East Granby, CT – February 11, 1942

 

East Granby, CT – February 11, 1942     

U.S. Army A-29 Attack Bomber - U.S. Air Force Photo

U.S. Army A-29 Attack Bomber – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On February 11, 1942, a Lockheed A-29A attack bomber (41-23340) with six men aboard was flying at 28,000 feet when the aircraft suffered a catastrophic malfunction.  According to one press report, numerous people on the ground had seen the plane’s right wing fall off while it was still falling from the sky. 

     One witness was Gordon Hayes, an aircraft spotter on duty in the Suffield Observation Post.  He described how the aircraft went into a “corkscrew spin” as it came down.

     Another was Paul Hass of West Suffield, who said that at one point the plane appeared to straighten out before going into another spin, and from his vantage point one wing appeared to be missing.

     Mrs. Elmer Mortensen of Bloomfield related how she saw one crewman jump from the plane.  “Soon, a speck came out of the heavens”, she recalled, “Then as the speck grew, I saw a stream of smoke with it.  I heard the motor skipping, and then the plane came down fast, straight down it seemed.  While it was smoking a man bailed out with a parachute.” 

     An unidentified operator of a garage in East Granby also reported seeing the plane fall with a wing and a portion of the tail missing.  

     The plane crashed shortly before 4:00 p.m., in a gully behind the Petraitis residence at 161 South Main Street. There was no explosion or fire.  State police and officials from Bradley Field in Windsor Locks responded.  Hundreds of curious spectators descended on the scene and police were busy keeping crowds at bay.  

     The dead were identified as:

     1st Lt. Melvin W. Schoephoester, of Baraboo, Wisconsin. (Pilot)

     2nd Lt. Walter C. Boyle of LaCrosse, Wisconsin.

     S/Sgt. Michael M. Kaufman of Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

     Sergeant Gordon Johnson of Renov, Pennsylvania.

     Sergeant Thomas F. Quinn of Upper Darby, Pennsylvania

     Sergeant John T. Howey, Jr. of New York City.   

     Missing at the wreck site was the body of the pilot, and it was presumed he’d bailed out prior to the crash.  An open parachute was later found a few miles away in East Willington, and a search was conducted there without results.  Schoephoester’s body was later recovered less than two miles form the crash without his parachute. An official from Bradley offered his opinion that Schoephoester had slipped from his chute after jumping, and that the weight of the harness was enough to keep it open while prevailing winds carried it a considerable distance.

     Other parachutes were found in the wreckage, but not on the men. While army regulations required that parachutes be worn, it was speculated that the crew of the A-29 wasn’t wearing theirs when the accident occurred.   

Updated March 7, 2016

     The following information comes from the U.S. Army Air Corps accident investigation report of the incident. (#42-2-11-4)

     The aircraft was assigned to the 1st Mapping Squadron, 1st Mapping Group, based at Bradley Field in Windsor Locks, Ct.  At the time of the accident it was conducting a high altitude photographic mission.  

     As part of its investigation into this accident, the army interviewed 35 witnesses.  A statement issued by the accident investigation committee it said in part:

     “One fact of interest is the large number of witnesses who testified that they saw the right wing leave the airplane.  As can be seen from the photographs, both wings were in the wreckage, the right wing being badly crumpled and apportion of it under the remains of the fuselage. The committee has found no evidence to indicate failure of the wings. 

     It was later determined that what witnesses likely saw was the tail section, not a wing,  break away from the aircraft.

     Numerous witnesses have testified that they could see the ship trailing smoke at high altitudes.  The committee believes that this so-called smoke was in reality a condensation trail left by the airplane in-so-far as no traces of fire could be found in the wreckage.” 

     While examining the wreckage, investigators noted that both engine switches were cut, the throttles to the right engine were completely closed, while the throttles to the left engine were completely open, and the fuel selector valve for the right engine was turned off. 

     The right propeller appeared to have been feathered, and experts concluded that it was feathered at the time of impact.

     Investigators considered the possibility that the accident was caused by a failure of the automatic pilot, however the auto-pilot was so badly damaged that no conclusions could be drawn, only that the auto-pilot was in the “off” position after the accident.        

