East Granby, CT – May 7, 1954

East Granby, Connecticut – May 7, 1954 

 

F-51D Mustang U.S. Air Force Photo

F-51D Mustang
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On May 7, 1954, Major Robert Anderstrom, 33, was piloting an F-51 Mustang from Mitchell Field on Long island, N.Y. to Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, when he crashed into a wooded hillside on the west side of historic Old Newgate Prison in East Granby.  The subsequent explosion blasted the plane to pieces, and left a crater 12 feet deep, 20 feet wide, and 30 feet long. 

    One witness, Mrs. Frances B. Allen, recalled to reporters, “I thought it was a bomb it went up so fast.”

     Major Anderstrom was an experienced pilot having served in the Pacific Theatre during World War II.  He was recalled to active duty in 1952 and assigned to the 131st Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the Massachusetts Air National Guard based at Barnes Airport in Westfield, Mass.  At the time of his accident he was the Commanding Officer of the 831st Replacement Training Squadron, and training officer for the 131st FIS.  During his career he earned three air medals.

     Anderstrom was survived by his wife Theresa and three young daughters. He’s buried at St. Thomas cemetery in West Springfield, Mass.  To see a photo of Major Anderstrom, go to findagrave.com and see memorial #6722890 

Sources:

Hartford Courant, “Air Guard Major Loses Life In East Granby Plane Crash” May 8, 1954.

Air Force Print News Today, Release # 030413, “104th Fighter Wing Remembers Fallen Heroes With F-100 Rededication”, April 30, 2013

Findagrave.com  memorial # 6722890

 

 

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

 

Stratford, CT – January 10, 1975

Stratford, Connecticut – January 10, 1975

     On January 10, 1975, a twin-engine Piper Apache took off from Meriden Airport bound for Farmingdale, Long Island, N.Y., when the engine developed mechanical difficulty shortly after take off.  The aircraft went down in a residential area in the northern part of Stratford, but no homes were damaged.  The 54-year-old pilot, the only person aboard, was killed.

     Source: New York Times, “L.I. Businessman is Killed In Connecticut Plane Crash”, January 11, 1975.    

Groton, CT- March 14, 1984

Groton, Connecticut – March 14, 1984

Groton – New London Airport

     In the early morning hours of March, 14, 1984, a single-engine plane was attempting to land at Groton-New London Airport in rain and fog conditions, when it crashed in a marshy area about 600 feet before Runway 5.  The plane hit a small island that it submerged during high tide. The 67-year-old pilot was killed.  No other persons were aboard.

     Sources:

     New York Times, “Physicist, 67, Dies In Crash Of His Plane In Connecticut”, March 15, 1984

     The Day, “Plane Crash Investigators Still Uncertain About Cause”, March 15, 1984, Pg. 6  

Trumbull, CT – August 4, 1967

Trumbull, Connecticut – August 4, 1967

     At 10:40 p.m. on August 4, 1967, a Cessna 182 with two couples aboard took off from Bridgeport Airport. (Igor Sikorsky Memorial Airport) 

     It is speculated that shortly after take off the plane’s engine began to malfunction based on two witnesses who told police they heard the engine sputtering just before the plane crashed off Porter’s Hill Road in the neighboring town of Trumbull.  The crash occurred less than fifteen minutes after departure.

     The plane came down in a wooded area about 250 yards from a development of private homes, and about 75 yards in from the roadway, and burst into flames. 

     Sources:

     The Morning Record, “Four Killed In Trumbull Plane Crash”, August 5, 1967

     New York Times, “Connecticut Crash Kills Four In Plane”, August 6, 1967

 

East Granby, CT – March 4, 1953

East Granby, Connecticut – March 4, 1953

    

C-46D Commando  U. S. Air Force Photo

C-46D Commando
U. S. Air Force Photo

     On March 4, 1953, a civilian C-46 cargo plane owned by Slick Airways,  (N4717N), took off from Idlewild (Kennedy) Airport in New York City bound for Bradley International Airport.  (Bradley is on the town lines of East Granby and Windsor Locks Connecticut.)   The aircraft was carrying radio recordings for Armed Forces Radio Service.   

     As the C-46 approached for landing in a driving rain storm it crashed and exploded in a wooded area of East Granby, about 1.6 miles southwest of the runway, between South Main St. and Seymour Rd.   Both crewmen aboard were killed.

     The dead were identified as Jefferson R. Elliott, 32, of Des Plaines, Ill., and John Bielak, 37, of Elmhurst, Ill. 

     Updated August 4, 2016

     The aircraft involved in the accident was built for the U.S. Army Air Force during WWII, (Ser. #2509).  It was acquired by Slick Airways as surplus in July of 1947 and converted for civil use.  At the time of the accident it had 14,310 flying hours. 

     Sources:

     Spokane Daily Chronicle, “Crash Kills 2 Airmen”, March 4, 1953

     Reading Eagle, “Two Killed In Crash Of Big Cargo Plane”, March 5, 1953

     New York Times, “Connecticut Air Crash Kills 2”, March 5, 1953

     Wikipedia – Bradley International Airport

     Civil Aeronautics Board Accident Investigation Report, file number 1-0015, adopted September 17, 1953, released September 22, 1953

    

Pomfret, CT – August 28, 1988

Pomfret, Connecticut – August 28, 1988

     In the early morning hours of August 28, 1988, a small airplane with four people aboard left Keene, New Hampshire, bound for Windham Airport in Connecticut.  At 2:30 a.m. the aircraft abruptly disappeared from Windham radar and a search was instituted.  The wreckage was found at noon in a thickly wooded area of Pomfret.  All four persons aboard were killed.

     Source: New York Times, “4 Die In Plane Crash In Rural Connecticut”, August 29, 1988

Connecticut River – July 12, 1996

Connecticut River – July 12, 1996

Hartford-Brainard Airport

     At about 11:15 a.m., on July 12, 1996, a single-engine Piper Malibu with six people aboard took off from Hartford-Brainard Airport bound for Block Island, Rhode Island.  Five of the six  were members of the same family, the pilot was not related.  

