South Windsor, CT. – February 23, 1919

South Windsor, CT. – February 23, 1919

 

     On February 23, 1919, two U.S. Army lieutenants took off from Hartford, Connecticut, bound for Boston, Massachusetts, to photograph the arrival of President Woodrow Wilson’s aircraft landing at Boston. 

     The pilot was identified as Lt. S. W. Torney, and the photographer was identified as Lt. Cundiff. 

     As the plane was en-route to Boston it developed engine trouble, and Lt. Torney was forced to make an emergency landing in a field on private property in South Windsor.  After inspecting the engine, it was decided that trying to reach Boston would be too risky, so Lt. Cundiff was told to stay behind and return to Hartford via trolley while Torney would fly alone back to Hartford with the airplane.     

     After making some minor adjustments to the motor, Lieutenant Torney took off and was approximately fifty feet in the air when his airplane suddenly lost power and crashed in another field about a quarter of a mile away.  The airplane suffered significant damage, but Lieutenant Torney was relatively unhurt.

     Lieutenant Torney stayed with his airplane to protect it from the gathering crowds until a local constable arrived.  

     Lt. Torney’s airplane had begun its trip from Mineola, Long Island, New York, the previous day with two others, all bound for Boston.  One of the three developed an overheated engine and was forced to return to Mineola shortly after taking off.   The other two made it to Hartford where they spent the night.  After receiving word of Lt. Torney’s accident, the third was sent to Boston to complete the assignment.  It was reported that it flew over the spot where Lt. Torney had crashed before proceeding to Boston.

     Source:

     Hartford Courant, (Conn.) “Army Airplane Wrecked In Fifty Foot Fall In So. Windsor Pasture”, February 24, 1919

 

North Haven, CT – October 2, 1932

North Haven, Connecticut – October 2, 1932

     On October 2, 1932, a Stinson Junior monoplane with four people aboard crashed on the edge of a pasture in North Haven, just north of Clintonville Road. (Today Route 22) The plane had taken off from New Haven Airport shortly before.

     Three of the four persons aboard were killed.  The dead were identified as (Pilot) George A. Smith, 29, and his brother Lester, 23, and Mrs. Beatie Russner, 25, of East Have, Connecticut.  Mrs. Russner’s brother, John A. Hood, 28, of West Haven, survived.

     Source:

     New York Times, “3 Men And Woman Die When Plane Crashes”, October 3, 1932   

   

    

Stratford, CT – July 23, 1933

Stratford, Connecticut – July 23, 1933

     James A. Mollison and his wife Amy Johnson were two famous aviators, each in their own right.  In July of 1933 they decided to fly their private aircraft, Seafarer, (British registration G-ACCV) across the Atlantic Ocean from Pendine Sands, Wales, to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York.   After flying 3, 190 miles in 39 hours, they found themselves over Bridgeport Airport in Stratford, Connecticut.  (Today the airport is known as Sikorsky Memorial Airport.)

     By this time fatigue had set in for both flyers, and the aircraft was also dangerously low on fuel, so landing at the airport seemed their only option as it was clear they’d never make it to Brooklyn.  The Seafarer made several aborted landing attempts before flying out over the marshlands where the Housatonic River empties into Long Island Sound.  It was there the plane made a crash landing in the weeds and flipped over in the muck.   Fortunately both husband and wife weren’t seriously injured, and only required a brief hospital stay.

     The Seafarer was custom built by de Havilland for the couple. 

     Videos of this aircraft and the crash site can be found on Youtube.      

      Source:

     New York Times, “Mollisons Crash At Bridgeport: Both Are Injured, Plane Wrecked; Had Flown From Wales in 39 Hours”, July 24, 1933, pg. 1    

Off Waterford, CT – February 10, 1970

Waterford, Connecticut – February 10, 1970

In Long Island Sound

     At 4:21 p.m., Pilgrim Airlines Flight 203 left Trumbull Airport (Today known as Groton-New London Airport) bound for J.F. K. International Airport in New York.  It had been scheduled to depart at 4:05 p.m., and arrive at 4:55 p.m.  (The sixteen minute delay was due to ground delays, and no fault of the crew.)

