Off Block Island, R.I. – June 13, 1945

Off Block Island, Rhode Island, June 13, 1945

 

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

     On June 13, 1945, Ensign Herbert J. Audet took off from Charlestown Auxiliary Naval Air Station in Charlestown, R.I., for a gunnery training flight off Block Island.  He was piloting an F6F-5E Hellcat, (Bu. No. 72735).

     After making a run, he began to climb and noted that the oil pressure began to drop.  The propeller went into a low pitch, and as the oil pressure continued to drop the engine froze.  Ensign Audet was able to make a safe emergency landing in the water about a half-mile south of Block Island.  He scrambled out of the plane before it sank, and was rescued a short time later.

     Source: National Archives, AAR 11-45; TD450613RI, via Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

Charlestown, R.I. – April 5, 1945

Charlestown, Rhode Island – April 5, 1945

 

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

     On the night of April 5, 1945, a navy ensign was practicing “touch and go landings” in an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 71109), at Charlestown Auxiliary Naval Air Station in Charlestown, R.I.   His first five attempts were successful.  As he was approaching the runway “low and slow” for his sixth landing, the Runway Duty Officer noticed that the plane’s landing gear was still in the “up” position.  The duty officer fired a red flair to warn the pilot not to land, but the flair was released at about the same time the plane was about to touch down.  The aircraft hit the runway and the belly fuel tank was torn open as the plane skidded to a stop.  Fire engulfed the aircraft, but the pilot escaped with relatively minor injuries.  The aircraft was a total loss.

     Source: National Archives TD450405RI, via Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

Narragansett Bay, R. I. – March 31, 1945

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island – March 31, 1945

 

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

     On March 31, 1945, Ensign Setomer took off from the Westerly Auxiliary Naval Air Station in Westerly, Rhode Island, for a training flight in an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70345).  After two hours of flight time he noticed a drop in oil pressure and made a deferred emergency landing at Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.   There his plane was inspected and serviced, with four gallons of oil added.  Ensign Setomer then took off headed for Westerly, but after one minute of flight time the engine began to sputter and then froze.  Ensign Setomer made an emergency water landing in Narragansett Bay about one mile south of Quonset Point.  He successfully inflated his life raft before the plane sank, and was rescued a few minutes later by a crash boat.    

     Source: National Archives AAR 338; TD450331RI, via Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

Quonset Point, R.I. – March 29, 1945

Quonset Point Naval Air Station – March 29, 1945 

 

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

     In the early morning hours of March 29, 1945, an Ensign piloting an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 71001), was making night practice landings on Runway 34, when the aircraft stalled and crashed into a sea wall coming to rest upside down.  The aircraft was a complete loss and the pilot was seriously injured.  

     Source: National Archives AAR 33-45: TD450329RI, via Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

Charlestown, R.I. – February 15, 1945

Charlestown, Rhode Island – February 15, 1945 

 

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

     On February 15, 1945, Ensign James T. Wylie, piloting an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42970), was making practice landings and take-offs on Runway 22 at the Charlestown Auxiliary Naval Air Station in Charlestown, Rhode Island.  (The air station was located on the shore of a large body of water known as Ninigret Pond.)  After his fourth landing he took off again, and when he was about 3/4 of a mile off the end of the runway at an altitude of 200 feet, the aircraft’s engine began to sputter, and then stopped.  Ensign Wylie made a successful emergency landing in the water and was able to inflate a rescue raft before the plane sank.  He was rescued by a crash boat about 20 minutes later.

     Source:

 National Archives TD450215RI, via Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

Atlantic Ocean – February 1, 1945

Atlantic Ocean – February 1, 1945

 

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

     On the night of February 1, 1945, Ensign John M. Roe, age 22,  took off from Charlestown Auxiliary Naval Air Station in Charlestown, Rhode Island, for a night training flight.  He was piloting an F6F-3N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 41144).

     On the same night, Ensign Robert L. Herren, age 23, also left Charlestown on a night training flight in an F6F-3N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42776).  It is unknown if both aircraft were part of the same training flight.    

