Atlantic Airport, Charlestown, R.I.

Atlantic Airport, Charlestown, Rhode Island

Click on image to enlarge.

 

Atlantic Airport, unknown date.
Photo courtesy of Louis McGowan
Johnston, R.I. Historical Society

Northampton, Mass. C-54 Crash Memorial

Northampton, Mass. C-54 Crash Memorial

Located at Florence Road and Old Wilson Road, Northampton, Mass.  

To learn more about this accident, go to the Massachusetts military aviation accidents section of this website.  

Photos taken May 3, 2018.

Click on images to enlarge.

Memorial at the crash site.
Established 1999.

Newry, ME – June 27, 1960

Newry, ME – June 27, 1960

     On June 27, 1960, a U.S. Air Force KC-97 Tanker was refueling a B-47 bomber when an explosion occurred.  The tanker crashed on Jonathan Smith Mountain and all aboard were killed. 

     The dead were identified as:

     (Pilot) 1st Lt. William F. Burgess, 26, of Indian Lake, N.Y.

     (C0-pilot) 1st Lt. Lewis F. Turner, 25, of Spokane, Washington.

     (Navigator) 2nd Lt. Raymond S. Kisonas, 26, of Waterbury, Connecticut.

     (Flight Engineer) Master Sgt. Harold E. Young, 40, of Selma, Alabama.

     (Boom Operator)  T/Sgt. Robert P. Costello, 30, of Greenfield, Ill.     

     Some parachutes were reportedly seen.    

     The plane was based at the Plattsburgh AFB in New York, and was assigned to the 380th Bombardment Squadron.  

Sources:

New York Times, “Five Die In Air Crash”, June 28, 1960

New York Times, “Crash Victims Found”, June 29, 1960

  

Sandwich, MA – July 12, 1951

Sandwich, Massachusetts – July 12, 1951 

 

F-94 Starfire U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Starfire
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 3:30 p.m. on July 12, 1951, an Air Force F-94B fighter jet (50-873A) was in flight over Cape Cod when the engine flamed out.  The plane crashed near Peters Pond in Sandwich, about a mile south of the Mid-Cape Highway, (Route 6).  Another source put the crash site near Spectacle Pond, “about 1 mile from Quaker Meeting House Road in the direction of West Barnstable, and near Mill Road, between Spectacle Pond and the Mid-Cape Highway.”

    The pilot, 1st Lt. Victor Clapp, 28, of Beverly, Massachusetts, was killed when he ejected but his chute failed to open.   He was survived by his wife, Dorothy, and two children.   

     The radar observer, 2nd Lt. Aaron M. Jones Jr., 27, of Newtonville, MA, ejected safely.  Jones landed in a wooded area south of the Mid-Cape Highway and made his way to the Rof-Mar Lodge.

     The crash ignited several large brush fires.  

     The jet belonged to the 33rd Fighter-Interceptor wing at Otis AFB. 

     Sources:

     Falmouth Enterprise, “Jet Pilot Is Killed As Plane Crashes Near Peters Pond”, July 13, 1951  

     Cape Cod Standard Times, “Otis Base Jet Pilot Is Killed, Companion Safe In Crash”, July 13, 1951, Pg. 1

     Updated March 21, 2016

     On the afternoon of July 12, 1951, Lieutenant’s Clapp and  Aaron took off from Otis Air Force Base for a training flight to practice “ground controlled approach” (GCA) landing procedures.  Their F-94 (#50-873A) carried a full load of fuel, but was not equipped with external wing tanks.

     After making two successful landings, the pilot attempted a third.  As the F-94 approached Otis AFB intending to land on runway 23, it “flamed out” and crashed in a wooded area about 150 yards to the east of Mill Road, and south of Route 6.  This location is gleaned from the official air force crash investigation report, and contradicts the vague locations given to the press, which was likely done for security reasons and to prevent souvenir hunters from converging on the site.  

     Lt. Clapp was a veteran of WWII and earned his pilot’s wings March 2, 1944.  At the time of his death he had recently been re-activated for active duty due to the Korean War.  He’s buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Acton, Massachusetts.

     Sources:

     Air Force Crash Investigation Report #51-7-12-1

     www.findagrave.com, Memorial #114039950

 

 

North Central Airport – May 2, 1980

North Central Airport – May 2, 1980

Smithfield, Rhode Island

    

North Central Airport, Smithfield, R. I.  May 2, 1980

North Central Airport, Smithfield, R. I.
May 2, 1980

On May 2, 1980, a 59-year-old man was landing his aircraft, a Piper Tomahawk, at North Central State Airport in Smithfield, Rhode Island, while another Piper Tomahawk was sitting on or near the runway with two men inside.   The incoming plane clipped the second with its wingtip, flipping it over and tearing off the tail section, completely demolishing the aircraft.   Fortunately both men inside were able to climb out on their own and there was no fire.  The incoming plane sustained only minor damage.

     All three men were taken to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.  

     An official from the Department of transportation believed the crash might have been avoided if North Central had a manned control tower – which it does not. 

North Central Airport  Smithfield, R.I. May 2, 1980

North Central Airport
Smithfield, R.I.
May 2, 1980

North Central Airport Smithfield, R.I. May 2, 1980

North Central Airport
Smithfield, R.I.
May 2, 1980

 

Source: Woonsocket Call, “2 Light Planes Collide At Area Airport; 3 Hurt”, May 3, 1980

 

Perham, Maine – Sept. 22, 1942

Perham, Maine – September 22, 1942

 

B-25C Twin-Engine Bomber - U.S. Air Force Photo

B-25C Twin-Engine Bomber – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On September 22, 1942, a flight of B-25 Mitchel bombers left Presque Isle Army Air Field bound for overseas duty.  Shortly after take off the planes were recalled to the base due to poor weather/visibility conditions.   One of the planes, (41-13049), crashed in a wooded area about six miles west of Perham Village, Maine, and exploded.  Local residents stated the blast was heard for miles around, and the site was marked by a large crater. 

      The tail section was discovered about a quarter of a mile away, which would seem to indicate a structural failure with the aircraft.   Two Nazi sympathizers were later arrested for tampering with an aircraft at Presque Isle leading to speculation that the B-25 had gone down due to sabotage.

     The B-25 was attached to the 310th Bomb Group, 379th Bomb Squadron, then based in Greenville, South Carolina.   

     All seven crew members were killed. 

     The dead were identified as:

Pilot: 2lt. John F. Watson  Entered service from New York, (O-790435) Burial location unknown.

Co-Pilot: 2lt. John W. Rieves Jr. , 22.  He’s buried in Asbury Cemetery, McKenney, Virginia. For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com and see memorial #138056088.

S/Sgt. John S. Delano  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

S/Sgt. James A. Kviz   Burial location unknown.

S/Sgt. Eugene J. Crozier He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

S/Sgt. Frederick W. Rowbottom, 23.  He’s buried in Calvary Cemetery in Virginia, Minnesota.  For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com and see memorial #123323580.  

S/Sgt. Richard K. Riddle, 27.  He’s buried in Oak Grove Cemetery in Delaware, Ohio.  For a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com  memorial#47394120.

     Later in the day another B-25 (41-13098) belonging to the 379th Bomb Squadron took off from Presque Isle also bound for overseas duty, but it crashed shortly after take off in the neighboring town of Fort Fairfield, Maine.  For more information, see Fort Fairfield, ME – September 22, 1942  under “Maine Military Aviation Accidents” on this website.  

Sources:

New York Times, “Plane Falls On Wooded Hill”, Sept 23, 1942

57th Bomb Wing Association website http://57thbombwing.com/379thSquadronHistory.php 

www.findagrave.com

 

 

 

Montpelier, Vermont – November 1927

Montpelier, Vermont – November 14, 1927

     At 11 a.m. on November 14, 1927, a small plane carrying Reuben S. Sleight, and piloted by Lieutenant Franklin Wolfe, was attempting to land at Montpelier Field when it crashed and flipped over, killing Sleight.

     Mr. Sleight was an assistant to then Secretary Herbert Hoover, and was on his way to prepare for a meeting between Secretary Hoover, Governor Weeks, and Attorney General Sargent on flood relief problems in the area.   

     Source: New York Times, “Hoover Aide Killed In Vermont Flight”, November 15, 1927

Richmond, R.I. – March 9, 1943

Richmond, Rhode Island – March 9, 1943

 

North American Texan Military Trainer

     Shortly before noon on March 9, 1943, a North American SNJ-4 Texan, (Bu. No. 26615), was flying over southern Rhode Island on a routine training flight.  There were two men aboard; Ensign Robert Foster Crader, age 21, of Gardena, California, and Ensign Robert Francis Wolfe, age 21, of Clinton, Iowa. 

     While over the town of Richmond, Rhode Island, the left wing of the aircraft suddenly folded and broke away which sent the plane into a violent spin.  Neither Crader or Wolfe were able to bail out before the plane crashed and burned in the apple orchard of the former Holly Farm, about 400 feet south of the junction of R.I. Route 2 and Heaton Orchard Road. 

     The left wing landed about a mile west of Route 2.

     Source:

     U.S. Navy Crash Report #43-6177   

Off Block Island, R.I. – December 30, 1943

Off Block Island, Rhode Island – December 30, 1943

 

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

     On the night of December 30, 1943, a flight of F6F-3 Hellcat aircraft assigned to VF(n)-76, took off from Quonset Point Naval Air Station for a night training flight.  The night was clear, but there was no moon.

     One of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 65930), piloted by Ensign Waldo E. Neuburg, was assigned to orbit the northern end of Block Island, which lies three miles off shore from Rhode Island.  About thirty minutes into the flight, Neuburg’s aircraft began having engine trouble.  He notified the flight leader, who advised him to return to Quonset Point.  Neuburg  put the plane into a climb and headed for shore, but a short time later radioed that he wasn’t going to make it and that he was bailing out.  Fifteen seconds later his aircraft disappeared from the Jamestown (R.I.) radar station’s tracking scope somewhere NNE of Block Island.   A search and rescue operation was instituted, but no trace of Ensign Neuburg or his airplane was ever found. 

     Source:

      U.S. Navy Accident report #44-10567

Captain John Taggart’s Flying Machine – 1850

Captain John Taggart’s Flying Machine – 1850

Advertisement from the New York Daily Tribune October 29, 1850

Advertisement from the

New York Daily Tribune

October 29, 1850

      Very little is known about John Taggart other than he was a “flying machine” inventor from Charlestown, Massachusetts, in the mid 1800s.  How he came to the title of Captain is also unknown.  Was he a former military man, or was it an honorary title bestowed upon him the way other aeronauts were often referred to as “professor”?

     One newspaper account that was reprinted in dozens of papers, described the “flying machine” as follows: “The flying machine consists of a car, to the front of which is attached a pair of wings, somewhat like the screws used by propellers, and a float or balloon fastened to the car in the ordinary way, at an elevation of six or eight feet.  The wings, which may be moved in any direction so as to assist in the ascent or descent of the machine, are put in motion by turning a small axle running through the center of the car.  The machine may be guided in any direction by means of a rudder, the slightest variation of which it obeys with wonderful precision.

     The float or balloon, which is pear-shaped, is thirty-three feet nine inches in height, having a diameter of some twelve feet, and the whole weight of the machine, when ready for ascension, is three hundred and fifty pounds; in addition to which it will carry with ease over one thousand pounds.”   

     Captain Taggart’s flying machine made its inaugural flight from the town common in Lowell, Massachusetts, on July 4, 1850, before a large crowd which had gathered to watch the ascension.  On the first attempt to take off, the balloon only rose 15 to 20 feet before it suddenly dropped back to earth.  The loss or lack of buoyancy was blamed on an improper inflation of the balloon, which had allowed steam to mix with the gas, causing water vapor to condense inside.

     Once the problem was corrected, a second attempt was made, but this time Mr. Taggart elevated the wings above the car to give it better lift.  The adjustment worked, and a successful take-off was accomplished at 4 p.m.  From Lowell, Taggart reportedly flew over the towns of Dracut, Tewksbury, Haverhill, Reading, Andover, Danvers, Ipswich, Georgetown, Lawrence, Methuen, “and others”.   

     On the way back to Lowell he had mechanical difficulties with some gearing which forced him to land prematurely.  The entire flight, it was said, took one-and-a-half hours and covered about 75 miles.  

     Mr. Taggart brought his invention to New York City where he displayed it at the Dunlap Hotel at 135 Fulton Street.      

     On October 30, 1859, Mr. Taggart was scheduled to give a demonstration of his flying machine, where he would ascend from a bridge that spanned a canal at the Thatched Cottage Garden in Jersey City, New Jersey.   Five thousand seats had been set out for the event, at a price of 50 cents each.  Those wishing to stand only had to pay 25 cents. 

     Taggart’s first attempt at lift-off resulted in the machine dropping into the canal.   It was quickly recovered and prepared for another try however, misfortune continued.   As more gas was added to the balloon to increase buoyancy, it began to tug at the ropes held by assistants charged with keeping the flying machine earth bound until the proper time.  As the pull on the ropes increased, the men suddenly began to let go fearing they would be carried away.  As one might expect, the balloon/flying machine shot skyward with nobody aboard to control it.  It continued to rise until air currents began sending it eastward and it disappeared from view. 

     Fortunately, the crowds weren’t upset with the unexpected development, for they had still witnessed the machine take flight.    

     The unmanned balloon/flying machine traveled across Manhattan Island, and then over Long Island, where it came down later that evening in the town of Huntington, near the home of Jonathan Giddersleeve, and got hung up on a fence.  Mr. Giddersleeve and others attempted to retrieve it by cutting a small hole in the bottom of the balloon to release the gas not realizing it was flammable.  The fumes drifted and were suddenly ignited by a nearby lantern which set off a violent explosion that burned Giddersleeve and his son, and threw others to the ground.  The resulting fire destroyed Taggert’s flying machine.    

