Atlantic Ocean – December 28, 1991

Atlantic Ocean – December 28, 1991

10.6 miles east-north-east of Block island, R. I.

     On the night of December 28, 1991, three pilots were aboard a twin-engine Beechcraft 1900C, (Reg. N811BE), conducting flight training over the Atlantic Ocean about ten miles east-north-east of Block Island.  One of the pilots was an instructor, and all were employed by Business Express Airlines in Connecticut.   At some point during the exercise the aircraft crashed into the water and broke apart.  The following morning a lobster boat out of Block Island came upon floating wreckage, which included a 30-foot wing section, and notified the Coast Guard.   

     The plane had left Bridgeport, Connecticut, at 6:46 p.m.  All of the pilots were experienced, and two were undergoing training to be upgraded from first officer to captain.  The accident had occurred while the aircraft was making practice approaches to Block Island Airport.  Before the crash, the aircraft had made three successful  approaches and landings. 

     The cockpit voice recorder was later recovered in 130 feet of water.

     As of January 21, 1992, no bodies had been recovered. 

     Sources:

     Providence Journal, “Wind, Waves Hamper Search For Pilots Of Missing Off Block Island”, December 31, 1991, page B-3  

     Providence Journal, “Cockpit Tape Of Downed Plane Is Examined”, January 21, 1992, page E-5

     Aviation Safety Network

 

Block Island Sound – November 28, 1989

Block Island Sound – November 28, 1989

     On the night of November 28, 1989, a New England Airlines twin-engine, Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander aircraft, (N127JL), left Block Island Airport with a pilot, seven passengers, and two dogs aboard bound for Westerly Airport in Westerly, R. I.   The night was dark and moonless, and the aircraft would be flying beneath a layer of cloud cover.  

     The flight left Block Island around 6:20 p.m. but never made it to Westerly.  The 17 mile flight was expected to take about 15 minutes.  When it failed to arrive it was declared “missing” and a search and rescue operation was instituted.  Coast Guard boats and military aircraft from southern New England converged on the area between Block island and the main land, and ground crews searched the shoreline.  Private fishing boats and aircraft also joined the search. 

     By the following day several items believed to have come from the missing plane were found washed up on Block Island beaches.  More debris was found over the next few hours, and the bodies of the two dogs aboard were recovered by the Coast Guard. Indications were that the plane had broken apart on impact.   

     A few days later a Rhode Island fishing boat hauled up aircraft debris in a net and notified authorities.   Underwater sonar located three major portions of the aircraft’s wreckage on the ocean floor in 110 feet of water about 4 miles northwest of Block Island.  The wreckage was examined using remote-controlled underwater cameras.  Portions of the wreckage were recovered and brought to Quonset Point for examination. 

     By April, the remains of five of the eight people aboard the aircraft had been recovered.  Two months later a six was discovered by a fishing boat.  Two of the passengers were never found.      

     The cause of the crash was undetermined.      

     Sources:

     Providence Journal, “Plane, 8 Aboard, Lost Off Westerly, Coast Guard”, November 29, 1989, page A-1  

     Providence Journal, “Block Islanders Stalk Beaches, Stunned By Another Tragedy”, November 29, 1989, page A-1

     Providence Journal, “Debris, Bodies Of Dogs On Downed Plane Found”, November 29, 1989, page A-1

     Providence Journal, “Search Ends For Missing Plane, No Hope Seen”, November 30, 1989, page A-1

     Providence Journal, “Camera Probes Debris Of Plane On Ocean Floor”, December 20, 1989, page C-5

     Providence Journal, “Crews To Raise More Debris From Block Island Plane”, January 3, 1990, page B-4  

     Providence Journal, “Bodies From Block I. Plane Crash Are Found”, February 16, 1990, page C-5

     Providence Journal, “Search For Block I. Plane, 3 Victims Called Off”, May 8, 1990, page A-3

     Providence Journal, “No Mechanical Failure In Block I. Plane Crash”, March 26, 1991, page A-1

     Aviation Safety Network

 

 

Block Island, R. I. – June 28, 1987

Block Island, Rhode Island – June 28, 1987 

       At 1 p.m. on June 28, 1987, a single-engine aircraft with a lone pilot aboard took off from Block Island Airport in a Cessna Hawk bound for Westerly, R. I.  Just after take off the engine lost all power and the plane went down in a brushy area about a half-mile from the airport.  The pilot was not injured. 

     Source: Providence Journal, “No One Hurt In Block I. Plane Crash”, July 1, 1987, page A-11     

Off Block Island, R. I. – June 7, 1943

Off Block Island, Rhode Island – June 7, 1943

 

U.S. Navy Wildcat Fighter
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of June 7, 1943, a flight of F4F Wildcat aircraft took off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station for a formation training flight.  The flight headed southward towards Block Island, which is three miles off the coast of Rhode Island.  At about 5 p.m., the flight leader led the formation into the edge of a cloud formation.  As the aircraft entered the clouds, the Wildcat being piloted by Ensign James Wilson Davis was observed by his wingman to suddenly roll over violently and go into a steep dive.  The wingman followed downward, but pulled out of the dive at about 300 feet.  Ensign Davis’s aircraft crashed into the sea and disappeared about a half-mile east of Block Island. 

