Kezar Falls, ME. – November 5, 1966

Kezar Falls, Maine – November 5, 1966

 

F-84 Thunderjet – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On November 5, 1966, Captain Edward S. Mansfield, 29, of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, was piloting an F-84 Thunderjet, (Ser. No. 51-9466), over the New Hampshire-Maine state line when the aircraft developed engine trouble and he was forced to bail out at 10,000 feet.  Capt. Mansfield landed safely in the village of Kezar Falls, which is located in the southern portion of the town of Porter, Maine.  Once on the ground he made his way to a nearby farm house.   

     The F-84 came down in a nearby wooded area, and nobody on the ground was injured. 

     It was reported that this was the second time Capt. Mansfield had been saved by a parachute.  He was forced to bail out of another F-84 in Spain in 1962. 

     Source:

     Boston Sunday Advertiser, “Ejection Seat Saves Pilot Second Time”, November 6, 1966    

Barnes Airport, MA. – October 19, 1952

Barnes Airport, Westfield, Mass. – October 19, 1952

 

F-86 Sabre – U.S. Air Force Photo

     Shortly before 4:00 p.m. on October 19, 1952, two F-86 Sabres were taking part in an airshow at Barnes Airport in Westfield, Massachusetts, when they were involved in a high-speed mid-air collision.  The planes disintegrated on impact killing both pilots instantly. 

     The men were identified as Captain Fred H. Stevens, 28, of Salem, Virginia, and 1st Lieutenant Robert H. Danell, 25, of Wakefield, Massachusetts.  

     Both pilots were assigned to the 131st Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.

     The airshow was part of the airport dedication ceremonies, in which four F-86 jets had been taking part.  The accident occurred just after the four had completed a maneuver known as a “bombshell” in which the four jets would go into a steep climb and then peel away in different directions.  

     In October of 2012, sixty years after the accident, a memorial honoring Capt. Stevens and Lt. Danell was dedicated at Barnes Airport.   

     Source:  Unknown Massachusetts Newspaper, “2 Die As Jets Collide At Westfield”, October 20, 1952  

Gardner, MA. – July 29, 1966

Gardner, Massachusetts – July 29, 1966

 

F-84 Thunderjet – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 29, 1966, a Massachusetts Air National Guard F-84 fighter jet left Barnes Air Force Base in Westfield, Massachusetts, for a routine training flight.  The pilot was Captain Daniel Palucca, assigned to the 104th Tactical Fighter Group based at Barnes.  Shortly before noon, while flying over the town of Gardner, the aircraft began experiencing mechanical difficulties to the extent that maintaining control became impossible.  Captain Palucca aimed the aircraft away from the densely populated area of town and ejected. 

     The F-84 crashed into a wooded area where Jackson Hill Road and Kendall Street meet.  It broke into numerous pieces and burned. Captain Palucca landed safely several yards off Route 2A near the Skorko junkyard not far from the Westminster town line with only minor injuries.    

     Source:

    The Gardner News, (Gardner, Mass.), “Plane Crashes, Explodes On Jackson Hill Rd. – Pilot Parachutes To Safety Shortly Before Impact, Avoids Homes In Area”, July 29, 1966  

Granby, MA. – February 1, 1965

Granby, Massachusetts – February 1, 1965

 

F-86 Sabre – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On February 1, 1965, a flight of three Massachusetts Air National Guard F-86 Sabre jets left Tampa, Florida, to return to Barnes Airport  in Westfield, Massachusetts, after completing aerial gunnery training.  As the aircraft entered the New England area they encountered a snowstorm and were diverted to Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts.  There, the three planes circled the Westover Field area for about fifteen minutes, according to a husband and wife who lived Granby, Massachusetts, a town to the northeast of Chicopee.  As they watched the planes, one was seen to crash and explode in a gravel pit located in a wooded area, about 1,000 feet from the nearest home.  The witnesses said it was still snowing heavily at the time of the accident.  

