North Stonington, CT. – December 5, 1945

North Stonington, Connecticut – December 5, 1945

 

F8F Bearcat
U. S. Navy Photo

     Shortly after 9:30 a.m. on the morning of December 5, 1945, an F8F-1 Bearcat, (Bu. No. 94867), left the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island for a familiarization training flight.

     About fifteen to twenty minutes later, while at 2,000 feet over the area of North Stonington, the engine suddenly lost all power.   The pilot tried to restart the engine but was unsuccessful, and his only option was to make an emergency landing.  Seeing an open field, he aimed for it and made a wheels-up landing in an area of North Stonington known as Pendleton Hill.  Unfortunately the field was littered with rocks and boulders of various sizes, and upon landing, the aircraft struck some of them causing serious damage to the fuselage and for the aircraft to catch fire. The pilot was able to extricate himself as the plane began to burn, and made his way to a nearby house where he asked to use the telephone. 

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated December 5, 1945

     Westerly Sun, “Pilot Escapes Pendleton Hill Plane Crash”, December 6, 1945,  courtesy Westerly Public Library

 

New Milford, CT. – March 1, 1944

New Milford, Connecticut – March 1, 1944

 

F4U Corsair
US Navy Photo

     At about 2 p.m. on the afternoon of March 1, 1944, Chance-Vought (Aircraft) civilian test pilot, Willard B. Boothby, was flying a navy F4U-1 Corsair, (Bu. No. 49882), over western Connecticut when the aircraft developed an on-board fire.  Boothby was forced to bail out as the aircraft went down in the Still River section of the town of New Milford, where it struck a private home on Rt. 7 and exploded.  The aircraft and home were destroyed, but the home was unoccupied at the time, and there were no injuries on the ground. 

     Meanwhile, the parachute malfunctioned, and the pilot came down in a wooded area on Corman Hill and was killed instantly.  At the time of the accident, strong winds were blowing, and police speculated that the lines became tangled. 

     The aircraft had been accepted by the Navy only six days earlier on February 23rd, and was at the Chance-Vought plant for experimental purposes. 

     Mr. Boothby began his flying career while a student at Purdue University, and became a test pilot for Chance-Voight in 1941.  He’s buried in Saccarappa Cemetery in Westbrook, Maine.  He was survived by his wife and son.

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated March 1, 1944

     Unknown Newspaper, “Willard Boothby, Test Pilot For Chance-Vought, Plane On Fire, Bales Out, And Instantly Killed”, March 2, 1944 – courtesy of the New Milford Public Library.     

     www.findagrave.com, memorial #47668157

Groton, CT. – July 4, 1945

Groton, Connecticut – July 4, 1945

 

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

     On the night of July 4, 1945, a group of navy aircraft were making a series of landings and takeoffs at the Groton Naval Auxiliary Air Field as part of a training exercise.   One of the aircraft taking part was an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70879).  Another aircraft was an F4U Corsair, (Bu. No. 81612).

 

 

F4U Corsair
US Navy Photo

  Shortly before 11:00 p.m., the Corsair made a normal landing and taxied towards the end of the runway while the Hellcat made its approach and landed.  The Hellcat landed at a normal speed and proper interval from the Corsair however, due to excessive darkness, what the pilot of the Hellcat didn’t realize was that the Corsair hadn’t completely cleared the end of the runway.  At 170 feet before the end of the runway the Hellcat drove into the rear of the Corsair completely demolishing the Corsair, and causing substantial damage to the Hellcat.  Fortunately neither pilot was seriously hurt.    

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident report dated July 4, 1945.

 

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