    Just after take off the plane began to loose altitude as it passed over the nearby Connecticut River.  Two fishermen in a boat watched as the Piper as it dropped lower and lower.  One later remarked to reporters that at first he thought the pilot was going to buzz the river just before one wing caught the water and the plane dove in roughly 100 yards away from them.   

     The fishermen immediately went the assist any survivors, and were quickly joined by another boat.  Together they plucked two children and two adults from the water.  Two women were given floatation devices and kept afloat until fire department rescue boats arrived.  Although badly shaken from the ordeal, all six persons survived.

      Sources:    

     New York Times, “Fishermen Save 6 After Crash Of Small Plane”, July 13, 1996

    

Glastonbury, CT – October 11, 1989

Glastonbury, Connecticut – October 11, 1989

     On the evening of October 11, 1989, a single-engine Piper-Cherokee airplane crashed in the woods about 300 yards in from Route 3, near the Connecticut River and Putnam Bridge.  both the pilot and passenger were killed, but their names were not immediately released.

     One man who saw the wreckage stated that the plane had nosed in and the wings had been torn away.

     Source: New York Times, “2 Killed In Plane Crash In Connecticut Woods”, October 12, 1989 

Talcott Mountain, CT – December 19, 1884

Talcott Mountain, Connecticut – December 19, 1884

Zephaniah Phelps

Zephaniah Phelps

     If the following story is to be believed, it is perhaps the first mechanically involved aviation related accident to occur in the state of Connecticut, and possibly New England. 

     Zephaniah Phelps, age 75, was said to be an inventor whose main interests focused on perpetual motion and aerial flight.  He lived in a hut in the woods near the town of Avon, Ct., and reportedly wasn’t taken seriously by those who knew him.  Undaunted, Mr. Phelps built a flying-machine of his own design, and by the early winter of 1884 he was ready to test it. 

     On December 19, 1884, Phelps carried his invention to the top of Talcott Mountain where a tall wooden observation tower stood.  His flying-machine was designed to be worn on his back, and according to the Weekly Saratogian, “consisted of a strong but light gas generator, a combination of cog-wheels and pulleys and two light pitch turbine wheels, both arranged at a slight angle to the vertical.  The whole contrivance, including two tri-angular wings, weighed about sixty pounds.”       

     While standing atop the observation tower, Phelps donned his machine and secured himself to it with a rope.  After starting the small engine, he leaped into space. 

     “For a moment the machine rose a few feet and then began to drop.” the Weekly Saratogian reported, “Phelps found his generator losing power with every second and attempted to discover the cause.  By some mistake he opened the discharge valve and instantly was falling rapidly, with his turbine motionless and useless.  The only check to his descent were the two triangular wings.”

     Phelps dropped into some trees about 700 feet below the tower breaking several bones.   

     The newspaper account goes on to state he was found by a hiker who happened to hear his groans, which would seem to indicate that there hadn’t been any witnesses to the whole affair.  Phelps was reportedly carried to a house about a mile away for treatment of his injuries.

     “I do not care so much for my hurts,” Phelps was quoted in The National Police Gazette, “But I had hoped to make my name immortal, and now I am so crippled that I am afraid I can never fly.  It was not the fault of my principles or my machine.  When I got on top of the tower I strapped myself to the cylinder and tied on my turbine attachments.  Then I stood on the side and stared my gas machine.  The turbine wheels revolved as well as I had expected, and carried me clear of the tower and some feet away.  I was going finely when the wind caught me and turned me downward.”     

     Sources:

     Morning Journal and Courier, (New Haven, Ct.), “A Perilous Ride – An Old man’s Unsuccessful Trial Of A New Flying Machine”, December 22, 1884.

     Weekly Saratogian – Saratoga Springs “A Flying Machine Crank”, December 25, 1884

     The National Police Gazette, “Like A Falling Star”, January 17, 1885    

Hebron, CT – January 10, 1930

Hebron, Connecticut – January 10, 1930

     On January 10, 1930, Daniel Marra, and William Kirkpatrick, left Republic Airport in Farmingdale, Long Island, N.Y. in a Fairchild monoplane for what was to be a routine test flight.  When they failed to return authorities were notified and a search was begun, but no reports of downed aircraft had been received. 

     The missing plane was finally located on January 15th.  It had crashed in thickly wooded area on the grounds of the Amston Lake Club, in the Amston section of the town of Hebron, Connecticut.  The body of Daniel Marra was pinned underneath, and Kirkpatrick’s was found a few feet away having been thrown clear in the crash.   The wrist watches worn by the men had stopped at 10:10, and 10:20.   

     The plane was discovered by Fred Rowley, the gamekeeper of the Amston Lake Club, who had taken it upon himself to search the area after hearing a report of a neighbor who said he might have heard a plane crash the night the Fairchild went missing.  Rowley and a local boy John Johnston searched the area for a day and half before finding the burned wreck in an Oak tree on the south side of the lake. (At the time they were looking for the lane, the main focus of the search was off Rocky Point, Long Island, where the plane was last sighted.)   

     William Kirkpatrick had been wearing a parachute, but Daniel Marra was not.  One person came forward who claimed he had heard the plane’s motor sputtering as it passed over the nearby town of Colchester.  Investigators discovered a small field with tire marks that matched the aircraft not far from the crash site, and speculated an attempt at an emergency landing was made there.  It was further surmised that Kirkpatrick could have jumped and saved himself, but chose to remain with Marra.       

Source: New York Times, “Two Fliers’ Bodies Found In Wreckage”, January 15, 1930

    

Windsor Locks, CT – August 21, 1941 – The case of Lt. Eugene M. Bradley

Windsor Locks, Connecticut – August 21, 1941

The Case of Lieutenant Eugene M. Bradley

P-40 Warhawk U.S. Air Force Photo

P-40 Warhawk

U.S. Air Force Photo

     On August 21, 1941, Second Lieutenant Eugene M. Bradley was killed when the P-40C fighter plane he was piloting (# 41-13348), crashed at Windsor Locks Army Air Field during a training flight.  What makes this accident historically significant is that it led to the air field being re-named in his honor.  We know it today as Bradley International Airport. 

