Sanford, ME. – July 25, 1944

Sandford, Maine – July 25, 1944

 

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On July 25, 1944, several aircraft were taking part in a “carrier landing practice” exercise at the Sanford Naval Auxiliary Air Field.  One aircraft was a F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42759).  As the pilot made his landing on a simulated aircraft carrier deck platform the arresting wire broke causing the plane to swing violently to the right and skid for about 40 feet.  The aircraft required a major overhaul, but the pilot was not injured.  

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated July 25, 1944

Brunswick, ME. – March 10, 1943

Brunswick, Maine – March 10, 1943 

 

U.S. Navy PV-1 Ventura
U. S. Navy Photo

     On March 10, 1943, a U. S. Navy PV-3 Ventura aircraft, (Bu. No. 33949), ground-looped upon landing at the Brunswick Naval Air Station.  The aircraft required a major overhaul but the crew was not injured. 

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #43-6197, dated March 10, 1943.    

Brunswick, ME. – July 7, 1943

Brunswick, Maine – July 7, 1943

 

North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     On July 7, 1943, a U. S. Navy SNJ-4 Texan trainer aircraft , (Bu. No. 27614), was landing at the Brunswick Naval Air Station in a strong 90-degree cross-wind.  As the pilot attempted to use alternate brakes to prevent a ground loop the aircraft nosed over.  The pilot and instructor aboard suffered non-life-threatening injuries.  The aircraft required a major overhaul.        

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-7567, dated July 7, 1943.

Brunswick, ME. – April 2, 1944

Brunswick, Maine – April 2, 1944

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On April 2, 1944, an SBD-5 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 28262), was returning to the Brunswick Naval Air Station after a training flight.  The pilot was making a normal landing approach, but was unable to establish radio contact with the control tower, and unknown to the pilot was the fact that one of the landing gear wheels had failed to come down.  When the aircraft touched down it went off the runway and nosed over.  The aircraft was heavily damaged, but the two-man crew was not injured.  

     The aircraft was assigned to VS-44.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-12844, dated April 2, 1944.

Sanford, ME. – May 16, 1944

Sanford, Maine – May 16, 1944 

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On May 16, 1944, a TBM-1C, (Bu. No. 17085), made a normal landing on Runway 14 at the Sanford Maine Navy Auxiliary Air Field.  As the aircraft was rolling down the runway the left landing gear collapsed.  The aircraft skidded to a stop and the three-man crew was not hurt. 

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report #44-14211, dated May 16, 1944.

 

Brunswick, ME. – January 28, 1944

Brunswick, ME. – January 28, 1944

 

U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On January 28, 1944, a flight of three Douglas SBD Dauntless aircraft were returning to the Brunswick Naval Air Station after a formation training flight.  As the aircraft approached the field at an altitude of 1,800 feet in a “V” formation, one of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 28727), left the formation and went into a spin from which it did not recover.  The aircraft crashed and burned killing the pilot, Ensign James A. Andrew, Jr., and the gunner, Seaman 1/c Harry Hoerr. 

     The men were assigned to VS-31.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-11278, dated January 28, 1944.  

Brunswick, ME. – August 4, 1945

Brunswick, Maine – August 4, 1945 

 

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

    On August 4, 1945, an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 94055), was taxiing into position in preparation for take off at the Brunswick Naval Air Station.  Unbeknownst to the pilot, some workers were in the process of digging a trench along the side of the taxi way, however no signalman had been stationed on the tarmac to give warning.  As the airplane approached, one of the workers suddenly ran into its path waving his arms for the pilot to stop.  The pilot was forced to hit the brakes hard enough to cause the aircraft to nose over causing damage to the propeller and the engine.  There were no injuries.   

     Source:

     U. S. Navy crash report dated August 4, 1945

Sebago Lake, ME. – May 16, 1944

Sebago Lake, Maine – May 16, 1944

 

British Corsairs – WWII
U.S. Navy Photo

     Shortly before noon on May 16, 1944, a flight of British Navy D4V Corsairs, was on a low level formation training flight over Sebago Lake.  (Some sources state there were six panes in the flight, while others state there were only four.) The purpose of the flight was to give the pilots experience flying low over water.  

     Among those taking part in the exercise was Sub-Lieutenant Vaughn Reginald Gill, piloting aircraft number JT-132, and Sub-Lieutenant Raymond Laurence Knott, age 19, piloting JT-160.  Both men were assigned to 732 Squadron based at nearby Brunswick Naval Air Station.    

     As the formation was passing over the water, one aircraft suddenly dropped and struck the lake sending up a large plume of water that was struck by the second, causing it too to crash.  Both aircraft, one containing Sub-Lieutenant Gill, and the other, Sub-Lieutenant Knott, immediately sank in over 300 feet of water and disappeared.  Despite a search conducted immediately afterward, neither the airplanes or the pilots were found. 

