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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