     The accident occurred while Lt. Bradley was  taking part in a mock dog-fight with 1st Lt. Frank H. Mears, Jr.  Both men were assigned to the 64th Pursuit Squadron of the 57th Fighter group which had just arrived at Windsor Locks two days earlier.

     Portions of the Army crash investigation report of the accident are posted here for historical purposes.     

2nd Lt. Eugene Bradley Accident Investigation Report Face Sheet CLICK TO ENLARGE

2nd Lt. Eugene Bradley

Accident Investigation Report Face Sheet

CLICK TO ENLARGE

     Lt. Mears gave a statement to Army investigators in which he related the following:  “Lieutenant Bradley took off at 9:30 a.m., August 21, 1941, for a combat mission.  I took off at 9:35 a.m., and met him at 5,000 feet over the airdrome.  After Lt. Bradley dropped into formation, we proceeded to 10,000 feet.  Normal combat procedures were started and, on the first turn, I got on his tail.  After making several turns we had lost between four and five thousand feet (of) altitude.  Just before getting him in my sights the last time, I called Lt. Bradley on the radio saying that this was enough.  Immediately following this he went into a diving turn and pulled out so hard that heavy white streamers appeared off his wing tips; at this point I was pulling up and away and he went out of sight under my left wing.  I then banked to the left again to see where Lt. Bradley had gone and saw him in a spin; the spin appeared to be a normal spin, but slow.  I immediately told him to straighten out and get out.  He continued in the spin until he crashed, about a mile west of Windsor Locks Airfield”      

Witness Statement Of 1st Lt. Frank H. Mears, Jr. CLICK TO ENLARGE

Witness Statement Of

1st Lt. Frank H. Mears, Jr.

CLICK TO ENLARGE

     (Later in the war, Lt. Mears was promoted to Lt. Colonel, and became commander of the 57th Fighter Group.)

     The accident was also witnessed by at least four men on the ground, each of whom gave statements to investigators.       

Witness Statement Of 2nd Lt. Glade B. Bilby CLICK TO ENLARGE

Witness Statement Of

2nd Lt. Glade B. Bilby

CLICK TO ENLARGE

     One of those four was 2nd Lt. Glade B. Bilby, who wrote in his statement: “I observed the plane in what appeared to me to be the last 3/4 of a slow roll at approximately 4,000 to 4,500 feet.  It continued to roll until bottom side up and then came down in a half roll.  It was not a spinning motion but one of a roll until it turned one turn to the left.  Then it stopped rolling and continued to dive into the ground.  This cessation of roll was at an altitude of approximately 750 feet.  The plane at all times appeared to roll deliberately as if under control until the pull-out should have been started.”      

     (On July 20, 1942, Lt. Bilby survived a crash landing while piloting a P-40 in Africa, (#41-13911).  While overseas, he would be credited with shooting down  3.5 enemy aircraft, and would go on to command the 64th Pursuit Squadron.)    

Witness Statement Of M/Sgt. Guy C. Howard CLICK TO ENLARGE

Witness Statement Of

M/Sgt. Guy C. Howard

CLICK TO ENLARGE

     Master Sergeant Guy C. Howard told investigators: “August 21st, at about 10:00 a.m. M/Sgt. Smith, Baird and I were standing on the ramp watching two P-40’s dog fighting.  The airplanes were to my belief at 5,000 feet or better. After a couple of tight turns one airplane got on the other’s tail and stayed there momentarily then pulled up and away.  The other stayed in the turn and turned over on it’s back, (and) nosed down into a slow spin.  It spun slowly to about 500 feet then stopped, and dove at a slight angle to the ground.”  

     Master Sergeant Smith related, “On or about 10:00 a.m. August 21, 1941, I was standing on the ramp with two other Non-Commissioned officers, Master Sgt. Baird and Master Sgt. Howard, watching the dog-fight between two P-40’s, estimated altitude 5,000 feet.  These planes were circling.  When breaking formation both planes let out twin streamers from the tails of the ships.  While the leading ship was making a left bank going away, the other ship nosed down, went into a tail spin and at an altitude of approximately 800 feet, the ship seemed to straighten out and went into a nose dive.  Before the ship hit the ground it seemed as if the pilot was fighting the controls of the ship to straighten it out, because the ship was wriggling in a manner to indicate this.”

Witness Statement Of M/Sgt. Smith CLICK TO ENLARGE

Witness Statement Of

M/Sgt. Smith

CLICK TO ENLARGE

     Master Sergeant Charles C. Baird stated:  “About 10:00 a.m. August 21, 1941, I was standing on the ramp watching two P-40C’s doing aerial combat.  The altitude was about 5,000 feet.  the leading ship made a sharp turn to the left and went into an inverted left spin.  It made about four turns in the spin.  At approximately 500 feet the ship came out of the spin and went into a vertical dive.  The nose had not come up at all when it disappeared from sight.”

Witness Statement Of M/Sgt. Charles C. Baird CLICK TO ENLARGE

Witness Statement Of

M/Sgt. Charles C. Baird

CLICK TO ENLARGE

     The accident investigation committee wrote in part: “It is the opinion of this committee that insufficient evidence exists to permit an exact classification of this accident.” 

     After describing the accident in the narrative, the committee wrote: “There is no evidence to establish whether the accident resulted from materiel failure, personnel error, or from other causes.  Whether or not the pilot had full use of his faculties after the spin out and during the decent cannot be determined.  Had there been materiel failure the pilot had sufficient altitude to leave the ship, but since his safety belt was found to be buckled after the accident he apparently made no attempt to get out. There was also ample altitude (5,000 feet) in which to regain control of the airplane after it spun out.  Since a doubt exists in (1) the pilot’s use of his faculties, (2) whether or not the airplane could be controlled in its descent, or (3) whether materiel failure occurred; the cause of this accident cannot be determined.”     