      Sources:

     Sunbury American, (Sunbury, Pa.) “Capt. Taggart’s Patent Flying Machine”, July 13, 1850

     The Daily Union, (Washington, DC) “Flying Machine”, October 12, 1850

     The North Carolinian, (Fayetteville, NC) “Flying Machine”, October 19, 1850 

     New York Daily Tribune, Advertisement for Taggart’s ascension from Jersey City, NJ, October 29, 1850

     Southern Sentinel, (Iberville, La.) November 9, 1850

     Vermont Watchman, (Montpelier, Vt.) “The Flying Machine”, November 14, 1850

Windsor Locks, CT – August 21, 1941 – The case of Lt. Eugene M. Bradley

Windsor Locks, Connecticut – August 21, 1941

The Case of Lieutenant Eugene M. Bradley

P-40 Warhawk U.S. Air Force Photo

P-40 Warhawk

U.S. Air Force Photo

     On August 21, 1941, Second Lieutenant Eugene M. Bradley was killed when the P-40C fighter plane he was piloting (# 41-13348), crashed at Windsor Locks Army Air Field during a training flight.  What makes this accident historically significant is that it led to the air field being re-named in his honor.  We know it today as Bradley International Airport. 

     The accident occurred while Lt. Bradley was  taking part in a mock dog-fight with 1st Lt. Frank H. Mears, Jr.  Both men were assigned to the 64th Pursuit Squadron of the 57th Fighter group which had just arrived at Windsor Locks two days earlier.

     Portions of the Army crash investigation report of the accident are posted here for historical purposes.     

2nd Lt. Eugene Bradley Accident Investigation Report Face Sheet CLICK TO ENLARGE

2nd Lt. Eugene Bradley

Accident Investigation Report Face Sheet

CLICK TO ENLARGE

     Lt. Mears gave a statement to Army investigators in which he related the following:  “Lieutenant Bradley took off at 9:30 a.m., August 21, 1941, for a combat mission.  I took off at 9:35 a.m., and met him at 5,000 feet over the airdrome.  After Lt. Bradley dropped into formation, we proceeded to 10,000 feet.  Normal combat procedures were started and, on the first turn, I got on his tail.  After making several turns we had lost between four and five thousand feet (of) altitude.  Just before getting him in my sights the last time, I called Lt. Bradley on the radio saying that this was enough.  Immediately following this he went into a diving turn and pulled out so hard that heavy white streamers appeared off his wing tips; at this point I was pulling up and away and he went out of sight under my left wing.  I then banked to the left again to see where Lt. Bradley had gone and saw him in a spin; the spin appeared to be a normal spin, but slow.  I immediately told him to straighten out and get out.  He continued in the spin until he crashed, about a mile west of Windsor Locks Airfield”      

Witness Statement Of 1st Lt. Frank H. Mears, Jr. CLICK TO ENLARGE

Witness Statement Of

1st Lt. Frank H. Mears, Jr.

CLICK TO ENLARGE

     (Later in the war, Lt. Mears was promoted to Lt. Colonel, and became commander of the 57th Fighter Group.)

     The accident was also witnessed by at least four men on the ground, each of whom gave statements to investigators.       

Witness Statement Of 2nd Lt. Glade B. Bilby CLICK TO ENLARGE

Witness Statement Of

2nd Lt. Glade B. Bilby

CLICK TO ENLARGE

     One of those four was 2nd Lt. Glade B. Bilby, who wrote in his statement: “I observed the plane in what appeared to me to be the last 3/4 of a slow roll at approximately 4,000 to 4,500 feet.  It continued to roll until bottom side up and then came down in a half roll.  It was not a spinning motion but one of a roll until it turned one turn to the left.  Then it stopped rolling and continued to dive into the ground.  This cessation of roll was at an altitude of approximately 750 feet.  The plane at all times appeared to roll deliberately as if under control until the pull-out should have been started.”      

     (On July 20, 1942, Lt. Bilby survived a crash landing while piloting a P-40 in Africa, (#41-13911).  While overseas, he would be credited with shooting down  3.5 enemy aircraft, and would go on to command the 64th Pursuit Squadron.)    

Witness Statement Of M/Sgt. Guy C. Howard CLICK TO ENLARGE

Witness Statement Of

M/Sgt. Guy C. Howard

CLICK TO ENLARGE

     Master Sergeant Guy C. Howard told investigators: “August 21st, at about 10:00 a.m. M/Sgt. Smith, Baird and I were standing on the ramp watching two P-40’s dog fighting.  The airplanes were to my belief at 5,000 feet or better. After a couple of tight turns one airplane got on the other’s tail and stayed there momentarily then pulled up and away.  The other stayed in the turn and turned over on it’s back, (and) nosed down into a slow spin.  It spun slowly to about 500 feet then stopped, and dove at a slight angle to the ground.”  

     Master Sergeant Smith related, “On or about 10:00 a.m. August 21, 1941, I was standing on the ramp with two other Non-Commissioned officers, Master Sgt. Baird and Master Sgt. Howard, watching the dog-fight between two P-40’s, estimated altitude 5,000 feet.  These planes were circling.  When breaking formation both planes let out twin streamers from the tails of the ships.  While the leading ship was making a left bank going away, the other ship nosed down, went into a tail spin and at an altitude of approximately 800 feet, the ship seemed to straighten out and went into a nose dive.  Before the ship hit the ground it seemed as if the pilot was fighting the controls of the ship to straighten it out, because the ship was wriggling in a manner to indicate this.”

Witness Statement Of M/Sgt. Smith CLICK TO ENLARGE

Witness Statement Of

M/Sgt. Smith

CLICK TO ENLARGE

     Master Sergeant Charles C. Baird stated:  “About 10:00 a.m. August 21, 1941, I was standing on the ramp watching two P-40C’s doing aerial combat.  The altitude was about 5,000 feet.  the leading ship made a sharp turn to the left and went into an inverted left spin.  It made about four turns in the spin.  At approximately 500 feet the ship came out of the spin and went into a vertical dive.  The nose had not come up at all when it disappeared from sight.”

Witness Statement Of M/Sgt. Charles C. Baird CLICK TO ENLARGE

Witness Statement Of

M/Sgt. Charles C. Baird

CLICK TO ENLARGE

     The accident investigation committee wrote in part: “It is the opinion of this committee that insufficient evidence exists to permit an exact classification of this accident.” 

     After describing the accident in the narrative, the committee wrote: “There is no evidence to establish whether the accident resulted from materiel failure, personnel error, or from other causes.  Whether or not the pilot had full use of his faculties after the spin out and during the decent cannot be determined.  Had there been materiel failure the pilot had sufficient altitude to leave the ship, but since his safety belt was found to be buckled after the accident he apparently made no attempt to get out. There was also ample altitude (5,000 feet) in which to regain control of the airplane after it spun out.  Since a doubt exists in (1) the pilot’s use of his faculties, (2) whether or not the airplane could be controlled in its descent, or (3) whether materiel failure occurred; the cause of this accident cannot be determined.”     

     The investigation committee also ruled out sabotage.

Investigation Committee Findings CLICK TO ENLARGE

Investigation Committee Findings

CLICK TO ENLARGE

      There are photographs in existence reportedly showing the wreck of Lt. Bradley’s P-40 aircraft, however there is no indication in the accident investigation report that any official photos were taken as part of the investigation.  In fact, one portion of the accident investigation committee’s narrative states, “Photographs of the wreck would not add useful evidence…”  Therefore, it can be surmised that any photos of Lt. Bradley’s wrecked aircraft were taken by other persons not involved with the investigation.   

     In 2005, a search was begun to locate the site of where Lt. Bradley’s P-40 crashed.  It was no small undertaking, for the airport had grown and changed significantly since World War II, and although Lt. Bradley’s fatal accident was the first to occur at the field, it wasn’t the last.   

     According to an Associated Press newspaper article which appeared September 15, 2009, when Bradley’s P-40  crashed, parts of the engine were buried thirteen feet deep, and only the tail was seen protruding from the ground.  Heavy equipment removed the wreckage, and the hole was filled by using a bulldozer.   Therefore, researchers didn’t expect to find a complete aircraft, only small pieces of one, which would then have to be identified as coming from a P-40.  

     Researchers sifted through various state and military records, old aerial photographs of the air field, newspaper collections, and other sources while gathering information in their quest.  Several potential sites were examined.  The wreck site was finally determined to be under Runway 33 of Bradley International Airport.  The runway was extended in the 1960s to allow jet airliners to land, and the site was unknowingly paved over.              

     Eugene Bradley was born in Dela, Oklahoma, July 15, 1917,  and was 24-years-old at the time of his death.  He’s buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, in San Antonio, Texas, Section E, Site 67.  He was survived by his wife and unborn child.     

     Windsor Locks Army Air Field came under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army in 1941 after acquiring the land from the State of Connecticut.  The air field was re-named to honor Lt. Bradley on January 20, 1942.  After the war the airfield reverted to civilian use and is today Connecticut’s primary airport.          

Sources:

U.S. Army Crash Investigation Report, dated August 25, 1941     

Associated Press, “68-Year-Old Plane Crash Site Possibly Found”, by Joe Piraneo, September 15, 2009 

Associated Press, “Crash Site Of Bradley Airport’s Namesake Pinpointed”, November 26, 2010

Connecticut’s Archaeological Heritage: “The Search For Lt. Eugene Bradley’s Plane Crash”, by Nick Bellantoni, Thomas Palshaw, Paul Scannell, and Roger Thompson. (No Date)  

57th Fighter Group – First In Blue, by Carl Molesworth, Osprey Press, copyright 2011.  

Findagrave.com, Memorial #14952762  (Has photo of Lt. Bradley)  

Wikipedia – Bradley International Airport

Smithfield, R. I. – March 8, 1990

Smithfield, Rhode Island – March 8, 1990

      On the afternoon of March 8, 1990, five friends from Providence College met at North Central State Airport in Smithfield to go flying.  One of the group, Scott H. Lyons, 20, had a pilots license, and had been certified the day before for carrying passengers.  

     Lyons rented a two-seat Piper Tomahawk (N2603G) and took off around 1:00 p.m. with one passenger, his college roommate, Gregory D. Aucoin, 20, while the other three members of their group waited at the airport for their turn. 

     Shortly after takeoff, when the plane was about five miles from the airport, the engine began to sputter.  Two Smithfield Highway Department workers cutting brush in the area heard the sputtering and witnessed the plane go down. 

     The plane crashed in a wooded area of the Judson Farm at the end of Williams Road.  It didn’t burn on impact, but both men aboard were killed.

     Sources:

     Providence Journal, “Plane Goes Down In Smithfield Woods”, March 9, 1990 Pg. 1A

     Providence Journal, “PC Students’ Flight Ended Lives Full Of Promise”, March 10, 1990, Pg. A1

     Journal Bulletin, “PC Roommates Die In Airplane Crash”, March 10, 1990, Pg. A1

Hyannis, MA – November 20, 1944

Hyannis, Massachusetts – November 20, 1944

     Very little information about this accident.

     On November 20, 1944, Ensign Andrew Charles Butko, 24, was killed in an aircraft crash at what was listed as “Cape Cod Airport” in Hyannis.  (This was likely present-day Barnstable Municipal Airport in Hyannis, Mass.)   

     Ensign Butko was assigned to Quonset Point Naval Air Station at the time of his accident.  He’s buried in McKeesport, Penn.

     Source: Rhode Island Department Of Health death certificate

Preston, CT – October 19, 1944

Preston, Connecticut – October 19, 1944

    

F6F Hellcat U.S. Navy Photo

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

      On October 19, 1944, Ensign George Kenneth Krause, 22, and Ensign Merle Henry Longnecker, 20, were piloting F6F Hellcats over the Norwich State Hospital area conducting mock interceptions for training purposes when the two planes collided in mid-air and crashed to the ground about one mile north-east of the hospital.  Both men were killed.

     Both men were assigned to Carrier Air Service Unit (CASU) 25 at Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field in Rhode Island. 

     Krause is buried in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.     

     Longnecker was survived by his wife Blanche.  He’s buried in New Rockford, North Dakota.

     Sources:

     Rhode Island Department Of Health death certificates

     The Norwich Bulletin, “Veterans Group Plans 70th Anniversary Tribute To Pilots killed In Preston Crash”, October 17, 2014 

 

Richmond, R. I. – March 16, 1944

Richmond, Rhode Island – March 16, 1944

Updated June 28, 2017

    

F6F Hellcat U.S. Navy Photo

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     At approximately 7:40 p.m. on the night of March 16, 1944, Ensign Herbert Leslie Woods, 22, took off from Charlestown Auxiliary Naval Air station In Charlestown, Rhode Island, for a night training flight.  The weather that evening was cloudy, with a 500 to 600 foot cloud ceiling, and poor visibility of less than a mile.

     Ensign Woods was piloting an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 41008).

     Ensign Woods was last seen entering the clouds by those in the control tower.  At 7:46 p.m., an emergency IFF signal was received by the tower.  The signal lasted approximately three minutes before it stopped.  Afterwards Ensign Woods could not be contacted.

     The following morning the wreckage of Ensign Woods’s Hellcat was found next to a stream in a wooded area of the village of Kenyon, which is located within the town of Richmond, Rhode Island.  The plane hat crashed at high speed and Woods had been killed instantly.

     At the time of his death, Ensign Woods was assigned to Night Fighter Squadron 79, VF(n)-79.  

