fremont.)

     All eight men aboard the doomed B-52 landed safely.  They were identified as:

     (Pilot) Capt. George E. Kusch, of Westwood, New Jersey.

     (Co-pilot) 1st Lt. Joseph B. Hunt, 28, of Chicopee, Mass., and Catonsville, Maryland.

     (Navigator) Capt. Thaddeus J. Choate, Jr., of Ludlow, Mass., and Odessa, Texas.     

    (Radar Observer)  Capt. Donald C. Bell, 38, of Ludlow, Mass., and Odessa, Texas. 

     (3rd Pilot)  Capt. Joseph Biyins, of Owensboro, Kentucky.

     Capt. Wayne Vogt, 33, of Indianapolis, Ind.

     T/Sgt. Merrell R. Hethorn, 34, of Indian Orchard, Mass., and Kitsap, Washington.

     (Tail Gunner) T/Sgt. Arnold Newman, 27, of Holyoke, Mass. and Los Angeles.

     The aircraft was assigned to the Strategic Air Command, 57th Air Division, 99th Bomb Wing.     


     Air Force crash investigation report, #59-8-10-1

     Unknown Newspaper, “Quietest Ride Aloft: Chute 13 In A Drizzle”, (Officer of Crashed Westover B-52 Tells Of Experience; Plane Couldn’t Be Flown”) unknown Date.

     Unknown Newspaper, “All Eight Parachute Into Spruce Swamp”, unknown date.








Hampstead, NH – August 19, 1943

Hampstead, New Hampshire – August 19, 1943


     There is not a lot of information about this accident.

     At 4:30 p.m. on the afternoon of August 19, 1943, a U.S. military C-49J, (#43-1971), was seen circling Island Pond in Hampstead, New Hampshire, at altitude of between 1,000 and 1,500 feet with its wheels extended, when it suddenly went into a spin and crashed into a wooded area. 

      All five men aboard were killed. 

      The weather at the time was “broken to scattered, 3-4000 feet, visibility unrestricted.”

     According to the Air Corps crash investigation report, the pilot is listed as one R. T. Whidden, “commercial pilot”.  Under “pilot’s mission” in the report it stated “Army ATTF Transition training.”  

     Servicemen aboard included:

     2nd Lt. Charles Appier. He’s buried in Star of Hope Cemetery in Huntington, Indiana.

     2nd Lt. Robert W. Barron. He’s buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Escanaba, Michigan.

     Pfc. Robert A. Bell.  He’s buried in Union Cemetery in Flandreau, South Dakota.

     Pfc. Conroy Newcomb.  He’s buried in Wayne Cemetery in Lewis, Kansas.  To see a photo of Pfc. Newcomb, go to www.findagrave.com, Memorial #55021812.  


     Army Air Corps accident investigation report, #44-8-19-1



Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