     The investigation committee also ruled out sabotage.

Investigation Committee Findings CLICK TO ENLARGE

Investigation Committee Findings

CLICK TO ENLARGE

      There are photographs in existence reportedly showing the wreck of Lt. Bradley’s P-40 aircraft, however there is no indication in the accident investigation report that any official photos were taken as part of the investigation.  In fact, one portion of the accident investigation committee’s narrative states, “Photographs of the wreck would not add useful evidence…”  Therefore, it can be surmised that any photos of Lt. Bradley’s wrecked aircraft were taken by other persons not involved with the investigation.   

     In 2005, a search was begun to locate the site of where Lt. Bradley’s P-40 crashed.  It was no small undertaking, for the airport had grown and changed significantly since World War II, and although Lt. Bradley’s fatal accident was the first to occur at the field, it wasn’t the last.   

     According to an Associated Press newspaper article which appeared September 15, 2009, when Bradley’s P-40  crashed, parts of the engine were buried thirteen feet deep, and only the tail was seen protruding from the ground.  Heavy equipment removed the wreckage, and the hole was filled by using a bulldozer.   Therefore, researchers didn’t expect to find a complete aircraft, only small pieces of one, which would then have to be identified as coming from a P-40.  

     Researchers sifted through various state and military records, old aerial photographs of the air field, newspaper collections, and other sources while gathering information in their quest.  Several potential sites were examined.  The wreck site was finally determined to be under Runway 33 of Bradley International Airport.  The runway was extended in the 1960s to allow jet airliners to land, and the site was unknowingly paved over.              

     Eugene Bradley was born in Dela, Oklahoma, July 15, 1917,  and was 24-years-old at the time of his death.  He’s buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, in San Antonio, Texas, Section E, Site 67.  He was survived by his wife and unborn child.     

     Windsor Locks Army Air Field came under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army in 1941 after acquiring the land from the State of Connecticut.  The air field was re-named to honor Lt. Bradley on January 20, 1942.  After the war the airfield reverted to civilian use and is today Connecticut’s primary airport.          

Sources:

U.S. Army Crash Investigation Report, dated August 25, 1941     

Associated Press, “68-Year-Old Plane Crash Site Possibly Found”, by Joe Piraneo, September 15, 2009 

Associated Press, “Crash Site Of Bradley Airport’s Namesake Pinpointed”, November 26, 2010

Connecticut’s Archaeological Heritage: “The Search For Lt. Eugene Bradley’s Plane Crash”, by Nick Bellantoni, Thomas Palshaw, Paul Scannell, and Roger Thompson. (No Date)  

57th Fighter Group – First In Blue, by Carl Molesworth, Osprey Press, copyright 2011.  

Findagrave.com, Memorial #14952762  (Has photo of Lt. Bradley)  

Wikipedia – Bradley International Airport

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   

   

    

Little Narragansett Bay – July 12, 1945

Little Narragansett Bay – July 12, 1945

Updated August 21, 2017

 

F4U Corsair
US Navy Photo

     On July 12. 1945, five navy fighter aircraft from Groton (Ct.) Naval Air Station were participating in a dive-bombing training flight over Little Narragansett Bay on the Connecticut/Rhode Island state line. All planes were scheduled to make eight runs at the target.  The first seven runs were completed without incident.  As the flight of aircraft were making their eighth run, Lt. (Jg.) Frankilton Nehemiah Johnson, 23, piloting an F4U Corsair, (Bu. No. 81435), made his dive on the target from 8,000 feet and leveled off at 80 feet at the completion of his run.  It was at this time that his aircraft was seen to suddenly nose over and crash into the water of Little Narragansett Bay about 140 feet from shore.  The plane exploded on impact and he was killed.       

     Little Narragansett Bay is a body of water located on the Rhode Island/Connecticut state line where the towns of Westerly, R.I. and Stonington, Ct. meet.  

     Johnson’s body was brought to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being sent home to New Orleans, La., for burial.  He’s buried in Garden of Memories, Metairie, Louisiana. (see www.findagrave.com, Memorial #119852076)   

     Lt. (Jg.) Johnson was assigned to Air Squadron 19, aboard the USS Lexington.   

     Sources:

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-64

     National Archives, AAR 21-45, TD450712RI, via Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

     www.findagrave.com

Preston, CT – October 19, 1944

Preston, Connecticut – October 19, 1944

    

F6F Hellcat U.S. Navy Photo

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

      On October 19, 1944, Ensign George Kenneth Krause, 22, and Ensign Merle Henry Longnecker, 20, were piloting F6F Hellcats over the Norwich State Hospital area conducting mock interceptions for training purposes when the two planes collided in mid-air and crashed to the ground about one mile north-east of the hospital.  Both men were killed.

     Both men were assigned to Carrier Air Service Unit (CASU) 25 at Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field in Rhode Island. 

     Krause is buried in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.     

     Longnecker was survived by his wife Blanche.  He’s buried in New Rockford, North Dakota.

     Sources:

     Rhode Island Department Of Health death certificates

     The Norwich Bulletin, “Veterans Group Plans 70th Anniversary Tribute To Pilots killed In Preston Crash”, October 17, 2014 

 

Lebanon, CT – September 3, 1944

Lebanon, Connecticut – September 3, 1944

    

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

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

     On September 3, 1944, Ensign Timothy Edward Sullivan of the 46th Fighter Squadron was piloting  an F6F Hellcat over Lebanon on a gunnery practice mission when he crashed in Red Cedar Lake and was killed.  The accident occurred about 100 yards from Camp Moween, a summer resort for campers. 

     State troopers from the Colchester barracks had to wade through thick brush to reach the crash scene.  Recovery efforts were hampered by a silty bottom strewn with tree trunks and partly submerged logs.  Ensign Sullivan’s body was recovered hours later in about 12 feet of water by a diver from the Groton submarine base.  

    Ensign Sullivan was from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, and was 20-years-old at the time of his death.    