     The aircraft was a turbo-prop De Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter, registration N124PM.

     There were five persons on board: the pilot, Alfred Crofts, 44, of North Stonington, Connecticut; the first officer, George B. Fox, 23, of Orient Point, New York, and three passengers; David F. Baker, George T. West Jr., and Willis G. Worchester.  The three passengers had just been visiting the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in Groton, Connecticut.  

     Weather and visibility conditions were poor, and the pilot was flying on Instrument Flight Rules (IFR).  When the flight reached the New York area it was put in a holding pattern for an extended period of time.  

     By 5:00 p.m. conditions at Kennedy had deteriorated.

     At 5:27 p.m. Flight 203 was contacted by Kennedy to establish radar identification, however it was learned that the radar transponder aboard the aircraft wasn’t working.  After several attempts to remedy the problem without success, Flight 203 was diverted to Tweed Airport in New Haven, Connecticut. 

     At 6:13 p.m. Flight 203 was cleared for approach to Tweed.  However, at 6:17 p.m. the pilot reported they’d missed the approach, and the flight was advised to contact the Westchester (NY) Approach Control as part of standard missed-approach procedure.  

     Flight 203 established contact with Westchester and asked for the weather at Groton, Connecticut, and the controller advised he would get the weather and give instructions. 

     The flight responded, “203, roger. We’d appreciate it if you hurry.” 

     Groton weather was then transmitted to 203.

     At 6:18 p.m. Flight 203 again contacted Westchester Approach Control: “Westchester, we’d like to ah get direct Groton right now.”  Westchester advised they were working on getting clearance.

     203 repeated that they had to get Groton, and the Westchester controller replied he had to coordinate with New York, and was in the process of doing so.

     At 6:20 p.m. Flight 203 advised, “Ah, Westchester, 203, ah we got minimum fuel now, we gotta get to Groton.”

     “Pilgrim 203,” the controller responded, “I have advised Kennedy of that, they’re working on your clearance now, and I’ll have something as soon as they give it to me.”  

     Flight 203 was granted clearance shortly afterwards, and made its approach to Groton at 100 feet off the water due to a 200 foot cloud ceiling.  On final approach the pilot was in communication with his company via radio.  As he skimmed over the water hoping to make shore, he reported that one engine had stopped.  Seconds later the other engine quit, and the pilot advised he was going to ditch.  The plane crashed into Long Island Sound in 60 feet of water off Harkness Point.  It had run out of fuel.

     All aboard perished. When the plane was recovered from the bottom, it was discovered that no bodies were inside.  Two of the passengers bodies were recovered at a later date, but the flight crew and the other passenger were never found.  

     Sources:

     NTSB Investigation Report, Report # NTSB-AAR-71-1, File #3-0001, SA-418, Adopted January 27, 1971   

    (Connecticut) The Morning Record, “Evidence Probed In Plane Crash”, April 1, 1970 page 20   

    

 

East Haven, CT – June 7, 1971

East Haven, Connecticut – June 7, 1971

     At 7:14 a.m. on June 7, 1971, Allegheny Airlines Flight 485 departed Washington D.C.  bound for Trumbull Airport, (Today known as Groton-New London Airport) in Connecticut.  The flight arrived at 8:13 a.m. but weather conditions prevented landing, and the aircraft was put in a holding pattern.

     The aircraft was an Allison Prop Jet Convair 340/440, registration number N5832.  

     At 8:35 a.m. the weather at Groton-New London was reported to be an indefinite ceiling at 200 feet, with visibility one mile in fog, and surface winds at 220 degrees blowing at 5 knots.

     At 8:41 Flight 485 requested clearance to land under Instrument Flight Rules, and four minutes later clearance was granted. 