     Ensign Woods was from Springfield, Illinois.  He’s buried in Camp Butler National Cemetery in Section 3, Site 809.  One can see a photo of his grave at the Camp Butler National Cemetery, site search, www.Findagrave.com, Memorial #2562708     

     Sources:

     U.S. Navy Crash Report #44-12450 

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records

     Larry Webster – Aviation Archaeologist and Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

     www.Findagrave.com

Exeter/West Greenwich, R.I. – June 24, 1953

Exeter/West Greenwich, Rhode Island – June 24, 1953  

Updated October, 2017

 

U.S. Navy F2H-3 Banshee,  (Bu. No. 126384) of VF-71 This is the plane flown by Lt. Jg. Jack O. Snipes  on the night of June 24, 1953.

U.S. Navy F2H-3 Banshee,
(Bu. No. 126384) of VF-71
This is the plane flown by Lt. Jg. Jack O. Snipes
on the night of June 24, 1953.

     On June 24, 1953, a flight of U.S. Navy F2H Banshee jets out of Quonset Point Naval Air Station were on a night training mission over southern Rhode Island when two aircraft in the formation collided in mid-air.  The resulting flash and explosion was seen for miles by those on the ground.   

     The crash occurred at 19,000 feet near (over) the Exeter/West Greenwich town lines, and debris was scattered for several miles in all directions, most of it coming down in woodlands, but some of it on public roadways.      

     A large portion of one Banshee, (Bu. No. 126384) piloted by Lt. Jg. Jack Oliver Snipes, 24, came down in Robin Hollow Pond, off Robin Hollow Road, in West Greenwich.  It was later recovered by the navy.

     It is believed Lt. Snipes was killed instantly in the collision.  The nose portion of the his aircraft up to the cockpit was torn away by the impact, and Snipes fell away still strapped to his ejection seat.   His body was later recovered still in the seat in a wooded area off Breakheart Hill Road in West Greenwich.

     The main portion of the other Banshee, (Bu. No. 126411) piloted by Lt. Jg. James J. Schollian, 23, came down in an area off  Austin Farm Road in the town of Exeter.  Schollian was able to successfully eject from his aircraft, and parachuted safely.    

     At the moment of impact Lieutenant Schollian’s cockpit was illuminated by the intense light of the explosion, and his aircraft was set ablaze.   As Snipes’ plane spun away in a flat spin, Schollian attempted to bail out, but discovered his ejection seat was not working.  Remembering his training, he released his seatbelt and literally floated up and out of his seat, then pushed himself out of the falling jet with his feet.  It took him several more seconds to locate the parachute D-ring, but he finally deployed the chute at about 10,000 feet.

     Hanging in the air, he watched his doomed aircraft continue on its fiery plunge to oblivion.  As he got closer to the ground he saw two cars stopped by the side of a road, and lit a signal flare, but it failed to gain any attention.  Prevailing winds carried him over heavy woodlands where he came crashing down through the treetops.  After assessing himself for injuries, he set out to find a road, but the woods were near pitch-dark, and he didn’t have a compass.  After stumbling around in the dark for awhile he came to a clearing next to a swamp and decided to light a signal fire.  After awhile a circling aircraft spotted the fire and led him out of the woods where he was found about three miles west of Nooseneck Hill Road, West Greenwich.        

Lt. Jg. Jack Oliver Snipes  aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31)  National Archives Photo

Lt. Jg. Jack Oliver Snipes
aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard (CV-31)
National Archives Photo

      The flash of the mid-air collision was seen by those in the air-traffic control tower at the Quonset Naval Air Station, and within seconds their worst fears were confirmed as the flight leader contacted the tower.    As crash-rescue personnel were mobilized, hundreds of civilian curiosity seekers converged on the area clogging the roadways which hindered fire fighters battling numerous brush fires started by the falling debris, and search and rescue operations being conducted by the navy.  State and local police did their best to block access to the area, but the throngs of humanity were no match for the comparatively small contingent of law enforcement.   

     The dark night and poor visibility hampered search teams, and authorities had to deal with conflicting reports based on rumor and vague witness accounts.  It is therefore understandable why the following morning local newspapers erroneously reported that both pilots had been found, and that only one had suffered any injury. Unfortunately this was untrue.  While at the time the papers went to press Lieutenant Schollian had been located by searchers, Lieutenant Snipes was still missing. 

     As the sun came up on the morning of the 25th, a contingent of aircraft took off from Quonset NAS to conduct an aerial search of the vast wooded areas of Exeter and West Greenwich.  The search was partially delayed when one of the search aircraft developed engine trouble shortly after take-off and went down in Wickford Harbor.  Fortunately the crew escaped without serious injury, but some of the resources allocated to looking for Lieutenant Snipes had to be diverted to Wickford.  

     (That incident involved an AD Skyraider piloted by Lt. Comdr. Michael J. Baring.) 

     The body of Lieutenant Snipes was recovered on the morning of the 26th.   A memorial service for him was held the following Monday at the Quonset Chapel, and was attended by his squadron mates. 

     Jack Oliver Snipes was born October 1, 1928 in Greensboro, North Carolina, to Ransom Oliver, and Maude Elizabeth Snipes.  The family later moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where Jack attended local schools.  He attended North High School in Nashville from 1945-46, before transferring to East High School, also in Nashville.    

      Jack left high school during his senior year, and enlisted in the United States Navy on February 18, 1947.  After basic training in San Diego, California, he was sent to Aviation Fundamental School in in Jacksonville Florida, then on to Aviation/Aerial Photography School in Pensacola, Florida. From there he was assigned to Utility Squadron 10, (VU-10), stationed at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a photographer.       

Ensign Jack O. Snipes
U.S. Navy

    While in the navy, Jack completed his high school studies and received his GED from East High School in 1948.  He later applied for and was accepted to pilot training school.  He began flight training on January 26, 1949 at the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida, and did extremely well.  After Pensacola, he was sent for advanced training at the naval air station in Corpus Christi, Texas, where he was stationed from March thru September of 1950.  On September 20, 1950, he received his officer’s commission as an Ensign in the United States Naval Reserve, as well as his navy pilot’s wings. 

     After being sent to Whiting Field in Florida for more advanced training, Ensign Snipes was assigned to Fighter Squadron 71, (VF-71), and transferred to Quonset Point, R.I., where he reported for duty on November 18, 1950.       

     In January of 1952, VF-71 was assigned to Carrier Group Seven, Atlantic Fleet, to conduct test flights of the Navy’s new F9F-5 Grumman Panther fighter jets equipped with various experimental engines to determine how the different engines would affect the operational performance of the aircraft in simulated combat conditions.   One can see the potential hazards connected with such an assignment.  Testing took place 24/7 under any and all types of weather conditions, because the information to be learned was considered vitally important to the on-going war effort in Korea. This testing period continued until March 1, 1952.

     For his participation in these test flights, Ensign Snipes received a letter of commendation in his navy personnel jacket which stated in part: “The Commanding Officer notes with pride that as a pilot attached to this command during the tests, you bravely and unselfishly participated in hazardous test flying.  Your excellent performance of duty reflected credit to the squadron.”     

U.S. Navy
Grumman F9F Panther
U.S. Navy Photo – National Archives

  On May 14, 1952, VF-71 was transferred to the aircraft carrier Bon Homme Richard, (CV-31).  During this time period the squadron was flying F9F Panther jets. The Bon Homme Richard sailed into the Korean Theatre of Operations on June 22, 1952.  

     The following day Ensign Snipes participated in a coordinated air strike on a hydro-electric complex in North Korea for which he was later awarded the Air Medal with gold Combat Star.   

     His award citation reads as follows: “For meritorious achievement while participating in aerial flight as a pilot of a jet fighter plane attached to Fighter Squadron Seventy One, during operations against enemy Communist Forces in North Korea on 23 June 1952, Ensign Snipes bravely and skillfully executed two bombing and strafing runs against Fusen number two hydro-electric power plant obtaining hits in the target area.  He inflicted serious damage to the installation in the face of enemy anti-aircraft fire and contributed materially in the complete destruction of this vital plant.  His outstanding courage and skillful airmanship were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service”   

     Between September 22, 1952, and December 12, 1952,  Ensign Snipes flew twenty combat missions over North Korea.

     According to fitness evaluations in Ensign Snipes’ navy personnel file, he was considered an excellent pilot and showed great leadership capabilities. He was promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade on October 17, 1952.             

     After serving aboard the Bon Homme Richard, VF-71 returned to duty at Quonset Point.  One week before his death Ensign Snipes had visited his sister in Nashville.  He’s buried in the Prospect Free Will Baptist Cemetery in Erwin, North Carolina.   To see photos of his grave, click here: www.findagrave.com

    Lieutenant (Jg.) James Schollian continued to serve in the Navy until his retirement in 1976 at the rank of captain.     

VF-71 Aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard Lt. Jg. Snipes standing third from left, back row. Lt. Jg. Schollian third from left, front row.   U.S. Navy Photo - Click To Enlarge

VF-71 Aboard the USS Bon Homme Richard
Lt. Jg. Snipes standing third from left, back row.
Lt. Jg. Schollian third from left, front row.
U.S. Navy Photo – Click To Enlarge

     The F2H-3 Banshee was a Cold War era, single-seat fighter jet, designed by the McDonnell Aircraft Corporation for the United States Navy. It was a large, well-armed, aircraft, measuring 44’, 10” in length, and 40’, 2” wide, capable of sailing through the sky at over 500 mph.  When fully loaded, it carried slightly more than eleven-hundred gallons of high octane aviation fuel, which could explain the massive fireball created when the collision occurred. 

     The word Banshee comes from Irish and Scottish folklore, and refers to a female spirit who is a harbinger of death.  It is said that banshees can attach themselves to a particular family, and when a member of that clan is about to die, the banshee will begin a melodic sorrowful moan foretelling the impending death.        

 

A portion of the F2H-3 Banshee  undergoing restoration  at the Quonset Air Museum.

A portion of the F2H-3 Banshee
undergoing restoration
at the Quonset Air Museum.

     In 2011, the Quonset Air Museum of Rhode Island acquired an F2H-3 Banshee in need of restoration.  Restoration was begun, and plans were underway to give it the same paint scheme and markings as the one flown by Lieutenant Snipes as a memorial to him.  Unfortunately, in March of 2015 a portion of the museum’s roof collapsed under the weight of heavy snow, and the building was closed to the public.  Then, for a variety of reasons, the museum was forced to permanently close in 2017.  Thus the project was never completed.     

     Update, October, 2107: The Quonset Air Museum Banshee has since been sold to a private individual who had the pieces transported to his property where he plans to continue the restoration.    

      The accident scattered debris from both aircraft over a wide area, and due to the rural nature of the towns of Exeter and West Greenwich, some of it was never recovered by the navy.  Over the years pieces have been found in the woods by hunters, hikers, and metal scrapers.       

A center-wing portion of the Quonset Air Museum F2H Banshee under restoration. Now in the possession of a private individual.

     According to a Providence Journal article dated 6-26-53, Navy crews buried the wreckage of Lieutenant Schollian’s Banshee “off Victory Highway where it fell to earth.”  It presumably lies there yet, waiting for the day when future development might bring it to light.  Those who find it may wonder how it came to be there.  Hopefully they will know of this story.     

Sources: 

Providence Journal, “2 Navy Jets Crash: Pilots Found, One badly Hurt”, June 25, 1953, Pg. 1

Providence Journal, ”Searchers Fail To Find Trace of Missing Banshee Jet Pilot”, June 26, 1953.

Providence Journal, “Fire Believed Started By Jet Flier Is Under Control After 17 Hours”, June 26, 1953, Pg. 6

Providence Journal, “Body Of Missing Jet Pilot Found”, June 27, 1953.

Woonsocket Call, “Quonset Fliers Safe In Crash In Search For Missing Airman”, June 25, 1953, Pg. 1

Woonsocket Call, “Jet Pilot’s Body Found In Woods In W. Greenwich”, June 26, 1953, Pg. 1

U.S. Navy Crash Investigation Report #53 06 45

U.S. Navy Crash Investigation Report #53 06 46

The Meridian Record Journal, “Pilot Hunted After Two Jets Crash In Air”, June 26, 1953.

Nashville Tennasean, “Nashville Pilot Sought After Mid-Air Crash” June 27, 1953 (Snipe’s mother and sister lived in Nashville at the time.)

Book, United States Navy Aircraft Since 1911, by Gordon Swanborough & Peter M. Bowers, Funk & Wagnalls, 1968.

The Naval-Aviator Network, Capt. James J. Schollian, (1948-1976)

Information supplied by Lawrence Webster, Aviation Archeologist & Historian.    

June, 2017 – Copy of Lt. Jg. Snipes’ navy personnel record.

Off Provincetown, MA – May 8, 1944

Off Provincetown, Massachusetts – May 8, 1944

41 52.1N/70 16.4W

     Few details are available about this accident. 

     Updated March 2, 2016

     On May 8, 1944, a navy plane out of Quonset Point Naval Air Station crashed in the ocean off Provincetown, Massachusetts, resulting in three fatalities.  The coordinates of the crash are listed above.  They were obtained from the Rhode Island Department of Health Death Certificates.

     The dead were identified as:

     Lt. Jg. Norwood Harris Dobson, 27, of Ellenboro, North Carolina.  He’s buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Ellenboro. 

     ARM 3c Arthur Normand Levesque, 18, of Lonsdale (Lincoln) Rhode Island. He’s buried Notre Dame Cemetery in Pawtucket, R.I.    

     (Missing) Aviation Ordinance man 3c John Werner Dahlstrom, 19, believed to be from Michigan.  Information about him was not listed among the death certificates.         

