Mt. Greylock, MA – April 2, 1958

Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts – April 2, 1958

Observation Tower on Mt. Greylock.

     On April 2, 1958, a U.S. Navy twin-engine Beech SNB-5 left Grosse Ile Naval Air Station in Michigan bound for South Weymouth Naval Air Station in Massachusetts, on a scheduled navigational training flight.   The plane carried a crew of two: the pilot, Commander Robert D. Vandenberg, 38, of Trenton, Michigan, and the co-pilot, Lieutenant Eugene B. Ganley, 24, of Grosse Ile.

     At about 1:30 p.m. the aircraft was in the vicinity of Albany, New York, where Commander Vandenberg communicated with the tower at Albany Airport.  The weather was snowy, with low clouds and poor visibility.  Just minutes after Vandenberg’s last transmission the Beech plowed into the cloud covered peak of Mt. Greylock.  The impact occurred on the southwest ridge just 50 feet below the 3,491 foot summit.     

     Lt. Ganley initially survived the crash, but succumbed to his injuries about an hour later.  Commander Vandenberg was seriously injured, and had to wait twenty-one hours in the frigid temperatures before help arrived. 

     A search and rescue helicopter circled twice overhead, but failed to see the wreckage due to the weather.  On the third pass the clouds lifted and the downed aircraft was seen.  Medical corpsmen T/Sgt. Charles Kansaku, and S/Sgt. Eugene Slabinski, were lowered from the hovering copter to treat Commander Vandenberg’s injuries.  Vandenberg was then airlifted off the mountain and brought to North Adams Hospital.   Kansaku and Slabinski were ordered to remain behind at the crash site until navy personnel arrived to take over.    

     Heavy snowfall hindered recovery and salvage operations.

     This is the only military aircraft accident known to have occurred on Mt. Greylock.   

     There are have been at least two civilian airplanes that have crashed on the mountain. One on August 12, 1948, and the other on September 17, 1988.  Both resulted in fatalities. 

      Sources:

     North Adams Transcript, (Ma.), “Injured Pilot Improving; Body Of Second held Here”, April 4, 1958  

     Naval Air Station Grosse Ile Virtual Museum – Crash On Mt. Greylock Page – NASGI SNB Crash on Mount Greylock

     Boston Globe, “Pilot Found Alive, 2 Presumed Dead After Plane Crash On Mt. Greylock”, September 19, 1988

     The Recorder – Greenfield, Mass.,, “Recorder Columnist Hikes Mount Greylock To Plane Wreckage”, by Chip Ainsworth, June 3, 2016  

Mt. Greylock, MA – August 3, 1912

Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts – August 3, 1912

 

    Early balloon with net On August 3, 1912, the balloon Boston, piloted by J. J. Van Valkenburg, president of the Aero Club of New England, ascended from Pittsfield, Massachusetts.  Also aboard was William C. Hill, treasurer of the club.  The balloon sailed northeastward towards Mt. Greylock, in the town of Adams.  While over the mountain, it hit what was described in the press as an “air hole” and abruptly dropped 1,500 feet and smashed into the tops of some trees.  It then inexplicably rose again, soaring to an altitude of 6,000 feet.  It then continued on a northeasterly course until landing in Rowe, Massachusetts.  Nether man was reported to be hurt. 

     Research has found another balloon flight over Mt. Greylock that almost ended in disaster.   On September 19, 1884, Mr. J. A. Rogers of Boston ascended in a balloon from North Adams, Massachusetts, to an altitude of 10,000 feet where he began to suffer from hypothermia.  As the balloon passed over Mt. Greylock it began to fall at a rapid rate, and it was with great effort that Rogers was able to throw out enough ballast to prevent the craft from crashing into the rocky summit.  With disaster averted, the balloon sailed off to the southwest and landed in Williamstown, Mass.            

     Sources:

     The Democratic Advocate, (Westminster, MD.), “Balloonist Drop 1500 Feet, Then Bounce Mile”, August 16, 1912 

     Daily Evening Bulletin, (Maysville, KY.) “Balloon Ascension”, September 22, 1884

    

 

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