     At 8:52 a.m. Flight 485 reported a “missed approach”.  Over the next few minutes the pilot attempted two more IFR landings without success. By this point visibility had dropped to 3/4 of a mile and the cloud ceiling had dropped to 100 feet.

     Flight 485 landed successfully on the fourth attempt and arrived at the gate at 9:23 a.m.

     At that time 20 passengers got off the plane, and 14 new passengers boarded. The aircraft now contained 31 people: 2 pilots, 1 stewardess, 26 adult passengers, and 2 infants.  The flight departed at 9:33 a.m. bound for Tweed Airport in New Haven, Connecticut.

     At 9:48 a.m. Flight 485 was cleared to land on Runway 2 at Tweed Airport.  The weather at Tweed was a partially obscured sky with visibility at 1.75 miles in fog, and wind blowing at 180 degrees at 5 knots.

     As the aircraft was making its final approach, it came in very low over the water of Long Island Sound amid intermittent fog and clouds.  Moments before reaching land, it had dropped to less than 30 feet above the water before it struck the upper portions of three beach houses along the shoreline of East Haven, Connecticut, near Morgan Point.  The impact of the homes was later determined to be only 25 feet above sea level.  (The three homes were set ablaze from the accident and were subsequently destroyed.)  

     After striking the homes, the plane hit the ground, broke apart, and caught fire. It had crashed 4,890 feet short of the end of Runway 2.  (Tweed Airport is located on the New Haven/East Haven town lines. The actual impact took place in East Haven.)  

     There were no reports of anyone on the ground being injured.

     Only three people survived the crash: one crew member and two passengers.  The first officer, James A. Walker, 34, was critically injured when he was ejected from the cockpit as the plane broke apart, but he survived.   The two passengers,  Janet McCaa, 28, and Norman Kelly, 38, escaped the from the burning cabin through an emergency exit.

     As to those who didn’t survive, autopsy results determined that of those on board,  only the pilot, Capt. David G. Eastridge, 39,  received fatal injures from the crash.   The rest of the passengers, and the lone stewardess, Judith L. Manning, 27,  perished due to the smoke and or flames that resulted from the crash.

      

Crash site diagram of  Allegheny Airlines Flight 485,  June 7, 1971,  from the NTSB investigation report  #NTSB-AAR-72-20

Crash site diagram of
Allegheny Airlines Flight 485,
June 7, 1971,
from the NTSB investigation report
#NTSB-AAR-72-20

                                                    Click on image to enlarge.

      Sources:

     NTSB Crash Investigation Report, NTSB-AAR-72-20, File #1-0006, adopted June 1, 1972

     The Daili Illini, “Plane Crash In Fog Kills 28”, June 8, 1971

     (Sumter S.C.) The Daily Item, “Plane Crash Cause Given”, August 28, 1972, Pg. 13B

    

Stratford, CT – July 11, 1910

Stratford, Connecticut – July 11, 1910

Lordship Park

     On July 2, 1910, it was reported in The Bridgeport Evening Farmer that Stanley Y. Beach, editor of The Scientific American, was planning a flight that afternoon in his new Bleriot monoplane at Lordship Park, in Stratford. 

     The article stated in part, “Mr. Beach is the first aeronaut to hit upon the gyroscope as a means of insuring stability in flying machines, but has not yet succeeded in putting his ideas to a practical test.  He has made many attempts at flight, and each one appears to bring him nearer to his goal.  The occasion of his last attempt, he arose a few feet from the ground and actually flew for a short distance, but not long enough to put his machine through a real trial.”     

     The article also stated that “Mr. Beach’s ultimate project is a flight across Long Island Sound.”

