Providence, R.I. – January 15, 1913

Providence, Rhode Island – January 15, 1913

 

     At 2:12 p.m. on January 13, 1913, aviator Harry M. Jones set out from Boston for New York City in a Curtiss bi-plane, with scheduled stops in Rhode Island and Connecticut along the way.  This was to be the first parcel post flight in America, and among the letters and packages Jones was carrying were nine pots of Boston baked beans which were to be delivered to prominent public officials along the route.    

     The first scheduled stop was in Providence, Rhode Island, and Jones landed in a baseball field off Elmwood Avenue just after 3:00 p.m.

     The following morning he resumed his journey.  As he took off from the baseball field and began a wide circle around it, the aircraft was suddenly  struck by a strong cross-wind and pushed towards some telephone wires and railroad tracks.  The crash landing broke several wooden ribs of the airplane which required two weeks to repair.

     Jones was not seriously injured.  When he resumed his journey it was reported that his cargo included Rhode Island Johnny Cakes in addition to the baked beans.       

     Harry Jones was involved in another plane crash in Rhode Island on May 25, 1913, when he crashed into Narragansett Bay.  That accident is listed elsewhere on this website.

     Sources:

     The Sun, (N.Y.), Aero Parcel Post On Way”, January 14, 1913 

     New York Tribune, “Postal Plane Smashed”, January 17, 1913

     New York Tribune, “Parcel Ship May Move – Harry M. Jones Expects To Fly From Providence To-day”, January 27, 1913

West Greenwich, R.I. – July 23, 1979

West Greenwich, Rhode Island – July 23, 1979  

     On July 23, 1979, a 26-year-old pilot, and his 60-year-old female passenger, took off from Richmond, Rhode Island, bound for Westerly,  R.I., to refuel the airplane as there were no fuel facilities at Richmond Airport.   While passing over the town of West Greenwich, R.I., the aircraft crash-landed on an unused portion of St. Joseph’s Cemetery.  After striking an open area of the cemetery, the plane bounded into some trees about 100 yards from the chapel, and 30 yards from Nooseneck Hill Rd., a.k.a., Route 3.   

     Both the pilot and his passenger suffered serious injuries, and the aircraft was heavily damaged.  The aircraft came to rest upside down with its tail up against a tree, and with one of its wings sheared off.

      West Greenwich’s chief of police was quoted as saying, “That plane is really a mess.  They’re lucky to be alive.”    

    It was further reported that the pilot had obtained his flying license the week before the accident. 

     The aircraft was described as a 1973 single-engine Grumman AA1B.  

     Source:

     Westerly Sun, “Couple In plane Crash ‘Lucky To Be Alive'”, July 24, 1979, page 9.

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Airplane Pilot Likely Was Lost And Out Of Fuel”, July 24, 1979, page A8, (With 2 photos of the crash.)

Scituate Reservoir, R.I. – August 30, 1986

Scituate Reservoir – Scituate, Rhode Island – August 30, 1986

 

     On August 30, 1986, a 32-year-old man from Glocester, Rhode Island, was piloting an ultra-light aircraft over the Scituate Reservoir with a video camera attached to his helmet, and a video recorder belted to his waist.  Suddenly, while at an altitude of 700 feet, the small two-cycle motor abruptly stopped.  The pilot didn’t know why the engine had quit, and as the aircraft began to fall he tried everything he could to re-start it, but was unsuccessful.  As he approached the water he tried to set the plane down in a “nose up” position, but when the wheels hit the water the craft flipped over and began to sink about 100 feet from shore.  As the aircraft went under, the pilot couldn’t get his seatbelt off, but finally managed to do so.  Then, as he tried to swim to the surface, he found himself caught by the video recorder belt.  As the plane settled on the bottom he managed to free himself and barely made it to the surface.  He then swam to shore where he marked his location with a pile of rocks before setting out to find a telephone.   

     A few days later police divers raised the ultra-light from the bottom, and recovered the video tape of the accident. 

     Sources:

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Ultra-light Plane Crashes Near Reservoir”, August 31, 1986, page C7  

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Pilot Videotapes Flight Plunge Into Reservoir”, September 1, 1986, Page A3

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Ultra-light Plane, Videotape Recovered By Scuba Divers”, September 4, 1986 

Richmond, R.I. Airport – October 24, 1986

Richmond, Rhode Island, Airport – October 24, 1986 

     On October 24, 1986, a 59-year-old Woonsocket man was piloting a gyroplane at the Richmond Airport when it crashed on takeoff killing him.  The pilot was moving down the runway about four feet off the ground when the aircraft suddenly tilted to one side and one of the propeller blades struck the ground causing it to flip several times.

     The pilot had owned the craft for less than a year.

     Source: The Sun, (Westerly, R.I.), “Man Dies In Airport Crash”, October 26, 1986, page 2.  

Newport Harbor, R.I. – December 11, 1986

Newport Harbor, Rhode Island – December 11, 1986

     On the evening of December 11, 1986, a Bell Ranger helicopter took off from Newport, R.I. bound for Cranston, R.I., with a lone pilot aboard.  Heavy wet snow was falling at the time, but the pilot was a veteran aviator.  As the helicopter was passing over Newport Harbor it suddenly fell into the water and turned upside down, but was kept afloat by its two pontoons.  The pilot was able to free himself and climb atop one of the pontoons, but he was now soaking wet and in danger of dying of exposure.    

     As luck would have it, Petty Officer Larry Fletcher was on duty at the Navy’s Stillwater Basin docks a short distance away, and shortly after the crash he stepped outside to get his coat.  It was then he heard faint cries for help coming from across the water, but couldn’t see anything due to the swirling snow and darkness of the night.      

     Fletcher then notified William Myers, a civilian boat engineer working in the area, and the two of them took a navy boat out into the harbor to search for the source of the cries.   A short time later they came upon the helicopter pilot atop one of the pontoons.

     After being taken aboard the navy vessel the pilot was placed next to the heater and given a coat and hat to put on.  Once ashore he was transported to the Newport Naval Hospital to be examined.

     Source: Providence Journal-Evening Bulletin, “Cranston Copter Pilot Plucked From Newport Harbor”, December 12, 1986, page A2           

 

Near Providence, RI – November 19, 1910

Near Providence, RI – November 19, 1910

     On November 19, 1910, the balloon Cleveland, took off from North Adams, Massachusetts, with five men aboard.  The craft was piloted by Leo Stevens, and carrying four Williams College students as passengers. 

     Strong winds on the ground delayed the ascension for nearly an hour, but when it finally took to the sky the balloon “shot up like a rocket” before being carried away in an easterly direction.  Three hours and thirty-five minutes later the balloon was over Rhode Island approaching Providence when it began to lose altitude.   Ballast was dropped, but the balloon continued to fall, and appeared to heading for a large lake.  The aeronauts were forced to strip off their clothing to lighten the weight in order to avoid a water landing.  The tactic worked, and the balloon sailed across the lake before crashing onto the far shore.

     Upon impact, one of the occupants, H.P. Scharman was pitched out and received serious injuries.  Thus relieved of significant weight, the balloon suddenly rose upwards leaving Scharman behind.  It then continued onward several hundred feet, propelled forward by heavy winds, before it slammed into a stone wall.  The crash sent the others tumbling out causing relatively minor injuries.    

Source: New York Times, “Balloon Up In Gale, Spills Aviators”, November 20, 1910

 

Cranston, RI – June 25, 1910

Cranston, RI – June 25, 1910

      On June 25, 1910, aviator Joe Seymour was giving a demonstration of his Curtis bi-plane at Narragansett Trotting Park in Cranston, Rhode Island, when he crashed upon takeoff.  A newspaper article which appeared in the Providence Journal reported, “Joseph Seymour, the aviator, was severely hurt, and his Curtis aeroplane badly wrecked at Narragansett Park late yesterday afternoon, when the machine going 30 miles an hour, crashed into a post hidden in the grass, while Seymour was attempting to alight.”  Seymour was thrown from his airplane and received cuts and bruises.     

     Narragansett Park, a.k.a. Narragansett Trotting Park, was a race track that once existed between present-day Park Avenue, that Gansett Avenue, and Spectacle Pond, in Cranston, Rhode Island. 

    After wrecking, Seymour contacted the Herring Aeroplane Factory in Massachusetts, and ordered two replacement propellers.  Oddly enough, they just happened to have two in stock that would fit his aircraft.  This was good news, for otherwise they would have had to be custom made – out of wood – which would take considerable time. 

   From Rhode Island, Mr. Seymour went to Garden City, Long Island, where he took part in another air exhibition in July.  Unfortunately, bad luck followed him there and he crashed again while making an in-flight turn.  The following September, Seymour’s plane was nearly hit in mid-air by another aircraft while flying at yet another exhibition.

Sources: 

Providence Journal, “Aviator Soars In Air In Night Flight Here”, June 24, 1910, Pg. 1

Providence Journal, “Seymour, In Biplane Crashes Into Post.”, June 25, 1910, Pg. 1

Providence Journal, “Rushes Aeroplane Repairs”, June 26, 1910, Pg. 2

New York Times, “Aeroplane Hits Post”, June 25, 1910

New York Times, “Seymour Machine Wrecked”, July 28, 1910

 

Providence, RI – May 13, 1929

Providence R.I. – May 13, 1929

Edgewood Beach

      Edgewood Beach no longer exists, but from the late 1800s to the early 20th century it was a tourist and recreational destination during the warmer months. 

     Located on the city line of both Providence and Cranston, the beach was also the location of the former Washington Park Yacht Club which overlooked Narragansett Bay.

     On May 13, 1929, Major O. Caylor of Providence was flying his Challenger biplane over the area maneuvering his it through a series of stunts much to the delight of those watching below.  Also aboard was 21-year-old Ralph Kirker of Cranston, a registered U.S. Government aviation mechanic who was working towards his federal pilot’s license. 

      According to witnesses, the pilot was putting the plane through a series of aerobatic loops between 300 and 500 feet off the ground when at the end of a steep dive the plane began to rise skyward but then abruptly fell from the sky.  Some claimed they heard the engine stall, others said it was skipping.  Either way, the plane came in at a steep angle and slammed into the ground between the yacht club and Alabama Avenue.  

     One witness who was almost too close to the event was a young boy named Erwin Rydstrom, of 105 Alabama Avenue.  As the plane was plummeting towards the ground, Erwin realized he was directly in its path!  He barely had time to scramble out of the way as the aircraft dove into the very spot where he had been standing.

     Two other witnesses were Herbert E. Slayton and his wife who saw the crash from their home on Washington Avenue.  Mrs. Slayton, a nurse, ran to assist while her husband called Rhode Island Hospital for an ambulance.   

      As onlookers surrounded to the wreck they discovered that both men were still alive but critically injured.  By the time they reached the hospital only Kirker was still alive, but he succumbed to his injuries at 1:30 the following morning. 

     As news of the crash spread, hundreds of curious spectators descended on the scene, some of whom began to tear pieces off the fuselage as souvenirs.  The nose of the craft was buried in the ground and the fuselage had crumpled upon itself like an accordion, ripping the right wing off and spilling high octane aviation fuel.   

      Both Cranston and Providence police arrived on the scene to keep scavengers at bay. Since the plane had crashed very close to the city line, there was a question as to which police department would be responsible for the investigation, until it was finally determined that the plane had crashed six feet on the Providence side. 

      The investigation revealed that Caylor took off from Providence Airport at 5:41 p.m. and according to an airport official appeared to have trouble gaining altitude on take off.  The official stated that Caylor had pulled the nose of the aircraft up too soon causing the plane to loose lift and fall back to the ground.  On a second attempt he again pulled the nose up at what was described as a “dangerous angle” but managed to get airborne.  

     After leaving Providence, the plane was seen to circle What Cheer Airport in Pawtucket before heading south towards Edgewood Beach.    

     Investigators concluded that Mr. Caylor had been too low for conducting aerobatic loops, noting that federal regulations required an altitude of at least 1000 feet.  In addition, the pilot had been looping with the wind and not against it, which was considered a poor tactic. 