     Sources:

     Rhode Island Department of Health Death Certificates (N.K. GOV. 77) and (N.K. Gov. 78)

     Lewiston Evening Sun, “Identifies Fliers Killed In Cape Cod navy Plane crash”, May 10, 1944

Lebanon, CT – September 3, 1944

Lebanon, Connecticut – September 3, 1944

    

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

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

     On September 3, 1944, Ensign Timothy Edward Sullivan of the 46th Fighter Squadron was piloting  an F6F Hellcat over Lebanon on a gunnery practice mission when he crashed in Red Cedar Lake and was killed.  The accident occurred about 100 yards from Camp Moween, a summer resort for campers. 

     State troopers from the Colchester barracks had to wade through thick brush to reach the crash scene.  Recovery efforts were hampered by a silty bottom strewn with tree trunks and partly submerged logs.  Ensign Sullivan’s body was recovered hours later in about 12 feet of water by a diver from the Groton submarine base.  

    Ensign Sullivan was from Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, and was 20-years-old at the time of his death.    

Sources:

The Norwich Bulletin, “Navy Pilot Dies In Plane Crash Into Lebanon Lake” , September 5, 1944

Rhode Island Department of Health Records. (N.K. GOV 82)

History of Fighting Squadron 46, Men-O-War. (Has squadron photos and a picture of Ensign Sullivan.)   digicom.bpl.lib.me.us/ww_reg_his/132/

 

WW II Mystery Airmen

WW II Mystery Airmen

     From time to time during World War II military aircraft were lost at sea.  Sometimes the loss was witnessed by fellow airmen, and other times a single aircraft went out on a mission and was never heard from again.  Such incidents happened all up and down the eastern seaboard of the United States.

     On occasion, the bodies of airmen lost on these missions would be found and recovered.  Unfortunately in some cases all identification such as wallet, dog tags, etc. would be missing, and the body in such an advanced state of decomposition that identification was impossible.  In a time when DNA testing did not exist, these servicemen were classified as “unknown” and buried pending any new information.   

     With a war on, and the rapid transfer of personnel, as well as many different commands and air stations that had planes and crew unaccounted for, attempting to match bodies with missing aircraft in a time without computers was virtually impossible.  

     The following information pertains to “unknowns” found in New England waters during World War II.  Perhaps there will be someone who will one day be able to figure out who these men were.   Keep in mind that ocean currents could have carried the bodies a considerable distance.    

     Case #1 involves the body of a U.S. Navy enlisted man recovered from Narragansett Bay, R. I. He’s described as a white male who “presumably drowned”.  The date he was recovered is not stated, but his remains were buried in Island Cemetery in Newport, R. I., August 14, 1943

Case #1 Click To Enlarge

Case #1
Click To Enlarge

 

     Case #2 involves a body recovered from the Atlantic Ocean on October 8, 1944, off Nantucket, Massachusetts, near a bell buoy.  The navy could not establish his identity, nor even his race.  The body was held until January 5th before it was buried in Elm Grove Cemetery, North Kingstown, R.I.   Cause of death was listed as “asphyxia by drowning” due to a “probable accident”.  The death certificate was field with the Rhode Island Department of Health January 5, 1945. 

Case #2 Click To Enlarge

Case #2
Click To Enlarge

Reverse Side - Case #2 Click To Enlarge

Reverse Side – Case #2
Click To Enlarge

 

 

 

  

Kirby, VT – February 2, 1989

Kirby, Vermont – February 2, 1989

    

FB-111 U.S. Air Force Photo

FB-111
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On February 2, 1989, an FB-111 out of Plattsburgh, N.Y., was on a training flight over Vermont, when a problem with one of the fuel tanks forced the crew to bail out.  The pilot, Captain Randall F. Voorhees, 31, of Upper Darby, PA, and his radar navigator, Captain Len J. Esterly Jr., 30, of Reading, PA, parachuted to safety with only minor injuries.

     The aircraft crashed and exploded in a wooded area about a mile off Route 2, in the town of Kirby, Vermont.   

 

 

 

FB-111 U.S. Air Force Photo

FB-111
U.S. Air Force Photo

Source:

(Nashua, New Hampshire newspaper) The Telegraph, Associated Press article by Jill Arabas, “Air Force To Probe Fighter Plane Crash In Vermont”, February 3, 1989, Pg. 6.

North Central State Airport – April 21, 1986

North Central State Airport – April 21, 1986

Smithfield, Rhode Island

     At 12:30 p.m. on April 21, 1986, a Cessna 310 (N128K), left Willow Run Airport in Michigan bound for North Central Airport in Smithfield, R.I., to make a delivery for a company located in North Smithfield.  

     At 3:28 p.m. the pilot took off for his return flight, and according to witnesses, circled the airport area twice before suddenly diving nose-first onto a rocky outcrop about 600 feet from the north-south runway.  The plane exploded on impact killing the 23-year-old pilot. 

     One witness from a business located on Albion Road told a Woonsocket Call reporter, “It made a low pass over our shop the first time it came by.  The engines sounded okay.  I just thought the pilot was disoriented.  When it came by low again the second time, it was flipped over on it side, and when it went over the fence (separating Albion Road from the airport) it was completely flipped over and no where near where it should have been approaching from.”

     Sources:

     Woonsocket Call, “Michigan Pilot Killed In Fiery No. Central Crash”, April 22, 1986 

     NTSB report NYC86FA112, microfiche # 32967    

Jamestown, R. I. – July 1, 1976

Jamestown, Rhode Island – July 1, 1976

Off Beavertail Light

     As part of America’s 1976 bicentennial celebration, a flotilla of tall ships comprising sailing vessels from around the world made their way to the United States and down the east coast.   On July 1, 1976, after visiting Newport, the ships left Rhode Island for New York.  As they were passing for review just off the coast of Jamestown near Beavertail Light, two private aircraft narrowly missed having a mid-air collision.   As one aircraft flew on, the other was seen going down into the water about 50 yards off the eastern shore of Beavertail Park.  It sank immediately and no survivors were seen in the water.

     The downed aircraft, a Piper PA-28, (N9184K) was piloted by Charles Kramos, of Barrington, R.I.  His body was later recovered by divers.  The other aircraft was not identified.

     Sources:

     (Meriden Ct.) The Morning Record, “Plane Crashes While Circling Ship Parade”, July 2, 1976

     (New London, Ct.) The Day, “Plane Crash Mars Start Of Tall Ships”, July 2, 1976, Pg. 19    

Jamestown, R. I. – August 1, 1968

Jamestown, Rhode Island – August 1, 1968

     On August 1, 1968, a single engine Cessna flying over Jamestown struck a 600 foot radio antenna near Beavertail Light.  It then crashed and burned.  The pilot and two passengers aboard were killed, but not identified in the newspaper.

     The antenna belonged to the U.S. Navy, and had been put into operation less than three months earlier on May 22.      

Source: Woonsocket Call, “”Trio Killed As Light Plane Hits Jamestown Guy Wire”, August 1, 1968, Pg. 1 

Westerly Airport – June 19, 1965

Westerly Airport – June 19, 1965

Westerly, Rhode Island

     On June 19, 1965, a small plane with two men aboard crashed while attempting an emergency landing at Westerly Airport.  Both men were killed.

     The dead were identified as (pilot) Robert White, 25, of Stratford, Ct., and Herman Stephens of Moosup, Ct.. 

     Witnesses said the planes engine could be heard “sputtering” on approach.  In May of 1966, the Civil Aeronautics Board released the finding of its investigation.  “An inspection revealed low compression of the No. 3 cylinder with appreciable leakage of the No. 3 intake valve…From the overall evidence it was concluded that a power failure did occur.”    

Source: Woonsocket Call, “Power Failure Blamed For RI Plane Crash”, May 9, 1966, Pg. 1  

Windsor Locks, CT – August 31, 1945

Winsor Locks, Connecticut – August 31, 1945

Updated August 22, 2017

 

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

     On the morning of August 31, 1945, Ensign Richard Henry Di Sesa, age 22, was part of a flight of twelve airplanes out of Quonset Point Naval Air Station practicing formation flight training over the Connecticut River Valley area.  Ensign Di Sesa was piloting an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42802), and was flying in the number 2 position in the second division of the flight.   

     At one point, while the formation was only at 2,000 feet, it began a slight downward glide over the Connecticut River in a “follow the leader” pattern.  While pulling out of the glide over the river, Ensign Di Sesa’s aircraft struck two high tension wires strung 120 feet above the water.  His aircraft went out of control and crashed into the ground killing him instantly.     

     Ensign Di Sesa’s body was brought to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island before being sent to Brooklyn, New York, for burial. 

     Di Sesa died just three days after his 22nd birthday.

     For a photo of Ensign Di Sesa, go to:

     www.warmemorial.columbia.edu/richard-henry-di-sesa

     Sources:

    North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-84

     National Archives, AAR VBF-97B-1 revised, TD450831, via Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

South Weymouth, MA. – Naval Air Station

South Weymouth Naval Air Station

     NAS South Weymouth, in South Weymouth, Massachusetts, served as an operational air field from 1942 to 1997.  

Also see Shea Naval Aviation Museum   http://www.anapatriotsquadron.org/

K Class Navy Airship South Weymouth Naval Air Station October 2, 1942 National Archives Photo

K Class Navy Airship
South Weymouth Naval Air Station
October 2, 1942
National Archives Photo

U.S. Navy Blimp South Weymouth Naval Air Station February 11, 1944 National Archives Photo

U.S. Navy Blimp
South Weymouth Naval Air Station
February 11, 1944
National Archives Photo

North Smithfield, R. I. – May 19, 1959

North Smithfield, Rhode Island – May 19, 1959

 

F-89 Scorpion U. S. Air Force Photo

F-89 Scorpion
U. S. Air Force Photo

     On May 19, 1959, two U. S. Air Force F-89 Scorpion jets attached to the 58th Fighter Interceptor Squadron were dispatched from Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, to intercept an unidentified aircraft that appeared on air defense radar.  The flight was actually an unannounced drill.  Such drills were common, one air command would send a plane into another air command’s air space to test readiness and proficiency.

     The crew of one F-89 consisted of the pilot, Captain Arthur Canella, 29, and his radar observer, Lieutenant Robert J. Scearce Jr., 26.  Once airborne, Canella’s F-89 was designated the radio call sign, “Kilo November Nine”, and the other “Kilo November Ten”.  Even though they were scrambled out of Massachusetts, they were put in radio contact with the New York Air Defense Sector which was using the call sign “Occasion”. 

      Ironically, Lieutenant Scearce wasn’t scheduled to be on this particular flight.  He was supposed to be relieved at the end of his shift by another radar observer, but when the man showed up he asked Scearce to cover for him for an hour or so until he could register his car.  Scearce agreed, and thirty minutes later the scramble horn sounded.

      As the Scorpions sped through the upper atmosphere at 30,000 feet on an interception course, both jets found themselves flying in thick clouds, or “popeye” in Air Force jargon, and were forced to fly in IFR (Instrument Flight Rules).  Canella and Scearce, (Kilo November Nine) began closing in on the “target” using their on-board radar, while Kilo November Ten was positioned a few miles away serving as the surveillance aircraft per instructions from Occasion.  The following dialogue leading up to the accident is taken from a radio transcript submitted with the official Air Force Crash Investigation Report.  (59-5-19-2) 

OCCASION: “Kilo November Nine, your heading is two eight zero, your target, thirty five port now twelve miles.  Do you have a contact?”  

NINE: “Rog, we have a contact.” 

OCCASION: “Roger, Contact.” 

After a few moments of radio traffic between Occasion and the other aircraft: 

NINE: “Zero Nine has a Judy.” 

OCCASION: “Judy for zero nine.  Investigate, full I.D. please.” 

NINE: “Zero nine.” 

A few moments later: 

OCCASION: “Ten, nine is now a mile and a half behind the target, you hold them both the port side twenty five degrees at fourteen to thirteen miles.” 

TEN: “Roger, ten” 

OCCASION: “Ten, they’re in ten miles.  Do you have a contact?”  (Occasion was informing ten that nine and the target were now within ten miles of his aircraft and asking if he had them on radar.)  

TEN: “Negative, ten seems to be bent here.” 

OCCASION: “Roger ten, let’s come port two eight zero degrees that’ll place them fifteen to twenty your port side at seven to eight miles.” 

TEN: “Roger two eight.” 

OCCASION: “Nine, are you Victor Fox now?” (Asking if Nine was now above the cloud cover and flying on Visual Flight, (Victor Fox), Rules.) 

TEN: “Roger, we’re on top at thirty seven.” (The report lists ten as answering, but nine was asked the question.  This could be a typo.) 

OCCASION: “Ten, your heading two seven zero, the target will be your two thirty position twelve miles.” 

TEN: “Roger, understand, two thirty at twelve.  Do you have a stranger passing about twelve o’clock at four or five miles?”  (Apparently the aircraft’s radar was picking up another plane and was asking if Occasion had it on their radar.)  

OCCASION: “Ten, that’s negative, you have a stranger off your starboard side at one thirty at fourteen.  I have no stranger that neck of your position.”  

OCCASION: “Ten, I now have a stranger in your heading of two seven zero in your ten o’clock position at six.” 

After some course correction instructions between Occasion and Ten, Occasion checks on Nine. 

OCCASION: “Nine, are you still popeye?” 

NINE: “That’s affirm, I think we are going to get him soon here.” 

OCCASION: “Roger, nine.” 

OCCASION: “Ten, what state fuel?” 

TEN: “Roger, ten has ten thousand pounds, oxygen sweet.” (10,000 lbs. of fuel and plenty of oxygen to breathe due to the altitude.) 

OCCASION: “Roger, ten continue at gate your pigeons home plate zero seven zero degrees at forty five.” (“gate your pigeons” – Air Force slang for use afterburner for maximum power.) 

TEN: “Roger.  Forty-five starboard twenty four.” 

NINE: “It’s a B-47 type aircraft, I’ll pull in and get numbers.”  (The pilot was required to get the serial number on the tail of the target aircraft as proof they had identified it.) 