     About 25 miles off  Nantucket Light, two aircraft were seen by ships in the area to crash in the ocean, but in different proximity to each other.  Search and rescue operations were instituted, but neither  aircraft nor the pilots were recovered. 

     There is a memorial erected to Ensign Roe at the New Weston Cemetery, in Weston, Ohio.  See www.findagrave.com, memorial #121796478.

     There is a memorial to Ensign Herren at the Abilene Cemetery in Abilene, Kansas.  See www.findagrave.com, memorial #38430818 

     Ensign Roe and Ensign Herren are also listed on the memorial at the former Charlestown Aux. NAS, today known as Ninigret Park.   

     Sources:

     National Archives TD 450201RI

     www.findagrave.com

Charlestown, R.I. – February 10, 1945

Charlestown, Rhode Island – February 19, 1945

 

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

     On the night of February 10, 1945, Ensign Marion Joseph Keenan left Charlestown Auxiliary Naval Air Station for a night bombing training flight. He was piloting an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 71005).  After the flight, he returned to Charlestown NAS.  As he touched down on Runway 12, his landing gear struck a snowdrift that had formed across the runway causing the plane to nose over and skid along the tarmac until it came to rest.  The aircraft suffered significant damage, but Ensign Keenan was not injured.

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident Report dated February 10, 1945

North Kingstown, R. I. – December 7, 1944

North Kingstown, Rhode Island – December 7, 1944

 

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

     On the night of December 7, 1944, a flight of six F6F-5 Hellcat Aircraft took off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station to practice night carrier landings on Quonset’s runways.  After takeoff, Quonset tower instructed the aircraft to orbit the field two miles outside the designated landing circle to allow an incoming flight of airplanes to land.  After that incoming flight was on the ground, Quonset tower gave clearance for the six Hellcats to begin their practice landings, but when the aircraft circled the field it was noticed that there were now only five airplanes instead of six.  After ordering all five to land, an accounting was made, and it was discovered that one Hellcat, (Bu. No. 71036), piloted by Ensign Patrick Aloysius Hackett, age 22, was missing.

     Shortly afterward another pilot reported seeing a fire in a wooded area of North Kingstown.  State police found the wreckage of Ensign Hackett’s plane on Stooke Hill to the north of Route 138. 

     There had been no witnesses to the crash, and investigators speculated that the cause may have been due to engine failure.   

     Ensign Hackett is buried in Philadelphia National Cemetery in Philadelphia, PA. 

     Sources:

     U.S. Navy Accident Report dated December 7, 1944  

     North Kingstown, R. I. death records, # 44-96 

Narragansett Bay, R.I. – December 18, 1944

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island – December 18, 1944

 

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

     In the early morning hours of December 18, 1944, Ensign Robert I. Lane, piloting an F6F-3N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42570), took off from Quonset Point Naval Air Station for night carrier landing practice on Quonset’s runways.  At 4:30 a.m., he contacted Quonset tower and advised he was over Narragansett Bay and approaching the runway.  This was the last heard from him.  His aircraft crashed into the water, but the accident was not witnessed.  A search was conducted, but nothing was found and he was declared missing.  A handwritten notation in the navy accident report states he was “found later in water 5 mi. SW of Quonset”.     

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report dated December 18, 1944

Off Charlestown, R.I. – January 4, 1945

Off Charlestown, Rhode Island – January 4, 1945

 

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

     On the night of January 4, 1945, a flight of U.S. Navy Hellcat aircraft took off from Charlestown Auxiliary Naval Air Station for a night gunnery practice flight.  Once sufficiently off shore, two float lights were dropped into the water, only one of which ignited. 

     After the aircraft had made a few runs at strafing the “target”, Ensign Bruce S. Little, piloting an F6F-5N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 71411), was advised by the flight leader to drop his float light.  Ensign Little acknowledged and said he would drop it at the end of his run.  Ensign Little was seen turning his aircraft and start his run at a diving angle.    When he reached the area of the target-float-light his aircraft hit the water and disappeared. 

     The accident occurred at 40 degrees, 55′ N, 71 degrees, 01′ W.

     Lt. (jg.) Little was assigned to VF(N)-91

     Source:  U.S. Navy Accident Report dated January 4, 1945

 

 

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