     Caylor had brought his plane to Rhode Island from Duncan, Oklahoma, four months earlier.  He had been in Oklahoma to start a flying school, but had changed his plans and returned to Rhode Island, where he got involved with an undertaking to establish a seaplane service between Providence, Newport, and Block Island.  After negotiations with Providence officials, a lease agreement was signed allowing Caylor to operate his air service out of Field’s Point in that city.  The venture was to be called Eastern Airways Inc. and was set to begin operations May 14th, the day after the crash.            

     Caylor had only been flying for about a year and reportedly had survived another plane crash in Florida only a few months earlier. His home was located at 1680 Broad Street, about a mile from the crash site.

     Ralph Kirker lived at 120 Norfolk Street in the Auburn section of Cranston.  He graduated from Cranston High School in 1926, and after graduation obtained aviation mechanic training at Mitchell Field on Long Island, New York.  From there he went to Chicago for advanced schooling before returning to Rhode Island in November of 1928 and began working towards obtaining his pilots license.  In the meantime he was hired by Caylor to be the mechanic for Eastern Airways, and the day he died was actually his first day on the job. 

     Edgewood Beach was a destination spot for more than seventy years. The Washington Park Yacht Club was destroyed in the Hurricane of 1938.  During World War II the area was converted to a ship yard where “Liberty Ships” were produced in vast quantities for the war effort.  By the 1950s it was being used as a landfill. Today a college campus occupies the site.      

Sources:

Providence Journal, “R.I. Fliers Killed In Plane Crash At Edgewood Beach”, May 14, 1929 Pg 1. 

Internet site; www.savethebay.org  Fields Point History

 

Woonsocket, RI – March 22, 1950

Woonsocket, Rhode Island

March 22, 1950

      26-year old Charles B——–, of New Haven, Connecticut, was a new pilot, having only obtained his license six months earlier, so it was with trepidation that he looked over the field at Berkeley Airport in Cumberland and decided that he didn’t like what he saw.  In his opinion, the field was too muddy, and he feared the Cessna 140 airplane that he planned to rent would either nose over or fail to gain sufficient speed to achieve altitude.  Besides his own safety, there was his wife to consider, who planned on taking the flight with him.

     He expressed his concerns to the airport manager, who didn’t share the young man’s concerns.  To prove it, the manager offered to fly the Cessna to Woonsocket Airport a few miles away and meet the couple there.  Then, if they liked conditions there, they could take-off and return the plane to Berkeley.  The couple agreed, and got a ride to Woonsocket airport from Officer John M. Roberts of the Woonsocket police who had been at Berkeley taking a pilot’s instructors course.   

     A short time later the couple stood at Woonsocket Airport and Mr. B——- decided it was safe to fly from there.  The couple climbed into the airplane with the husband at the controls.  All seemed well as the plane headed down the runway and into the sky, but then the plane went into a stall and nosed to the ground.  The fall was broken in part when a wing struck some power lines before it crashed at the intersection of Diamond Hill Road and Bound Road. 

     The severed power lines caused a delay in calling for help, so a bystander took the injured couple to Woonsocket Hospital in his private car.  Fortunately their injuries weren’t serious.   The airplane however, was a total loss.  

      Ironically, it was the just this type of accident the husband was trying to avoid in Berkeley that happened in Woonsocket.

 Source:

Woonsocket Call, “Conn. Couple Misses Death In Crash At City Airport”, March 23, 1950

 

North Central Airport – May 2, 1980

North Central Airport – May 2, 1980

Smithfield, Rhode Island

    

North Central Airport, Smithfield, R. I.  May 2, 1980

North Central Airport, Smithfield, R. I.
May 2, 1980

On May 2, 1980, a 59-year-old man was landing his aircraft, a Piper Tomahawk, at North Central State Airport in Smithfield, Rhode Island, while another Piper Tomahawk was sitting on or near the runway with two men inside.   The incoming plane clipped the second with its wingtip, flipping it over and tearing off the tail section, completely demolishing the aircraft.   Fortunately both men inside were able to climb out on their own and there was no fire.  The incoming plane sustained only minor damage.

     All three men were taken to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.  

     An official from the Department of transportation believed the crash might have been avoided if North Central had a manned control tower – which it does not. 

North Central Airport  Smithfield, R.I. May 2, 1980

North Central Airport
Smithfield, R.I.
May 2, 1980

North Central Airport Smithfield, R.I. May 2, 1980

North Central Airport
Smithfield, R.I.
May 2, 1980

 

Source: Woonsocket Call, “2 Light Planes Collide At Area Airport; 3 Hurt”, May 3, 1980

 

Missing Aircraft – April 19, 1980

MISSING AIRCRAFT – April 19, 1980

Aircraft: Cessna 150, Registration N19593

      At 9:00 a.m., on April 19, 1980, a Cessna 150 left Bayport Airdrome on Long Island, New York, for a three-leg navigational training flight to Newport, Rhode Island, then to Oxford, Connecticut, and back to Bayport.  The pilot was 55-year-old Rose Heinlen, a student pilot from Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y. with less than 60 hours of flight time.  Somewhere between Long Island and Newport she and the Cessna disappeared and have not been seen since.  No distress calls were received.

     Civil Air Patrol wings from New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard participated in the search.  25 aircraft of all types searched the waters from Montauk, Long Island, to Martha’s Vineyard, including waters along the coasts of three states.  

     One area of focus was Narragansett Bay north of the Mount Hope Bridge, where it was reported that an oil slick had been sighted on the water.  A Coast Guard vessel sent to investigate found only a wooden raft that was not connected to the missing plane.

     One woman reported that she had seen an airplane resembling a Cessna flying only ten feet off the water of Narragansett Bay on the day of the disappearance. Three fishermen later corroborated this, but nothing was found. 

     Part of the investigation revealed that a steady 20 to 30 knot wind had been blowing at the time of the flight which could have pushed the aircraft as much as 300 degrees off course towards Cape Cod and the islands, and Mrs. Heinlen may not have been aware of this.

     On April 23rd it was reported that Mrs. Heinlin may have communicated with another pilot via radio between 10:30 and 11:00 a.m. stating she was lost.  The revelation came about after a Rhode Island pilot reported hearing a radio conversation between a woman and another pilot.  The woman stated she was lost, and the pilot was attempting to give her directions.  Unfortunately, the pilot giving directions was never identified. 

     As of this time the case remains open. 

 Sources:

Providence Journal, “4-state Search For Small Plane Centers Briefly In Touisset Area”, April 22, 1980, Pg. A-3

Providence Journal, “Lost Pilot May Have Sought Directions”, April 23, 1980, Pg. B-13

NTSB Brief – NYC80FAMS4

 

 

 

Block Island Airport – June 1959

Block Island Airport, R.I. – June 11, 1959

     At 2:55 a.m. on June 11, 1959, a small plane was attempting to land at Block Island Airport when it crash-landed about 250 feet from the end of the airport’s only runway.   The pilot stated a sudden shift in the wind caused the plane to loose airspeed on final approach. 

     The plane was a 1955 Beechcraft Bonanza low-wing monoplane which suffered significant damage.  Fortunately the three men aboard escaped unhurt.

     The accident was investigated by the State Aeronautics Administration.

Source: Providence Evening Bulletin, “3 Unhurt In Block Island Plane Crash”, June 11, 1959, Pg. 13

 

 

Lincoln, R.I. – August 29, 2003

Lincoln, Rhode Island – August 29, 2003

     On the morning of August 29, 2003, a 38-year-old North Providence man took off from T. F. Green Airport in a Piper Tomahawk bound for North Central State Airport in Smithfield, Rhode Island, to practice “touch-and-go” landings and take offs. Shortly before 11 a.m. he was approaching Runway 23 when the aircraft suddenly lost all power and crashed about 500 feet from the end of the runway in a wooded area off Albion Road on the Lincoln/Smithfield town line, not far from the A.T. Cross Co.  The airplane was completely wrecked, having landed up-side down with one wing torn away.  Fortunately there was no fire, and the lone pilot was able to extricate himself and walk out to a nearby roadway where he encountered Chief Frank Sylvester of the Lime Rock Fire Department.  

Sources:

The Observer, “Student Pilot Escapes Harm In Crash Near Airport”, by Beth Hurd, September 4, 2003, page 3A       

Providence Journal, “Pilot Unharmed In North Smithfield Crash”, August 30, 2003

Woonsocket Call, “Pilot Escapes Injury In Plane Crash”, August 30, 2003. 

T.F. Green Airport – November 23, 1974

T.F. Green Airport – November 23, 1974

     On the morning of November 23, 1974, a single-engine aircraft with a family of four aboard left Teterboro, New Jersey bound for Lawrence, Massachusetts.  While en-route, the aircraft developed engine trouble when the pilot was switching fuel tanks. The pilot was forced to make an emergency landing on the northeast runway at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island. 

     Upon touching down the aircraft skidded for about 500 feet before it nosed over and came to rest.  The nose and propeller suffered heavy damage, and the right wheel had broken away.   There was no fire, and the family was uninjured, and left the aircraft on their own.   The wreckage was removed from the runway within twenty-five minutes, and the runway reopened.

     Source:

     Providence Sunday Journal, “Family Of 4 Unhurt In Plane Crash”, November 24, 1974, page C-16   

 

Block Island, R.I. – October 24, 1974

Block Island, Rhode Island – October 24, 1974

     On the afternoon of October 24, 1974, a Cessna 180 seaplane was attempting to land at Block Island’s Old Harbor when the left wing dipped and caught the water causing the plane to capsize about 300 feet from shore.  The lone pilot aboard was able to free himself from the submerged cockpit and was rescued a short time later by nearby boaters.

     Sources:

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Seaplane Tips In Landing At Block Island”, October 25, 1974, page B-5

     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “Seaplane Pilot Rescued”, October 25, 1974, page 2

Middletown, R.I. – October 13, 1974

Middletown, Rhode Island – October 13, 1974

     On the afternoon of October 13, 1974, a small aircraft with two persons aboard left T. F. Green Airport in Warwick bound for Middletown.  During their flight a pilot in another aircraft reported that they had what appeared to be a problem with the landing gear of their airplane.  Authorities were notified, and preparations were made for an emergency landing at Newport Airport, located in Middletown.  As the plane approached the runway fire engines and rescue vehicles were standing by.   The landing gear collapsed as soon as the plane touched down, and the aircraft nosed over and skidded to a stop.  There was no fire.  Fortunately none of the occupants were injured.

     Source: (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Two Escape Injury In Plane Mishap”, October 15, 1974, page B-1

Block Island Airport – August 25, 1974

Block Island Airport – August 25, 1974

     On August 25, 1975, three men, all members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, left Danbury, Connecticut, bound for Block Island, R.I., in a single-engine Beech Musketeer aircraft.  They arrived at Block Island at about 2:00 p.m., and as the plane approached the runway of Block Island State Airport, the engine lost power and the plane crash landed 93 feet short of the runway.  Two of the three men aboard suffered minor injuries.      

     This was the second aviation accident to occur in Rhode Island on this date.  Another man was killed when his homemade plane crashed into the water off Deluca’s Beach in Narragansett, R.I.  That accident is also posted on this website.

     Source:

     Westerly Sun, “Man Killed As Plane Crashes Off Scarborough State Beach”, August 26, 1974, Page 1.     

Narragansett, R.I. – August 25, 1974

Narragansett, Rhode Island – August 25, 1974

     At about 1:30 p.m. on August 25, 1974, a single-engine, one-man, “experimental” aircraft was seen passing over  DeLuca’s Beach in the town of Narragansett, heading out over the water.  Suddenly a loud “pop” was heard, and the aircraft spun into the water from an altitude of 200 feet.  The airplane struck nose first, crumpling the front of the aircraft and pinning the pilot inside as the cockpit sank below the surface.  Although the cockpit was underwater, the wreckage remained partially afloat about 250 yards from shore, in water estimated to be 40-50 feet deep.   

