Hartford, CT – October 2, 1920

Hartford, Connecticut – October 2, 1920

Updated January 27, 2016

     Hartford-Brainard Airport is a small airport south of downtown Hartford, and should not be confused with Bradley International Airport, which is in Windsor Locks.  

    Brainard Airport was established in 1921 because of a tragic accident which took the lives of two naval officers.  On October 2, 1920, the two officers, (Pilot) Lt. Arthur C. Wagner, and Lt. Commander William Merrill Corry, Jr., flew from Mineola, N.Y. and landed in an open area of the Hartford Club golf course because in 1920 airfields were few and far between.  They had come to Connecticut to meet with other military personnel.  

     Late in the afternoon they attempted to take off and return to New York, but as the plane began to rise the engine suddenly lost power and they crashed into a grove of trees.  Almost immediately the plane burst into flame.    Lt. Wagner was pinned in the wreckage, but  Lt. Cmdr. Corry had been thrown clear.  Yet despite his injuries, Corry returned to the flaming wreck and tried to rescue the pilot.  Two civilians who’d witnessed the crash, Walter E. Batterson, and Martin Keane, ran to his assistance, and together they pulled Wagner free and carried him a safe distance away.  

     Lt. Wagner was transported to an area hospital and died of his injuries later that night.  Lt. Cmdr. Corry was also badly burned in the rescue attempt, and died four days later on October 6th.  Both civilians also suffered burns, but they recovered.

     For his efforts, Corry was awarded the Medal of Honor (Posthumously).  Corry Airfield in Florida was later named in his honor in 1923.  Three U.S. Navy destroyers were also named in his honor, one in 1921, the next in 1941, and the third in 1945.

     Due to this horrific accident, Brainard Airport was established to provide aviators with a safe place to land and take off, without having to look for random open spaces to set down.  The airport was named for Mayor Newton C. Brainard.

     Lt. Cmdr. Corry is buried in Eastern Cemetery in Quincy, Florida.  He was born October 5, 1889, and died just one day after his 31st birthday. To see a photo of Lt. Cmdr. Corry and his grave, go to www.findagrave.com and see memorial #7134215. 


     Meriden Morning Record, “One Aviator Killed In Hartford When Airplane Crashed To Earth”, October 4, 1920

     Hartford Courant, “Naval Flier Burned To death, Companion Badly Injured As Plane Crashes At Golf Club”, October 4, 1920

     Hartford Courant, “Airshow To Honor Brainard Airport’s 75 Years”, July 19, 1996 

     Congressional Medal Of Honor Society

     Wikipedia – Lt. Cmdr. William Merrill Cory, Jr.  




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