Connecticut River – August 26, 1980

Connecticut River – August 26, 1980

     At about 3:00 p.m. on August 26, 1980, a single-engine Beech Mustang with a family of four from Long Island, New York, aboard, took off from Goodspeed Airport in East Haddam.  Just after becoming airborne, the aircraft was caught in a down draft and crashed into the Connecticut River.  All four occupants escaped without injury before the plane sank, and were rescued by nearby pleasure boaters.


     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “None Hurt As Plane Ends Up In River”, August 27, 1980, page 2.  

Connecticut River – September 26, 1966

Connecticut River – September 26, 1966

     At 7: 30 p.m. on September 26, 1966, a Piper Cherokee with six young men aboard took off from Brainard Field in Hartford, Connecticut.  All were between the ages of 19 and 23, and all were students at Trinity College in Hartford.  Shortly after takeoff the aircraft lost power and plunged into the Connecticut River and sank.  All six men were able to escape, but one had reportedly suffered a head injury in the crash. As the group was swimming towards shore, the man with the head injury slipped beneath the water and was swept away by the current.  


     The Hartford Courant, “Plane Engine Runs After River plunge”, September 28, 1966

Sunderland, MA. – August 7, 1941

Sunderland, Massachusetts – August 7, 1941


Stearman PT-17
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the afternoon of August 7, 1941, a PT-17 Stearman biplane took off from Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a routine training flight.  There were two men aboard, the pilot: Lieutenant Everett J. O’Connor; and a mechanic, Staff Sergeant Charles G. Nowark. 

     While over the Connecticut River Valley the aircraft suddenly lost all power and the pilot was forced to find a place to make an emergency landing.  He aimed for the Connecticut River, and made a perfect water landing near a point known as Whittemore’s Rock.  After the plane glided to a stop the weight of the engine caused the nose to sink in several feet of water, leaving the tail of the aircraft pointing upwards.  Neither man was injured.     

     Lieutenant O’Connor was praised for his skill in landing the airplane under such conditions.

     Both men were part of the 7th Squadron, 34th Bombardment Group.  The PT-17 was one of five stationed at Westover at the time.  Other than water damage to the engine, the plane was salvageable.   

      This was reported to be the “…first crash of an army plane stationed at Westover Field.” 


     Springfield Republican, “Army Plane Makes Forced Landing After Motor Fails”, August 18, 1941. (With photo of aircraft in river.)

Haddam, CT. – November 18, 1921

Haddam, Connecticut – November 18, 1921 

     On November 18, 1921, a small seaplane left New York bound for Springfield, Massachusetts.  There were three people aboard: the pilot, Frank Little, of Haddenfield, New Jersey; his mechanic, James Delaney, of Freeport, New York; and a passenger identified as 60-year-old H. D. Lindsiey, of Springfield, Massachusetts.    

     When the aircraft reached Connecticut the pilot began following the Connecticut River which would lead them north to the city of Springfield.  Not long afterwards the plane encountered heavy fog conditions and crashed in a swampy area at Haddam Neck in the town of Haddam.  

     Mr. Lindsiey was killed in the crash.  Little and Delaney were transported to Middlesex Hospital for treatment. 

     Source: New York Tribune, “One Killed In Air Wreck – Seaplane Crashes Into tree While Fog Bound”, November 19, 1921  

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.


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


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:


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

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

Hartford, CT – February 3, 1930

Hartford, Connecticut – February 3, 1930

Brainard Filed


Issued In 1930

Issued In 1930

  On February 3, 1930, airmail pilot Carey E. Pridham, 29, took off from Newark Airport in a Pitcairn biplane bound for Brainard Filed in Hartford, Connecticut.  As he was attempting to land at Brainard, the plane struck an observation platform located on the roof of the field house, tearing off the left wing, and sending the aircraft into the Connecticut River about 100 feet off shore.  The plane landed upside down pinning the pilot inside.  By the time someone could reach the site by boat Pridham was dead.

     Mr. Pridham was born in Virginia, and lived in Lexington, Massachusetts, with his wife and three children.   He’d been flying for over eight years and had 2,500 hours of flight time.  He’d been flying the mail since July of 1929. 

     The aircraft belonged to Colonial Air Transport.


     New York Times, “Mail Flier Killed In Hartford Crash”, February 4, 1930  


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