Plainville, CT. – June 23, 1919

Plainville, Connecticut – June 23, 1919

     On the morning of June 23, 1919, U.S. Army Air Service pilot, Lieutenant French Kirby, and his mechanic, identified only as Sergeant Wharf, flew from Mineola, Long Island, New York, to Plainville, and landed safely.  The purpose of the flight was to take part in a town-wide celebration during which they were to give exhibition flights.  After making approximately 18 flights between the morning and afternoon, the two men took off again to fly over the Marlin-Rockwell Corporation Plant just as the parade would be coming to an end.  As they were doing so the aircraft lost power and fell from an altitude of about 200 feet and crashed near the plant, coming to rest upside down.  Remarkably, neither man was seriously hurt, and both were able to extricate themselves from the wreck.  

     A repair/salvage crew was sent the following day to bring the plane back to Mineola.

     The cause of the accident was blamed on a poor quality gasoline used to refuel the aircraft while it was at Plainville.

     Unfortunately Lieutenant Kirby was killed in another plane crash  about four months later. 

     On October 15, 1919, Lieutenant Kirby and an observer, Lieutenant Stanley C. Miller, were flying in a trans-continental air derby in Army Observation Aircraft #44, when the plane lost power over the Rigby Ranch in castle Rock, Utah, and crashed.  Kirby was killed instantly, and Miller succumbed a few hours later. 

     Lt. Kirby is buried in Arlington National Cemetery and Lt. Miller is buried in Woodlawn cemetery in Toledo, Ohio.    To see photos of their graves and to read a newspaper account about their accident, see, memorials 57195448, and 82156891. 


     The Hartford Courant, “Plainville Gas Poor, U. S. Airplane Plunges 200 Feet”, June 26, 1919 

     The Ogden Standard Examiner, “Lieut. Kirby Meets Instant Death In Utah”, October 16, 1919   


Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