     The navy serial number of Ensign Davis’s Wildcat was 12208.        

     The members of the flight were assigned to VF-16. 

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report, no. 43-7180, dated June 7, 1943.  

Off Block Island – February 22, 1943

Off Block Island – February 22, 1943 

 

U.S. Navy Wildcat Fighter
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the morning of February 22, 1943, a flight of navy F4F Wildcat fighters was taking part in a low altitude flight tactics training exercise off Block Island.  One of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 12045), was piloted by Lt. (Jg.), Edward Enalius Bailey of Fighter Squadron 16, (VF-16), based at Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island.  As Lt. (Jg.) Bailey was making a simulated attack on two torpedo planes he suddenly crashed into the water.  Neither the pilot or his aircraft could be recovered. 

     Source: U. S. Navy report, #43-6049, dated February 22, 1943.

Block Island – November 7, 1942

Block Island – November 7, 1942

 

U.S. Navy OS2U-2 Kingfisher
U.S. Navy Photo

     On November 7, 1942, a U. S. Navy OS2U-3 Kingfisher airplane, (Bu. No. 09416), was forced to land at Block Island due to being low on fuel.  Upon landing the aircraft flipped over and suffered heavy damage.  The two-man crew was not injured.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-5762, dated November 7, 1942.  

Block Island Sound – August 5, 1983

Block Island Sound – August 5, 1983

Updated March 16, 2019

     On the evening of August 5, 1983, a four-seat, Piper Archer PA-28, (N6877J), owned by Yankee Airways, landed at Block Island Airport in Rhode Island, and discharged three passengers. 

     At about 8:30 p.m. the aircraft took off towards Connecticut with a lone 25-year-old female pilot aboard.  A second aircraft owned by Yankee Airways left just afterwards and followed the first aircraft.  

     The destination of both aircraft had been Groton, Connecticut, but while in-route the pilots were informed that heavy fog and low clouds had settled in over the Groton area and both were advised to head for Elizabeth Airport at Fisher’s Island.  (Fisher’s Island is located in Long Island Sound off the coast of Connecticut.) 

     As the two airplanes were making their way to Fisher’s Island, the first was observed to crash into the water and “cartwheel” before sinking.  A search and rescue operation was instituted, but initially nothing was found, and the search was hampered by increasing fog.  The following day the Coast Guard Cutter Cape Fairweather recovered two wheel assemblies from the aircraft floating in the water.  Later that day the owner of a pleasure boat reported finding aircraft debris about five miles south of Fisher’s Island.    

     On August 8, the body of the missing pilot was recovered about one mile off Block Island.   

     The missing aircraft was found three years later on July 25, 1986, when the wreckage was snagged on a fishing net and hauled to the surface.  The plane was located shortly after dawn off  the northwest coast of Fisher’s Island near Hay Harbor.

     Sources:

     New London Day, “Coast Guard Suspends Search For Missing Pilot”, August 7, 1983, page A-1

     The Sun, (Westerly, R.I.), Search For Pilot Of Downed Plane Halted”, August 7, 1983, page 8

     The Sun, (Westerly, R.I.), “Pilot’s Body Found”, August 9, 1983, page 8.

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Body Of Woman Pilot Recovered From Block Island Sound”, August 9, 1983, page A-7

     The Day, (New London, Ct.), “Plane Wreck Found”, July 25, 1986, page 1.   

 

Off Block Island – March 8, 1982

Off Block Island – March 8, 1982

     On March 8, 1982, a lone pilot was ferrying a single-seat Cessna T188C, (#N9374J), from Virginia to Gander, Newfoundland.  

     At about 1:15 p.m., the pilot radioed the Federal Aviation Administration’s control center in Nashua, New Hampshire, that he was currently at 9,000 feet over the ocean off the New England coast and was having engine trouble.  He was given a heading and directions to Block Island Airport, but a few minutes later he reported he was donning survival gear and preparing to make an emergency water landing.  He gave his position as about six miles southeast of Block Island.  

     The plane went into the water and broke apart, but the pilot was able to extricate himself and climb atop one of the wings.  There he remained for about a half-hour until the wing sank.  He spent about another 90 minutes in the water before he was rescued by a passing fishing boat.  He was then air-lifted from the boat by a Coast Guard helicopter and transported to Falmouth Hospital on Cape Cod where he was treated and released.         

     Sources:

     The Providence Evening Bulletin, “Pilot Ditches Plane, Saved After 2 Hours”, March 9, 1982, page A-7     

     The Sun, (Westerly, RI), “Pilot Survives Ocean Crash”, March 9, 1982, page 14

Off Block Island – May 10, 1956

Off Block Island – May 10, 1956

 

T-33 Trainer Jet
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On May 10, 1956, a U. S. Air Force T-33 jet trainer took off from Suffolk County Air Force Base in Westhampton, Long Island, New York, for an instrument check flight.  The pilot was Captain Howard M. Blanton, 32, of Baltimore, Maryland, and the observer was First Lieutenant William J. Reichard, 26, of Berwyn, Illinois.   