     A man and woman from a nearby boat dove into the water to attempt a rescue, but were unsuccessful.  They were relieved by six life guards who rowed out to the scene in two small boats, yet they couldn’t free the pilot either.  When a Coast Guard vessel from Point Judith arrived the aircraft was towed to shore.  There the body of the pilot was removed and transported to South County Hospital where he was pronounced dead.  

     Sources:

     The Providence Journal, (Massachusetts Edition), “Pilot Dies When Homemade Plane Crashes Off South County Beach”, August 26, 1974, page 1. (With Photo)

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Pilot Dies In crash Of Homemade Plane”, August 26, 1974, (With Photo)

Atlantic Ocean – August 22, 1974

Atlantic Ocean – August 22, 1974

 

     On the afternoon of August 22, 1974, a trail race between 12-meter yachts competing for the America’s Cup trophy was taking place about six miles southeast off Point Judith, Rhode Island.  Among the media covering the event were two CBS employees, along with a pilot, aboard a Bell-47 helicopter following the progress of the race from 150 – 200 feet in the air. 

     At about 3:00 p.m., the helicopter suddenly developed control difficulties and spun into the water landing on its side as it hit.  One witnesses was quoted as saying, “All of a sudden, the copter started to whirlybird.”  Just after striking the water the helicopter rolled over upside down and only the bottoms of its pontoons could be seen. 

     Several boats in the immediate vicinity quickly raced to the scene including a U.S. Coast Guard vessel.  The pilot managed to free himself and came to the surface on his own.  As the Coast Guard boat came alongside, Lieutenant David Hosmer dove into the water and pulled a second man from the aircraft.  A civilian from another boat rescued the third.  

     One victim was brought aboard the Coast Guard boat while the others were taken aboard separate civilian vessels.  All three vessels then raced to Point Judith where ambulances were waiting to transport the injured.  One of the victims, a 26-year-old CBS-TV electrician from Des Plaines, Ill. was pronounced dead on arrival at South County Hospital.  The other two men were admitted for treatment, and later recovered.  

     The helicopter was recovered by the Coast Guard.  The cause of the crash was found to be mechanical failure. 

     Sources:

     The Providence Journal, (Massachusetts Edition), “Copter Filming Cup Race Falls; 1 Killed, 2 Hurt”, August 23, 1974, page 1. 

     The Providence Journal, (Massachusetts Edition), Vessels headed For Downed Craft”, August 23, 1974, page 1.

     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “Two Killed In Rhode Island Waters”, August 23, 1974, page 1.

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Tragedy Mars Cup Race”, August 23, 1974, Page 1 

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Helicopter Crash Blamed On Control Malfunction”, August 24, 1974, page 10.  

Charlestown, R.I. – July 20, 1974

Charlestown, Rhode Island – July 20, 1974

     On July 20, 1974, a pair of one-man Gyrocopters were flying together over the area of Qonochontaug Beach when one aircraft suddenly lost all power and crashed into the water about 150 feet from shore.  The machine sank, but the pilot was able to fee himself, and was rescued by two college students who happened to be passing by in a small sailboat.  He was shaken, but apparently uninjured. Meanwhile, the other gyrocopter left the area and landed at Westerly Airport. 

     The depth of the water where the gyrocopter had crashed is about 20 feet.  Once the students had deposited the downed pilot on shore, they returned to the wreck site with masks and fins, and dove under the water and tied a strong rope to the machine.  By now a crowd had gathered on the beach, and with everyone’s help the aircraft was successfully dragged to shore.    

     Meanwhile, the pilot of the other gyrocopter had returned to the beach with a trailer.  He and the other pilot disassembled the damaged gyrocopter, and after putting it in the trailer said they were going to Westerly Airport. 

     After a few days a report of the crash reached the Westerly Sun newspaper, but when a reporter inquired about details, it was learned that the accident had never been reported to the police, Westerly Airport officials, or to state aeronautics officials.  The identities of the pilots was unknown.  It was further reported that gyrocopters didn’t have to be registered, nor did one need a license to fly one, which was going to make it difficult for officials to question the pilots.

     Source:

     Westerly Sun, “Rescue At Sea Went Unreported”, August 1, 1974, page 10.   

 

Smithfield, R.I. – June 16, 1974

Smithfield, Rhode Island – June 16, 1974

     On the morning of June 16, 1974, a 47-year-old man from Wrentham, Massachusetts, was piloting a small aircraft from Block Island, R.I., to North Central State Airport in Smithfield.  The aircraft was a four-passenger Beech Debonnaire, (N9782Y).   As the pilot was approaching Runway 15 in preparation of landing, the airplane stalled and crashed nose-down into a wooded area about 500 yards short of the runway.  The plane struck the trees in such a way that the foliage broke its fall, and it came to rest with its tail pointing towards the air.  Although there was damage to the plane, there was no fire.  The pilot received a minor injury to his head, and was able to away from the crash.  There were no passengers aboard.  The aircraft had to be removed by helicopter.

     Sources:

     Providence Journal, “Lady Luck Was His Co-pilot”, June 17, 1974, (With Photo)

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Copter Retrieves Crashed Aircraft”, June 19, 1974

       

 

South Kingstown, R.I. – December 2, 1973

South Kingstown, Rhode Island – December 2, 1973

 

     On the afternoon of December 2, 1973, several sky divers were making parachute jumps over the area of the Laurel Lane Golf Course in South Kingston, not far from the Richmond Airport. 

     At about 3:30 p.m. a Cessna 182F took off from the Richmond Airport and climbed to an altitude of 3,000 feet.  At about 3:45 p.m., a 35-year-old man from Westerly, R.I. jumped from the plane but his parachute failed to fully deploy.  Witnesses later stated that he pulled his reserve parachute, but was too low to the ground at the time, and it did not have time to fully deploy to break his fall.  The man was transported to South County Hospital in Wakefield, R.I. where he was pronounced dead on arrival. 

     Sources:

    Providence Journal, “Chute Fails, Jump Kills R.I. Man”, December 3, 1973, page 1.   

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “FAA Probe Set In Fall Of Parachutist”, December 3, 1973, page 2

     Westerly Sun, “Sky Diver Killed As Chute Fails”, December 3, 1973, page 1

Coventry, R.I. – August 24, 1973

Coventry, Rhode Island – August 24, 1973  

     RICONN Airport is located in the western portion of the town of Coventry, R.I., just off Route 14, (aka Plainfield Pike), bordering the Connecticut state line.  The runway area is an open grass field.

     On August 24, 1973, a Piper PA-12 with two men aboard took off from RICONN Airport.  As the plane was gaining altitude it suddenly backfired and developed engine trouble.  The pilot attempted to bring the aircraft around to land back at RICONN, but with the engine running erratically was unable to gain enough altitude.  The plane was wrecked when it crashed in a wooded area about 300 yards from the runway.  Although the gas tank ruptured, there was no fire.  The pilot suffered a broken leg, but the passenger was able to hike through the woods to find help.     

     Source:

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “”2 Survive R.I. Plane Crash”, August 25, 1973, page 1. (Photo of aircraft)

 

 

Warwick, R.I. – November 17, 1970

Warwick, Rhode Island – November 17, 1970 

     Shortly after 1 p.m. on November 17, 1970, a twin-engine Cessna 310 aircraft with a husband and wife aboard took off from T.F. Green Airport.  Just after takeoff the plane lost power in its left engine and the pilot made a left turn in an attempt to get back to the runway.  As he was doing so, the airplane came down in a neighborhood adjacent to the airport, where it skimmed the top of a tree located in front of 57-59 Kilvert Street.  It then glanced off a three-story house before slamming into another three-story home at 51 Kilvert Street and exploded into flame. 

     Inside 51 Kilvert Street, a 37-year-old mother lay sleeping with her 1-year-old son.  The crash set the room ablaze.  Her husband, who was out in front of the house at the time, ran in and rescued his wife and son, but the woman later died of her injuries.

     The occupants of the aircraft were pulled from the wreckage by firefighters, both were suffering from severe burns. 

     The flames spread to an adjacent house, and four firefighters were injured battling the blaze.  The burned homes were later torn down. 

     Sources:

     Providence Journal, and Providence Evening Bulletin, (unknown  dates – not recorded on clippings.)

     “Plane Crashes After takeoff At Green”

     “Spectators Come To View Floodlighted Plane Wreck”

     “Mother, Infant Pulled Out After Plane Hits R.I. Home”, November 18, 1970.

     “A Neighborhood Learns Horror”

     “One Of The Hazards…Now It’s Happened Here”

     “Experts Probing Plane Crash”

     “Burns Claim Woman; Home Hit By Plane”

     “Pilot’s Wife Quizzed, Condition Still Poor” 

     “Hurt Woman Questioned On Warwick Plane Crash”

 

 

 

 

 

Cranston, R.I. – April 5, 1970

Cranston, R.I. – April 5, 1970

     On April 5, 1970, an 18-year-old student pilot, and member of the Little Rhody Flying Club, was soloing over Cranston in a Cessna 120 aircraft.  At 1:39 p.m. he radioed a distress call that his aircraft was on fire, and shortly afterward crashed in an open field in the western portion of the city, about 1.5 miles from Laten Knight Road in an area known as Fiskville.  The youth was killed on impact.

     While examining the wreckage, investigators found no evidence of fire. 

     Sources:

     Providence Journal, “Pilot, 18, Killed In Cranston”, April 6, 1970 (with photo)

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “State, U.S. Officials Probe Crash”, April 6, 1970 (with photo)

Lincoln, R.I. – May 26, 1966

Lincoln, Rhode Island – May 26, 1966

     On May 26, 1966, a twin-engine Piper Apache aircraft, (N218P), with three people aboard, was approaching North Central State Airport in Smithfield, Rhode Island, when both engines suddenly lost all power.  The pilot, Raymond J. Morissette, the (then) Mayor of Central Falls, R.I., radioed a “May-Day” before the plane crashed into a thickly wooded section of Lincoln.  The plane came down  about one mile from the end of runway 33, to the southwest of Jenckes Hill Road in Lincoln, and to the northeast of Clark Road in Smithfield.  Although the aircraft was completely wrecked, with the wings being torn off from hitting trees, Mr. Morissette and his two passengers, a mother and her son, were able to extricate themselves and walk out of the woods to seek help.   

     Source:

     Providence Journal, “Mayors Mayday Heeded”, May 27, 1966 

Smithfield, R.I. – October 13, 2016

Smithfield, Rhode Island – October 13, 2016

     On the morning of October 13, 2016, a private corporate jet with four passengers and two crew aboard left Allegheny County Airport in Pennsylvania bound for North Central State Airport in Smithfield, Rhode Island.  The aircraft was a Cessna Citation,  tail number N518AR.   

     The plane arrived at North Central at about 10:30 a.m. and was attempting to land on Runway 5 when it  overshot and crash landed in brush filled area.  The plane suffered damage, but there was no fire and nobody was hurt.  The four businessmen aboard were in Rhode Island to attend a meeting in Providence.   

     The photographs attached to this post are courtesy of Jim Grande Jr., of the Smithfield Fire Department. 

     Click on images to enlarge.

Smithfield, R.I. – October 13, 2016

Smithfield, R.I. – October 13, 2016

Smithfield, R.I. – October 13, 2016

     Sources:

     Providence Journal, “Jet travelers Make Business Meeting After Plane Scare In Smithfield “, October 13, 2016

     Pittsburgh’s Action 4 News, “Flight From Allegheny County Airport Crashes On Landing In Rhode Island”, October 13, 2016

     WJAR Turn To 10 News, “Small Plane Runs Off Runway At North Central State Airport”, October 13, 2016

South Kingstown, RI – July 1, 1941

South Kingstown, Rhode Island – July 1, 1941 

Matunuck Beach

     At about 11:30 a.m., on July 1, 1941, a small airplane with a man and a woman aboard left Newport Airport bound for New York City.  The woman was Miss Eleanor Young, 23, and her companion was Nicholas S. Embirieos, 31.   Both were known in society circles.