OCCASION: “Roger, nine, we’re standing by.” 

OCCASION: “Kilo November Ten, starboard three-three zero.” 

TEN: “Roger three-three.” 

NINE: “Zero nine is breaking it off.  I’ll give you the numbers here.” 

OCCASION: “Roger, nine, nine break port – port one eight zero degrees the hard way.  I’ll join ten up with you.”  

NINE: “I’ve already broken starboard, I’d had to break into the aircraft to break                               port.” 

     This was the last radio transmission received from Kilo November Nine.      

     Canella and Scearce had broken to starboard, and unknowingly began heading almost straight down due to the lack of visual reference points.  The aircraft began picking up speed, and then broke the sound barrier, something it was not designed to do.  When it finally broke free of the clouds the situation became apparent, and the crew was forced to eject.  

     The Plexiglas canopy flew off as explosive charges under the crews’ seats blew them free of the cockpit.  For the two men, hitting the slipstream at 700 mph was like being slammed into a brick wall. Both injured their shoulders in the bail out leaving them incapable of controlling their parachutes as they descended.   

     Meanwhile, those at Air Defense Command began to realize something was wrong.  Both Occasion and Kilo November Ten tried to radio Nine, but got no response.  Occasion reported to Ten that they had lost Nine on radar.  

OCCASION: “Kilo November Ten, your Nine should now have gone off  your starboard side.  His last position that I had him was about fifteen your port side seven miles.”   

TEN: “Roger, you still have no paint on him?” 

OCCASION: “Negative, I’m not painting his parrot, (not on radar) I lost him, you heard the last transmission that he made to us as he turned starboard.” 

TEN: “Roger, you want to clear me down through this stuff, (the clouds) I’ll drop on down here a little bit lower.” 

OCCASION:  “Ten that negative, be advised we’re over land and if anything did                             happen to Nine, no sense taking you down there too.”  (Kilo November Ten was the given instructions to return back to Otis AFB.) 

     The men bailed out over the city of Woonsocket, Rhode Island.  Many on the ground who witnessed the parachutes deploy first thought it was all part of a stunt connected to the upcoming Madi Gras celebration.       

Former U. S. Rubber Company, aka Alice Mill,  at 85 Fairmont Street, Woonsocket, R. I.   The mill burned to the ground in June of 2011

Former U. S. Rubber Company, aka Alice Mill,
at 85 Fairmont Street, Woonsocket, R. I.
The mill burned to the ground in June of 2011

     Lieutenant Scearce landed hard on the roof of the U.S. Rubber Company at 85 Fairmont Street,   suffering from multiple serious injuries connected to the bailout.  

      Employees of the plant climbed to the roof using a fire escape.  Dorothy Kane, the industrial nurse for the company, began administering first aid while police and firemen converged on the area.  Scearce was transported to Woonsocket Hospital where he stayed for the next eleven days.        

      Meanwhile, Captain Canella landed in Harris Pond next to the Precious Blood Cemetery in northern Woonsocket.  Looking down during his descent he saw 17-year-old Roland Ruge working in the cemetery and began calling for help. The wind carried him across the cemetery and straight into Harris Pond where he became tangled in the cords of his parachute.   Acting quickly, Roland dove into the chilly water and swam 200 feet from shore to reach Canella.  Roland struggled to pull the injured flyer to shore while keeping his head above water.  As he neared shore someone threw him a rope. 

     Both Canella and Ruge were transported to Woonsocket Hospital for treatment.  While the captain was admitted for his injuries, Roland was treated for hypothermia and released.   

    While the crew of the F-89 came down in Woonsocket, the aircraft continued down into the neighboring town of North Smithfield, about 200 yards west of Greenville Road, (Rt. 104), at a point about three-tenths of a mile south of where Providence Street intersects with Smithfield Road.  The plane exploded in a massive fireball. 

     The wreckage at the crash site was scattered in a swath a half-mile long and roughly 300 feet wide.  Both engines were found intact approximately 300 feet past where the initial impact occurred.  The fires burned hot enough to melt the aluminum from the plane.  In one area, it was reported that the melted aluminum remained liquid until the firemen cooled it with water from their hoses. 

     The ejection seat belonging Lt. Scearce was later recovered by on Wright’s Farm on Woonsocket Hill Road, in North Smithfield, which is several miles away from where the air-crew parachuted to earth. 

     The Scorpion involved in this crash was an F-89 J, serial number 53-2621A.   

     While the aircrew lay recuperating at Woonsocket Hospital, Roland Ruge was hailed a hero by the Air Force for saving Captain Canella’s life.  Roland later received an official award from the Air Force and was given a tour of Otis Air Force Base.  While being given the tour, he was able to view the remains of the wrecked F-89, and was presented with the cockpit compass as a keepsake.     

Sources:

United States Air Force Crash Investigation Report #59-5-19-2

Woonsocket Call, “Two Bail Out Safely As AF Jet Crashes In North Smithfield”, May 19, 1959.

Providence Journal, “2 Airmen Hurt Parachuting”, May 20, 1959, Pg. 1

Woonsocket Call, “Crash Pilot Blames Going Too Fast”, May 20, 1959

Cape Cod Standard Times, “Plane Crashes In Rhode Island”, May 20, 1959   Cape Cod Standard Times, “Explosion Of Otis jet Being Probed”, May 20, 1959

Cape Cod Standard Times, “Investigation Is Continuing”, May 21, 1959

Woonsocket Call, “AF, Pilot’s Wife Pour Thanks On Hero Ruge”, May 21, 1959

Providence Journal, “Gathering Up Of Fighter Pieces Begins”, May 21, 1959, Pg. 19

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smithfield, R. I. – February 4, 1977

Smithfield, Rhode Island – February 4, 1977

Nadeau Farm, Limerock Road

     Shortly before 11:30 a.m. on February 4, 1977, a Cessna 150-L (N6756G) made a run over North Central State Airport at an altitude of only 200 feet.  (The normal height for a run at the airport is 800 feet.) Runway workers who saw the plane go by noted it didn’t make a turn to land, and considered the possibility that it may have been involved in an accident.  They drove to the end of the runway, and then along the tree line, but after finding nothing, returned to their work figuring the pilot had decided not to land.  Unknown to everyone at the time was that the plane had crashed into a livestock shed on the farm of Edward Nadeau on Limerock Road. 

     The accident was discovered by Mr. Nadeau when he went out to feed his cattle.  Rescue personnel responded, and found one man, flight instructor Steven Nottell, 30, of Cranston, R. I., still alive and transported him to Fogarty Memorial Hospital in North Smithfield, where he was listed in critical condition.  Another man, student pilot Paul D. Gurette, 24, of North Kingstown, R. I., was dead at the scene.  

     Officials ruled out engine trouble as no distress call had been received, and theorized the plane may have stalled while attempting to turn back towards the airport.  It landed nose-down, with the tail sticking upwards out of the shed.

     On February 8th, it was reported that officials suspected a second aircraft may have been involved, and that a possible minor mid-air collision may have occurred.  This idea was based on some un-explained traces of paint found on the fuselage, and that someone reported another Cessna had taken off from the airport shortly before the accident.  However, this theory was later discounted.   

     On February 17th, it was reported that Steven Nottell was still in a coma, and had not regained consciousness since the crash, and investigators said they still hadn’t determined a cause for the accident. 

     On March 6, 1977, it was reported that Mr. Nottell had passed away, and never regained consciousness.

     Sources:    

     Woonsocket Call, “Man Killed, 1 Critical, In Smithfield”, February 4, 1977.    

     Woonsocket Call, “Plane Crash Survivor Critical”, February 5, 1977.

     Providence Journal, “Flight Teacher Still Critical”, February 6, 1977, Pg. B-15.

     Woonsocket Call, “Prober Suspects Midair Scrape In Plane Crash”, February 8, 1977

     Providence Journal, “Second Plane Eyed As Cause Of Fatal Crash”, February 8, 1977, Pg. B-1.    

     Providence Journal, “Aviation Officials Discount 2nd Plane”, February 9, 1977, Pg. B-4.

     Providence Journal, “Air Crash Victim Still In Coma After 12 Days”, February 17, 1977, Pg. B-13.

     Providence Journal, “Second Air Crash Victim Dies”, March 6, 1977, Pg. B-15.

       

 

    

North Central Airport – July 19, 1952

North Central Airport – July 19, 1952

Smithfield, Rhode Island

     North Central State Airport, located in the northeast corner of Smithfield, Rhode Island, opened in December of 1951.  Several months later the first aviation related fatality at the airport occurred there.

     On July 18, 1952, Clinton Corey, 31, made an emergency landing at North Central Airport after the Piper Cub he was piloting developed engine trouble.  The aircraft was owned by E. W. Wiggins Airways of Norwood, Massachusetts, which Corey worked for.  He notified the company of the situation, and arrangements were made to leave the plane overnight to be repaired the following day.

     On the morning of July 19th, Corey returned with William Coullahan, another Wiggins employee, in another Wiggins aircraft.  Both men thoroughly went over the aircraft Corey had been flying the day before, and by 3:30 p.m. they deemed it ready for a flight back to Norwood. 

     Coullahan climbed aboard the plane they had been working on, while Corey agreed to fly the other one.  Coullahan was to take off first, and then Corey would follow, and both would stay together while en-route back to Norwood.       

     As Coullahan took off, he completed a 200 foot circle at the end of the field before suddenly crashing in a cow pasture just beyond the airport.  Coullahan was taken to Roger Williams Hospital in Providence where he died the following day.

     Coullahan, 29, of Westwood, Mass. was a Marine Corps veteran of World War II where he served in the Pacific Theatre.  He was survived by his wife Florence Mae. 

Sources:

Providence Journal, “Mass.. pilot Injured When Plane Falls Near Smithfield Airport”, July 20, 1952, Pg. S1  

Providence Journal, “Mass. pilot Dies After R.I. Crash”, July 21, 1952, Pg. 20

Woonsocket Call, Photo with caption. July 21, 1952, Pg. 5

North Kingstown, R.I. – March 30, 1950

North Kingstown, R. I. – March 30, 1950

Near Quonset Point Naval Air  Station

   

F4U-4 Corsair 81347 Pilot: Ens. Henry F. Hite Killed March 30, 1950 North Kingstown, Rhode Island Navy Photo

F4U-4 Corsair 81347
Pilot: Ens. Henry F. Hite
Killed March 30, 1950
North Kingstown, Rhode Island
Navy Photo

   On March 30, 1950, two U.S. Navy F4U Corsairs collided in mid-air about a mile from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  One plane crashed in a residential neighborhood, and the other in woodland.  Both pilots were killed.

     The pilots were identified as Ensign John Hall, 22, of Hamburg, New York, and Ensign Henry F. Hite Jr., 23, of Waco, Texas.

     Source: New York Times, “Air Collision Kills Two”, April 1, 1950

 

Westerly, R. I. – March 4, 1950

Westerly, Rhode Island – March 4, 1950

     On March 4, 1950, two civil aircraft, a Cessna 140, and a Cessna 170, collided in mid-air about a mile-and-a-half off the shore of the Misquamicut section of Westerly and went down in the water.  Each aircraft carried two people; each a flight student and their instructors.

     The Coast Guard was called to employ divers in the search for the aircraft.  Debris from both planes was later washed ashore, confirming that neither plane made it to shore after the collision. 

     As the search continued, many spectators lined the beaches despite the cold weather.  Some doubted the planes would be found.  The Providence Journal reported in part,  “Westerly residents recalled yesterday that during World War II some half-dozen Navy planes had crashed in approximately the same area as the two light craft Saturday, and that neither the planes nor the pilots ever were found. They attributed this to the existence of a rock ledge some distance offshore which deflects the strong tides of the vicinity and tends to wash objects on the bottom out to sea rather than towards shore.”    

     Those aboard the Cessan 170 were identified as (pilot) William A. McCormac, 39, and Lester Silvers, 26. 

     Those aboard the Cessna 140 were identified as (pilot) Reginald Delagrange, 31, and Arthur E. Smith, 25.

     Sources:

Providence Journal, “Divers To Seek 2 Aircraft In Which Four Lost Lives” March 6, 1950, Pg. 2

New York Times, “Four Feared Dead In Crash Of Planes”, March 6, 1950 

 

    

Atlantic Ocean – September 8, 1949

Atlantic Ocean – September 8, 1949

Off Sakonnet Point, Rhode Island

     On September 8, 1949, Ensign Henry J. Harling, 22, of Staten Island, N.Y. was piloting a Grumman Bearcat at 25,000 feet over the ocean when his aircraft caught fire.  Witnesses on boats reported seeing a plane trailing smoke crash into the water off Sakonnet Point, Rhode Island.  Planes and rescue boats were immediately launched to search for Ensign Harling, but nothing was found.

     Source: New York Times, “Navy Pilot Dives In Sea” , September 9, 1949 

Atlantic Ocean – June 20, 1947

Atlantic Ocean – June 20, 1947

15 Miles South of Nantucket, Mass.

     On June 20, 1947, Ensign Malcolm Sillars was on an operational flight over the Atlantic Ocean, 15 miles south of Nantucket Island, when the Hellcat fighter he was piloting developed engine trouble.  He was forced to make a water landing, and when his plane sank he inflated his life vest.  There he floated in the water as fellow Hellcat pilots circled above.

     A crash-rescue flying boat was dispatched, but when it arrived on the scene the water was too choppy for a safe landing.  The pilot was ordered not to attempt the rescue, but disregarded the command, and landed anyway, successfully plucking Sillars from the water.

     During take-off, a large wave reportedly tossed the rescue-craft 30 feet in the air, but the pilot successfully made it into the air. 