     The aircraft headed eastward out over the Atlantic Ocean.  At some point the crew discovered that the radar compass wasn’t working properly, and that they were lost.  They flew for a period of time until picked up by radar at Montauk Point, New York, and Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island.   By now the jet was running low on fuel, and being closer to Rhode Island, was given emergency clearance to land at Quonset. 

     At about 12:30 p.m. the T-33 ran out of fuel as it approached Block Island/New Shoreham, which is located three miles off the Rhode Island Coast.  The crew ejected and the jet went into the water about a half-mile east of Block Island.

     Both crewmen landed safely in the water several miles apart from each other and rescue craft were immediately dispatched to the area.  Navy and Air Force helicopters found the men quickly due to the yellow dye markers each had carried, and directed surface vessels to their locations.  Both men were still alive at this point, but the cold temperature of the water was sapping their strength. 

     A sling was lowered form the Quonset helicopter to Lt. Reichard who managed to grip on to it, but moments later he fell back into the water and became entangled in the cords of his parachute.  He was retrieved by the crew of a Coast Guard boat, but wasn’t breathing when hauled aboard.  The crew attempted to revive him with artificial respiration without success.    

     Meanwhile, another Coast Guard boat recovered Captain Blanton, and he too was not breathing.  Attempts to revive him also failed.        

     Source:

     Unknown newspaper, “Two Jet Pilots Die Off Block Island”, May 11, 1956

 

Block Island, R.I. – October 24, 1974

Block Island, Rhode Island – October 24, 1974

     On the afternoon of October 24, 1974, a Cessna 180 seaplane was attempting to land at Block Island’s Old Harbor when the left wing dipped and caught the water causing the plane to capsize about 300 feet from shore.  The lone pilot aboard was able to free himself from the submerged cockpit and was rescued a short time later by nearby boaters.

     Sources:

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Seaplane Tips In Landing At Block Island”, October 25, 1974, page B-5

     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “Seaplane Pilot Rescued”, October 25, 1974, page 2

Block Island Airport – August 25, 1974

Block Island Airport – August 25, 1974

     On August 25, 1975, three men, all members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, left Danbury, Connecticut, bound for Block Island, R.I., in a single-engine Beech Musketeer aircraft.  They arrived at Block Island at about 2:00 p.m., and as the plane approached the runway of Block Island State Airport, the engine lost power and the plane crash landed 93 feet short of the runway.  Two of the three men aboard suffered minor injuries.      

     This was the second aviation accident to occur in Rhode Island on this date.  Another man was killed when his homemade plane crashed into the water off Deluca’s Beach in Narragansett, R.I.  That accident is also posted on this website.

     Source:

     Westerly Sun, “Man Killed As Plane Crashes Off Scarborough State Beach”, August 26, 1974, Page 1.     

Block Island, R.I. – August 26, 1995

Block Island, Rhode Island – August 26, 1995

Town of New Shoreham

     On August 26, 1995, a Cessna 185 (N4944E) took off from East Hampton, Long Island, New York, bound for Block Island.  The aircraft was a seaplane capable of water landings.

     There were four people aboard, a 52-year-old pilot and three passengers in their 20s.  

     The plane arrived at Block Island shortly after 1 p.m. and attempted to land at Old Harbor Beach, touching down about 400 feet from shore and heading towards land.  After traveling about 100 feet the pilot aborted due to rocks and swimmers in the area.  The airplane leveled off at 15 feet and continued towards shore where it rose again to clear a building and some electrical wires.  After clearing the first set of wires, the plane settled downward and caught a second set of wires.  It then dove towards a restaurant known as G.R. Sharkey’s which also had an attached gas station.  One of the aircraft’s pontoons slammed into a car occupied by a 79-yrear-old woman who was parked at the gas pumps, before crashing into the restaurant and bursting into flames.  The woman and three people aboard the plane died at the scene.  One male passenger aboard the aircraft managed to free himself from the wreckage, but later died of his injuries at Rhode Island Hospital.   

     Fortunately the restaurant was fairly empty at the time of the crash, and no patrons or employees were hurt.  

     This incident remains the worst aviation disaster to occur on Block Island.

     Sources:

     National Transportation Safety Board accident report brief – #NYC95FA203 

    New York Times, “Plane Hits Block Island Restaurant, Killing 5”, August 27, 1995

     New York Times, “Small Town tries To Get Over Shattering Plane Crash”, August 28, 1995

     New York Times, “Last 3 Victims Identified In seaplane Crash”, August 29, 1995

Block Island, R.I. – August 27, 1931

Block Island, R. I. – August 27, 1931

     Very little information is available about this accident.  On the afternoon of August 27, 1931, Evald Lundberg, a.k.a. Gottfred E. Lundberg, of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, was burned to death when his airplane crashed on Block Island after his engine failed.

     For those that don’t know, Block Island is three miles off the coast of Rhode Island. 

Source: New York Times, “Flier Dies In Block Island Crash”, August 28, 1931.     

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