Marlborough, CT – April 10, 1933

Marlborough, Connecticut – April 10, 1933

         Rentschler Field was an airfield that opened in East Hartford, Connecticut, in 1931, and remained active into the 1990s.  It was named for Frederick Brant Rentschler who established the aviation division at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft of East Hartford.  Today the Pratt & Whitney (football) Stadium at Rentschler Field occupies the site.    

      On April 10, 1933, Lieutenant Harold Fairchild, 24, took off from Rentschler Field for a test flight of a new aircraft.  Lt. Fairchild received his flight training through the army at Kelly Field in Texas.  He then went on to advanced training and received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant.  A month later he joined the Aeronautical Research Department of Pratt & Whitney as a test pilot.  The purpose of this flight was to test the altitude limits of the aircraft. 

     It was well known at the time that a pilot needs supplemental oxygen when flying above 10,000 feet.  When Fairchild reached an altitude of 35, 000 feet, it was believed that his oxygen system either ran dry or failed, causing him to loose consciousness.  The plane plummeted nose first out of the sky and crashed on a farm belonging to John Rankl in Marlborough, Connecticut, a town southeast of East Hartford.   

     Lieutenant Fairchild was born in Pelham, New York, and graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1921.


     New York Times, “Lieut. Fairchild Dies In Connecticut Crash”, April 11, 1933

     Historic Pelham,  “Two Pelham Brothers Lost Thei Only Sons In Eerily-Similar Early Aviation Incidents”, June 11, 2015


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