Early Burlington Vermont Airport Articles

Early Burlington Vermont Airport Articles 

     The Burlington (Vermont) International Airport had is beginnings in 1919 with the U. S. Government seeking a suitable place for an airfield.   The airport was officially dedicated on September 22, 1921.

     Click on images to enlarge.

The Bare (Vermont) Daily Times
April 28, 1919

     The following newspaper article appeared in The Bare (Vermont) Daily Times on May 18, 1920.

Airplanes Went From Boston To Burlington In One Hour, 49 Minutes

     Burlington, May 18. – Two airplanes arrived at Fort Ethan Allen yesterday afternoon in record breaking time from Boston.  One plane was piloted by Col. Grennan, chief of the air service of the New England division, and the other by Colonel G. C. Brant of new York City.  Both planes left Boston at 3:30 yesterday afternoon.  Colonel Grennan, who arrived five minutes ahead of Colonel Brant, made the trip in one hour and 49 minutes, which is believed to be a record for this flight.  His average speed was 110 miles per hour.

      Colonel Brant made a detour on the way to fly over the town of Groton, where he is acquainted.  The machines used were Dehaviland planes equipped with Liberty motors.  The trip is one of several which the officers are making in New England for the purpose of promoting airplane landing fields for the coming season.  Burlington has been considered as a very important location for a landing field and various locations here will be inspected during the officer’s visit.

———-

 

Evening Public Ledger (Philadelphia)
August 11, 1920

The Bare Daily Times
(Bare, Vermont)
August 12, 1920

The Caledonian Record
(St. Johnsbury, Vt.)
September 20, 1921

     Also see Early Postcard Views of Burlington Airport

Burlington, VT. – December 6, 1970

Burlington, Vermont – December 6, 1970

 

Dehavilland U-6 Beaver
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At about 3 p.m. on December 6, 1970, a Rhode Island Air National Guard De Havilland U-6 Beaver aircraft, (Ser. No. 0-16489), took off from Burlington Airport with five men aboard bound for T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island.  It was snowing heavily at the time with 20 mph winds. 

     Immediately after take off the pilot, Lt. Colonel Benjamin F. Mendes, radioed Burlington tower that some radio directional equipment had suddenly become inoperative.  Moments later the plane crashed in a wooded area about a half-mile from Interstate 89.  Six youths who were riding in a car on the interstate at that time reported that they saw flames coming from the De Havilland as it was going down.  All five men perished in the crash. 

     The passengers were identified as:

     Roger Baron, 42, of Laconia, New Hampshire.

     Charles Larsen, 32, of Bedford, Massachusetts.

     Raymond Maher, 37, of Lincoln, Massachusetts.

     Louis Pappas, 39, of Framingham, Massachusetts.

     Lt. Col. Mendes, a native of Rhode Island, was assigned to the First Army at Fort Meade, Maryland, but at the time of his death was living with his family on Long Island, New York, while studying for an advanced degree at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, under a program called “Operation Bootstrap”. 

     As a military pilot, Lt. Col. Mendes was required to fly a minimum of four hours a month to maintain his proficiency rating, which was a common practice for pilots not assigned to active flight duty.  As such, arrangements were made for him to use the De Havilland belonging to the Rhode Island Air National Guard to make the flight to Burlington.  He’d made the flight from Rhode Island to Vermont alone, and picked up the passengers before leaving Burlington.     

     Sources:

     Providence Journal, “Army Probes Plane Crash”, December 7, 1970

     Providence Journal, “Five Killed In Crash Of R. I. Guard Plane”, December 8, 1970

Burlington, VT – May 18, 1949

Burlington, Vermont – May 18, 1949

P-47 Thunderbolt - U.S. Air Force Photo

P-47 Thunderbolt – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On May 18, 1949, a flight of twelve F-47 National Guard aircraft was scheduled to depart Burlington Airport for a formation training flight.  The formation was to be led by Major Carroll A. Prybylo, 28, piloting F-47 (#45-49545).

     The F-47 was the new designation assigned to the P-47 Thunderbolt used by the Army Air Force during WWII.  By 1949 they had been relegated to National Guard status.

     After pre-flight preparations, the flight was cleared for takeoff on runway 15, with Major Prybylo going first.  According to witnesses, it appeared that the major’s aircraft wasn’t traveling as fast as it should, and didn’t become airborne until it had used up 4,000 feet of runway.  Even then, the aircraft appeared to have trouble climbing, and only reached an altitude of about 24 feet.  It continued on for 608 feet from the end of the runway where the left wing and left horizontal stabilizer struck some trees 15 feet from the tops.  The wing and stabilizer were torn away and the plane crashed and exploded. 

     The plane crashed in an area of rough terrain which made it difficult for rescue and fire personnel to reach the scene.  Due to the total destruction of the aircraft and subsequent fire, investigators were unable to determine a definite cause of the accident.

    Major Prybylo was born in Walpole, New Hampshire, on December 17, 1921, and entered the service in March of 1942.  After receiving his pilot’s wings on January 4, 1943, he was sent to the European Theatre and flew numerous combat missions during WWII, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with numerous clusters, and other awards.  He was survived by his wife and daughter, and is buried in St. Mary’s cemetery in Springfield, Vermont. 

     Sources:

     Air Force Crash Investigation Report, #49-5-18-5

     Burlington Free Press, “Major Carroll A. Prybylo Of Essex Jctn., Perishes In Wreck Of F-47 Thunderbolt Which Crashes Near Burlington Airport”, May 19, 1949  

     (Unnamed newspaper) “Probe Of Fatal Plane Crack-up Now Under Way”, May 20, 1949

     www.findagrave.com, Memorial #151212590    

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