Sources:

The Norwich Bulletin, “Navy Pilot Dies In Plane Crash Into Lebanon Lake” , September 5, 1944

Rhode Island Department of Health Records. (N.K. GOV 82)

History of Fighting Squadron 46, Men-O-War. (Has squadron photos and a picture of Ensign Sullivan.)   digicom.bpl.lib.me.us/ww_reg_his/132/

 

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

    

Groton, CT – October 9, 1945

Groton, Connecticut – October 9, 1945

      On October 9, 1945, navy pilot (rank unknown) John Seymour Tyler, 24, was killed when the plane he was flying crashed in Groton, Connecticut.   The type of aircraft, and details of the accident are not available.

      Tyler’s body was brought to Quonset Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being transported to New York for burial.  According to a Rhode Island death certificate, he was born in San Francisco, California, and listed an address of Hudson Parkway, New York, N.Y. 

     Source: North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death certificate #45-97

Windsor Locks, CT – August 31, 1945

Winsor Locks, Connecticut – August 31, 1945

Updated August 22, 2017

 

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

     On the morning of August 31, 1945, Ensign Richard Henry Di Sesa, age 22, was part of a flight of twelve airplanes out of Quonset Point Naval Air Station practicing formation flight training over the Connecticut River Valley area.  Ensign Di Sesa was piloting an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42802), and was flying in the number 2 position in the second division of the flight.   

     At one point, while the formation was only at 2,000 feet, it began a slight downward glide over the Connecticut River in a “follow the leader” pattern.  While pulling out of the glide over the river, Ensign Di Sesa’s aircraft struck two high tension wires strung 120 feet above the water.  His aircraft went out of control and crashed into the ground killing him instantly.     

     Ensign Di Sesa’s body was brought to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island before being sent to Brooklyn, New York, for burial. 

     Di Sesa died just three days after his 22nd birthday.

     For a photo of Ensign Di Sesa, go to:

     www.warmemorial.columbia.edu/richard-henry-di-sesa

     Sources:

    North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-84

     National Archives, AAR VBF-97B-1 revised, TD450831, via Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

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

 

    

Somers, CT – April 6, 1942

Somers, Connecticut – April 6, 1942

    Updated March 6, 2016

P-38 Lightning U.S. Air Force photo

P-38 Lightning
U.S. Air Force photo

    On April 6, 1942, a U.S. Army P-38 Lightning, (AF-112) piloted by 2nd Lt. Raymond Allen Keeney, 24, crashed in a potato field in the Somersville section of the town of Somers, Connecticut, and burst into flames.  The wing of the plane clipped a tree just before the crash.  

     Lt. Keeney was born and raised in Somers, Connecticut, and was familiar with the area which he was flying over.  He attended local schools, and after graduation from the Texas Institute of Technology he enlisted in the Air Corps on March 17, 1941, in Lubbock, Texas.  It was while attending Texas Institute that he met his wife Christine, whom he married October 31, 1941, which was also the day he received his pilot’s wings.    At the time of his death he was assigned to the 62nd Pursuit Squadron.    

     Lt. Keeney died on his 24th birthday.  He’s buried in the family mausoleum in West Cemetery in Somers, CT.

      Sources:

     Pawtucket Times, “U.S. Pilot Killed In Plane Crash”, April 6, 1942,Pg. 7

     Findagrave.com #137939503

     U.S. Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-12-30-1

    Unknown newspaper attached to Air Corps investigation report, “Flyer Meets Death Near Somers Home”, unknown date.

     Unknown newspaper attached to Air Corps investigation report, “Lt. Keeney Killed In Somersville”, unknown date.  

     Hartford Times, “Funeral Wednesday For Lieut. Keeney Air Crash Victim”, April 7, 1942.

      

New Milford, CT – September 11, 1987

New Milford, Connecticut – September 11, 1987

     At about 9:00 a.m. on September 11, 1987, a Piper Cherokee crashed in the Gaylordsville section of the town of New Milford.  The plane had been en-route from Hyannis, Massachusetts, to Dutchess Co. Airport in upstate New York when the accident occurred. 

     The body of an unidentified man was found in the wreck.   

     Source: New York Times, “A Series Of Crashes Of Private Aircraft Kills At Least Three”, September 13, 1987  (The article covered other crashes besides this one.)

Brooklyn, CT – August 4, 1986

Brooklyn, Connecticut – August 4, 1986

 

TBM-3E Avenger National Archives Photo

TBM-3E Avenger
U.S. Navy Photo

     On August 4, 1986, a former U.S. Navy TBM-3E Avenger (With civilian registration N6581D) took off from Danielson Airport in Danielson, Connecticut, en-route to Florida for its annual inspection.  Shortly after takeoff the engine began to sputter and skip, and then the aircraft began trailing black smoke.  On witness told state police that the plane was low over the tree tops, and when the engine quit, the plane rolled over and crashed upside-down and exploded.  

     The plane crashed in a wooded-swampy area off Route 6,, between Church St. and Day St., and firefighters had to clear a path to the site.  It then took four hours to put out the flames because they were fed by the magnesium metal used in the plane’s construction.

     The lone pilot, Charles A. Sewell, 56, of Setauket, Long Island, N.Y. was killed.  Sewell was a highly decorated former U.S. Marine Corps pilot having served in both Korea and Vietnam with 330 combat missions to his credit, and more than 10,000 hours flying time. 

     During his 20-year military career he earned the Legion of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Corsses, fifteen Air Medals, and two Purple Hearts.  He retired a lieutenant colonel 1969, went to work for Grumman Aircraft on Long Island.  Within two years became their chief test pilot, and was still employed as such at the time of his accident.

     Investigators who examined the wreckage determined that the #8 and #10 piston heads each had a hole burned through them, and others showed signs of head damage.  The last inspection on the plane had been conducted September 7, 1983, and the aircraft had been issued a special permit for this flight.

Sources:

New York Times, “Grumman’s Chief Test Pilot Dies In Crash Of World War II Bomber”, August  5, 1986.   