     As the plane flew across Narragansett Bay it encountered fog conditions.  Embirieos, who was at the controls, circled the area of Matunuck Beach several times before the aircraft suddenly crashed into the water just off shore of Matunuck Beach, a popular swimming area in South Kingstown R.I.  Both occupants were pulled from the wreck by lifeguards, George Gilson, and David Smith, but died of their injuries. 

     A photograph of part of the plane wreckage can be found on page 53 of the book, “Images Of America – South Shore Rhode Island”, by Betty J. Cotter, 1999.

     Sources:

     New York Times, “Eleanor Young Dies In Air Crash; Was One Of First Glamor Girls”, July 2, 1941

    The Daily Times, “Socialite, Friend Killed In Plane”, July 2, 1941

Block Island, R.I. – August 26, 1995

Block Island, Rhode Island – August 26, 1995

Town of New Shoreham

     On August 26, 1995, a Cessna 185 (N4944E) took off from East Hampton, Long Island, New York, bound for Block Island.  The aircraft was a seaplane capable of water landings.

     There were four people aboard, a 52-year-old pilot and three passengers in their 20s.  

     The plane arrived at Block Island shortly after 1 p.m. and attempted to land at Old Harbor Beach, touching down about 400 feet from shore and heading towards land.  After traveling about 100 feet the pilot aborted due to rocks and swimmers in the area.  The airplane leveled off at 15 feet and continued towards shore where it rose again to clear a building and some electrical wires.  After clearing the first set of wires, the plane settled downward and caught a second set of wires.  It then dove towards a restaurant known as G.R. Sharkey’s which also had an attached gas station.  One of the aircraft’s pontoons slammed into a car occupied by a 79-yrear-old woman who was parked at the gas pumps, before crashing into the restaurant and bursting into flames.  The woman and three people aboard the plane died at the scene.  One male passenger aboard the aircraft managed to free himself from the wreckage, but later died of his injuries at Rhode Island Hospital.   

     Fortunately the restaurant was fairly empty at the time of the crash, and no patrons or employees were hurt.  

     This incident remains the worst aviation disaster to occur on Block Island.

     Sources:

     National Transportation Safety Board accident report brief – #NYC95FA203 

    New York Times, “Plane Hits Block Island Restaurant, Killing 5”, August 27, 1995

     New York Times, “Small Town tries To Get Over Shattering Plane Crash”, August 28, 1995

     New York Times, “Last 3 Victims Identified In seaplane Crash”, August 29, 1995

Middletown, R.I. – May 25, 1998

Middletown, Rhode Island – May 25, 1998

 

      On May 25, 1998, a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza with four people aboard took off from Nantucket, Massachusetts, bound for Connecticut when it developed engine trouble while in-route.  The nearest airport at the time of the trouble was Rhode Island’s Newport State Airport, which is actually in Middletown, Rhode Island.  As the plane was making its approach, it crashed into a tree at the edge of a field off Jepson Road in Middletown and burst into flame.   Two people in the rear of the plane managed to escape, but the two in front perished.   The survivors were transported to Newport Hospital and were later transferred by helicopter to hospitals in Massachusetts.

     Sources:

     Providence Journal, “Middletown Plane Crash Kills Two, Injures Two”, May 26, 1998 

     Westerly Sun, “Plane Crash Leaves Two Dead”, May 26, 1998

    

         

 

 

Providence River – July 27, 1913

Providence River – July 27, 1913

    

Jack McGee in his "Kite"  Pawtucket (RI) Historical Society Photo

Jack McGee in his “Kite”
Pawtucket (RI) Historical Society Photo

     On the evening of July 27, 1913, Rhode Island aviator Jack McGee was making flights from Crescent Park in East Providence, Rhode Island.  After making a solo flight at 5:30 p.m., he landed and took off again with his younger brother Robert as a passenger.  At about 6:30 McGee then made a third flight, this time with an unidentified friend as a passenger.  As the plane headed out over the Providence River a chain to one of the propellers suddenly snapped and the aircraft began to fall.  There was nothing that McGee could do, and the plane dove nose-first into the river just off the Bullock’s Point Lighthouse, and sank to the bottom taking both men with it. 

     Fortunately the water was only 20 feet deep.  McGee was able to free himself, and then assisted his passenger from the tangled wires of the wreck, and both made it to the surface with relatively minor injuries.  The aeronauts were rescued by a passing boat and brought to shore.   

     The Bullock’s Point Lighthouse was destroyed by the Hurricane of 1938.   

     Source: The Providence Journal, “Two In Aeroplane Fall Into The Bay”, July 28, 1913.  (Article provided by Patricia Zacks.)

Narragansett Bay – May 25, 1913

Narragansett Bay – May 25, 1913

 

    early biplane On May 25, 1913, a Providence baseball team was playing against another team from Jersey City, New Jersey, at a baseball field that overlooked Narragansett Bay.  Part of the post-game festivities included a flight exhibition given by aviator Harry M. Jones, who was locally famous for being the first to fly mail from Boston to New York.  

     Just after 5:00 p.m., his bi-plane was maneuvered to the area of first base in preparation for take off.  As “cargo” Jones was taking along a box of baseballs, which he planned to drop from the air to players on the field. 

     From the start Jones seemed to be having trouble getting the motor to start and keep running, but after several attempts he was successful, and took off in view of several thousand spectators.  After circling the field a few times at an altitude of 50 feet, he began getting ready to  drop the baseballs when the engine suddenly quit.  As the plane began loosing altitude, Jones tried to restart the motor but couldn’t.  His glide path was taking him directly towards the huge crowd of people on the ground who at that point were beginning to scatter in all directions.  Fortunately Jones had just enough altitude to swing the aircraft towards Narragansett Bay, where he crashed into the water and sank with his plane.  Several seconds later he bobbed to the surface, shaken and bruised, but otherwise unhurt. 

     It took four hours to recover the plane from the water.   

     Jones was involved in a more serious crash in Narragansett, Rhode Island on August 9, 1914.  For more details, see Rhode Island Civil Aviation Accidents on this website.         

     Source: The Providence Journal, “Jones, In Biplane, Plunges Into Bay”, May 26, 1913.  (Article supplied by Patricia Zacks.)      

    

T.F. Green Airport – October 20, 1999

T.F. Green Airport – October 20, 1999

     On the evening of October 20, 1999, a Delta Airlines jet, (Flight 2049), en-route to Atlanta, Georgia, was taking off from T.F. green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island, when a tire blew out as the plane was becoming airborne.  Pieces of the tire were sucked into the number 2 engine setting it on fire and causing some smoke to filter into the cabin.

     At 6:28 p.m. the pilot declared an emergency and diverted to Boston’s Logan Airport, for it would have taken just as long to turn around and attempt to return to Green.  (This type of aircraft can fly with just one engine.)  Seventeen minutes later the plane landed safely at Logan at 6:45 p.m. 

     None of the passengers and crew aboard were injured, but two women were transported to a local hospital; one for anxiety, the other due to suffering a seizure.  

     The aircraft involved was a McDonnell Douglas MD-80.   

     Sources:

     Providence Journal, “Jet Forced To Land At Logan After leaving T.F. green”, October 21, 1999   

     Westerly Sun, “Blown-out Tire Caused Plane Engine problems”, October 22, 1999, pg.7

     Providence Journal, “Flight 2049: The Fire, The fear And The Anger”, October 22, 1999, Pg. 1

    

North Central Airport, R.I. – September 30, 2002

North Central Airport, R.I. – September 30, 2002

Skydiving Accident

     On September 30, 2002, Suzanne Costa, 35, of New Bedford, Massachusetts, went to North Central State Airport in Smithfield, Rhode Island, to do some skydiving.  This was to be her 17th jump. 

     When Costa jumped, she landed near a Cessna aircraft that was getting ready to take off with other skydivers aboard.  22-year-old Daren Fiske was assisting the skydivers get aboard when he saw Costa land in front of the plane.  Her parachute fell across the spinning prop and she was pulled in.  At the same instant, Fiske tackled Costa and held on as the pilot quickly cut the engine.  

     Although seriously injured, Costa recovered from her injuries.

     Sources:

     Providence Journal, “Skydiver Entangled In Plane’s Propeller”, by Michael Corkery, September 30, 2002

     Boston Herald, “Skydiver Survives Propeller Accident”, by Franci Richardson, October 1, 2002.  

 

    

Smithfield, R.I. – November 17, 2008

Smithfield, Rhode Island – November 17, 2008

     On the evening of November 17, 2008, a Piper PA-38, (N2316P) was approaching runway 33 at North Central State Airport in Smithfield, when it crashed in a wooded area about 2/3 of a mile short of the runway.  The plane exploded on impact killing both the pilot and his passenger.

     The dead were identified as (Pilot) Robert A. Zoglio Jr., 43, of Richmond, R.I., and Ronald Tetreault, 64, of Glocester, R.I.   

     The plane had left Green State Airport in Warwick, R.I. bound for North Central to practice landings and take-offs.    

     Sources:

     NSTB Report #ERA09FA060

     Providence Journal, “Two Killed In Plane Crash In Smithfield”, November 18, 2008, Section B, Pg. B1

     Providence Journal, “Experienced pilots died doing what they loved”, November 19, 2008, Pg. 1

    

 

The Lockheed Learstar Disaster – December 15, 1958

THE LOCKHEED LEARSTAR DISASTER

North Smithfield, Rhode Island – December 15, 1958

      One of Rhode Island’s worst civil aviation crashes occurred in the town of North Smithfield, Rhode Island during a snowstorm which claimed the lives of seven people. 

     At about 8:30 a.m., on December 15, 1958, a twin engine, Lockheed, Learstar, (Registration N37500) owned by the Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Company took off from Linden, New Jersey, bound for Logan Airport in Boston.  The plane carried five passengers, all top executives for Johnson & Johnson, and a crew of two. 

     From Boston, the executives were to go on to Gloucester, Massachusetts, where the company operated its LePage Glue Division.  While en-route to Boston the plane ran into an unexpected snowstorm and was diverted by Logan officials to land in Beverly, Massachusetts.  When the aircraft arrived at Beverly, the crew was informed that they too were closed due to weather.  With no other option, the pilot set a course southward back to New Jersey.

     As the plane passed over the town of Franklin, Massachusetts, a town just to the north of the Rhode Island border, the pilot reported that one of the engines had died. This was the last radio transmission ever heard from the aircraft. 

     The plane continued south and passed over the town of Bellingham, Massachusetts, where  a man living on Pond Street later reported that he heard a plane overhead with an engine sputtering.

      The aircraft then passed over the City of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, and then North Smithfield. The nearest airport at this point would have been North Central State Airport in Smithfield, about four miles away, and it was later speculated that the crew was attempting to reach the airport when the plane went down. 

     Although it was equipped with radar, the plane was flying in heavy snow, and the cloud ceiling was a mere 400 feet.  The pilots were in effect, “flying blind”, relying on instruments to get them to safe haven.   

      At 9:45, the Learstar plunged nose first into a swampy wooded area between Farnum Pike, (Route 104)  and Douglas Pike, (Route 7) below the old New Haven Rail Road tracks, about half a mile in from the road, and three-and-a-half miles short of the runway at North Central Airport. 

     A woman living on Slatersville Road heard the crash and called North Smithfield’s, Chief of Police, Joseph Freitas, to report that she thought a plane had crashed. 

     As a ground search got underway, a National Guard aircraft began searching overhead, and within a few minutes the wreckage was spotted, and the Guard plane began to circle to draw ground searchers to the site. 

     Chief Freitas was one of the first to reach the scene where he found one man still alive, lying with his lower extremities in a pool of icy water mixed with aviation fuel.  Rescue workers carefully pulled him free and laid him on dry land where he died shortly thereafter. 