     At about 2:00 p.m. on the afternoon of July 10,1910, Mr. Beach was back at Lordship Park with his Bleriot monoplane preparing for another flight.  Beach had directed his airplane towards a fifty-foot cliff overlooking Long Island Sound at the edge of the park.  After a mechanic started the engine, Beach sped towards the cliff, but when he tried to take off the plane didn’t respond to the controls, and Beach suddenly realized he was in trouble.  Just as he reached the cliff’s edge Beach bailed out and tumbled to the ground.   The aircraft continued over the edge and crashed on some rocks below.   Beach was relatively unhurt, but the aircraft suffered considerable damage.   

     The accident did not deter Beach from aviation.

     Sources:

     The Bridgeport Evening Farmer, “With New Aeroplane Beach Plans Flight From Lordship Park”, July 2, 1910, Page 3.

    The Bridgeport Evening farmer, “Stanley Beach Plunges From Flying Machine As It Dashes Over Cliff At Lordship Park”, July 11, 1910, Page 2.

     New York Tribune, “Beach Monoplane Falls”, July 12, 1910, Page 3.

 

Cheshire, CT – January 18, 1946

Cheshire, Connecticut – January 18, 1946

 

   DC-3  At 9:55 a.m. on January 18, 1946, Eastern Airlines Flight 16-B left Miami, Florida, en-route to Charlestown, South Carolina, Washington, D.C., La Guardia Airport in New York City, and finally Boston.  The plane was a twin-engine DC-3,  a former C-47 used by the U.S. military that had been converted for civilian use.  (Civilian registration # NC19970)

     Shortly after leaving New York for Boston, a fire erupted in the left-wing engine.  Witnesses reported seeing the airliner trailing flames and smoke shortly before the left wing collapsed causing the plane to drop from the sky.  The fuselage “pancaked” into a brush choked area about 1.5 miles north of the Cheshire State Reformatory in the town of Cheshire, Connecticut.    All 16 persons aboard were killed.   

     According to an article that appeared in The Cheshire Herald  on January 11, 2011, the crash occurred near present-day Wolf Hill Road and Copper Valley Court

     The dead were identified as:

     (Pilot) Roy A. Kuser, of Trenton, New Jersey.

     (Co-pilot) Robert S. Knight, Jackson Heights, New York.

     (Flight Steward) Willard Bassett, of Jackson Heights, New York.

     Navy Lieutenant Scott Faron, USNR, Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

     Mrs. Charlotte Sturman and her baby daughter Jean, 2, of Newton Center, Massachusetts. Mrs. Sturman was traveling with her 2-year-old daughter and Barbara Thompson, a nurse for the child.  They had been vacationing in Miami, but cut the vacation short to fly back to Newton to be with Mrs. Sturman’s husband, Captain Hyman Sturman. 

     Barbara Thompson, of Standish, Maine.

     Mr. and Mrs. Saul Miller, of Montreal, Canada.

     David McVeigh, of New York City.

     Norman E. Falt, of Chevy Chase, Maryland.

     Professor John B. Mitsch, of Milton, Massachusetts.  He was an associate professor of engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  (Although some sources list his address as New York City, his home was in Milton, Mass.)  He was survived by his wife and two children.  

     Mrs. Constance Ludwig, of New York City.

     Paul Maynard, of Caldwell, New Jersey.

     Gerard Voetlink, of Brooklyn, New York.

     Henry Berger, of New York City.

     Separate investigations were conducted into the incident.  One by the federal Civil Aeronautics Bureau, others by Connecticut state aeronautics officials, state and local police, and the New Haven County Coroner’s Office.   

     Investigators blamed a faulty fuel line for the crash.  

     It was reported that this accident was the first in New England involving loss of life on a regularly scheduled commercial flight, according to the Massachusetts State Aeronautics Commission.

     Sources:

     Woonsocket Call, “Sixteen Perish In Connecticut Plane Disaster”, January 18, 1946, Pg. 1

     Woonsocket Call, “3 Probes Started In Airline Crash”, January 19, 1946, Pg. 1

    Woonsocket Call, “3 Bay State Victims”, January 19, 1946, Pg. 9

     Providence Journal, “All Aboard Airliner Killed In Crash At Cheshire, Ct.”, January 19, 1946, Pg. 1

   Aviation Safety Network

     The Cheshire Herald, “Plane crashes Near Boulder Road”, by John Rook, January 11, 2011.  (This article also talks about a small plane that crash-landed near Boulder Road in Cheshire.  There were no injuries.)    