NTSB brief #NYC86FA196, microfiche #33675  

Providence Journal Bulletin, “A Top Test Pilot Dies As WWII Bomber Slices Into Woods After Takeoff In Danielson, Conn.”, August 5, 1986, page A9.

Providence Journal, “Top Test Pilot Crashes WWII Craft Near Foster”, August 5, 1986, page 1, (2 photos of crash.)

Westerly Sun, “Vintage Plane’s Crash Kills Grumman Pilot”, August 5, 1986, page 17.

Norwich Bulletin, “Brooklyn Plane Crash Kills Pilot”, August 5, 1986, page 1. (2 photos of crash.)

 

 

 

East Granby, CT – September 12, 1987

East Granby, Connecticut – September 12, 1987

     On the morning of September 12, 1987, a Piper Cherokee crashed in a heavily wooded area of East Granby near the Suffield town line, about a half-mile from the nearest road. The plane burned on impact and the bodies of an unidentified man and woman were recovered.

     Witnesses told police that they saw the plane doing stunts before the accident.

     Source: New York Times, “A Series Of Crashes Of Private Aircraft Kills At Least Three”, September 13, 1987.  (The article covered other crashes besides this one.)

North Haven, CT – July 7, 1941

North Haven, Connecticut – July 7, 1941

     On July 7, 1941, an airplane carrying three people crashed and burned in North Haven Connecticut.  Witnesses stated the craft swooped low roughly 50 feet off the ground and flew between two trees at the edge of a field, before accelerating and clipping a wing on another tree 250 feet away.  After striking the tree, the ship nosed into the ground and burst into flames.

     The pilot, Harry Lesnow, 35, and one of the passengers, Anna Lesnow, were thrown clear by the impact but received fatal injuries.  The other passenger, Miss Theresa Gans, (about 30) was pulled from the flaming wreckage by several men who were working nearby, but she did not survive. 

     It was surmised that Mr. Lesnow was attempting to land in the field when he aborted the attempt due to rough terrain.  

     Mr. Lesnow was the plant manager for Lesnow Brothers Inc. a shirt manufacturing business in East Hampton, Massachusetts.  Miss Lesnow was the office manager, and Miss Gans was a stenographer for the company.   

     Source: New York Times, “Air Commuter Killed With Two In Crash”, July 8, 1941

    

Brooklyn, CT – December 26, 1977

Brooklyn, Connecticut – December 26, 1977 

     On December 26, 1977, a Piper Cherokee with three people aboard was passing over Brooklyn, Connecticut, approaching Danielson Airport in the neighboring town of Killingly.  When the plane was about 2,000 yards from the runway, it fell in a wooded section on the Brooklyn side of the town line. 

     A 54-year-old man was killed in the crash, the other two persons aboard were injured.

          Source: New York Times, “One Killed, 3 Hurt In Connecticut Crashes Of Two Small Planes”, December 27, 1977       (The headline refers to another crash earlier that same day where two men were inured when their small plane crashed just after takeoff at Tweed-New Haven Airport.) 

Waterford, CT – February 11, 1960

Waterford, CT – February 11, 1960

     On the night of February 11, 1960, a twin-engine airplane carrying four men en-route from Washington to Connecticut crashed into a water-filled quarry in the town of Waterford, Connecticut.  One of the men, Richard A. Georgetti, 25, managed to escape before the fuselage sank to the bottom carrying the others down with it. 

     The bodies of the other three, (the pilot) Elwin Hendricksen, 24, Richard Edwin Opdyke, 29, and Fred Luecke, 27, were later recovered by divers.  

     Source:, New York Times, “Two Die In Air Crash, Another Is Missing As Craft Falls In Connecticut”, February 12, 1960

Sikorsky Memorial Airport – April 27, 1994

Sikorsky Memorial Airport – April 27, 1994

Town of Stratford, Connecticut

     On the evening of April 27, 1994, a chartered passenger plane with nine people aboard left Atlantic City, New Jersey, bound for Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford, Connecticut.  (The aircraft was a twin-engine Navajo Chieftan.)

     Shortly before 11:00 p.m. as the plane neared Stratford, it encountered heavy fog conditions with only 100 feet visibility.  The control tower at the airport had closed at 10:30 p.m., and was unmanned as the plane approached, leaving the pilot to attempt the landing unaided.

     Due to the age of the aircraft, it did not contain a “black box” or other data recording devices, so it’s unclear if the pilot attempted to abort the landing while over the runway, or simply overshot it due to poor visibility.   What is known is that the aircraft crashed into an eight-foot metal barrier placed on an embankment at the end of the runway, and exploded.  Some of the debris went over the embankment and landed on Main Street which was just beyond the barrier.  

     Seven of the nine people aboard were killed in the crash, but two survivors were taken to Bridgeport Hospital in critical condition with severe burns.  One of them died hours later.

     Their names were not immediately released.

      Sources:

     New York Times, “Seven Killed In Fiery Crash Of Airplane”, April 28, 1994

     New York Times, “Cause Is Sought In fatal Crash Of Airplane On Casino Trip”, April 29, 1994

     New York Times, “Flawed Airport Design Is Called Cause Of 8 Deaths In Crash”, December 14, 1994

Stratford, CT – December 26, 1991

Stratford, Connecticut – December 26, 1991

     Just after 9:00 a.m. on December 26, 1991, a single-engine Piper Comanche, with a lone pilot aboard, left Sikorsky Memorial Airport in Stratford bound for Oxford, Connecticut.   Just after take off the pilot radioed that he was having engine trouble and didn’t think he could make it back to the airport.   He opted to set the plane down on Interstate 95, which runs north and south along Connecticut’s shoreline.  The aircraft came down in the southbound lanes of the highway where it skidded into a guardrail then careened across all three southbound lanes and slammed into a Jersey barrier.   

     The pilot was trapped in the wreck with critical injuries, and it took rescue workers 30 minutes to extract him from the cockpit. Meanwhile traffic backed up for six miles in both directions.  