     The cockpit containing the pilot and co-pilot had buried itself in the soft mud and was submerged under gasoline soaked water.  Firemen found four other bodies in the crumpled passenger compartment. The Reverend Thomas I. Myrick, pastor of Saint John’s Church in Slatersville, was on hand to administer last rites.  It took until 7:30 p.m. to recover the bodies of the crew. 

     The dead were identified as:

     The pilot, Alexander Sable of Metuchen, N.J.

     The co-pilot, Edward Luidcinaitis of Roselle, N.J..  

     Nelson A. Bergstend, age 45, of Linden, N.J.

     Ferdinand Liot, age 39, of Franklin Park, N.J.

     Stephen Baksal, age 44, of Scotch Plain, N.J.

     Raymond Buese, age 31, of South River, N.J.  

     Jesse Hackney, of Pleasentville, N.J. 

     Mr. Bergstend was wearing a broken wristwatch that stopped at 9:45.      

     Investigators later determined that the cause of the crash was ice formation in the carburetors of the engines. It was said that carburetor icing was a fairly common danger in a plane of this type.  Investigators believed the first engine failed due to icing, and the second failed afterward for the same reason. 

      This accident served as a lesson for all big business corporations when it came to transportation of top executives – not to transport everyone together in the same aircraft.  This way, if an accident did occur, the entire top management staff isn’t lost.  Today, many corporations fly top executives on separate flights for this reason.

     The area where the accident occurred is now occupied by a sand and gravel company. 

 Sources:

Woonsocket Call, “Crippled Plane Sought In Area”, December 15, 1958, Pg. 1

Woonsocket Call, “…Engine Failure Seen”, December 15, 1958, Pg. 1

Woonsocket Call,  “Investigators Seek Crash Solution”, December 16, 1958

Woonsocket Call, “Routine Flight Gives Hill Man 1st Crash View”, December 16, 1958

Woonsocket Call, “Air Crash Story Wrapped Up By Call While Presses Roll”, December 16, 1958

Woonsocket Call, “Carburetor Icing Seen Crash Cause”, December 1958

Providence Journal, “Pilot Cleared In Woon. Crash”, October 8, 1960, Pg. 5

Providence Journal, “Icing ‘Probable’ Cause of crash Which Killed 7”, February 20, 1961, Pg, 27

 

Providence, R.I. – July 16, 1892

Providence, Rhode Island – July 16, 1892 

    

Old Postcard View Of The Providence Armory  And Dexter Training Field - Providence, R.I.

Old Postcard View Of The Providence Armory
And Dexter Training Field – Providence, R.I.

     On July 16, 1892, four men took off in a balloon from the Dexter training field located next to the Providence Armory.  The balloon was named Royal Sovereign, and belonged to the famous aeronaut “Professor” James K. Allen who was at the controls.  Besides Allen, the balloon also carried his assistant Charles E. Albee, an unidentified reporter from the Providence Journal, and a fourth man, Edward Barnett.    

     Almost as soon as the Royal Sovereign lifted from the ground, it was caught by a strong wind that carried it towards Dexter Street which was lined with trees and houses.  Allen quickly tried to release several bags of ballast to gain altitude, but he couldn’t do it fast enough, and the balloon scrapped the tree tops and crashed into several chimneys as it continued in a southeast direction over Cranston Street and towards Lester Street.  As the craft flew across Lester Street it snagged several telephone and electrical wires tearing them free from the poles.  When it did so, Allen was pitched from the controls and tossed to the street where he suffered a broken leg, a fractured knee, and multiple bumps and bruises.  What may have saved is life is the fact that held fast to the emergency release rope which tore open the side of the balloon as he fell possibly slowing his descent. 

     As the gas escaped, the balloon fell rapidly and crashed into a barn about fifty yards from where Allen lay in the street.  The impact threw the other three men from the gondola, but their injuries were not life threatening.  

     Allen was taken to his home in an ambulance where doctors set his leg. 

     Source:

     New York Times, “Another Balloon Accident” July 17, 1892

Smithfield, R. I. – March 8, 1990

Smithfield, Rhode Island – March 8, 1990

      On the afternoon of March 8, 1990, five friends from Providence College met at North Central State Airport in Smithfield to go flying.  One of the group, Scott H. Lyons, 20, had a pilots license, and had been certified the day before for carrying passengers.  

     Lyons rented a two-seat Piper Tomahawk (N2603G) and took off around 1:00 p.m. with one passenger, his college roommate, Gregory D. Aucoin, 20, while the other three members of their group waited at the airport for their turn. 

     Shortly after takeoff, when the plane was about five miles from the airport, the engine began to sputter.  Two Smithfield Highway Department workers cutting brush in the area heard the sputtering and witnessed the plane go down. 

     The plane crashed in a wooded area of the Judson Farm at the end of Williams Road.  It didn’t burn on impact, but both men aboard were killed.

     Sources:

     Providence Journal, “Plane Goes Down In Smithfield Woods”, March 9, 1990 Pg. 1A

     Providence Journal, “PC Students’ Flight Ended Lives Full Of Promise”, March 10, 1990, Pg. A1

     Journal Bulletin, “PC Roommates Die In Airplane Crash”, March 10, 1990, Pg. A1

Smithfield, R.I. – November 6, 1988

Smithfield, Rhode Island – November 6, 1988

     On November 6, 1988, a Cessna 152 II, (N5462B), carrying two people crashed in a field on Mann School Road in Smithfield killing both.  Shortly before the crash, the plane was seen making several low passes over the passenger’s home. 

     The dead were identified as (pilot) Harrison G. Chapman, 37, of Key Largo Florida, and (passenger) Lauren A. Sullivan, 35, of Smithfield. 

     Source:

     Woonsocket Call, “Two Killed In “Pleasure Ride” Out Of North Central Airport”, November 7, 1988  

     NTSB report brief #NYC89FA021, microfiche # 39456

 

Westerly, R.I. – July 2, 1978

Westerly, Rhode Island – July 2, 1978

     Shortly before 8:30 p.m. on the evening of July 2, 1978, a Cherokee Six took off from Westerly Airport with two men and two women aboard bound for Poughkeepsie, New York.  Heavy fog covered the area making flying hazardous.  When the plane was about four miles from the airport it crashed and burned in a pasture near East Avenue, about 200 yards from a residential development.  All aboard were killed.  Their identities were not given.    

     Source: The Schenectady Gazette, “Plane Crash In R. I. Kills All 4 Aboard”, July 8, 1978

North Central State Airport – April 21, 1986

North Central State Airport – April 21, 1986

Smithfield, Rhode Island

     At 12:30 p.m. on April 21, 1986, a Cessna 310 (N128K), left Willow Run Airport in Michigan bound for North Central Airport in Smithfield, R.I., to make a delivery for a company located in North Smithfield.  

     At 3:28 p.m. the pilot took off for his return flight, and according to witnesses, circled the airport area twice before suddenly diving nose-first onto a rocky outcrop about 600 feet from the north-south runway.  The plane exploded on impact killing the 23-year-old pilot. 

     One witness from a business located on Albion Road told a Woonsocket Call reporter, “It made a low pass over our shop the first time it came by.  The engines sounded okay.  I just thought the pilot was disoriented.  When it came by low again the second time, it was flipped over on it side, and when it went over the fence (separating Albion Road from the airport) it was completely flipped over and no where near where it should have been approaching from.”

     Sources:

     Woonsocket Call, “Michigan Pilot Killed In Fiery No. Central Crash”, April 22, 1986 

     NTSB report NYC86FA112, microfiche # 32967    

West Greenwich, R.I. – May 22, 1976

West Greenwich, Rhode Island – May 22, 1976  

     At about noon time on May 22, 1976, a helicopter carrying Rhode Island’s Governor Phillip Noel, and a pilot, Thomas Shortall, left T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island, and landed at the Warwick Mall about three miles away.  At 12:15 p.m., the helicopter took off again bound for the Alton Jones Campus of the University of Rhode Island, located in West Greenwich, where the Governor was scheduled to address the American Federation of Teachers. 

     The helicopter was scheduled to land in a hay field on the campus, where a police car awaited to transport the Governor to his scheduled talk.  As the helicopter was making its final approach at an altitude of about 200 feet, it suddenly lost the tail rotor and fell into the woods surrounding the field.  

      Both the Governor and Mr. Shortall were admitted to Kent County Hospital in Warwick, with non-life-threatening injuries.   The helicopter was wrecked.

     Sources:

     (Del.) Wilmington Sate-News, “Rhode Island Governor Hurt In Copter Crash”, May 23, 1976 

     (Ct.) The Day, “Governor Noel, Pilot Suffer Injuries In Helicopter Crash”, May 24, 1976

Glocester, R. I. – February 22, 1981

Glocester, Rhode Island – February 22, 1981 

     On February 22, 1981, two men took off from Franklin Airport near Williamsburg, Virginia, bound for Bedford, Massachusetts, when they ran into fog and clouds over New England.  While over the Glocester area, the aircraft crashed on a wooded hilltop overlooking Spring Grove Pond, on the east side of Spring Grove Road.   

     Both pilot and passenger were able to extricate themselves from the wreck before police and fire arrived, and were transported to Fogarty Hospital in North Smithfield for non-life-threatening injuries.

     The aircraft, a Piper Cherokee PA-28 (N5248L) was a total loss.   

Sources: 

Rhode Island State Police Report – Chepachet Barracks #5-81  

Providence Journal, “2 Survive Chepachet Plane Crash” February 23, 1981   

 

Jamestown, R. I. – July 1, 1976

Jamestown, Rhode Island – July 1, 1976

Off Beavertail Light

     As part of America’s 1976 bicentennial celebration, a flotilla of tall ships comprising sailing vessels from around the world made their way to the United States and down the east coast.   On July 1, 1976, after visiting Newport, the ships left Rhode Island for New York.  As they were passing for review just off the coast of Jamestown near Beavertail Light, two private aircraft narrowly missed having a mid-air collision.   As one aircraft flew on, the other was seen going down into the water about 50 yards off the eastern shore of Beavertail Park.  It sank immediately and no survivors were seen in the water.

     The downed aircraft, a Piper PA-28, (N9184K) was piloted by Charles Kramos, of Barrington, R.I.  His body was later recovered by divers.  The other aircraft was not identified.

     Sources:

     (Meriden Ct.) The Morning Record, “Plane Crashes While Circling Ship Parade”, July 2, 1976

     (New London, Ct.) The Day, “Plane Crash Mars Start Of Tall Ships”, July 2, 1976, Pg. 19    

Jamestown, R. I. – August 1, 1968

Jamestown, Rhode Island – August 1, 1968

     On August 1, 1968, a single engine Cessna flying over Jamestown struck a 600 foot radio antenna near Beavertail Light.  It then crashed and burned.  The pilot and two passengers aboard were killed, but not identified in the newspaper.

     The antenna belonged to the U.S. Navy, and had been put into operation less than three months earlier on May 22.      

Source: Woonsocket Call, “”Trio Killed As Light Plane Hits Jamestown Guy Wire”, August 1, 1968, Pg. 1 

Westerly Airport – June 19, 1965

Westerly Airport – June 19, 1965

Westerly, Rhode Island

     On June 19, 1965, a small plane with two men aboard crashed while attempting an emergency landing at Westerly Airport.  Both men were killed.

     The dead were identified as (pilot) Robert White, 25, of Stratford, Ct., and Herman Stephens of Moosup, Ct.. 

     Witnesses said the planes engine could be heard “sputtering” on approach.  In May of 1966, the Civil Aeronautics Board released the finding of its investigation.  “An inspection revealed low compression of the No. 3 cylinder with appreciable leakage of the No. 3 intake valve…From the overall evidence it was concluded that a power failure did occur.”    

Source: Woonsocket Call, “Power Failure Blamed For RI Plane Crash”, May 9, 1966, Pg. 1  

Warwick, R.I. – November 1, 1962

Warwick, Rhode Island – November 1, 1962

     On November 1, 1962, a plane carrying a pilot and one passenger crashed in heavy fog as it approached Hillsgrove Airport. (T.F. Green Airport.)  The pilot survived the crash, but his passenger did not.  

