Trumbull Airport – August 19, 1950

Trumbull Airport – August 19, 1950

Groton, Connecticut

     

B-26G Bomber U.S. Air Force Photo

B-26G Bomber
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On August 19, 1950, a Connecticut Air National Guard B-26 aircraft took off from Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, bound for Trumbull Airport in  Groton, Connecticut for a transport flight.  

     There were four men aboard; the pilot, 1st Lt. Martin E. Coleman, 32, of Hartford, Connecticut, and three passengers, Major William B. Duty, Capt. Paul E. Kimper, and Sgt. Kyle C. Thresher.   

     They arrived at Groton during a driving rainstorm which hampered visibility, and made for slick runway conditions.  While attempting to land, the plane skidded off the end of the runway, over a seven foot embankment, and plunged into the Poquonoc River and flipped on its back and sank, leaving only the plane’s belly and landing gear protruding from the water. 

     Lt. Coleman drowned, but the other three men escaped with minor injuries.

     Lt. Coleman was a member of the 118th Fighter Squadron, 103rd Fighter Group, then based at Bradley Field in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.  He enlisted in the 118th Observation Squadron (Ct. Nat. Guard) after his high school graduation in 1936, and in the Army Air Corps in 1941.  In 1943 he earned his pilots wings and flew a variety of aircraft while serving with the Air Transport Command.  After his discharge in 1946, he re-joined the Air National Guard.   He’s Buried in Northwood Cemetery, in Windsor, Connecticut.   (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #150775556.)

     Sources:

     (New London, Ct.) The Day, “Air Force To Probe Fatal Crash At Trumbull Airport”, August 21, 1950

     www.findagrave.com

Windsor Locks, CT – June 15, 1947

Windsor Locks, Connecticut – June 15, 1947

    

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

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

     On June 15, 1947, Captain William H. Greenleaf, piloting a P-47N, (#44-89106) took off from Bradley Field in Windsor Locks with seven other P-47 aircraft for a simulated combat training mission.  After the aircraft formed up over Bradley Field at 5,000 feet they split into two flights of four aircraft each, and each flight took turns making simulated attacks against the other.  

     When it was their turn, the group in which Captain Greenleaf was part of, climbed to 7,500 feet and made three successive mock attacks against the other group which was circling below at 5,000 feet.  After making two mock runs without incident, they climbed again for a third.  It was during this third mock attack that Captain Greenleaf’s aircraft never came out of the dive, and crashed at a step angle in a wooded area where it exploded and burned about 1/4 mile south of Bradley Field.     

     Capt. Greenleaf was killed instantly.

     Investigators were unable to determine the cause of the accident. 

     Captain Greenleaf was assigned to the 118th Fighter Squadron, 103rd Fighter Group, of the Connecticut Air National Guard.

     Source: Army Air Force Crash Investigation Report, # 47-6-15-1   

   

Bloomfield, CT – May 24, 1949

Bloomfield, Connecticut – May 24, 1949

    

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

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

     On May 5, 1949, two F-47N fighter planes of the Connecticut Air National Guard took off from Bradley Field for a training flight.  One aircraft, (#44-89346) was piloted by 1st Lt. Marshall J. O’Quinn, 30, and the other by Lt. Russell B. Elliott.    

     The F-47 was the designation given to the former P-47 Thunderbolt used extensively by the allies during World War II.  By 1949 they had been relegated to National Guard units. 

     At about 6:00 p.m., Lieutenant’s O’Quinn and Elliott were flying at 3,000 feet about 2 miles due west of Talcott Mountain, heading north.  Lt. Elliott was leading with Lt. O’Quinn on his left wing.  At this time Lt. Elliott made a 180 degree turn and began heading south, while Lt. O’Quinn turned east towards Bradley Filed.  Lt. O’Quinn’s radio had stopped working about five minutes earlier, and believing he was returning to Bradley due to some other malfunction with the airplane, Lt. Elliott turned to follow.   

     The airplanes passed over Heublein Tower atop Talcott Mountain with Lt. Elliott trailing and continued in a northeast direction.  Then Lt. O’Quinn made a shallow 360 degree turn at an altitude between 1,500 and 2,000 feet.  After completion of the turn, he climbed to 3,000 feet and rolled the F-47 on its back and went into a split-S maneuver pulling streamers from each wingtip.  Lt. Elliott watched as Lt. Quinn’s aircraft dove all the way down then level off just before it crashed.  Lt. O’Quinn was killed instantly. 

     Air force investigators were at a loss to explain the accident.  In their conclusions they wrote, “All reports and information concerning this pilot indicate that he was a steady conscientious individual not inclined toward rash and erratic handling of aircraft.  The reason for the maneuver which caused this crash is unknown.”   

     Lt. O’Quinn was a veteran of WWII, and received his pilot’s wings on April 15, 1945.  At the time of his accident he was assigned to the 118th Fighter Squadron, 103rd Fighter Group, 67th Fighter Wing, of the 1st Air Force.  

     He’s buried in East Cemetery in Manchester, Connecticut, in the veteran’s section.  To view a photo of his grave, go to www.findagrave.com and see Memorial # 1374190.

     Sources:

     Air Force Crash Investigation Report, #49-5-24-6

     www.findagrave.com, Memorial # 1374190 

East Granby, CT – July 9, 1982

East Granby, Connecticut – July 9, 1982

     On July 9, 1982, 1st Lieutenant Daniel Peabody, 27, of the Connecticut Air National Guard, took off from Bradley Field in Windsor Locks in an A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft, (78-0585), for a routine training flight.   His was one of three A-10s taking part in the training exercise.  All of the aircraft were assigned to the 103rd Tactical Fighter Group based at Windsor Locks.

     At 3:35 p.m. as he was returning to Bradley Filed and approaching Runway 6, the aircraft lost all power. and Lt. Peabody was forced to eject at an altitude of only 1,000 feet.  While he landed safely, the A-10 crashed in a field in East Granby, tumbled across a roadway, and through a boundary fence at the edge of  Bradley Field, leaving a debris field that stretched more than 100 yards.    

     Sources:

     The Hour – Norwich Ct. “Air Force To Investigate Jet Crash”, July 10, 1982, Pg. 3, by Martin J. Waters.  

     The Sun, (Westerly, R.I.), “Guard Pilot Safely Ejects From Fighter Before Crash”, July 11, 1982

East Granby, CT – July 25, 1964

East Granby, Connecticut – July 25, 1964 

     On July 25, 1964, a Connecticut Air National Guard F-100F Super Sabre fighter jet assigned to the 118th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron took off at 12:43 p.m. from Bradley Field in Windsor Locks for what was to be an Air Defense Command training mission.  At 1:44 p.m., as the jet was approaching Bradley Field, it crashed about a half-mile short of the main runway just after the pilot reported a flame-out.  Both crewmen aboard were killed.

     The dead were identified as:

     (Pilot) Captain Thomas G. Jurgelas, 31, of South Windsor, Conn.  He was survived by his wife and two children.

     Captain Wesley A. Lanz, 29, of Rockville, Conn.

     Both men were former classmates, graduating in 1957 from the University of Connecticut.

     Source:

     New York Times, “2 Connecticut Men Killed In Jet Crash”, July 26, 1964

     Providence Journal, “Two Air Guard Officers Killed In Conn. Crash”, July 26, 1964

 

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