     Miraculously no automobiles or trucks were involved in the accident, and state police attributed this to a nearly empty highway at the time of the crash, due to it being the morning after Christmas when most people had the day off.    

     Source:

     New York Times, “Small Plane Crash Lands On Highway”, December 26, 1991    

Mount Higby, CT – August 15, 1966

Mount Higby, Connecticut – August 15, 1966  

     On August 15, 1966, a single-engine Cessna, (N6003R) with two men aboard left Block Island, Rhode Island, bound for Hartford, Connecticut.  En-route the plane encountered foul weather and crashed into the summit of Mount Higby, roughly sixteen miles from their destination.  

     The pilot, Richard Grimaldi, 32, of Newington, Connecticut, was killed in the initial crash, but the passenger, John Emanuel, 39, survived, and was pinned in the wreckage. 

     The plane was reported missing and a search was instituted, but the plane wasn’t located until August 21st, six days after the crash.  The wreckage was located in a rocky-cliff area about 45 feet from the top of Mount Higby.  Remarkably, John Emanuel was still alive.  He was airlifted off the mountain and brought to Meriden General Hospital in critical condition.  Unfortunately he succumbed to his injuries three days later.     

     Sources:,

     New York Times “Flier Is rescued In Connecticut After 6 Days In Plane Wreckage”, August 22, 1966

     Lewiston Evening Journal, “Hartford Man Dies As Result Of Plane Crash”, August 24, 1966, pg. 9 

Wallingford, CT – November 23, 1940

Wallingford, Connecticut – November 23, 1940

     On November 23, 1940, Omar Simonds, 20, a student at Yale University, and part of the University’s student pilot training program, was taking off from Lufbery Airport when the aircraft pancaked into a gully near the end of the runway.   He was transported to New Haven Hospital with non life-threatening injuries.  It was reported that the airplane, although heavily damaged,  could be repaired.   

     Source: New York Times, “Student Pilot In Crash”, November 24, 1940

Ridgefield, CT – June 11, 1983

Ridgefield, Connecticut – June 11, 1983

     Shortly before 2:00 p.m. on June 11, 1983, a Beechcraft Bonanza, took off from Danbury, Connecticut.  There were four people aboard, three men and one woman.  Roughly ten minutes after leaving Danbury, the aircraft crashed in a wooded area off Mopus Bridge Road in the town of Ridgefield, less than 200 yards from the New York Border.  

     The occupants of the plane were found in the badly burned wreckage.  Positive identification was to be made by the Medical Examiner’s Office.    

     Source: New York Times, “Four Die As Small Plane Crashes Minutes After Leaving Danbury”, June 12, 1983  

Tolland, CT – July 4, 1973

Tolland, Connecticut – July 4, 1973

Updated July 20, 2017

     On July 4, 1973, a Piper Cherokee with a father and his two sons aboard left Orange County, New York, bound for Hopedale Airport in Hopedale, Massachusetts.  Shortly after 6:00 p.m. the aircraft crashed into a home on Columbine Road in the Hillside Estates section of Tolland.  All three occupants of the airplane were killed instantly.  The plane did not catch fire, however the house suffered major damage. 

     The homeowner was not home at the time of the crash.

     One witnesses told reporters that the plane had suddenly appeared from the low cloud cover with its “engine roaring”.  It looked as if it would clear the house, but then its right wing dipped and struck a tree near the home.  The fuselage slammed into the home and came to rest about 50 feet away near a wooded tree line.            

     Police and firefighters had trouble reaching the scene due to curious people clogging the road with their cars.   

      Sources:

     The Hartford Courant, “Plane Rams House; Three Die”, July 5, 1973 (Two Photos)

     Pawtucket Times, (R.I.), Photos of house with caption, July 5, 1973, Page 12

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Conn. Air Crash Kills Mass. Father, Sons”, July 5, 1973, page 12

     Providence Journal, “3 Die In Crash Of Light Plane In Connecticut”, July 5, 1973, page 19 

     The Hartford Courant, “Witness Knew None Survived”, July 5, 1973    

      New York Times, “3 killed In Crash Of Private Plane”, July 5, 1973

Stamford, CT – August 27, 1933

Stamford, Connecticut – August 27, 1933

     On August 27, 1933, Army Air Corps pilot Captain Ernest Emery Harmon, 40, took off from  Washington, D.C. bound for Mitchel Field on Long Island, N.Y.  As he neared the New York City metropolitan area he encountered heavy fog and wound up over the coast of Connecticut instead of Long island. 

     At 10:00 p.m. he was seen circling low over the  Turn-of-the-River section of the town of Stamford, Connecticut.  After making a wide circle his plane suddenly dove towards the ground and struck group of trees.  The aircraft glanced off the top of one tall tree and then flew on into another smashing the ship to pieces.  The ship came to rest about 300 feet off the Long Ridge Highway, which today is Route 104. 

     Captain Harmon’s body was found about 1/8 of a mile from, the wreck.  It was speculated that he was thrown from the plane during the first tree strike as he hadn’t been high enough to use his parachute.  

     Captain Harmon was a well known and skilled aviator.  He gained national fame in 1919 when he made the first “Round-the -Rim” flight of the United States, flying counterclockwise along the entire borders of the U.S.  The flight, made in a Glenn Martin Bomber, took 114 hours and 45 minutes, covering a distance of about 10,000 miles.  He’s buried in Arlington national Cemetery.

     For photos and other information about Captain Harmon, go to the Arlington National Cemetery Website.  http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/eeharmon.htm

     Sources:

     New York Times, “Army Plane Crash Kills Air Veteran”, August 28, 1933

     Arlington National Cemetery Website

         

Windham Airport – June 18, 1946

Windham Airport – June 18, 1946

Town of Windham, Connecticut

     On June 18, 1946, a Pan-American Constellation passenger liner took off from La Guardia Airport in New York City bound for Newfoundland and England.  The four-engine aircraft,  known as the Atlantic Clipper, carried 42 passengers and a crew of 10.  Among the passengers were two well known actors, Laurence Olivier, and Vivian Leigh.  