     The downed aircraft, (Ser. No. 0-22019), had been piloted by Major James Romanowicz, age 45, of the 104th Tactical Fighter Group of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.   

     Major Romanowicz was a veteran aviator, having served as an army pilot during World War II with the 10th Tactical Fighter Group.  He’d been serving with the Massachusetts Air National Guard since 1948, and had been rated a command pilot since 1959.   He’s buried in Gethsemane Cemetery in Athol, Massachusetts.  He left behind a wife and six children.

     The other two aircraft landed safely.

     Sources:

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Pilot Killed By Jet Crash In Mass. Town”, Date unknown.

     www.findagrave.com, memorial #89990193

     Springfield Union, “Athol Pilot Loses Life In F-86 Crash In Granby”, February 2, 1965

Southampton, MA – July 18, 1964

Southampton, Massachusetts – July 18, 1964

 

F-86 Sabre – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 18, 1964, a flight of four Massachusetts Air National Guard F-86 Sabre jets were returning to Barnes Airport after a gunnery training mission.  One of the Sabre’s was piloted by Captain John H. Paris, 33, of Newburgh, New York. 

     As the jets approached the airfield, Paris’s aircraft suddenly lost power and dropped out of formation.  Captain Paris ejected, but his parachute failed to open.  He fell into Pequot Pond and was killed.

     Meanwhile, his F-86 came regained level flight and belly land on its own in an open field about 2 miles northeast of the north end of Runway 20 at Barnes Airport; about 700 feet east of Ross Road.   The aircraft sustained major damage but there was no fire.

     Captain Paris was part of the 131st Fighter Squadron.   

     Source:

     Providence Journal, (R.I.), “Flier Killed In Crash As Thousands Watch”, July 19, 1964

     Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I. 

Quabbin Reservoir Land – April 3, 1955

Quabbin Reservoir Land – April 3, 1955

Town of Petersham, Massachusetts

F-94 Starfire
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On April 3, 1955, 1st lt. Dewey B. Durrett, 25, of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, took off from Barnes ANG base in Westfield, Massachusetts, for a navigational training flight.  He was piloting an F-94A Starfire jet, (#49-2552), assigned to the 131st Fighter Interceptor Squadron based at Barnes.  The weather was poor, requiring IFR (Instrument Flight Rules). 

     Lt. Durrett left Barnes at 12:02 p.m.  By 1:25 p.m. he was on his way back to Barnes when he was instructed to land at Westover Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, because it was snowing at Barnes.  Lt. Durrett acknowledged, but not long afterwards radar contact with his aircraft was lost due to weather conditions.  

     The tower at Westover tried to reestablish contact through standard means and was unsuccessful.  At about 2:15 p.m., being unsure of his position, and the fact that the aircraft was now very low on fuel, Lt. Durret was advised to bail out.   

     When his chute deployed and he came out of the clouds, Lt. Durret saw that he was over the Quabbin Reservoir.  The F-94 crashed in a wooded area on reservoir land within the town limits of Petersham.     

     Lt. Durrett landed safely in a thickly wooded area. After accessing his situation, he carried his parachute to an open area where he spread it on the ground so it would be visible from the air.  He then placed a rescue dingy on top of it to hold it in place, and began to hike his way out of the woods.    

     Lt. Durrett had a successful military career, and eventually retired from military service a Lieutenant Colonel.   (To read a biography of Lt. Col. Durrett, see www.findagrave.com, Memorial #72272325.)   

     Source: U.S. Air Force crash investigation report, #55-4-3-3

     The crash site of the F-94 can still be seen today.  It is against federal and state law to remove any portions of the wreckage from the crash site.        

Click on images to enlarge.   

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir
The marks on the stick are 12 inches apart on center.

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir.
The marks on the stick are 12 inches on center for scale.

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

A portion of the F-94 Starfire that Crashed at the Quabbin Reservoir in 1955.

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site, Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site, Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site, Quabbin Reservoir.

F-94 Crash Site, Quabbin Reservoir

 

 

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