     Source: New York Times, “Pilot Rescued At Sea” , June 21, 1947      

Block Island Sound, R.I. – July 13, 1944

Block Island Sound, Rhode Island – July 13, 1944

5 miles off Charlestown, R.I.

    

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

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

     Ensign Gerald Vivian Brosteaux was killed during a night training flight July 13, 1944 when the F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. #42254), he was piloting crashed in the water five miles off Charlestown, Rhode Island.

     Ensign Brosteaux was assigned to Night Fighter Squadron 102 at Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.  He’s buried in Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery in San Diego OSA Site 25-A.

     Sources:

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records

     Findagrave.com #67092141   

Smithfield Airport – May 17, 1947

Smithfield Airport – May 17, 1947

Smithfield, Rhode Island

     On May 17, 1947, pilot Charles J. Kirby, 34, of Cranston, suffered critical injuries when he undershot the grass runway at Smithfield Airport and crashed his WWII surplus monoplane through a stone wall.   He was transported to Roger Williams Hospital in Providence. 

     The Smithfield Airport opened in 1932, and once occupied the land now owned by Bryant University.  The airfield was located where the Bryant football stadium stands today.  Smithfield  Airport no longer exists, and should not be confused with North Central State Airport, which is still an active airport in the town of Smithfield, Rhode Island.

Source:

Woonsocket Call, “Men Escape Without Injuries As Plane Crashes In Cumberland”, May 26, 1947.  This article focused on a plane crash in Cumberland, R. I. which occurred on May 25, 1947, but mentioned that the Cumberland accident was the third aviation accident for the month of May in Rhode Island.  One of the other two accidents mentioned was the one in Smithfield at the Smithfield Airport on May 17th.  

 

Berkley Airfield – May 25, 1947

Berkley Airfield – May 25, 1947

Cumberland, Rhode Island

     On May 25, 1947, Harold H. Horning, 25, was attempting to take off from Berkley Airfield in Cumberland, when the engine suddenly lost power just after he had left the ground.  Horning managed to maneuver the aircraft away from a group of boys playing baseball at the far end of the field just before crashing.    

     The aircraft was wrecked, but Horning, and his two passengers, (brother) Edward Horning, 30, and Raymond Paquette, 46, all escaped without injury.    

     Berkley Airfield once existed in the Berkley section of the town of Cumberland, R. I..    

Source:

Providence Journal, “Men Escape Without Injuries As Plane Crashes In Cumberland”, May 26, 1947, Pg. 1 

South Kingstown, R.I. – May 31, 1944

South Kingstown, Rhode Island – May 31, 1944

Worden’s Pond

     

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

     At 11:30 a.m. on May 31, 1944, Lt. Jg. Maxwell Michaux Corpening, 24, was killed when the U.S. Navy F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 58317), he was piloting crashed in Worden’s Pond during a training flight.   

     Lt. (jg.) Corpening  was part of a flight of seven Hellcats practicing dive bombing techniques.  According to the U.S. Navy Accident Report, after the fourth dive, the formation was joined by “three strange planes” that were “seen to dive from above and maneuver in weaving stern attacks on the Hellcats, who were in extended column formation.  The flight leader continued to circle and climb as any further bombing runs would have been inadvisable while the other planes were mixed in the formation.”

     The “strange planes” are not identified, however their actions led to the breakup of the formation, which led to a mid-air collision between Lt. (jg.) Corpening’s aircraft and another Hellcat.  The other Hellcat was able to land safely at Groton Naval Auxiliary Air Field.     

Sources:

     U.S. Navy Accident Report #44-44697, dated May 31, 1944

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records.  (Many navy deaths during WWII were recorded in North Kingstown, (Not South Kingstown) because Quonset Point NAS was located in North Kingstown.)   

 

Hillsgrove Airport – May 14, 1947

     Hillsgrove Airport – May 14, 1947

Warwick, Rhode Island

     On the afternoon of May 14, 1947, a helicopter being flown by a student pilot and an instructor crashed just after takeoff at Hillsgrove State Airport in Warwick.  According to witnesses, the aircraft was about 200 feet in the air when one of the rotor blades suddenly broke away. 

     Both men aboard were killed in the accident.  The dead were identified as: Robert F. Chott, 29, of Providence, the instructor, and Gardiner Watts, 27, of Boston, the student.    

Source: New York Times, “2 In Helicopter Killed” May 15, 1947 

    

Lincoln, R. I. – December 18, 1946

Lincoln, Rhode Island – December 18, 1946

     On December 18, 1946, William E. Ouger, 19, took off from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, in a Ercoupe monoplane  bound for Hillsgrove Airport in Warwick, R.I.    As he was passing over northern Rhode Island, he noticed that his aircraft was very low on fuel, so he began looking for a place to land.  He spotted Clarke’s Field in Albion section of Lincoln, R. I., and attempted to land there, but he overshot the field and crashed in the middle of the intersection of Manville and Contrexeville Roads.  Ougar crawled out of the wrecked airplane virtually unharmed.

     The airplane was owned by the Connecticut Aviation Company.   

     Source:

     Woonsocket Call, “Plane crashes On Albion Rd., Pilot Uninjured”, December 18, 1946

Woonsocket, R. I. – August 22, 1946

Woonsocket, Rhode Island – August 22, 1946

Barry Memorial Field

     On the afternoon of August 22, 1946, a U.S. Navy OY-1 training aircraft, (120461) took off from Weymouth (Mass.) Naval Air Station with two men aboard.  The pilot was identified as John Cote, of Belmont, Mass., and the passenger as Dr. Leonard P. Johnke. 

    Shortly before three o’clock, while the plane was over North Smithfield, Rhode Island, the engine began skipping and loosing power.  Cote began looking for a place to land, and saw Barry Memorial Field on the Woonsocket/North Smithfield town line.   As the plane lost altitude it barely missed the power lines of the New England Power Company on Greenville Road. 

     As they came upon the field they discovered that there was a youth baseball game in progress.  Sticking their heads out of the airplane they began shouting warnings for the players to get out of the way, but the boys just stood transfixed.  Seeing that the boys weren’t getting out of the way, Cote gave the plane full throttle and had just enough power to swoop low over their heads.  At the far end of the field he attempted to turn the plane around, and as he did so, nosed into the field.      

     Besides the players and spectators, the crash was witnessed by two Rhode Island state troopers who happened to be a block away at Park Square when the accident happened.  They transported Cote and Johnke to Woonsocket Hospital in the back of their patrol car to be treated for non life-threatening injuries. 

     This was not the first time an aircraft had landed in Barry Field.  On June 27, 1934, a Greenfield, Mass. couple en-route from Greenfield to Boston got lost in foggy weather due to a malfunctioning compass.  While trying to orient themselves, they came upon Woonsocket, and landed at Barry Field to get their bearings.  

Sources:

Woonsocket Call, “”Plane Crashes At Barry Field; Two Injured”, August 22, 1946

Woonsocket Call, “Crash Victims Leave Hospital”, August 24, 1946

Woonsocket Call, “Aviator Lands At Barry Field Here To Get Bearings”, June 28, 1934.

 

 

Charlestown, R. I. – March 8, 1946

Charlestown, Rhode Island – March 8, 1946

       

Early U.S. Navy Helldiver U.S. Navy Photo

Early U.S. Navy Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

     On March 8, 1946, Ensign Clinton Graham Thornton was piloting an SB2C-5 Helldiver, (Bu. No. 89304) on a training flight with five other aircraft.  The aircraft were practicing dive-bombing techniques, and Thornton’s aircraft was in the number 2 position in a line of six. 

     The flight leader was executing a series of maneuvers with the other five planes following behind.  At one point Thornton’s Helldiver spun out of control and crashed about 2,000 feet north-east of a church belonging to the Narragansett Indian Tribe.  Ensign Thornton was unable to bail out and was killed.

     Ensign Thornton was based at Quonset Point, assigned to VT-74

     Source: Larry Webster, Aviation Historian and Archeologist      

Quonset Point NAS – April 6, 1945

Quonset Point Naval Air Station – April 6, 1945

North Kingstown, Rhode Island

    

U.S. Navy TBM Avengers  National Archives Photo

U.S. Navy TBM Avengers
National Archives Photo

     On April 6, 1945, two TBM Avengers assigned to Night Torpedo Squadron 55 at Quonset Point, were taking off at the same time for a night training mission when they collided at the intersection of runways 19 and 28. 

     Lt. Jg. John Frederick Kalb, 25, of West Helena, Arkansas, in aircraft #46123, was killed.

     Lt. Jg. W. F. Leeker in aircraft #16885, was seriously injured, but survived.  

     Night Torpedo Squadron 55 was commissioned at Quonset Point NAS on March 1, 1945.  The squadron’s first fatal accident occurred not long afterwards on March 9, 1945, when Lt. Jg. Harold Boren was killed when his plane crashed in Westerly, Rhode Island, during an instrument training flight. 

     For more information about Night Torpedo Squadron 55 see the website;  vtn55.org 

     Sources:

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-30 

     Night Torpedo Squadron 55 history        

West Greenwich, R.I. – April 24, 1946

West Greenwich, Rhode Island – April 24, 1946 

     On April 24, 1946, two navy F4U Corsairs on a training flight out of Quonset Point NAS were involved in a mid-air collision over West Greenwich.  Moments later, the pilot of one plane bailed out.  His Corsair, (81416), came down onto a house and exploded, killing a mother and her 2-year-old son.   

     Despite a damaged wing, the pilot of the other Corsair, (81312), managed to make it back to the Quonset Naval Air Station. 

     Both planes were assigned to VBF-82.

     The dead were identified as Mrs. Eva Parenteau, 30, and her son Raymond.   Mrs. Parenteau’s other two children, Phillip, 9, and Joseph, 8, were playing in a nearby yard at the time and weren’t injured.   

Source: Woonsocket Call, “Mother, Baby Killed, Plane Crash Probed”, April 25, 1946, Pg. 1 

Narragansett Bay – September 1, 1944

Narragansett Bay – September 1, 1944

     On September 1, 1944, Lt. Charles W. Turner took off from  Hillsgrove Army Air Field in a P-47D Thunderbolt, (42-8666) for a routine training flight.  At some point the aircraft developed engine trouble and Turner was forced to make a belly landing in the water about 3/4 of a mile off Conimicut Point, between the Conimicut and Pomham light houses.

     As the plane sank, Turner scrambled out and inflated his life vest which kept him afloat in the chilly water.  As luck would have it, he landed near a boat with two teenagers inside, Amy Heddenberg, 15, and William Smythe, 16, who quickly rescued the downed airman.  

     Turner was brought ashore at the foot of Stokes Street in Warwick, where he was met by Warwick police patrolman Albert Izzi who brought the pilot back to Hillsgrove.  Turner was standing before his commanding officer before rescue parties from Hillsgrove had reached the shore. 

     The plane was wrecked, but Turner was unhurt.   

     Source:

     Providence Journal, “Army Pilot Unhurt In Crash Into Bay”, September 2, 1944, Pg. 3

    

East Greenwich, R. I. – May 16, 1944

East Greenwich, Rhode Island – May 16, 1944 

Near the Exeter town line, off Shippey Road

    

F6F Hellcat U.S. Navy Photo

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On May 16, 1944, Lt. Cmdr. David Wooster Taylor, 32, took off from Quonset Point Naval Air Station in a F6F-3 Hellcat (Bu. No. 41944) for a routine training mission.  He was killed when his aircraft crashed and burned at the Sunset Valley Reservation in East Greenwich.  The cause of the crash was not stated in newspapers.

     Taylor was survived by his wife Virginia, and two young children, Jean, 4, and David, 3.

     A housing development now stands on the site where this accident took place.

     Lt. Cmdr. Taylor was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross while assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Ranger (CV-4) for his part in an attack against enemy shipping off Bodo, Norway, on October 4, 1943.   

Sources:

Woonsocket Call, “Lt. Cmdr. D. W. Taylor Killed In Plane Crash”, May 17, 1944, Pg. 1

North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records

      

Charlestown, R.I. – May 14, 1944

Charlestown, Rhode Island – May 14, 1944

    

F6F Hellcat U.S. Navy Photo

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On May 14, 1944, Ensign James Patrick Gannon, 22, of Jersey City, N.J., was flying an F6F-3N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42389)  practicing dive bombing at Worden’s Pond in Charlestown, R.I., when according to a witness, “something white” fell away from his plane.  The Hellcat then went into a roll and dove into the ground.  Gannon was killed instantly. 

     The cause of the crash was never determined. 

     Ensign Gannon is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington, New Jersey.

Sources:

Hudson Dispatch, “Two Jersey City Fliers Killed In Plane Crashes”, May 16, 1944

North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records

The crater left by Ensign Gannon's Hellcat when it crashed on May 14, 1944.

The crater left by Ensign Gannon’s Hellcat when it crashed on May 14, 1944.

 

 

 

 

Wickford, R.I. – December 8, 1943

Wickford, Rhode Island – December 8, 1943

     On December 8, 1943, a U.S. Navy SB2C-1C Helldiver, (#18272) crashed in the woods behind the Wickford Barracks of the Rhode Island State Police.  According to one witness, the aircraft had a broken wing as it fell.  The pilot was killed.

    The pilot was Ross Allen Bennett, 22, of Amarillo, Texas.  He’s buried in Llano Cemetery in Amarillo.  

Source: Larry Webster, Aviation Archeologist and Historian.

       

Tiverton, R.I. – June 14, 1943

Tiverton, Rhode Island – June 14, 1943

Updated April 27, 2016

     On June 14, 1943, a Corsair I on loan to the British Navy, (#JT-110), piloted by British aviator Lieutenant Anthony Max Leslie Harris, crashed into a wooded area near the Old Stone Church Cemetery in the Adamsville section of Tiverton, R.I.  The plane exploded on impact and Harris was killed. 

