Coventry, R. I. – June 25, 1944

Coventry, Rhode Island – June 25, 1944 


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

     On the afternoon of June 25, 1944, a flight of three P-47 aircraft took off from Bradley Field in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, for a low altitude, cross-country navigational training flight to Hillsgrove Army Air Field in Warwick, Rhode Island.  (Today Hillsgrove Field is known as T. F. Green Airport.)  From Hillsgrove, the flight was to continue to Groton, Connecticut, and from there back to Bradley Field.   The flight leader was First Lieutenant William H. Brookman, (27), an experienced pilot and flight instructor.  The other two pilots were trainees. 

     During the first leg of the trip, Lt. Brookman supervised the other two pilots from the number 3 position.  As the flight neared the Connecticut – Rhode Island state border, it ran into thick cloud cover.  At that time Lt. Brookman ordered the flight to return to Bradley.  After turning around, the other two pilots noticed that Lt. Brookman’s aircraft, a P-47D, (Ser. No. 42-27835), had disappeared from the formation.  Attempts to contact Brookman by radio were unsuccessful.  The other two aircraft made it safely back to Bradley and reported the incident.     

      Lt. Brookman was reported missing, but no reports of a plane crash had been received, nor had he radioed to the other pilots that he was having any problems with the aircraft.  The wreckage of his P-47 was spotted from the air during a search the following day.  His plane had crashed and burned in a heavily wooded area in the western portion of the town of Coventry, Rhode Island, just a short distance to the west of Pig Hill Road.  The exact location is unknown.         

     Military investigators were unable to determine the direct cause of the accident due to the airplane being completely destroyed.  However, the following excerpt is taken from the Army Air Force investigation report of the incident.

     “The aircraft and engine were completely demolished, and the aircraft crashed approximately two and one half miles from the nearest house, thus, no person was found who had heard or seen the airplane. 

     The carburetor is the only evidence found that gives any clue to the probable cause and it was broken from the engine.  The bolt holding the fuel strainer was loose and could be turned slightly by hand.   The gasket was in good condition.  The seat under the strainer cover shows signs of burning which leads one to believe that gasoline did escape at this point and caused a fire in flight prior to the airplane’s contact with the terrain.  Picture 231 indicates a crack as well as picture 230 but these are only marks. 

     Although only the fuel strainer side of the carburetor was burned, it is possible that it could have caught fire as a result of the terrific impact and been covered with raw fuel during the crash, burning until it landed several yards from the engine as the grass upon which the carburetor was found was not burned.

     The 41-B shows that the carburetor screen was checked on the 22nd of June, on the 23rd and 24th the ship flew fifteen hours during which no notation of gas fumes were reported by the pilots.  This leads one to believe that the above assumption may be improbable and that the looseness was caused by the impact.”  

     Lt. Brookman enlisted in the Army Air Corps in January of 1942, and received his officers commission the following October.  He was assigned to the 9th Air Force, and served in North Africa until the German surrender in June of 1943.  He then returned to the United States to become a flight instructor, and after completing training in Stuttgart, Alabama, was assigned to Bradley Field in Connecticut.    

     Lt. Brookman is buried in Woodlawn – Hillcrest Cemetery in Omaha, Nebraska.  To see a photo of him, go to, see ID# 75022710. 


     Army Air Force Crash Investigation Report 44-6-25-27

     Town of Coventry R.I. Death Records, Registration #61, page 299., ID #75022710

     Book, “Fatal Army Air Forces Aviation Accidents In The Unites States, 1941-1945”, by Anthony Mireles, McFarland & Co., 2006, via research library, New England Air Museum, Windsor Locks, Ct.      

Coventry, R.I. – August 24, 1973

Coventry, Rhode Island – August 24, 1973  

     RICONN Airport is located in the western portion of the town of Coventry, R.I., just off Route 14, (aka Plainfield Pike), bordering the Connecticut state line.  The runway area is an open grass field.

     On August 24, 1973, a Piper PA-12 with two men aboard took off from RICONN Airport.  As the plane was gaining altitude it suddenly backfired and developed engine trouble.  The pilot attempted to bring the aircraft around to land back at RICONN, but with the engine running erratically was unable to gain enough altitude.  The plane was wrecked when it crashed in a wooded area about 300 yards from the runway.  Although the gas tank ruptured, there was no fire.  The pilot suffered a broken leg, but the passenger was able to hike through the woods to find help.     


     Providence Journal Bulletin, “”2 Survive R.I. Plane Crash”, August 25, 1973, page 1. (Photo of aircraft)



Coventry, RI – March 28, 1952

Coventry, Rhode Island – March 28, 1952


U.S. Navy  Grumman F9F Panther U.S. Navy Photo - National Archives

U.S. Navy
Grumman F9F Panther
U.S. Navy Photo – National Archives

     On March 28, 1952, a flight of three navy F9F-5 Panther jets took off from Quonset Point Naval Air Station for a training flight.  At some point after take off, one pilot noticed that one of the other aircraft was on fire and radioed a warning.  The burning aircraft (#12528) was piloted by Commander Richard L. Wright, the commanding officer of Fighter Squadron 73, (VF-73).  Being over a populated area, Commander Wright made no effort to bail out, and elected to stay with the aircraft.  His plane crashed and exploded in a wooded area off Tiogue Avenue in the town of Coventry, near the East Greenwich town line.     

     Commander Wright was a veteran of WWII, and had earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, four Air Medals, and various other medals during his time in the service.  He was survived by his wife Susan, and a son, Richard Jr..  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery. 

     There has been some discrepancy over the years as to the location of this accident.  Some sources say it occurred in the water off Little Compton, Rhode Island, or in the town itself.  Others state Coventry-East Greenwich.  A check with the Coventry Town Hall has revealed that the crash actually occurred in Coventry, Rhode Island. 


     Woonsocket Call, “Quonset Jet Pilot Killed In Crash”, March 28, 1952, Page 1 

     Newport Daily News, “Navy Pilot Identified”, March 29, 1952, Page 3.

     Newport Mercury, “Navy Pilot Identified”, April 4, 1952 

     Town of Coventry, R.I., Death Records


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