    

    

    

 

Brainard Field, CT – September 3, 1940

Brainard Field

Hartford, Connecticut – September 3, 1940

    DC-3

      On September 3, 1940, an American Airlines DC-3 (NC19974) left Boston at 6:10 a.m. bound for New York City with an intermediate stop at Brainard Field in Hartford.  As the flight neared Hartford, it encountered fog conditions, and after circling the field twice, the pilot elected to land the plane.   As he was making his final approach, the pilot chose to set down on the grassy area parallel to the runway because by doing so he could use the administration building as a guide in lining up for a straight landing as the area where the building was located was clear of ground fog which was obscuring the rest of the field.   

     The available landing area that would have been afforded the incoming plane was 3,880 feet, however, the plane didn’t actually touch down until it had passed over 2, 450 feet, leaving only 1,430 feet to stop.  When the pilot applied the brakes he was unable to stop due to the wet grass, but he managed to steer the aircraft past the airport boundary onto soft bumpy ground where it abruptly stopped, nosed over, then fell back hard on its tail, resulting in extensive damage to the plane, and minor injury to one passenger.  

     The plane carried fourteen passengers and a crew of three, a pilot, co-pilot, and stewardess. 

     Source:

     Civil Aeronautics Board accident investigation report, #2893-40

 

Greenwich, CT – November 8, 1957

Greenwich, Connecticut – November 8, 1957

    

DC-3 Airliner

DC-3 Airliner

     Shortly before 7:30 p.m. on November 8, 1957, a DC-3 aircraft owned by the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) was approaching Westchester County Airport in heavy rain in anticipation of landing.  Visibility was poor, and cross winds buffeted the aircraft. 

     Westchester County Airport is located in White Plains, New York, almost directly on the New York- Connecticut state line.  Just as the aircraft was about to land, a gust of wind pushed it off course, sending it over Hangar D and crashing onto King Street (AKA Route 120A) in the town of Greenwich. 

     The aircraft was a total loss, but fortunately all four persons aboard suffered only minor injuries.   (Pilot, co-pilot, and two passengers, both of which were top executives for RCA.)

     Source:

   New York Times, “Wind-Buffeted DC-3 Falls In Greenwich”, November 9, 1957

Willington, CT – September 3, 1927

Willington, Connecticut – September 3, 1927

Missing Airmail Pilot 

      At 7:15 p.m. on the evening of September 2, 1927, a U.S. Airmail plane belonging to Colonial Air Transport Inc. left Boston bound for Brainard Field in Hartford.  The pilot was identified as E. G. Cline, reported to be “one of the most experienced in the service of Colonial.”  There was also an unidentified passenger aboard.

     The trip was to take one hour, but while en-route Cline encountered misty rain and foggy weather, and was forced to make a landing in a field in Duxbury, Massachusetts.  There he waited for the weather to clear. 

     At 10: 15 p.m. he took off again, but left his passenger behind.  However foul weather forced him to make another emergency landing, this time in Webster, Massachusetts.  There he waited until after midnight to resume his journey.  After Cline’s departure, officials at Brainard Filed were informed that his aircraft  was once again airborne, and should be arriving within a half-hour.   But Cline never arrived, and when no word of another forced landing was received, a search was instituted.

     The missing plane was discovered in a thickly wooded area on the farm of John Hitsky, located in an area known as Moose Meadows in the town of Willington, Connecticut.  Cline’s body was found inside.   

     Sources:

     Woonsocket Call, “Air Express Plane 16 Hours Overdue, Believed To Be Lost”, September 3, 1927, pg. 1   

     New York Times, “Air Express Pilot Dead After Crash”, September 4, 1927

 

    

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