North Kingstown, R.I. – May 18, 1957

North Kingstown, R.I. – May 18, 1957

Quonset Point NAS

      Saturday, May 18, 1957, was Armed Services Day at Quonset Point, Rhode Island, and as part of the day’s observance, the Navy was hosting an air show which included flight exhibitions by some of the newest aircraft.         

     Shortly before 2:30 that afternoon, an FJ-3 Fury piloted by Navy Lieutenant Raymond C. Shaw Jr. took off for what was to be another routine demonstration flight.  Once airborne, he circled over Narragansett Bay before coming in low over the runway and whizzing past the waving crowds.  Once clear of the runway, he pulled upwards to the north where he suddenly went into a spin and dropped from sight.  Almost immediately a distant boom was heard followed by a rising pall of black smoke a little more than a mile away. 

     The jet crashed at the Davisville Seabee Station just off Fletcher Road in North Kingstown.  After ripping through a clump of trees it plowed through a fence and onto the property of Elmer Norden where it exploded.  Debris was hurled in all directions for 400 yards, and nearby trees were impaled with flying shrapnel. 

     The Fury’s supercharger and other debris came down on the property of Ralph B. Armstrong who was working in his yard at the time, but he wasn’t injured.

     Firefighters from Quonset NAS and North Kingstown raced to the scene and put of the flames. Ironically, the base fire department was scheduled to give a fire fighting demonstration later in the day. 

     Navy investigators concluded the crash was due to the leading edge of the horizontal stabilizer breaking loose during flight.  It was found about a mile short of the crash site along the path the aircraft had traveled.     

     Lieutenant Shaw, 27, was from Charlotte, North Carolina. He graduated Central High School in Charlotte, and went on to attend Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, and Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina.  After graduating in 1952, he enlisted in the Navy and became a pilot.  He worked hard and had recently been promoted to the rank of Lieutenant before the crash.

     Besides his parents, he was survived by his wife Rita and a 3-year-old son, Raymond III.  His funeral was held at Plaza Presbyterian Church in Charlotte.

      The FJ-3 Fury was produced by North American Aviation as a Navy version of the Air Force’s F-86E Sabre, to be a carrier-borne fighter jet.   Production was halted in May of 1958 as newer and more technological advanced aircraft came into service.    

Sources:

The Providence Journal, Quonset Navy Pilot Killed As Jet Fighter Crashes, Explodes in Davisville”, May 19, 1957, Pg. A1

The Charlotte Observer,  “Jet Explodes In Air, Killing Charlottean”, May 19, 1957, Pg. 1

The Charlotte Observer,Shaw Funeral Here Thursday”,May 22, 1957, Page 5A

The Charlotte Observer, Funeral Notice, May 23, 1957, Pg. 11A

 

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