Charlestown, R. I. – September 4, 1947

Charlestown, Rhode Island – September 4, 1947

     On the night of September 4, 1947, Lieutenant Alfred George Elpern, (26), took off from the Charlestown Navy Auxiliary Air Field in an F8F-1 Bearcat, (Bu. No. 95208), for a night tactical training mission.   About 36 minutes into the flight the cockpit lighting system of his aircraft failed, and he was given clearance to return to base.  His first two attempts to land were aborted.   While making his third attempt, his aircraft was observed to go into a spin while at an altitude of 300 feet.  The airplane crashed and exploded on the field instantly killing Lieutenant Elpern.

     At the time of the crash, the horizon was partially obscured by haze.

     The cause of the crash could not be determined.

     Lieutenant Elpern is buried in Paradise Cemetery in Shannondale, Penn.


     U. S. Navy accident report dated September 4, 1947 Memorial #31314556

Charlestown, R. I. – September 18, 1943

Charlestown, Rhode Island – September 18, 1943


TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On September 18, 1943, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 01768), with a lone pilot aboard, was making practice landings and takeoffs at the Charlestown Navy Auxiliary Air Field when the aircraft crashed and burned.  The pilot suffered serious burns to his face and hands and an injury to his right knee.  The aircraft was a total loss.

     The aircraft was assigned to VC-43.


     U. S. Navy accident report #44-8671.

Charlestown, R.I. – August 2, 1945

Charlestown, Rhode Island – August 2, 1945


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     At 7:55 a.m. on the morning of August 2, 1945, Ensign Walter G. Davies was taking off from Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field in an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 78413), when the engine suddenly lost all power.  The plane dropped back onto the end of the runway where it continued off the tarmac and over an eight-foot embankment where it nosed over onto its back.  The pilot was freed by the base crash-rescue team and wasn’t injured.  The aircraft was a total loss.


     U. S. Navy crash report dated August 2, 1945   

Charlestown, R. I. – August 30, 1945

Charlestown, Rhode Island – August 30, 1945


F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On August 30, 1945, an F6F-5, (Bu. No. 78419), was taking off on Runway 7 at Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field when the engine suddenly lost power and the plane came back down on the tarmac and flipped over.  The aircraft was wrecked, but the pilot was not seriously injured. 


     U. S. Navy crash report dated August 30, 1945  

Charlestown, R.I. – September 26, 1945

Charlestown, Rhode Island – September 26, 1945 


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On the evening of September 26, 1945, Ensign G. R. Looney was piloting an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 72031), over Charlestown Auxiliary Naval Air Station in preparation for landing.  After being cleared to land, he made his approach towards the runway, and discovered that his aircraft was no longer responding to the throttle controls.  He radioed the tower and declared an emergency and was advised to turn towards the duty runway.  As he did so he saw other aircraft at the end of the runway, and realized if he landed he would collide with them, so he aimed for a small hill beyond.  There he was able to stall the aircraft and crash land into the trees.  The plane was wrecked, but Ensign Looney was not injured. 

     Investigation revealed that the cause of the accident was due to a broken throttle linkage. 

     Source: National Archives, AAR 94-45, TD450926RI, via Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

Charlestown, R.I. – September 29. 1952

Charlestown, Rhode Island – September 29, 1952


U.S. Navy
Grumman F9F Panther
U.S. Navy Photo – National Archives

     On September 29, 1952, a flight of Grumman F9F Panther fighter jets took off from Quonset Point Naval Air Station for a training flight.  The purpose of the flight was to practice carrier landings, or “bounce drills” at the Charlestown Auxiliary Naval Air Station. 

     At one point during the exercise, one aircraft, (Bu. No. 125308), crashed on Quonochontaug Beach in Charlestown.  The aircraft was approaching the beach from the west before it suddenly dropped to the sand about one mile east of the ocean end of East Beach Road, and bounced “two or three times”, before cart-wheeling into the water on the Atlantic side. 

     The accident was witnessed by a man operating a bulldozer nearby who was in the process of pushing up sand dunes along the beach.  The man ran to the scene of the crash, but when he got there the unidentified navy pilot was wading ashore on his own in no need of rescue.  The aircraft was completely wrecked, but the pilot only received minor injuries.    


     Providence Journal, “Quonset Pilot Escapes Crash In Surf With Minor Injuries”, September 30, 1952


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