Spencer, MA. – October 10, 1973

Spencer, Massachusetts – October 10, 1973

     On October 10, 1973, a Piper Aztec airplane, piloted by a 63-year-old pilot, and carrying two relatives as passengers, was making a west to east ILS approach to Worcester Airport when it disappeared from radar.  The plane crashed in a heavily wooded section of Spencer, Massachusetts, a town about five miles to the west of Worcester.  All aboard perished in the accident.  

     Source: Providence Evening Bulletin, “Plane Crash Fatal To Three In Bay State”, October 11, 1973, page 52. 


Princeton, MA. – April 16, 1973

Princeton, Massachusetts – April 16, 1973

     On April 16, 1973, a 27-year-old pilot from Rutland, Vermont, was piloting a single-engine Cessna at tree-top-level over the town of Princeton when he stalled the aircraft while suddenly pulling up to avoid a rise in the terrain.  He was killed when the plane crashed vertically into the ground.


     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Plane Crash Fatal”, April 17, 1973   

     Providence Journal, “Crash Cause Given In Death Of Pilot”, May 24, 1973

Billerica, MA – June 27, 1940

Billerica, Massachusetts – June 27, 1940

     At about 7 p.m. on the night of June 27, 1940, a four passenger biplane was passing over the town of Billerica when, according to a witness, something fell from the aircraft.  Just afterwards, the plane went into a sideslip before falling from an altitude of approximately 500 feet and crashing into a wooded area of town known as Garden City.   The pilot and two passengers aboard were killed.

     The pilot was identified as Elliot Underhill, 43, of, Spotswood, New Jersey.  The two passengers were identified as Walter Abrams, 32, of Lowell, Massachusetts, and Edwin Martin, 22, of Billerica. 

     Mr. Underhill was an experienced pilot.  He served as a pilot with the U.S. Marine Corps in the 1st Aero Squadron from 1917 to 1920.


     The Lowell Sun, “Federal Probe Of Plane Crash – Three Killed In No. Billerica”, June, 28, 1940, page 1.

     www.findagrave.com, Elliot Underhill, Memorial #43985518

Methuen, MA – January 5, 1999

Methuen, Massachusetts – January 5, 1999


     At about 4:00 p.m. on January 5, 1999, a single-engine Piper Cherokee took off from Lawrence Municipal Airport with three adults and a child aboard.  Shortly after take off the plane lost power and crashed in the parking lot of the Pride’s Crossing apartment complex on Riverview Blvd. in Methuen, coming to rest against the building.  No residents of the building were injured. 

     The occupants of the airplane were transported to area hospitals.  The three adults were critically injured, but the child escaped with relatively minor injuries.      


     Westerly Sun, “Four Injured In Plane Crash”, January 6, 1999, P20.

Springfield, MA – August 16, 1932

Springfield, Massachusetts – August 16, 1932


Russell Boardman

Russell Boardman

     On August 16, 1932, famous aviator, Russell N. Boardman, 34, took off from Springfield Airport for a test flight of his new Gee-Bee, R-1, Junior Sportster, racing airplane, which he intended to fly in the Thompson Trophy Race in Cleveland, Ohio, later in the month.   According to witnesses, Boardman’s plane developed engine trouble and went into a low roll before spinning into the ground from an altitude of 800 feet.  The plane came down in a thickly wooded area but didn’t burn. 

     The plane was demolished and Boardman was seriously injured.  At first there was some question as to whether of not he’d live, but he rallied and recuperated over the next several months.   

     Unfortunately, Boardman was killed in another plane crash almost a year later on July 3, 1933.  In that incident, he was taking part in a trans-continental air-race and had stopped to refuel in Indianapolis.  After refueling, he crashed on take off when a gust of wind caught the wing of his plane. 

    Early in his flying career, Mr. Boardman had survived one other airplane crash in Cottonwood, Arizona.

     Mr. Boardman was famous for a 5,011.8 mile non-stop trans-Atlantic flight he’d made with John Polando from the United States to Istanbul, Turkey, in July of 1931.  For their accomplishment, both were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross per special order of U.S. President Herbert Hoover.  (The D.F.C. is usually only awarded to military personnel.)       

     For more information about their historic flight, see the book, Wings Over Istanbul – The Life & Flights Of A Pioneer Aviator, by Johnnie Polando.     

     Mr. Boardman was born in Westfield, Connecticut, in 1898.  He was survived by his wife and 5-year-old daughter, as well as one brother and three sisters.  He’s buried in Miner Cemetery in Middletown, Connecticut.  (For a photo of his grave see memorial # 71156334 at  www.findagrave.com)  

     For more biographical information about Russell Boardman, see  www.earlyaviators.com/eboardm1.htm


     New York Times, “Boardman Crashes, Condition Serious”, August 17, 1932

    Chicago Daily Tribune, “Flyer Boardman Crashes In Test Of Speed Plane”, August 17, 1932

     Boston Herald, “Russell Boardman Dies In Indianapolis, Crashed Saturday In East-West race”, July 4, 1933.  