    Harris was a member of the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve serving at Quonset Point Naval Air Station. 

     Lt. Harris is buried in Island cemetery in Newport, Rhode Island.  To see a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com, Memorial #15037581

     Sources;

    Woonsocket Call, “British Aviators Named In R. I. Fatal Crashes”, June 17, 1943, Pg1.

    Larry Webster, Aviation Archeologist & Historian

     www.findagrave.com

   

Warwick, R. I. – April 6, 1943

Warwick, Rhode Island – April 6, 1943

     On April 6, 1943, a U.S. Army P-47C (41-6321) was coming in to land at Hillsgrove Army Air Field when the pilot overshot the runway and crashed into a private home at 252 Strawberry Field Road.  The plane tore into the structure seriously injuring a 70-year-old woman sitting in the living room.  Her two grandchildren had just left the room and gone into the kitchen moments before the crash occurred.  They were not injured. 

     The pilot had shut off the engine just before striking the house thereby averting a fire.  He crawled from the cockpit with only a scratch to the back of his neck.   He was assigned to the 340th Fighter Squadron, 348th Fighter Group.  

     The house suffered extensive damage and was knocked off its foundation. 

Sources:

Pawtucket Times, “Woman Hurt As Plane Rips Into Dwelling”, April 7, 1943, Pg. 1

Providence Journal, “Army Plane Smashes House In Warwick; Woman Injured”, April 7, 1943, Pg. 1

Warwick, R. I. – November 2, 1942

Warwick, Rhode Island – November 2, 1942

    

P-40 Warhawk  U.S. Air Force Photo

P-40 Warhawk
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On November 2, 1942, two U.S. Army P-40 fighter planes, based at Hillsgrove Army Air Field in Warwick, were on a training flight over Narragansett Bay when they collided in mid-air.   

     One plane, (41-14135), piloted by Staff Sgt. John W. Smallseed, 21, of Newton Falls, Ohio, suffered minor damage and was able to return safely to Hillsgrove.    

     The second plane, (41-14183), piloted by 2nd Lt. William H. Pierson, 23, of Chicago, suffered heavy wing damage, and he was forced to bail out.  After the bailout, Pierson’s plane continued on and crashed in the center of the intersection of Barton Street and Grand Avenue in the Warwick Neck Section of the city. 

     The aircraft narrowly missed an automobile being driven by Edward W. Thurber of Pawtuxet.  The explosion of the P-40’s impact spewed debris and gasoline onto his car setting it on fire.  Thurber, not knowing for sure what had just happened, jumped from his flaming car and allowed it to roll down a hill where it came to rest in a vacant lot and continued to burn.   

     A home at 49 Barton Avenue was also set on fire, but the owner was able to extinguish the flames with a garden hose. 

     Mrs. Forrest B. Morgan of Grand Avenue told reporters that she had been standing where the plane crashed for twenty minutes waiting for her daughter.  She had just started back towards her home when the plane hit and was not injured.

     Meanwhile, Lt. Pierson was seen landing in Narragansett Bay where he disappeared after hitting the water.  Four volunteer firemen from the Conimicut Fire Department launched a boat to rescue Pierson, but needed to be rescued themselves when their boat capsized in the rough water. 

     Some reports were later received that Pearson had been rescued, but these were found to be in error.  He was officially reported as “missing”.  

     Harry Robbins, an eye witness to the crash, told reporters, “One (plane) passed under the other and the two wings hit.  The bottom plane turned over a couple of times, the pilot jumped out, and one wing started to smoke.  Then the plane made two wide circles and I saw it coming towards me.  The explosion it made when it landed was deafening.” 

Source:

Providence Journal, “Two Army Planes Collide Over bay; One Pilot Missing”, November 3, 1942, Pg. 1

          

   

North Kingstown, R.I. – August 21, 1944

North Kingstown, Rhode Island – August 21, 1944

The Rose Hill area of Saunderstown

    

U.S. Navy Avengers National Archives Photo

U.S. Navy Avengers
National Archives Photo

     On August 21, 1944, a flight of TBM Avengers out of Quonset Point Naval Air Station were flying in formation over southern Rhode Island when one aircraft grazed its wing against the elevator of another sending it down over the Saunderstown section of North Kingstown.  The plane’s wing struck the roof of a vacant house belonging to Mrs. Mabel Barton before it crashed nose first into the side yard and exploded.  Flaming gasoline showered the home and set it ablaze.  All three crewmen aboard were killed instantly.

     The three men who lost their lives were:

     Walter Lee Miller Jr., 21, of Morton, Texas.

     Joseph Camel Beam, 20, of Pottstown, Penn.

     Donald Joseph Finkler, 19, of Cleveland, Ohio

     The other aircraft involved in the accident made it safely back to Quonset NAS.

     At the time of the crash, an 8-year-old boy was playing in his front yard nearby the Barton home, and suffered minor burns as a result of the flaming gasoline. 

     One eyewitness told reporters that after falling out of formation, the pilot had raced the motor in an effort to gain altitude.

     A second house in which an elderly invalid woman was residing was also set ablaze.  She was rescued by two Coast Guardsmen, Meredith E. Dobry, and Daniel Caruso, who happened to be in the area at the time of the crash.     

Sources:

Providence Journal, “Three Quonset Airmen Die As Plane Falls, Fires House”, August 22, 1944, Pg. 1

New York Times, “Plane Hits House; 3 Die”, August 22, 1944 

Town of North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records.

 

Exeter, R. I. – September 8, 1943

Exeter, Rhode Island – September 8, 1943

Updated March 9, 2018

    

F4U Corsair
US Navy Photo

     Navy pilot Ensign Robert R. Hirshkind was killed instantly when his F4U-1 Corsair, (Bu. No. 02368), crashed on the farm of Wallace Foster in the town of Exeter, R. I.  Ensign Hirshkind had been on a formation training flight out of Quonset Point Naval Air Station when the accident occurred.  Approximately 12 miles south-west of Wickford the flight encountered thick overcast that dropped nearly to the ground.  The accident occurred as the flight was descending through the overcast on instruments.  

     Ensign Hirshkind was assigned to Night Fighter Squadron 75, (VF(n)-75).

Sources:

     The Standard, “Exeter Plane Crash Kills Navy Pilot”, September 9, 1943, Pg. 8 

     U.S. Navy Accident report, #44-8367, dated September 8, 1943

Revere Beach, MA – July 9, 1912

Revere Beach, Massachusetts – July 9, 1912  

     On July 9, 1912, Farnum T. Fish, was piloting a bi-plane over Revere Beach, flying from one end to the other, with his passenger, famous Pawtucket, R.I. aviator, John F. McGee.  At one point a wing dipped and touched the waves, causing the plane to plunge into the water and  tossing the occupants forty feet.  The plane suffered damage to the tail and propeller, but Fish and McGee were generally unhurt. 

Source: Boston Evening Transcript,”Aviator Fish Gets Wet”, July 10, 1912, Pg. 24 

  

 

 

Sandwich, MA – August 29, 1961

Sandwich, Massachusetts – August 29, 1961 

    

RB-57F.  The U.S. Version of the English Electric Canberra.  U.S. Air Force Photo.

RB-57F. The U.S. Version of the English Electric Canberra. U.S. Air Force Photo.

     On August 29, 1961, Major Harold D. LaRoche, 27, took off from Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, in a Martin B-57 Canberra en-route to Andrews Air Force base in Virginia.  (He was the only person aboard.)

     Shortly after take off  LaRoche radioed Otis tower that he had an emergency and turned back towards the base.  On his approach he crashed in the Forestdale section in the town of Sandwich, Massachusetts.  The plane exploded and the major was killed. 

     Major LaRoche was assigned to Ent Air Force base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and had been on a cross-country flight.     

 

Source:

Falmouth Enterprise, (Photo) “Wreckage Of Bomber Which Crashed In Forrestdale”, September 1, 1961

Otis Air Force Base – May 25, 1958

Otis Air Force Base – May 25, 1958

    

EC-121 Super Constellation U.S. Air Force Photo

EC-121 Super Constellation
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On May 25, 1958, an Air Force RC121 Super Constellation radar aircraft was destroyed by a series of explosions while sitting at Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  The crew of fourteen managed to escape with only minor injuries. 

     The plane was valued at $2,225,000. 

     The cause of the explosions was not apparent. 

     Source: New York Times, “Plane Explodes At Base”, May 26, 1958  

 

Otis Air Force Base – May 8, 1957

Otis Air Force Base – May 8, 1957

Falmouth, Massachusetts

     On May 8, 1957, Lieutenant Donald J. Flower Jr., 26, of Yonkers, New York, was killed when the fighter jet he was piloting crashed and burned upon landing at Otis AFB.  He had flown to Otis from Shaw AFB in South Carolina. 

     The exact type of aircraft wasn’t stated.  

     Flower joined the Air Force in 1953 after graduating from Iona College in New Rochelle, New York.  He was survived by his parents and four siblings.

     Source: New York Times, “Yonkers Pilot Killed”, May 10, 1957

From Otis Air Force Base – August 7, 1951

From Otis Air Force Base – August 7, 1951

    

T-33 Trainer Jet U.S. Air Force Photo

T-33 Trainer Jet
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On August 7, 1951, a T-33 trainer jet with two men aboard left Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, for a training flight to Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, New York.  The pilot was Major C. H. Imschweiler, 34, of Schuylkill, Penn. The second man was Lieutenant John A. Carver Jr., 30, of Ann Arbor, Michigan.   

     When the plane reached Griffiss, they encountered bad weather, and made two unsuccessful attempts to land.  By this time the T-33 was low on fuel, and rather than risk another attempt at landing, the crew was advised to fly north and bail out of the plane.  At 6:03 p.m. Imschweiler radioed Griffiss that they were bailing out.  Nothing more was heard of the plane, and large-scale search and rescue operation was begun. 

     It took five days to locate the downed aircraft .  The crew was found to be still inside the wreck. 

Sources:

Geneva Daily Times, “City CAP Joins Search For Missing Jet Pilots” August 10, 1951, Pg. 7

New York Times, “2 Missing Fliers Hunted”, August 11, 1951

New York Times, “2 Lost Jet Airmen Are Dead In Wreck”, August 12, 1951

 

    

    

Narragansett Bay – February 10, 1945

Narragansett Bay – February 10, 1945

One mile northeast off Quonset Point Naval Air Station

    

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

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

     On February 10, 1945, Ensign Pierce Hubert Beach, 22, took off from Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, in an F6F-5N Hellcat (Bu. No. 58058) for a routine training flight where he and other aircraft were to practice carrier landings and takeoffs.  He was killed when his plane crashed into Narragansett Bay.  

     Ensign Beach earned his pilots wings at Pensacola, Florida, in May of 1944, and was married in June, ’44.   

     Sources:

     Lewiston Daily Sun, “Navy Pilot Killed; Another Missing”, February 12, 1945, Pg. 1

     Larry Webster, Aviation Historian & Archeologist

     The (Bunnell Florida) Flagler Tribune, (no headline) February 15, 1945

     U.S. Navy Accident Report dated February 10, 1945

Taunton, MA – October 11, 1920

Taunton, Massachusetts – October 11, 1920

     On October 11, 1920, a plane piloted by Lt. Frederick Smith took off from Fall River, Mass. headed for Taunton.  While en-route, the engine suddenly stopped.  The aircraft fell 1,000 feet before crashing into a tree in Taunton.  Both Smith, and his passenger, Russell H. Leonard, a Fall River mill owner, escaped with minor injuries.    

     Sources:

     Falmouth Enterprise, “Aviator Smith In Accident”, October 16, 1920

     American Wool & Cotton Reporter, October 21, 1920 page(s) (65) 3721

Barnstable, MA – August 31, 1921

Barnstable, Massachusetts – August 31, 1921

     On August 31, 1921, a balloon ascension and parachute jump demonstration was scheduled to be given at the Barnstable fair grounds in celebration of Governor’s Day. 

     As the balloon stood fully inflated before a crowd of 20,000 people, someone erroneously gave the order for it to be released without making sure it was safe to do so.  As it rose from the ground, 22-year-old Edward Wolfe of New Bedford became entangled in one of the ropes and was  pulled upwards by his legs.  Wolf managed to quickly free himself and fell about ten feet to the ground suffering numerous bumps and bruises. 

     Meanwhile the balloon continued upwards with 22-year-old A. Morin, the parachutist, still aboard.  At the proper altitude, Morin jumped and deployed his chute, but when he was barely 100 feet above the ground, the wind tore his parachute, sending him plummeting onto a hillside where he broke his right leg and several ribs. 

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Mishaps Mar Balloon Ascension At Fair”, September 3, 1921   

        

Naushon Island, MA – January 1, 1939

Naushon Island, Massachusetts – January 1, 1939

     On January 1, 1939, an aircraft with two men aboard left New Bedford Airport around 11:00 a.m., en-route to Nantucket.  The plane was piloted by Samuel N. Sweet; his passenger was William G. Barlow.   

     After leaving Nantucket, the engine began to sputter, so Sweet landed at Oak Bluffs Airport on Martha’s Vineyard to have the problem attended to. 

     “Everything seemed in order,” Sweet later told reporters, “so we headed for the mainland. We were flying at 2,000 feet over Naushon Island when the motor froze because an oil line became plugged.  I dropped her to 1,500 feet to regain speed, but couldn’t come out of the stall.  I looked about for a suitable landing place and spotted a golf course at the Moors.  Our glide carried us easily, but train tracks and telephone wires loomed up as I was about to land.  I didn’t dare go under because of the tracks, so when the plane was eight or ten feet from the ground I pulled the nose up and let her drop.” 

     Both men suffered non-life-threatening head injuries in the crash.   