     Sources:

     U.S. Army Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-2-11-4

     Unknown newspaper, possibly the Hartford Courant – East Granby Public Library – Local History Room, “East Granby Bomber Crash Stirs Immediate Army Probe”, February 11, 1942.

     Unknown newspaper , possibly the Hartford Courant – East Granby Public Library – Local History Room. “Body Of Sixth Flyer Is Found In East Granby”, February 11, 1942

     Larry Webster – Aviation Historian

 

 

 

East Granby, CT – November 8, 1944

East Granby, Connecticut – November 8, 1944 

Updated December 16, 2017

 

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On November 8, 1944, a B-24J, (Ser. No.  42-51001), with twelve men aboard,  left Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a scheduled combat crew training mission.  Once airborne, the plane headed south over Connecticut.  While over Connecticut, one of the engines began trailing smoke and before long flames became visible.  Despite efforts by the pilot, the aircraft continued to loose altitude, and it became apparent that an emergency landing was the only option.   The pilot aimed for an open area of pastureland located off Route 9 in East Granby, on what was then known as the Seymour Farm.   As the plane passed over the highway it clipped a telephone pole sending it out of control into a marshy section of the pasture where the wings and fuselage broke apart before coming to rest.  There was no fire, but one injured crewman was trapped in the crumpled wreckage and it was several hours before he could be extricated.   

     Of the twelve crewmen aboard, five were killed. 

     The dead were identified as:

      Cpl. Gaetano L. Fastiggi, a top-turret-gunner from New Rochelle, N.Y., born September 23, 1925.  He enlisted in the army on April 5, 1944.  He’s buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in New Rochelle.    

      Cpl. Henry Colt Fay Jr., a gunner from Milburn, N.J., born September 12, 1923.  He’s buried in the Winsted Old Burying Ground, in Winsted, Connecticut.    

      Cpl. Charles W. Powell, a gunner from Holdenville, OK., born September 7, 1920.  He’s buried in Holdenville Cemetery.

      Cpl. Furman Watson, a gunner from Seneca, S.C., born June 22, 1923.  He’s buried in New Hope Cemetery in Seneca.

      Pfc. Lester L. Shoemaker, a tail-gunner from Hanover, PA., born September 18, 1918.  He’s buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery, in Hanover.  

     Those who were seriously injured included:

     The pilot, 2nd Lt. Roland C. Curtiss.

     The co-pilot, Flight Officer Reese A. McClennahan, Jr.

     The bombardier, Flight Officer Vincent M. Vallaro.

     Gunner, Cpl. Francis A. Crawford.

     Gunner, Cpl. Cono A. Galliani.

     Gunnery Instructor, Staff Sgt. Charles J. Nigro. 

     The navigator parachuted safely away from the plane and received only minor injuries.  

     Today a housing development occupies the crash site. 

     Sources;

     The Hartford Courant, “Five Flyers Killed, Seven Injured As Bomber Crashes In East Granby”, November 9, 1944, page 1.

     New York Times, “Bomber Crash Kills 5”, November 9, 1944

     Town of East Granby Death Records

     New Rochelle Standard Star, “Cpl. Gaetano Fastiggi Killed With 4 Others In Bomber Crash”, November 9, 1944.

     New Rochelle Standard Star, “Fastiggi’s Body Is Escorted Here”, November 11, 1944.

     New Rochelle Standard Star, “Fastiggi Rites Attended By 300”, November 13, 1944.

 

 

 

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

 

 

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

    

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 Thunderbolt II aircraft, (Ser. No. 78-0585), for a routine training flight.   His was one of three A-10s taking part in the training exercise.  All of the aircraft were assigned to the 103rd Tactical Fighter Group based at Windsor Locks.

     At 3:35 p.m. as he was returning to Bradley Filed and approaching Runway 6, the aircraft lost all power. 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.    

     Sources:

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

     The Sun, (Westerly, R.I.), “Guard Pilot Safely Ejects From Fighter Before Crash”, July 11, 1982

Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