Source: New York Times, “Pilot Found Alive In Crash; Passenger Is dead In Cabin”, November 2, 1962

Smithfield Airport, R.I. – August 25, 1940

Smithfield Airport, Smithfield, Rhode Island – August 25, 1940

     On August 25, 1940, Stanley G. Smith, 21, of Woonsocket, crashed while practicing take-offs and landings at the Smithfield Airport.  His aircraft landed upside-down in an apple orchard about 275 yards from the end of the grass runway.  The plane, a 1937 Continental Cub Monoplane (NC-20012) was a total wreck, but fortunately Smith escaped with only minor injuries.   Undaunted by his brush with death, he climbed into another airplane and flew again a few minutes later!

     The former Smithfield Airport was located where Bryant University stands today.  The runway was located near the present-day football stadium.  The airport opened in 1932, and remained in operation into the 1950s, and should not be confused with present-day North Central State Airport, which is located in Smithfield, R. I., and is sometimes referred to as the Smithfield Airport.    

Source:

Woonsocket Call, “Woonsocket Flier Escapes Serious Injury As Plane Crashes Near Smithfield Airport.” August 26, 1940

       

Lincoln, R. I. – June 22, 1982

Lincoln, Rhode Island – June 22, 1982

     On the evening of June 22, 1982, Hiramy L. Moore, 42, took off from North Central State Airport in Smithfield, R. I. for a pleasure flight in his home-built, Davis model DA-2A, with the word “Experimental” on the side.  The plans for building such aircraft, it was reported, were available through magazines, and Moore built his in 1978.  It was approved by the FAA and Moore had flown his many times without incident.

     About fifteen minutes into the flight the aircraft developed engine trouble, and crashed on the green to the sixth hole at Lincoln Country Club on Dexter Rock Road.   The impact drove the body of the pilot three feet into the earth, killing him instantly. 

     One witness reported hearing a loud “pop” from the engine just before the crash.

     Source: Woonsocket Call, “Pilot Is Killed In Lincoln Crash”, June 23, 1982

North Central Airport – June 24, 1978

North Central Airport – June 24, 1978

Smithfield, Rhode Island

     On June 25, 1978, a local man went to North Central State Airport to fly his aircraft, a Grumman AA-1A, and discovered that the battery was dead.  A 19-year-old mechanic went to assist, and attempted to hand-start the plane.  When the engine suddenly kicked over, the propeller blade struck the mechanic in the head causing an open fracture to his skull.   He was rushed to a nearby hospital and underwent surgery, but succumbed to his injuries on June 30th.

Sources:

Woonsocket Call, “Propeller Accident Injures Mechanic”, June 25, 1978.  

NTSB Report #NYC78FNA32

 

Smithfield, R. I. – February 4, 1977

Smithfield, Rhode Island – February 4, 1977

Nadeau Farm, Limerock Road

     Shortly before 11:30 a.m. on February 4, 1977, a Cessna 150-L (N6756G) made a run over North Central State Airport at an altitude of only 200 feet.  (The normal height for a run at the airport is 800 feet.) Runway workers who saw the plane go by noted it didn’t make a turn to land, and considered the possibility that it may have been involved in an accident.  They drove to the end of the runway, and then along the tree line, but after finding nothing, returned to their work figuring the pilot had decided not to land.  Unknown to everyone at the time was that the plane had crashed into a livestock shed on the farm of Edward Nadeau on Limerock Road. 

     The accident was discovered by Mr. Nadeau when he went out to feed his cattle.  Rescue personnel responded, and found one man, flight instructor Steven Nottell, 30, of Cranston, R. I., still alive and transported him to Fogarty Memorial Hospital in North Smithfield, where he was listed in critical condition.  Another man, student pilot Paul D. Gurette, 24, of North Kingstown, R. I., was dead at the scene.  

     Officials ruled out engine trouble as no distress call had been received, and theorized the plane may have stalled while attempting to turn back towards the airport.  It landed nose-down, with the tail sticking upwards out of the shed.

     On February 8th, it was reported that officials suspected a second aircraft may have been involved, and that a possible minor mid-air collision may have occurred.  This idea was based on some un-explained traces of paint found on the fuselage, and that someone reported another Cessna had taken off from the airport shortly before the accident.  However, this theory was later discounted.   

     On February 17th, it was reported that Steven Nottell was still in a coma, and had not regained consciousness since the crash, and investigators said they still hadn’t determined a cause for the accident. 

     On March 6, 1977, it was reported that Mr. Nottell had passed away, and never regained consciousness.

     Sources:    

     Woonsocket Call, “Man Killed, 1 Critical, In Smithfield”, February 4, 1977.    

     Woonsocket Call, “Plane Crash Survivor Critical”, February 5, 1977.

     Providence Journal, “Flight Teacher Still Critical”, February 6, 1977, Pg. B-15.

     Woonsocket Call, “Prober Suspects Midair Scrape In Plane Crash”, February 8, 1977

     Providence Journal, “Second Plane Eyed As Cause Of Fatal Crash”, February 8, 1977, Pg. B-1.    

     Providence Journal, “Aviation Officials Discount 2nd Plane”, February 9, 1977, Pg. B-4.

     Providence Journal, “Air Crash Victim Still In Coma After 12 Days”, February 17, 1977, Pg. B-13.

     Providence Journal, “Second Air Crash Victim Dies”, March 6, 1977, Pg. B-15.

       

 

    

Lincoln, R. I. – July 24, 1971

Lincoln, Rhode Island – July 24, 1971

     In the early morning hours of July 24, 1971, two men took off from North Central State Airport in Smithfield, R.I. for a practice flight.  The pilot, Robert R. Rogers, 32, of North Providence, R.I., was flying with one passenger, Pasquale J. Petrarca, 28, of Providence.  At about 2:40 a.m. while circling the airport, the aircraft suddenly went down in a wooded area about a quarter of a mile from the airport.  Both men were killed instantly.

     The airport is located in Smithfield, R.I., but the aircraft came down in the town of Lincoln, R.I.  The airport sits on the town line.

     The aircraft involved was a Cessna 172-K  (N84446)  

     Source:

     Woonsocket Call, “Lincoln Plane Crash Kills 2”, July 25, 1971

Smithfield, R. I. – August 19, 1970

Smithfield, Rhode Island  – August 19, 1970

Updated July 6, 2017

     At 9:35 p.m., on August 19, 1970, an single-engine Ercoupe Model E, (N94832), took off from runway 23 at North Central State Airport in Smithfield.   According to witnesses, shortly thereafter, the plane made two left turns, as if the pilot was attempting to land back on the runway.   Then the plane suddenly exploded in mid-air and nose-dived into a wooded area off Lime Rock Road.  The lone pilot did not survive.    

     One theory considered by investigators was that the pilot had experienced engine trouble.   

     Sources: 

    Woonsocket Call, “Plane Crash Victim Believed Johnston Man”, August 20, 1970, Pg. 1  

     Providence Journal, “Man Killed In Burning Plane Crash”, August 20, 1970 (with photo)

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Pilot Killed As Plane Explodes, Crashes In Smithfield Woods”, August 20, 1970, page 2 (with photo)

North Central Airport – July 19, 1952

North Central Airport – July 19, 1952

Smithfield, Rhode Island

     North Central State Airport, located in the northeast corner of Smithfield, Rhode Island, opened in December of 1951.  Several months later the first aviation related fatality at the airport occurred there.

     On July 18, 1952, Clinton Corey, 31, made an emergency landing at North Central Airport after the Piper Cub he was piloting developed engine trouble.  The aircraft was owned by E. W. Wiggins Airways of Norwood, Massachusetts, which Corey worked for.  He notified the company of the situation, and arrangements were made to leave the plane overnight to be repaired the following day.

     On the morning of July 19th, Corey returned with William Coullahan, another Wiggins employee, in another Wiggins aircraft.  Both men thoroughly went over the aircraft Corey had been flying the day before, and by 3:30 p.m. they deemed it ready for a flight back to Norwood. 

     Coullahan climbed aboard the plane they had been working on, while Corey agreed to fly the other one.  Coullahan was to take off first, and then Corey would follow, and both would stay together while en-route back to Norwood.       

     As Coullahan took off, he completed a 200 foot circle at the end of the field before suddenly crashing in a cow pasture just beyond the airport.  Coullahan was taken to Roger Williams Hospital in Providence where he died the following day.

     Coullahan, 29, of Westwood, Mass. was a Marine Corps veteran of World War II where he served in the Pacific Theatre.  He was survived by his wife Florence Mae. 

Sources:

Providence Journal, “Mass.. pilot Injured When Plane Falls Near Smithfield Airport”, July 20, 1952, Pg. S1  

Providence Journal, “Mass. pilot Dies After R.I. Crash”, July 21, 1952, Pg. 20

Woonsocket Call, Photo with caption. July 21, 1952, Pg. 5

Westerly, R. I. – March 4, 1950

Westerly, Rhode Island – March 4, 1950

     On March 4, 1950, two civil aircraft, a Cessna 140, and a Cessna 170, collided in mid-air about a mile-and-a-half off the shore of the Misquamicut section of Westerly and went down in the water.  Each aircraft carried two people; each a flight student and their instructors.

     The Coast Guard was called to employ divers in the search for the aircraft.  Debris from both planes was later washed ashore, confirming that neither plane made it to shore after the collision. 

     As the search continued, many spectators lined the beaches despite the cold weather.  Some doubted the planes would be found.  The Providence Journal reported in part,  “Westerly residents recalled yesterday that during World War II some half-dozen Navy planes had crashed in approximately the same area as the two light craft Saturday, and that neither the planes nor the pilots ever were found. They attributed this to the existence of a rock ledge some distance offshore which deflects the strong tides of the vicinity and tends to wash objects on the bottom out to sea rather than towards shore.”    

     Those aboard the Cessan 170 were identified as (pilot) William A. McCormac, 39, and Lester Silvers, 26. 

     Those aboard the Cessna 140 were identified as (pilot) Reginald Delagrange, 31, and Arthur E. Smith, 25.

     Sources:

Providence Journal, “Divers To Seek 2 Aircraft In Which Four Lost Lives” March 6, 1950, Pg. 2

New York Times, “Four Feared Dead In Crash Of Planes”, March 6, 1950 

 

    

Smithfield Airport – May 17, 1947

Smithfield Airport – May 17, 1947

Smithfield, Rhode Island

     On May 17, 1947, pilot Charles J. Kirby, 34, of Cranston, suffered critical injuries when he undershot the grass runway at Smithfield Airport and crashed his WWII surplus monoplane through a stone wall.   He was transported to Roger Williams Hospital in Providence. 

     The Smithfield Airport opened in 1932, and once occupied the land now owned by Bryant University.  The airfield was located where the Bryant football stadium stands today.  Smithfield  Airport no longer exists, and should not be confused with North Central State Airport, which is still an active airport in the town of Smithfield, Rhode Island.

Source:

Woonsocket Call, “Men Escape Without Injuries As Plane Crashes In Cumberland”, May 26, 1947.  This article focused on a plane crash in Cumberland, R. I. which occurred on May 25, 1947, but mentioned that the Cumberland accident was the third aviation accident for the month of May in Rhode Island.  One of the other two accidents mentioned was the one in Smithfield at the Smithfield Airport on May 17th.  

 

Berkley Airfield – May 25, 1947

Berkley Airfield – May 25, 1947

Cumberland, Rhode Island

     On May 25, 1947, Harold H. Horning, 25, was attempting to take off from Berkley Airfield in Cumberland, when the engine suddenly lost power just after he had left the ground.  Horning managed to maneuver the aircraft away from a group of boys playing baseball at the far end of the field just before crashing.    

     The aircraft was wrecked, but Horning, and his two passengers, (brother) Edward Horning, 30, and Raymond Paquette, 46, all escaped without injury.    

     Berkley Airfield once existed in the Berkley section of the town of Cumberland, R. I..    