     The aircraft were later discovered and photographed in the 1990s.  The courts have decided that these aircraft are not to be disturbed as they are considered war graves.

     Sources:

     Portland Evening Express, “Two British Planes Crash In Sebago Lake”, May 16, 1944, page 1.

     Maine Aviation Historical Society Newsletter, Dirigo Flyer, June, 1998. 

     Pacific Wrecks website:  https://www.pacficwrecks.com/aircraft/f4u/jt160.html

     Book: “Finding The Fallen: Outstanding Aircrew Mysteries From The First World War to Desert Storm, by Andy Saunders, Grub Street Publishing, London, 2011.   

Atlantic Ocean, ME – February 2, 1943

Atlantic Ocean, Maine – February 2, 1943

    

WWII Civil Air Patrol Insignia

WWII Civil Air Patrol Insignia

     On the morning of February 2, 1943, a Civil Air Patrol airplane with two men aboard took off from Trenton, Maine, for a routine patrol flight off the Maine coast.  Shortly after 9:00 a.m. the aircraft developed engine trouble and the pilot was forced to ditch in the sea about 45 miles off Brunswick.  

     The pilot, 1st Lt. William B. Hites, 30, of Jamestown, New York, and the flight officer/observer, 1st Lt. Welles L. Bishop, 34, of Meriden, Connecticut, were able to escape from the plane before it sank.  Another aircraft radioed their position to a shore control station, but rough seas made rescue operations difficult.  Although both men wore life-vests and waterproof coveralls, they perished before help could reach them.    

     Both men were survived by their wives.

     Update July 15, 2016

     In 1970, twenty-seven years after the crash, Lt. Welles L. Bishop was posthumously honored by the town of Meridian and the Connecticut Civil Air Patrol during ceremonies marking the 29th anniversary of the establishment of the national Civil Air Patrol, (Dec. 1, 1941).  

     Sources:

     Bangor Daily News, “2 CAP Officers Killed On Duty Off Maine Coast”, February 3, 1943

     Lewiston Daily Sun, “Two Fliers Killed Off Maine Coast”, February 3, 1943

     The Morning Record, “Meridian Pilot Lost In War To Be Honored”, November 13, 1970.

5 mi. east of Howe Brook, ME – May 24, 1942

 5 miles east of Howe Brook, Maine – May 24, 1942

     On Sunday, May 24, 1942, a U.S. Army C-40D aircraft, (Ser. No. 42-22249) crashed  5 miles east of Howe Brook, Maine while on a transport mission from Bolling Field in Washington, D.C., to Montreal, Canada, to Presque Isle, Maine.   The plane dove in at a steep angle, (Estimated by investigators to be 75 degrees.) with such force that debris was thrown up to 1,000 feet ahead of the impact. 

     Due to the total destruction of the aircraft, investigators were unable to determine the cause of the accident, but noted that weather “was undoubtedly a strong causal factor”.  

     All aboard the aircraft were killed instantly.  They were identified as:

     (Pilot) 1st Lt. Clarence A. Wright.  He’s buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #3059564)

     (Flight Engineer) S/Sgt. Frederick J. Taylor.  (10th Ferrying Command.)  He’s buried in  Chester Rural Cemetery, Chester, Penn. (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #88208245)

     Lt. Col. Louis H. Gimbel.  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #22787359)

     Capt. John D. Franciscus.  He’s buried in Calvary Cemetery and Mausoleum in St. Louis, Mo.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #49551001) 

     Capt. Gilbert M. Herbach.  He was from New York.  Place of burial unknown.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #88680256)

     2nd Lt. Earl R. Wilkenson.  He’s buried in St. Joseph Cemetery, Batavia, New York.  (See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #75139854)

     Sources:

     U. S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-5-24-13

     www.findagrave.com

    

Bangor Air Base, ME – December 30, 1941

Bangor Air Base, Maine – December 30, 1941

    

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 December 30, 1941, an A-29 bomber aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-23302) crashed and burned on take off from Bangor Air Base.  The seven man crew escaped, but the pilot and copilot were injured.   

     The crew were identified as:

     (Pilot) 2nd Lt. James J. Hayes

     (Copilot) 1st Lt. Jonathan H. Knox

     (Engineer) Pfc. Richard A. Turner

     (Radio Operator) Cpl. James L. Wilson

     Pfc. Homer W. Read

     Pfc. George F. Nichols

     Pvt. Walter E. Taylor

     The men were assigned to the 65th Bomb Squadron (H)

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

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