     Shortly after take off, while the aircraft was over Plainfield, Connecticut, one of the four engines caught fire, then abruptly broke free of the wing and fell away to earth. The pilot, Captain Samuel H. Miller, declared an in-flight emergency and set a course for Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut, but en-route spotted Windham Airport below and made for it.   

    Captain Miller didn’t drop the landing gear as he made his final approach because he didn’t know if the burning engine had set the underside of the plane on fire, and he didn’t want to risk any flames igniting the fuel tanks.  He brought the plane in for a perfect belly landing, and when it skidded to a stop everyone was evacuated safely.       

     There was no mention as to what happened to the flaming engine when it hit the ground.

     Source:

     New York Times, “Atlantic Clipper Drops Engine, But Lands Safely In Connecticut”, June 19, 1946 

Stonington, CT – January 15, 1932

Stonington, Connecticut – January 15, 1932

     On January 15, 1932, a plane carrying three men left Boston bound for New York.  The pilot, Glenn Parker, 22, of St. Johnsbury, Vermont, was ferrying Cresson Parker, 31, and Earl Johnson, 22, both of Newport, New Hampshire, to New York so they could fly two new airplanes back to New England.  While traveling along the southern coast of Rhode Island they encountered heavy fog, so the pilot dropped the airplane low to the ground.  As they passed over the town of Westerly, R.I., they barely missed scraping the roofs of several buildings.  Shortly after the plane passed from Westerly to the neighboring town of Stonington, it crashed near the New Haven Railroad tracks in the Pawcatuck section of town.     

      Cresson Parker later died at Westerly hospital from injuries he received in the crash.  The other two men suffered cuts and abrasions, but recovered.

     Source:

     New York Times, “Crash In Connecticut”, January 16, 1932

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 Fighter for a routine training flight.  At 3:35 p.m. as he was returning to Bardley, the aircraft lost power on final approach, 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.    

     Source:

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

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

 

Marlborough, CT – April 10, 1933

Marlborough, Connecticut – April 10, 1933

         Rentschler Field was an airfield that opened in East Hartford, Connecticut, in 1931, and remained active into the 1990s.  It was named for Frederick Brant Rentschler who established the aviation division at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft of East Hartford.  Today the Pratt & Whitney (football) Stadium at Rentschler Field occupies the site.    

      On April 10, 1933, Lieutenant Harold Fairchild, 24, took off from Rentschler Field for a test flight of a new aircraft.  Lt. Fairchild received his flight training through the army at Kelly Field in Texas.  He then went on to advanced training and received his commission as a 2nd Lieutenant.  A month later he joined the Aeronautical Research Department of Pratt & Whitney as a test pilot.  The purpose of this flight was to test the altitude limits of the aircraft. 

     It was well known at the time that a pilot needs supplemental oxygen when flying above 10,000 feet.  When Fairchild reached an altitude of 35, 000 feet, it was believed that his oxygen system either ran dry or failed, causing him to loose consciousness.  The plane plummeted nose first out of the sky and crashed on a farm belonging to John Rankl in Marlborough, Connecticut, a town southeast of East Hartford.   

     Lieutenant Fairchild was born in Pelham, New York, and graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1921.

     Sources:

     New York Times, “Lieut. Fairchild Dies In Connecticut Crash”, April 11, 1933

     Historic Pelham, http://historicpelhamblogspot.com  “Two Pelham Brothers Lost Thei Only Sons In Eerily-Similar Early Aviation Incidents”, June 11, 2015

     Wikipedia

Bradley International Airport – June 4, 1984

Bradley International Airport – June 4, 1984

Windsor Locks, Connecticut

     On June 4, 1984, a Learjet 23, (N101PP) left Lorain County Airport in Ohio with scheduled stops at Cleveland, Syracuse, N.Y., Bradley International Airport, and then on to Philadelphia.  At 11:40 p.m., as the plane was making its final approach to Bradley, it veered to the right and crashed in a massive fireball to the right of runway 33, about 1,000 feet from the airport fire department.  All three people aboard were killed. 

     The dead were identified as:

    (Pilot) Charles Huffman, 32, of North Canton, Ohio.

    (Co-pilot) Ronald Dulay, 26, of Lakewood, Ohio.

    (Passenger) Eldridge Sheetz, 71, of Warsaw, Indiana.

    The cause was blamed on a malfunction of the wing spoiler system which led to a loss of control.    

Sources:

The Bulletin, UPI article, “Crash of Learjet Takes Three Lives”, June 6, 1984 (Bend and Duthces Co. Oregon)

Aviation Safety Network – Flight Safety Foundation, NTSB

Lake Waramaug, CT – July 7, 1929

Lake Waramaug, Connecticut – July 7, 1929

     Lake Waramaug lies in three towns, Kent, Warren, and New Prospect.  It is unclear in which town this accident occurred. 

     On July 7, 1929, two men, Martin F. (Texas) Brown, 34, and Gordon Spencer Whittley, 19, were in an open cockpit biplane heading to an outing at Lake Waramaug.  Brown was an experienced airman, and of late had been teaching Whittley how to fly.  (Brown was married to Wittley’s older sister, Eleanor.)  The aircraft was equipped with dual controls, and its unknown which of the two was piloting the plane as it approached a small landing strip known as Hopkins (Field) along the shores of the lake.  

     Whittley’s older brother Phillip had been awaiting their arrival at the air strip, and as the aircraft passed overhead he signaled which way the wind was blowing.  As the plane began to turn around to land against the direction of the wind, it suddenly lost power and dove nose first into the ground from an altitude of about 400 feet.  Both occupants died instantly.

     Martin Brown was a veteran military pilot (and ACE) of World War I. During his service he was wounded three times by anti-aircraft fire.  After the war he became a pilot for the U.S. Mail.         

Source: New York Times, “Connecticut Crash fatal To 2 Fliers”, July 8, 1929

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