Quincy, MA – June 18, 1915

Quincy, Massachusetts – June 18, 1915

Updated May 16, 2016

     The Harvard Aviation Field was located on the Squantum Peninsula in the town of Quincy, Massachusetts, from 1910 to 1916. 

     On June 18, 1915, William Ely Jr., 19, a student at Brown University, went to the Harvard Aviation Field to meet with well known New England aviator Harry M. Jones.  Jones had been experimenting to see how much weight his airplane could carry in preparation for a non-stop flight to Washington, D.C. 

    At the time of Ely’s arrival, Jones had been preparing to make a test flight and offered to take the youth along.  Besides the pilot and passenger, the airplane carried 125 pounds of iron.   After a short successful flight, the pair returned to the air field.

     Later that day, Jones took off again, this time carrying William Ely and 21-year-old George Hersey as passengers.  (The iron had been removed.)

     The aircraft was described as a “tractor biplane with an 80 horse-power motor.” The seating configuration was such that the passengers sat up front ahead of the pilot.       

    Jones flew the plane out over the water at an altitude of 100 feet, in a long lazy arc back towards shore.  As it passed over Squantum Point, the plane went into a steep dive and crashed into a  hillside about a mile from the airfield.  Both passengers were killed instantly, and Jones was rendered unconscious.

     After being pulled from the wreck Jones briefly regained his senses and asked about Ely and Hersey.

     “Tell me,” he was quoted as saying, “did the boys get hurt?”

     To which he was told that they did not.

     Jones was transported to Quincy Hospital for treatment.  He’d suffered two scalp wounds and a lacerated nostril. 

     It was subsequently learned that at the time of the accident Jones did not have a license to fly an airplane. He was charged with operating an aircraft without a license, to which he pled guilty, and was fined $100.  

     This was not the first aviation accident for Jones.  On August 9, 1914, he crashed his airplane in the Narrow River in Narragansett, Rhode Island.


     Providence Journal, “Aeroplane Falls, Kills 2, Hurts 1”, June 19, 1915, Pg. 1

     New York Times, “Narragansett Flier Hurt”, August 10, 1914

     Wikipedia – Harvard Aviation Field

     The Fulton County News, “Aviator Fined $100”, July 1, 1915


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