Source:

Providence Journal, “Men Escape Without Injuries As Plane Crashes In Cumberland”, May 26, 1947, Pg. 1 

Hillsgrove Airport – May 14, 1947

     Hillsgrove Airport – May 14, 1947

Warwick, Rhode Island

     On the afternoon of May 14, 1947, a helicopter being flown by a student pilot and an instructor crashed just after takeoff at Hillsgrove State Airport in Warwick.  According to witnesses, the aircraft was about 200 feet in the air when one of the rotor blades suddenly broke away. 

     Both men aboard were killed in the accident.  The dead were identified as: Robert F. Chott, 29, of Providence, the instructor, and Gardiner Watts, 27, of Boston, the student.    

Source: New York Times, “2 In Helicopter Killed” May 15, 1947 

    

Lincoln, R. I. – December 18, 1946

Lincoln, Rhode Island – December 18, 1946

     On December 18, 1946, William E. Ouger, 19, took off from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, in a Ercoupe monoplane  bound for Hillsgrove Airport in Warwick, R.I.    As he was passing over northern Rhode Island, he noticed that his aircraft was very low on fuel, so he began looking for a place to land.  He spotted Clarke’s Field in Albion section of Lincoln, R. I., and attempted to land there, but he overshot the field and crashed in the middle of the intersection of Manville and Contrexeville Roads.  Ougar crawled out of the wrecked airplane virtually unharmed.

     The airplane was owned by the Connecticut Aviation Company.   

     Source:

     Woonsocket Call, “Plane crashes On Albion Rd., Pilot Uninjured”, December 18, 1946

Cumberland, R. I. – September 8, 1940

Cumberland, Rhode Island – September 8, 1940

     On September 8, 1940, a small airplane crashed in a cornfield off Diamond Hill Road in Cumberland, not far from the Woonsocket Airport.  The plane was badly damaged, but there were no rep[orts of injuries.  No further details were mentioned.

Source: Woonsocket Call, “Twas A Corn-y Landing”, September 9, 1940, Pg. 4

Off Prudence Island, R.I. – October 26, 1984

Off Prudence Island, Rhode Island – October 26, 1984

     On the evening of October 26,1984, a small private plane with a husband and wife aboard left T.F. Green State Airport in Warwick, R.I., bound for Prudence Island, an island located in Narragansett Bay.   The couple owned property on Prudence Island, and routinely commuted via airplane to the mainland.

     The plane left T.F. Green at 6:40 p.m.  The weather at the time was cloudy and rain was falling.  At 8:25 p.m. that night the plane was reported overdue.

     The following morning, two friends of the missing couple began a search using an aircraft, and spotted the wreckage in 8 feet of water between Prudence Island and Patience Island.  The tails section had been torn away by the crash.

     Divers recovered the body of the wife inside the aircraft, but the husband was reportedly missing.  

     Source:

     The Day, “One Dead, One Missing In R.I. Plane Crash”, October 28, 1984

North Smithfield, R.I. – May 11,1941

North Smithfield, R.I. – May 11, 1941

Slatersville Athletic Field

     On May 11, 1941, George W. Verdon Jr., 22, took off from Ironstone Airport in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, in a small airplane.  Shortly afterward he developed engine trouble and was forced to make an emergency landing at the Slatersville Athletic Field in North Smithfield, Rhode Island. After landing safely, he set to work on the motor.  After awhile, he was ready to take off again.

     As the aircraft began to leave the ground the engine suddenly cut out and the plane nosed into the field and skidded to a halt.  George emerged with minor injuries and was takne to Woonsocket Hospital for treatment.

Source: Woonsocket Call, “Plane Crashes On Slatersville Athletic Field”, May 12, 1941 

       

Hillsgrove Airport – August 28, 1935

Hillsgrove Airport – August 28, 1935 

Warwick, Rhode Island     

Vintage Hillsgrove Airport Postcard. Today known as T.F. Green State Airport - Warwick, R.I.

Vintage Hillsgrove Airport Postcard.
Today known as T.F. Green State Airport – Warwick, R.I.

     On the morning of August 28, 1935, veteran pilot Joshua Crane Jr., 37, began his final approach to a temporary field adjoining Hillsgrove Airport from an altitude of 1500 feet.  Crane was flying a Waco, model YOC, (NC-14621), a four passenger aircraft.   Also aboard was Arthur E. Howe, 26, of Philadelphia.  Both were en-route from Boston to Cleveland, Ohio, and were stopping at Hillsgrove to pick up a third man, Arthur L. Johnson of Cranston. 

    The weather was clear with a southwest wind of 20 miles per hour and gusty.  When the plane had dropped to 500 feet, a gust of wind sent it into a left spin and it plunged to the ground in a small lot on Occupassatuxet Road in Warwick’s Hoxie section, miraculously missing any houses in the area.  (Occupassatuxet Road no longer exists.  It was taken by eminent domain during an airport expansion project.) The impact drove the plane’s motor into the passenger cabin causing severe crushing injuries to both men.   

     Bystanders pulled Crane and Howe from the crumpled wreck and both were transported St. Joseph’s Hospital in critical condition.  Crane died shortly afterwards, and Howe was reportedly only given a 50-50 chance of survival.   

    The death of Joshua Crane came as a shock to the New England aviation world, for he was regarded as an excellent pilot throughout the region. He began flying after graduating from Harvard University in 1917 at the age of twenty.  At that time, World War I was raging in Europe and he enlisted in the United States Navy as a pilot where he received training at Squantum, Massachusetts, and Hampton Roads, Virginia.  By 1918 he was stationed in England flying anti-submarine patrols trying to prevent German U-boats from attacking convoys.  

     While in England, he met his future wife Dora, and they married in 1920.  

     After leaving the navy, he continued flying in the relatively new sport of air racing where his reputation grew.  Besides racing, he also became involved with several air-passenger service ventures that flew out of Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.   By 1930 he had become general manager of Southern New England Airways, Inc., a long defunct service that once flew out of Pawtucket, Rhode Island.  During the literally thousands of hours he logged in the air, it was estimated that he had transported more than 25,000 passengers.

     In addition to passengers, he also flew humanitarian missions and ferried people for the government.  On one occasion he flew from Boston with a planeload of prisoners destined for the federal penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.  Shortly before his death, he had taken Rhode Island’s Governor Theodore Francis Green and a military aide to an army camp in upstate New York to observe war games.  The plane that the governor flew on was the same one that Mr. Crane was piloting the day he crashed. 

     Like many pilots, Crane had his share of “close calls”.  One incident occurred in November of 1930 when a glider he was piloting went down in Pawtucket.  Neither he nor his two passengers were seriously hurt. In April of 1933 his plane loaded with passengers crash landed in southern Rhode Island when the motor lost power, but thankfully those aboard suffered only minor injuries.  Then in July of that same year the landing gear collapsed as he touched down at an airport in Skowhegan, Maine. 

     In February of 1934 he became stranded on an island that he owned known as “No Man’s Land” located about three miles off the southern coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.  (Today the island is known as “Normans Land”). On that occasion, he had “nosed-over” on landing and damaged the propeller which forced him to wait until the Coast Guard could bring a new one.   

     The accident which killed Joshua Crane was investigated by the Department of Commerce.  Investigators who examined the wreckage found, “The airplane was so broken up that very little could be learned as to the control system prior to the accident except that all control surfaces were still attached, and the left wing flap was found to be in full down position while the right one was in full up position.  In analyzing this accident, full cognizance was given to the fact that most probably the left wing flap functioned while the right one did not.” 

    This possible malfunction of the flaps, combined with gusty wind conditions, may have led to the crash.  

Sources:

The Woonsocket Call, Joshua Crane Jr., Dead, Passenger Injured In Crash”, August 28, 1935, Page 1.

The Providence Journal, “Joshua Crane, Jr., Fatally Injured As Plane Crashes”, August 29, 1935, Page 1.

Department Of Commerce, Report of the Accident Board 

 

 

Woonsocket R.I. – March 17, 1936

Woonsocket, R.I. – March 17, 1936

    

Plane crash in Woonsocket R.I., Oak Hill Cemetery  March 17, 1936 Woonsocket Call Photo

Plane crash in Woonsocket R.I., Oak Hill Cemetery
March 17, 1936
Woonsocket Call Photo

     On the afternoon of March 17, 1936, Waldemar M. E. Hagberg, 26, of Springfield, Massachusetts, flew two passengers from Springfield to Boston.  He later left Boston Airport at 8:40 p.m. to return to Springfield, and got lost in fog as he neared Worcester.  Realizing his situation, he set down on  the frozen ice on Indian Lake located in northern Worcester, but  afterwards discovered that he couldn’t get to shore due to surrounding water.  He therefore took off again hoping to find Grafton Airport in the neighboring community of Grafton.  Unfortunately the Grafton Airport wasn’t lighted, and Waldemar circled for some time unable to locate it.   He then decided to set a course towards Providence, Rhode Island, but found the weather getting worse the farther south he flew.  As he passed over the City of Woonsocket, he saw the lights below and began looking for a place to land.  After circling for several minutes he saw what appeared to be a clear area.

     The area was dark, which indicated that there were probably no wires from streetlights or buildings, but he couldn’t tell about any trees.  Fearing that he might not find another opportunity, he decided to take a chance and make a landing.   After cutting his motor and turning off his navigation lights to prevent a fire, he nursed his airplane down slowly until the landing gear unexpectedly struck some tree tops.  Waldemar  yanked back on the stick as the plane tore through the branches and came to rest almost nose first. 

     Waldemar was shaken, but not injured.  As he climbed fro the wreck, he discovered that he had crashed in Woonsocket’s Oak Hill Cemetery, which accounted for the trees and lack of lights.   Officers W. L. Cote, and William Brady transported him to Woonsocket Hospital for examination.

     The plane was a Kittyhawk bi-plane with room for a pilot and two passengers.   

Source:

Woonsocket Call, “Air Pilot Escapes Injury In Landing In City Cemetery”, March 18, 1936 

 

 

 

Hillsgrove Airport – December 22, 1940

Hillsgrove Airport – December 22, 1940

Warwick, Rhode Island

     On December 22, 1940, two aircraft, each flown by student pilots, collided in mid-air directly over Hillsgrove Airport.  One, an Aeronca Cub, flown by Gilbert B. Kornstein, 19, and the other a Taylorcraft, flown by Millard McInnis, 26.   

    The impact broke the tail off the Aeronca, sending it plummeting to the ground killing Kornstein instantly.

     McInnis was able to nurse his damaged plane down, clipping a tree and flipping over in the Norwood section of Warwick, about three miles from the airport.  He required a tourniquet to stem the flow of blood from a leg wound, but he survived. 

Source: 

Woonsocket Call, “Young North Smithfield Flier Dies In Mid-Air Crash”, December 23, 1940, Pg. 1  

    

Block Island, R.I. – August 27, 1931

Block Island, R. I. – August 27, 1931

     Very little information is available about this accident.  On the afternoon of August 27, 1931, Evald Lundberg, a.k.a. Gottfred E. Lundberg, of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, was burned to death when his airplane crashed on Block Island after his engine failed.

     For those that don’t know, Block Island is three miles off the coast of Rhode Island. 

Source: New York Times, “Flier Dies In Block Island Crash”, August 28, 1931.     

Westerly, R. I. – September 2, 1929

Westerly, R.I. – September 2, 1929

     On September 2, 1929, two women were burned to death when the bi-plane they were passengers in crashed on Misquamicut Beach shortly after take off from Misquamicut Filed.  (Today known as Westerly State Airport.)

     The pilot, identified as Lieutenant Arthur Manning, told investigators that the plane developed engine trouble just after take off. 

     The dead were identified as Mrs. Fred Hunter of 3 Avery Street, Westfield, Massachusetts, and Miss Marie Day, of 20 Cotton Avenue, West Springfield, Massachusetts. No autopsies were performed. 

     There was no mention as to a specific aircraft- military or civilian – in the news article.   

Source: Woonsocket Call, “Fatal Airplane Crash Probed”, September 4, 1929, Pg. 3.      