     History-Salt Boxes On Bass River website.  Article: “A baroness Came, And So Did A Countess, In The Heyday Of Yarmouth’s Salt Boxes”, by Bainbridge Crist, 1978.   https://sites.google.com/site/saltboxespublic/history


Boston Harbor, MA – May 18, 1930

Boston Harbor, Massachusetts – May 18, 1930

     On May 18, 1930, Paul Herman, 26, of Winthrop, Massachusetts, was test flying a new Curtis – cabin monoplane over East Boston Airport when he suddenly developed a problem with the rudder.  He tried to bring the plane down on the airfield but overshot the landing and sailed out over the harbor and hit the water about 200 feet from shore.  

     Richard Cowden, a salesman for Curtis-Wright, jumped into the water and swam to Herman’s assistance. Both clung to a wing of the partly submerged aircraft until rescued by a motorboat sent from the air field.    

     Herman was treated for cuts and immersion.

     Source: New York Times, “Saves Self In Plunge Of Plane Into Water”, May 19, 1930

Logan Airport – November 3, 1973

Logan Airport – November 3, 1973

Updated July 28, 2017

     On the morning of November 3, 1973, Pan American World Airways Flight 160 departed J.F. K. International Airport in New York bound for Scotland.

     The aircraft was a Boeing 707-321C (N458PA).  It was a scheduled cargo flight, with a crew of three aboard; the captain, John J. Zammett, 53, the first officer, Gene W. Ritter, 34, and the flight engineer, Davis Melvin, 37.  There were not passengers.

     The aircraft was carrying 16,000 pounds of chemicals including cylinders of nitric acid, and other types of acids.  The manifest also included 5,000 pounds of mail, 16,000 pounds of electrical components, and another 16,000 pounds of “miscellaneous items”.      

     At 9:04 a.m. Flight 160 advised Pan American Operations that they had a smoke condition on board and were diverting to Boston. 

     At 9:10 a.m. Flight 160 advised the smoke was getting thicker. A minute later they requested emergency equipment to be on hand when they landed. 

     As the plane approached Boston it was given “preferential air traffic control treatment” even though no emergency had been declared by the flight crew.

     At 9:31 a.m. Captain Zammett was asked if he was declaring an emergency, to which he replied, “Negative on the emergency, and may we have Runway 33 left?”   The request was granted.

     By 9:38 a.m. the aircraft was about four miles from the airport, but its transponder had evidently stopped working.  One minute later Flight 160 crashed 262 feet from the edge of Runway 33L. 

     Witnesses later reported that just before the crash they saw the left cockpit window open with smoke streaming out, and the plane was doing yaw and roll maneuvers before the left wing and nose slammed into the ground at a nearly vertical angle.  The plane was destroyed and all three men aboard were killed.

     The cause of the crash was determined to be excessive smoke in the cockpit which hampered the crew’s ability to control the aircraft.  As to the cause of the smoke, the NTSB investigation report, in Section 16 of the Technical Report Standard Title Page, stated in part, “Although the source of the smoke could not be established conclusively, the Safety Board believes that the spontaneous chemical reaction between leaking nitric acid , improperly packaged and stowed, and the improper sawdust packing surrounding the acid’s package initiated the accident sequence.”


     National Transportation Safety Board Accident Investigation Report, #NTSB-AAR-74-16, File #1-0026, Adopted December 2, 1974.

     Providence Journal, “Jet Crash At Logan Kills 3”, November 4, 1973 page 1, (photo of accident scene)

     Providence Journal, “Perilous Chemicals Fished From Boston Harbor”, November 5, 1973, page 24

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Boston Cargo Jet Crash Probed; Smoke May Have hampered Crew”, November 5, 1973, page 23


Salisbury Beach, MA – July 10, 1920

Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts – July 10, 1920

Town of Salisbury, Mass.

Updated January 18, 2017

     On July 10, 1920, a small aircraft with three people aboard was on a sightseeing flight over Hampton and Salisbury beaches.  The pilot, Lieutenant Gordon L. Groah, of Lynn, Mass., routinely used this route for his sightseeing and exhibition flights.  The two passengers included Mrs. Richard H. Long, of Framingham, the wife of a prominent Massachusetts politician, and an aircraft mechanic from Pittsfield, Mass., who’s first name was Gaston, but there seems to be some confusion as to his last name.  Sources have spelled it Gornet, Cornet, Corrinet, and Gornorinett.  

     As the aircraft was at an altitude of several hundred feet over Salisbury Beach, it suddenly went into a dive and crashed on the beach in view of hundreds of beachgoers.  The mechanic leaped from the plane a second before it hit the ground, thus receiving minor injuries and saving his life.  Mrs. Long and Lieutenant Groah were pulled from the wreckage and rushed to Anna Jacques Hospital in nearby Newburyport, Mass., where they succumbed to their injuries.

     Richard H. Long, had been a Democratic candidate for Governor of Massachusetts, in 1919.   

     The following item was found in February 5, 1920 edition of The Iron Trade Review on page 450.

    “Boston – The Massachusetts Aircraft Corp. has been incorporated to build airplanes with $25,000 capital by Gordon L. Groah, Lynn, Mass.: John J. Hayes, Somerville, Mass., and M. G. McCarthy.”   


