Atlantic Ocean – December 7, 1955

Atlantic Ocean – December 7, 1955

    

Lt. (J.g.) Alfred G. Walker Photo courtesy of Judith (Walker) Miles

Lt. (J.g.) Alfred G. Walker
Photo courtesy of Judith (Walker) Miles

     In 1955 the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Leyte was stationed at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island.  In early December of that year, she put to sea for a three day cruise off New England to participate in anti-submarine training maneuvers.  Navy pilot, Lieutenant (J.g.) Alfred G. Walker, 23, of Akron, Ohio, volunteered to go. 

     On December 7, Lieutenant Walker, piloting an AD Skyraider, participated in a gunnery training flight over the water.  As he was returning to the Leyte, the arresting cable snapped when it caught the Skyraider’s tail hook.  The aircraft careened into the carrier’s superstructure and then cartwheeled into the sea.     

     The Skyraider quickly sank  to the bottom taking Lt. Walker with it, but his back-seat crewman, Aviation Ordinance Man 2nd Class William E. Deering of Atlantic City, New Jersey, managed to escape. 

     One of those who witnessed the accident was Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class David Cata of the Bronx, New York, who was stationed aboard the nearby destroyer, U.S.S. Wadleigh.   Upon seeing Deering bobbing helplessly in the water, Cata jumped overboard and swam to his aid and held Deering afloat until they were plucked form the water by a helicopter.  Both men survived their ordeal.

     Lieutenant (J.g.) Walker was commissioned an Ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve on December 3, 1953.  His body was never recovered.

     Some sources describing this event state that it took place in Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island, however, the Ohio Informer, a newspaper from Akron, Ohio, where Lt. Walker was from, gave the location as 90 miles out to sea off the coast of New Jersey. 

     Sources:  

     New York Times, “Sailor Rescued Airman”, December 9, 1955     

     Bridgeport Telegram, “Sailor Rescues Airman In Water”, December 9, 1955  

     Ohio Informer, “Lt. Alfred G. Walker Dies In Plane Crash”, December 17, 1955, Vol. X, No. 16    

Atlantic Ocean – September 8, 1949

Atlantic Ocean – September 8, 1949

Updated March 30, 2019 

5 Miles Off Sakonnet Point, Rhode Island

    

F8F Bearcat
U. S. Navy Photo

     On September 8, 1949, two navy F8F Grumman Bearcat aircraft took off from the Quonset Point Naval Air station for what was to be a high altitude instrument training flight.  One of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 95332), was piloted by Ensign Henry J. Harling, 22, of Staten Island, N.Y.

     While at 10,000 feet both pilots went on oxygen and continued to climb to 32,000 feet.  At 28,000 feet Ensign Harling reported smoke in his cockpit, and both aircraft began to descend.  A short time later, while at an altitude of 25,000 feet, Harling radioed to the other pilot that he was going to bail out. 

     The other pilot later told investigators that he saw smoke coming from the area of the exhaust ports, and that the tail wheel on Ensign Harling’s aircraft was down.  He observed Ensign Harling open the cockpit canopy, and at that time saw that he was still wearing his oxygen mask.  Harling’s plane was then seen to roll on its back, nose down, and spin twice, before apparently recovering.  It then entered a cloud bank and the other pilot lost sight of it. 

     The other pilot followed Harling’s plane down through the cloud bank, and upon coming through it observed an explosion when Harling’s plane hit the water about five miles off Sakonnet Point.

     Witnesses on boats reported seeing Harling’s plane trailing smoke before it hit the water. No parachute was observed.

     Planes and rescue boats were immediately launched.  An oil slick was discovered, but after a two-day search it was concluded that Ensign Harling had been unable to escape from the cockpit and had remained in his aircraft when it hit the water.  The cause of the accident was speculated to be a failure in the aircraft’s hydraulic system, particularly with the aircraft’s tail wheel.   

     Ensign harling has been assigned to VF-73.

 

     Sources:

     New York Times, “Navy Pilot Dives In Sea” , September 9, 1949 

     U. S. Navy accident report dates September 8, 1949

Atlantic Ocean – June 20, 1947

Atlantic Ocean – June 20, 1947

15 Miles South of Nantucket, Mass.

     On June 20, 1947, Ensign Malcolm Sillars was on an operational flight over the Atlantic Ocean, 15 miles south of Nantucket Island, when the Hellcat fighter he was piloting developed engine trouble.  He was forced to make a water landing, and when his plane sank he inflated his life vest.  There he floated in the water as fellow Hellcat pilots circled above.

     A crash-rescue flying boat was dispatched, but when it arrived on the scene the water was too choppy for a safe landing.  The pilot was ordered not to attempt the rescue, but disregarded the command, and landed anyway, successfully plucking Sillars from the water.

     During take-off, a large wave reportedly tossed the rescue-craft 30 feet in the air, but the pilot successfully made it into the air. 

     Source: New York Times, “Pilot Rescued At Sea” , June 21, 1947      

Atlantic Ocean – February 13, 1943

Atlantic Ocean – February 13, 1943

 Rhode Island

     There isn’t much information available about this accident as news reports were vague.     

     On February 13, 1943, two navy planes collided in mid-air while on a training flight over the Atlantic Ocean somewhere off the coast of Rhode Island.  The type of planes was not stated, but there were four crewmen between the two planes, three of whom were lost.   Their names were not stated.

     The sole survivor was identified as Aviation Mechinist’s Mate Joseph Leo Wallace, who was thrown clear by the impact, and saved by his parachute.  Wallace was rescued by a “fast Navy motor boat” which then developed engine trouble off Newport and drifted onto some rocks.  Wallace and the boat crew were rescued by the Coast Guard.  (The boat could not be saved.)

     Sources:

     Providence Journal: “4 Lost, 2 Rescued In Plane Mishaps”, February 14, 1943, Pg. 5 (It should be noted that the headline does not match up to this particular story because two crashes were reported ion the same article.  The other crash occurred in Maine where one man was lost and another saved.)

The Milwaukee Journal, “Tossed Into Space As Planes Collide, Chute Saves Him”, February 14, 1943, Pg. 1

    

    

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