Groton, CT – September 18, 1948

Groton, CT – September 18, 1948 

Updated January 21, 2016

     On September 18, 1948, two men, Edward S. Brown, 29, of Dansville, N.Y., and Stephen E. Hyde, 40, of Wayland, N.Y., took off from Hornell, New York, in a trainer airplane on what was to be a navigational flight from Hornell, to Providence, Rhode Island, and back.   After arriving at Providence, they were heading back to New York when they encountered heavy thunderstorms over the Groton, Connecticut, area. 

     Witnesses reported that the aircraft circled the area at an altitude of about 500 feet before suddenly loosing power and crashing into the front yard of 37 Grand Street in the city’s Groton (Navy) Heights section.   Brown and Hyde were killed instantly when the plane exploded on impact. 

     Playing in the yard at the time were 4-year-old Gerald D’Aquilla, and 13-year-old Valerie Maltby.  Just before the crash, Gerald’s mother Emily D’Aquilla, 27, hearing the plane circling overhead, came outside the house fearing for the children.  Just as she did so the plane exploded, dousing her with flaming gasoline.  The force of the explosion blew Gerald into the next yard, but fortunately he only suffered minor injuries.  Valerie Maltby was relatively unhurt, but Mrs. D’Aquilla suffered severe burns and was rushed to a nearby hospital.  Her husband, Nicholas, D’Aquilla, a navy serviceman assigned to the submarine base in Groton, was also burned when he came to the aid of his wife and put out the flames.      

     The aircraft involved was reported to be a BT-13, a former U.S. Army trainer plane.   

     The accident was investigated by the Connecticut State Police.


     New York Times, “Two Fliers Die In Crash” , September 19, 1948 

     (New London, CT.) The Day, “Two Die In Groton Plane Crash; Navy Wife Is Critically Burned.” September 20, 1948 



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