     Burlington Weekly Free Press, “Mrs. R.H. Long Killed In Plane Accident”, July 15, 1920, pg. 7

     New York Tribune, “Two Killed When Plane Falls At Salisbury Beach”, July 11, 1920

     Evening Star, (Washington, DC), “Two Die In Air Crash”, July 11, 1920

     Washington Herald, (Wash. DC), “Politicians Wife Killed In Crash”, July 11, 1920 

Newburyport, MA – August 4, 1910

Newburyport, Massachusetts – August 4, 1910

     On August 4, 1910, a man identified as W. A. Bowman took off in an airplane at Newburyport, Massachusetts, and crashed just after becoming airborne.

     The aircraft was a “Flying Fish” model, “Burgess aeroplane”.  The Flying Fish was a pusher-style biplane produced at the Burgess Company aircraft factory in Marblehead, Massachusetts.    

     According to the  Bridgeport Evening Farmer, “Bowman, who had never soared in an aeroplane before, took the machine out of the aerodrome and at once shot up to 60 feet.  There a great wind caught it and plunged it downward.  Its right wing hitting first, crumpled up, the main beam ploughing three feet into the earth, and Bowman was hidden under a mass of wreckage.”

     “The article went on, “The crowd dragged him out of a tangle of wires and wings.  He was dazed.  From his face and body blood poured from a score of cuts.  His right shoulder was bruised and a jagged cut over one eye blinded him in blood.”  It was also stated, (Bowman) was “injured internally and so badly crushed that he may die.”  

      Research has not been able to ascertain if Bowman survived.  

     One interesting item mentioned in the article referred to a Lieutenant Alexander L. Pfitzner, a Hungarian aviator, who had apparently had an accident with the same aircraft about three weeks earlier.  It the article it was stated, “Bowman’s flight was the first the unlucky plane has made since it fell with Lieutenant A. L. Pfitzner…” 

     Lt. Pfitzner’s accident occurred on July 9, 1910, when he crashed in the Plumb Island River during a test flight over Newburyport.  In that instance, the aircraft encountered a strong cross-wind while at a 100 foot altitude, and was forced down into the water.  Lt. Pfitzner was able to extricate himself and make his way to shore.  

      The lieutenant had come to America about 1902, and had been involved with aircraft design at the Herring-Curtis Aeroplane Company at Hammondsport, New York.  He helped to design the engine used in the aircraft Glenn Curtiss flew when he won the James Gordon Bennet Cup at Rheims, France, in 1909.  That same year Lt. Pfitzner came to Marblehead, Massachusetts, to serves as Superintendent overseeing the manufacture of Burgess-Curtis airplanes.  In that capacity, he had made about forty flights from Plum Island  at Newburyport, Mass.     


     The Bridgeport Evening Farmer, “”Hurt In Aeroplane Crash Bowman May Die”, August 4, 1910, Page 4.  

     (Woonsocket R.I.) Evening Call, “Flying Machine Drops Into River”, July 9, 1910, Pg. 1

     New York Tribune, “Aviator Takes His Life”, July 13, 1910.

    The Massachusetts Aviation Historical Society, www.massaerohistory.org




Newburyport, MA – July 9, 1910

Newburyport, Massachusetts – July 9, 1910  

     On July 9, 1910, Hungarian aviator, Lieutenant Alexander L. Pfitzner, 30, was test flying a “Flying Fish” model Burgess aircraft over Newburyport when at an altitude of about 100 feet the aircraft was suddenly caught by a strong cross-wind and went down in the Plumb Island River. Fortunately the tide was out and the water relatively shallow, and Pfitzner was able to extricate himself and make his way to shore.   

     A “Flying Fish” was a pusher-type biplane built by Burges Aircraft’s Marbelhead factory.  (See The Massachusetts Aviation Historical Society website for more information about this type of aircraft.)  www.massaerohistory.org

     Lt. Pfitzner was a graduate of the universities in Charlotttenburg and Budapest, where he majored in engineering.  After graduating, he served in the Hungarian military as an artillery officer before coming to America about 1902.   He immigrated to New York, and became involved with aircraft design at the Herring-Curtis Aeroplane Company at Hammondsport, New York.  He helped design the engine used in the aircraft Glenn Curtis flew when he won the James Gordon Bennet Cup at Rheims, France, in 1909.  That same year Lt. Pfitzner came to Marblehead, Massachusetts, to serve as Superintendent overseeing the manufacture of Burgess-Curtis airplanes.  In that capacity, he made about 40 test flights from Plum Island in Newburyport, Mass.   

     The aircraft flown by Lt. Pfitzner was repaired, and later involved in another accident on August 4, 1910.  On that date, William Bowman crashed just after takeoff at Newburyport from an altitude of 60 feet and was seriously injured.  


     (Woonsocket, R.I.) Evening Call, “Flying Machine Drops Into River”, July 9, 1910, Pg. 1

      New York Tribune, “Aviator Takes His Life”, July 13, 1910

     The Bridgeport Evening Farmer, “Hurt In Aeroplane Crash, Bowman May Die” August 4, 1910, Pg. 4   


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