New Haven, CT – June 1, 1919

New Haven, Connecticut – June 1, 1919

Updated June 1, 2017

     On Thursday, May 29, 1919, a flight of three army aircraft from Hazelhurst Field on Long Island, New York, arrived at the town of Winsted, Connecticut, and landed safely at a former horse trotting park on Pratt Hill.  The following day, as the first plane was taking off, it crashed into a wooded area at the end of the park.  The unidentified pilot and his mechanic weren’t injured, and the plane wasn’t too badly damaged, and once it was hauled from the woods it was considered reparable.  The accident was blamed on soft, rough, terrain, causing a reduction in speed at take off. 

     All three aircraft and crews remained in Winsted until Saturday morning, May 31st.  On that day, the damaged/repaired aircraft took off for Meridian, Connecticut, while the other two left for New Haven arriving later in the day.             

     The following day was Sunday, June 1, 1919.  Both aircraft took off from New Haven, and as they were making a spiral descent towards Yale Filed they collided in mid-air. 

     One aircraft managed to land safely, but the other, a Curtis JN-6H biplane (AS-41885) crashed.  The pilot, 1st Lt. Melvin B. Kelleher, 23, and his mechanic, Corporal Joseph Katzman, were killed instantly.  (One source had Katzman listed as a private.)

     The army board of inquiry failed to find fault with either pilot involved in the collision.   

     Lt. Kelleher is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in Frankfort, Indiana. There is also a memorial erected in his honor in Clinton County, Indiana.  (See, memorial numbers 28117193, and 124683338 to view the monument, and a photograph of Lt. Kelleher.)

     The burial place of Joseph Katzman is unknown.


     Hartford Courant, (Conn.), “Airplane Accident”, May 31, 1919

     Hartford Courant,(Conn.), “Winsted-Flier Was In Town Who Was Killed At New Haven”, June 3, 1919  

     Hartford Courant,(conn.), “Files Finding On Airplane Fall”, June 29, 1919

     New York Times, “Airplanes Colide; 2 Aviators Killed” June 2, 1919



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