Newport, R.I. – July 20, 1923

Newport, R.I. – July 20, 1923

Updated January 9, 2016

     On July 20, 1923, a plane belonging to the New York – Newport Air Line (Service) was making a flight from New York City to Newport, Rhode Island, with a pilot and two passengers aboard, when it crashed at Newport.  The aircraft, named Fleet Wing, suddenly fell from an altitude of 75 feet while making a sharp turn in preparation for a water landing.  The plane plunged into the water and flipped over, and all three men were ejected by the impact. 

     The most seriously injured was H. Cary Morgan, who suffered a compound fracture to his leg.  He was transported to Newport Naval Hospital where it was determined that his leg was too badly mangled to be saved, and amputation was necessary.  A pint-and-a-half of blood was donated by Pharmacists Mate 3C William J. Majeski of Meriden, Connecticut.  Unfortunately, complications set in, and Mr. Morgan passed away.

     The pilot, H.H. Thorburn, and the other passenger, Henry Fowler, survived the crash with minor injuries.

     The terminal for the airline was close to the Newport Naval Station.  When the accident occurred, help from the station arrived quickly.  The heavily damaged plane was towed to shore by two navy boats.   

     The airline also had another plane in its fleet, the Gray Lark, which had arrived a few minutes before the accident.   

     Sources:

Woonsocket Call, “Newport Line Plane Upsets As It Lands”, July 21, 1923, Pg. 9

Woonsocket Call, “H. Cary Morgan Dead Following Accident”, July 24, 1923, Pg. 1

Meriden Morning Record, “Meriden Boy Gives His Blood In Vain”, July 30, 1923       

New York Times, “Air Liner Crashes In Newport Landing”, July 21, 1923  

        

Glocester, R.I. – January 17, 1966

Glocester, R.I. – January 17, 1966

     On January 17, 1966, a single-engine Beechcraft T-34 took off from North Central Airport in Smithfield en-route to upstate New York.   Shortly after take off, the pilot noticed the oil pressure dropping rapidly.  After declaring an emergency, he attempted to return to North Central, but then the engine began to skip and sputter before it stopped completely.  The pilot was forced to set the plane down in an open field on the farm of Kenneth Clemence, located on Tarklin Road near the Glocester/Smithfield town line.   

     The plane skidded about 40 yards across the field up a slight incline before coming to rest against a stone wall.  Damage was minor, and the pilot, Airman 1c William J. Fornes, 26, and his passenger, Airman 1c Richard L. Berube, 20, both of Griffiss Air Force base in Rome, New York, were unhurt.  The plane was a civilian aircraft belonging to a flying-club at Griffiss.  

Source: Providence Journal, “Plane’s Forced Landing Probed”, January 18, 1966, Pg. 31

Rocky Point, R.I. – July 4, 1913

Rocky Point, R.I. – July 4, 1913

 

DFP50096     Nels J. Nelson was sixteen when the Wright Brothers flew at Kittyhawk, North Carolina, in 1903.  Eight years later he was building his own airplanes in New Britain, Connecticut.  His first airplane made its maiden flight over Plainfield, Connecticut, May 1st, 1911. 

      Nelson took to giving flying exhibitions which were well received by a public eager to see what those “new fangled flying machines” could do.  By 1913 he’d developed what he called a “Hydroplane” capable of taking off and landing in water.  On July 1, 1913, Nelson flew his Hydroplane over Providence, Rhode Island, where he circled the area of Exchange Place and City Hall twice before making a turn around the dome of the state capitol.  From there he flew south where he landed in the water just off shore from the famous Rocky Point Amusement Park in Warwick.  The purpose of the flight was to generate interest in several flying exhibitions he was to give at Rocky Point as part of the 4th of July celebration festivities.  Advertisements of his arrival had been posted in local papers for several days. 

     Mr. Nelson was scheduled to give three exhibitions on July 4th; at 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 5 p.m.  An article that appeared in The Woonsocket Call on July 5th described the first flight; “Shortly before 10 o’clock Nels Nelson sailed his 70 horse-power flying boat out into the bay in front of the Mansion House, watched by thousands of interested spectators.  The motor began to buzz and immediately the huge hydroplane commenced to skim at a rapid rate over the water.  As soon as the maximum speed was attained, the planes were slanted and the boat rose into the air, dripping like a sea gull which had captured its prey.  For a few moments Nelson drove the machine on the level – about 12 feet from the surface of the bay.  Soon, however, he rose higher until it became necessary to tip back one’s head to watch the flight.  Higher and higher went the boat, finally becoming but a speck in the sky sailing towards Prudence Island.”    

      On the second flight of the day Nelson took 21-year-old Irving Tukey aboard as a passenger.  The take-off went smoothly and the flight was uneventful until the aircraft was returning to land.  As Nelson was making his final approach, he cut power to the engine in anticipation of gliding down to the water, but at that instant, a strong gust of wind caught the plane and sent it into a sharp down-turn into the Narragansett Bay from an altitude of 60 feet.  

     Tukey suffered a broken wrist, a laceration to his forehead and numerous bumps and bruises.  Nelson was battered and dazed, but otherwise alright.  Both men were rescued by a private boat that was anchored nearby watching the festivities. 

     What became of Nelson’s hydroplane isn’t recorded, but the accident didn’t deter him from further flying.  The following September he flew another plane that he had built from New Britain, Connecticut to Chicago, Illinois.

      Mr. Nelson died in 1964 at the age of 77.  Many of his fellow aviators never reached middle age. His interest in aviation continued throughout his life.  Between 1903 and 1964, (the span of 61 years), he had witnessed the birth of the airplane, the jet, the rocket, and manned space flight.     

 Sources:

The Woonsocket Call, “Birdman Flies At Rocky Point”, July 3, 1913, Page 10

The Woonsocket Call, “Fourth Big Day At Rocky Point”, July 5, 1913, Page. 2

The Woonsocket Call, “Drop Into Bay”, July 7, 1913, Page 1

Internet website  www.earlyaviators.com Nels J. Nelson, 1887-1964

 

 

 

Quonset Point, R.I. – June 5, 1971

Quonset Point, R.I. – June 5, 1971

     On June 5, 1971, the annual Quonset Air Show, a.k.a. Rhode Island Air Show, was being held at Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.  The second to last portion of the show that day included an aerobatic exposition of two former U.S. Navy F8F Bearcat aircraft flown by a father and son team.   Ten minutes into the exhibition, the wing of one aircraft, (N7700C) piloted by J. W. “Bill” Fornof, suddenly broke away.  The aircraft crashed in a wooded area on Quidnesset Road, about 1.5 miles from the base.   Mr. Fornof, 46, of Houma, Louisiana, was killed.

    His son, J. W. “Corkey” Fornof, flying the other Bearcat was not injured.    

    Investigators blamed the wing failure on metal fatigue.

    Mr. Fornof earned his wings as a navy pilot at the age of 19 in 1945, and served in both WWII and Korea.   

    For more information about J. W. “Bill” Fornof, and a photo of his aircraft, see “Bill Fornof Memorial – Chapter 513 Houma, LA”, at www.513.eaachapter.org/billfornofmemorial.htm 

    Sources:

     Nashua Telegraph, “Pilot Killed In Accident At Air Show”, June 7, 1971, Pg. 3

    (Lafourche Parish, Louisiana) Daily Comet, ” Courier Reports On Death Of Local Aviator”, By Bill Ellzey, June 8, 2011.

     U.S. Navy & U.S. Marine Corps BuNos, www.joebaugher.com

    

Long Island Sound – November 17, 1958

Long Island Sound – November 17, 1958

     On November 17, 1958, a four-passenger Piper aircraft left New York’s La Guardia Airport, (Now J.F.K. Airport) on a return trip to North Central Airport in Smithfield, Rhode Island.  The aircraft was piloted by Albino Beltrami, 36, of Providence.  His passengers, George W. Horton, 49, of Cumberland, R.I., and Eugene Sullivan, 50, of Shrewsbury, Mass., were in the aluminum manufacturing business, and had been in New York on business.   Somewhere over Long Island Sound the plane disappeared. 

     No distress call had been received, and it was surmised that whatever had happened, had been quick.  Residents along the Connecticut shore in the area of Madison, Connecticut, reported hearing a low flying plane and then an explosion the night the plane went missing. 

     Three days later a hat believed to belong to Mr. Horton washed up on Hammonasset State Park Beach in Madison.  A friend of Horton’s stated he was “reasonably certain”  that the hat was one the missing man had bought a few days earlier due to the certain way Horton was known to crease his hats. 

     On November 21st, a tobacco pouch washed ashore at Madison, and was positively identified as belonging to the pilot of the missing plane.      

     A large scale search was concentrated in that area involving Coast Guard and Civil Air Patrol personnel, but nothing further was found.   

     On April 28, 1960, a lobster fisherman was dragging for bait off Meig’s Point at Hammonasset Park when his net snagged on the missing airplane in 58 feet of water.  A month later divers confirmed it was the missing Piper with the remains of three men aboard.  

Sources:

Providence Journal, “Hat Found On beach Linked To Lost Plane” November 20, 1958, Pg.1

Providence Journal, “Pilot’s Pouch Found On Beach”, November 21, 1958, Pg. 11

Providence Journal, “Skin Divers Locate Bodies Of Two R.I. men In Plane” May 17, 1960, Pg. 26 

    

    

    

Warwick, R.I. – September 21, 1985

Warwick, Rhode Island – September 21, 1985

     On September 21, 1985, a Beech V35B, (N5NG), with a husband and wife aboard took off from Worcester, Massachusetts.  While over the Providence metropolitan area, approximately 12 miles away from T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, the pilot radioed he was having trouble with the engine and requested clearance to land.  The pilot was given vectors to T.F. Greene, but on his approach, the aircraft lost power and crashed into the Jersey barrier of the northbound lanes of Interstate Route 95, about a tenth of a mile south of Exit 15.  Both were killed.  

     Miraculously, no vehicles on the highway were involved in the accident.    

     The cause of the crash was determined to be a failure of the engine crankshaft from fatigue.  

     Source:

     NTSB – NYC85FA244, microfiche # 29832

     Woonsocket Call, “Crash Of Small Plane On I-95 Claims Lives Of Worcester Couple”, September 22, 1985

Narragansett, RI – August 9, 1914

Narragansett, Rhode Island – August 9, 1914

     On August 9, 1914, aviator Harry M. Jones was seriously injured when he crashed his airplane in the Narrow River in Narragansett.  No further details were given.

Source: New York Times, “Narragansett Flier Hurt”, August 10, 1914

     Jones was famous for landing his airplane on the Boston Common on January 2, 1913, to collect a cash prize offered by a Boston newspaper to the first person to do it. Unfortunately the newspaper had rescinded the offer two days earlier. 

Update June 19, 2016

     Jones was involved in an earlier crash on May 25, 1913, when he crashed into Narragansett Bay while giving an exhibition at a baseball game.. For details, see elsewhere on this website under Rhode Island Civil Aviation Accidents. 

        

Middletown, R.I. – August 3, 1937

Middletown, Rhode Island – August 3, 1937

         

1930s map showing the former location of the airport in Middletown, R.I.

1930s map showing the former location of the airport in Middletown, R.I.

     On the morning of August 3, 1937, Everett Johnson Peck Jr., of New York, flew his private airplane from Bridgehamption, Long Island, to Newport Airport, in Middletown, Rhode Island.

     The airport currently known as Newport State Airport was opened n 1967, and is not the same Newport Airport that Mr. Peck flew to.  That airport was located on the shore of Narragansett Bay in the town of Middletown, and no longer exists. (See map – click on image to enlarge.)   

     Mr. Peck arrived at the airport safely.  At about noon time, he decided to take off again to view the start of the America’s Cup Race, however he crashed on takeoff and was taken to Newport Hospital with serious injuries.    

     The type of plane was not stated.

     Source: New York Times, “E. J. Peck Jr. Injured”, August 5, 1937

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