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Plane Crashes At The Moors”, January 6, 1939

Falmouth, MA – July 15, 1951

Falmouth, Massachusetts – July 15, 1951

     On July 15, 1951, a two-passenger Luscombe trainer aircraft took off from Coonamessett Airport, (A small airport in Falmouth), for a sight seeing flight over the area.  As the pilot, Harold A. Fasick Jr. was flying over the home of his passenger, Larry Sands, the engine suddenly quit, and the plane crashed near St. Anthony’s Church in East Falmouth.  Neither of the two men were hurt. 

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Pilot Is Fines After Crack-up In East Falmouth”, August 10, 1951.   

   

Mashpee, MA – July 7, 1942

Mashpee, Massachusetts – July 7, 1942

     On July 7, 1942, a Luscombe trainer aircraft took off from Falmouth Airport with an instructor and student aboard.  While over the Popponesett Beach area of the nearby town of Mashpee, the aircraft’s controls became jammed and John Kerrigan, the instructor, and his student, Norman Nickerson, were forced to bail out.  Both men landed safely.  The airplane crashed in a wooded area between Popponesett Beach and the Waquoit section of Mashpee. 

     Kerrigan had been an instructor for over a year, and Nickerson had more than 100 hours of flight time.  Nickerson was making the flight to qualify for his civilian pilot instructors license.

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Plane Crashes”, July 10, 1942.  

Marlborough, MA – September 20, 1948

Marlborough, Massachusetts – September 20, 1948

     On September 20, 1948, the Democratic candidate for Governor of Massachusetts, Paul A. Dever, and Democratic candidate for treasurer, John E. Hurley, were on an airplane headed from Boston to Great Barrington when they encountered severe thunderstorms and made an emergency landing at Marlboro Airport.  Upon landing, the pilot overshot the runway and crashed into a fence heavily damaging the airplane.  Dever and Hurley were unhurt.

    Dever won the election, and served as Governor from January 6, 1949, to January 8, 1953.

     Sources:

     New York Times, “Dever Safe In Air Crash”, September 21, 1948.

     Wikipedia

Martha’s Vineyard – January 6, 1945

Martha’s Vineyard – January 6, 1945

    

U.S. Navy TBM Avengers  National Archives Photo

U.S. Navy TBM Avengers
National Archives Photo

     Just after midnight on the morning of January 6, 1945, navy Lieutenant Robert L. deVeer was making a night training flight from Martha’s Vineyard to Otis Air Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts, when his plane, a TBM Avenger, went down in a wooded area near the Mayhew Memorial Chapel in North Tisbury, on Martha’s Vineyard.  Although seriously injured, deVeer was able to extricate himself from the burning wreckage.  He was transported to Chelsea Naval Hospital for treatment.  

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Injured Flyer Has Home Here”, January 12, 1945

         

Narragansett Bay – June 4, 1971

Narragansett Bay – June 4, 1971  

       

The canopy to Commander Harley Hall's F-4J Phantom jet that he was forced to bail out of over Narragansett Bay on June, 4, 1971, on display at the Quonset Air Museum. Photo by Jim Ignasher

The canopy to Commander Harley Hall’s F-4J Phantom jet that he was forced to bail out of over Narragansett Bay on June, 4, 1971, on display at the Quonset Air Museum.
Photo by Jim Ignasher

     On June 4, 1971, an F-4J Phantom jet (#153082) belonging to the U.S. Navy Blue Angels team, caught fire in flight over Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.  The pilot, Commander Harley H. Hall aimed the plane towards Narraganset Bay before bailing out.

     Hall was commanding officer of the Blue Angels for two years.  He was promoted to the rank of Commander at the age of 32, which at the time made him the youngest Commander in the navy. 

     By 1973, Hall was serving aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise (CVN-65) flying combat missions over Vietnam.   On January 27, 1973, Commander Hall and Lt. Cmdr. Phillip A. Kientzler took off from the Enterprise in an F-4J Phantom to attack Vietnamese supplies and logistics vehicles 15 miles northwest of Quang Tri.  During the attack the Phantom was hit by anti-aircraft fire and Hall and Kientzler were forced to bail out at 4,000 feet.  On the way down, Kientzler was shot in the leg and quickly captured.  Hall landed safely, and was last observed by another F-4 pilot circling overhead entering the jungle to evade enemy forces.  He was never seen again.    

     In Vancouver, Washington, there is a building named in Commander Hall’s memory.  The H. H. Hall Building located at 10000 NE 7th Avenue.  (www.hhhallbuiding.com)

    There is also a book about Harley Hall and the Blue Angles titled “Left Alive To Die”, by Susan Keen, c. 2011      

      Sources:

     Nashua Telegraph, “Pilot Killed In Accident At Air Show”, June 7, 1971, Pg. 3.  The headline of this article is actually about an accident at the Quonset Air Show that took the life of J. W. “Bill” Fornof on June 5, 1971.  The accident involving the Blue Angel aircraft was mentioned in it because it happened the day before.       

     The Columbian, “Cmdr. Harley Hall, Shot Down 40 Years Ago”, January 27, 2013 

     www.pownetwork.org/bios/

 

 

Mystery WWII Aircraft – Martha’s Vineyard – 1958

Mystery WWII Aircraft – Martha’s Vineyard – 1958

Updated July 13, 2017

    

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

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

     On July 8, 1958, a fishing boat out of New Bedford, Mass. was dragging its nets off the western coast of Martha’s Vineyard when the nets snagged the wreckage of a WWII era navy aircraft.  The boat dragged the wreck to shallow waters about a quarter mile off an area locally known as Menemsha Bight, then placed a marker buoy on it, before proceeding to port at the Vineyard.

     There the captain of the boat encountered three divers at the dock, and asked one of them to check the condition of his boat propeller because he felt the snarled nets may have damaged it.  Afterwards, the divers, Percy Kingsley, of Cranston, R. I., James Cahill, of Danvers, Mass., and Bradford W. Luther Jr., of Fairhaven, Mass., went to explore the wreck.  

     The wreck was in about 15 feet of water, and heavily encrusted with marine life, which obscured any identification numbers, but the paint colors established it as a navy plane.  In the cockpit they found human bones, some of which they collected, along with an oxygen mask, a flying boot, and what may have been a life raft, and turned them over to the Coast Guard.     

     A navy salvage vessel out of Quonset Point, Rhode Island, was dispatched to the scene to attempt to raise the wreck.  Divers from the salvage boat identified the wreck as a Grumman Hellcat of World War II vintage.  However, it was not specifically stated in the newspaper articles whether or not the plane was actually recovered.  If the marine life could be removed, the identification numbers from the tail would identify the aircraft, and who had been flying it. 

     However, recovery of the wreck may have been possible, and it may have been photographed instead, because it was reported that photographs of the plane’s instrument panel had been forwarded to Washington for further identification.  

     The bones recovered from the cockpit were sent to Quonset Point Naval Air Station where it was reported that the senior medical officer, Captain M. H. Goodwin, planned to seek instructions from the Navy Bureau of Medicine.   (This was in a time long before DNA testing was available.)

     The Quonset public information officer told reporters that there had been only one inquiry about the remains found, and it came firm a man whom the navy did not identify, but said a member of his family had been lost during the war on a flight from his air craft carrier to Quonset Point. 

      As of this writing, the name of the pilot is unknown.  

          Sources:

     Providence Journal, “Remains Of Unknown Plane, Pilot Found”, July 9, 1958, Pg. 14

     Providence Journal, “Identification Of Pilot Sought”, July 12, 1958, Pg. 2      

     Vineyard Gazette, “Final Chapter In One Or More Plane Crashes Near”, July 14, 1958

 

  

Brooklyn, CT – August 4, 1986

Brooklyn, Connecticut – August 4, 1986

 

TBM-3E Avenger National Archives Photo

TBM-3E Avenger
U.S. Navy Photo

     On August 4, 1986, a former U.S. Navy TBM-3E Avenger (With civilian registration N6581D) took off from Danielson Airport in Danielson, Connecticut, en-route to Florida for its annual inspection.  Shortly after takeoff the engine began to sputter and skip, and then the aircraft began trailing black smoke.  On witness told state police that the plane was low over the tree tops, and when the engine quit, the plane rolled over and crashed upside-down and exploded.  

     The plane crashed in a wooded-swampy area off Route 6,, between Church St. and Day St., and firefighters had to clear a path to the site.  It then took four hours to put out the flames because they were fed by the magnesium metal used in the plane’s construction.

     The lone pilot, Charles A. Sewell, 56, of Setauket, Long Island, N.Y. was killed.  Sewell was a highly decorated former U.S. Marine Corps pilot having served in both Korea and Vietnam with 330 combat missions to his credit, and more than 10,000 hours flying time. 

     During his 20-year military career he earned the Legion of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Corsses, fifteen Air Medals, and two Purple Hearts.  He retired a lieutenant colonel 1969, went to work for Grumman Aircraft on Long Island.  Within two years became their chief test pilot, and was still employed as such at the time of his accident.

     Investigators who examined the wreckage determined that the #8 and #10 piston heads each had a hole burned through them, and others showed signs of head damage.  The last inspection on the plane had been conducted September 7, 1983, and the aircraft had been issued a special permit for this flight.

Sources:

New York Times, “Grumman’s Chief Test Pilot Dies In Crash Of World War II Bomber”, August  5, 1986.   

NTSB brief #NYC86FA196, microfiche #33675  

Providence Journal Bulletin, “A Top Test Pilot Dies As WWII Bomber Slices Into Woods After Takeoff In Danielson, Conn.”, August 5, 1986, page A9.

Providence Journal, “Top Test Pilot Crashes WWII Craft Near Foster”, August 5, 1986, page 1, (2 photos of crash.)

Westerly Sun, “Vintage Plane’s Crash Kills Grumman Pilot”, August 5, 1986, page 17.

Norwich Bulletin, “Brooklyn Plane Crash Kills Pilot”, August 5, 1986, page 1. (2 photos of crash.)

 

 

 

Londonderry, N.H. – September 30, 1943

Londonderry, New Hampshire – September 30, 1943 

 

Beech At-10 U.S. Air Force Photo

Beech At-10
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On September 30, 1943, a Beech AT-10, (#42-43597) with two officers aboard crashed in a heavily wooded area of Londonderry near Scobie Pond.  The plane did not burn, but both were killed. It was discovered the following day.

     The dead were identified as 1st Lt. William C. Curtis, and 2nd Lt. Charles Wilson Jr.

     Source: Nashua Telegraph, “Grenier Field Airmen Dead In Plane Crash”, October 2, 1943.    

Atlantic Ocean – November 20, 1952

Atlantic Ocean – November 20, 1952

70 miles south-east of Block island

    

P2V Neptune U.S. Air Force Photo

P2V Neptune
U.S. Air Force Photo

     In the early morning hours of November 20, 1952, a two navy P2V Neptunes from Quonset Point Naval Air Station were taking part in an anti-submarine warfare exercise off Block Island with the submarine USS Piper, (SS-409), and the navy tug, USS Hopi, (AFT-71). 

     Shortly after 4:00 a.m. the two planes rendezvoused over the Jamestown Bridge in Narragansett Bay, and headed for the operational area about 70 miles off Block Island.  One planes was piloted by Lieut. Alvin S. Hibbs, and the other by Lt. Cmdr. Noble R. Kean. (Bu. No. 124242) 

     Hibbs later told investigators, “Commander Kean was behind me a mile or so, and we carried on radio chit-chat.  He said all the other men were in very high spirits over the radio.  We arrived at the operating area a half hour later and circled for awhile, and then endeavored to make radar contact with out target.  There were two targets visible by radar, and I investigated on while Commander Kean investigated the other.” 

     Hibbs found his “target” and after making two “runs” on it he tried to contact Kean by radio, but couldn’t.  Then the submarine and tug tried to make contact and were unsuccessful.

     Hibbs flew over Kean’s last known position and found two smoke lights and debris on the water’s surface. The smoke lights had apparently broken free of the wreck and were automatically activated.   The tug arrived in the area and collected some of the debris, but found no sign of the crew.  

     One of the last to see the missing aircraft was Lieut. Herbert C. Taft, who was aboard the submarine Piper when Kean’s Neptune passed over.  “I observed the aircraft going across our bow on his run. I observed no malfunctioning of the aircraft and received no notification by radio that anything was wrong.  I followed his flight out for approximately four or five miles.” 

     At that point the lights on the Neptune,  “indicated it was making a right banking turn.”     

     “Shortly thereafter”, Taft went on, “we heard a dull thud.  Because there was no indication of an explosion and no flash, this particular noise worried me, so I went below and tried to contact the aircraft to no avail.”

     The cause of the crash could not be determined.

     The dead were identified as:

     Lt. Comdr. Noble R. Kean, 34, a native of Evanston, Ill. He was survived by his wife Sarah.

     Lt. Thomas J. Tiernan, 28, of Wickford, R.I.

     Aviation Mechanic 2c John R. Quirk, 27, of Lavelle, Penn. He was married just twelve days earlier on November 8, to Miss Constance Lussier of West Warwick, R.I.

     Aviation Ordnance Man 2c George A. Buehler, 22, of Nekoosa, Wis. He too was recently married on October 4 to Miss Irene Carvalho of West Warwick.

     Lt. Seymour A. Moyl, 26, of Bronx, N.Y.

     Aviation Electronics Man 1c Roland O. Eades, 29, of Indiana.

     Seaman Salvatore A. Coia, 21, of Rome, N.Y.

     Seaman Joseph A. gray, 20, Bronx, N.Y.

     Sources:

     Providence Journal, “Bomber Plunges Into Atlantic Off Block Island”, November 21, 1952, Pg. 1

     Providence Journal, “Quonset pilot Described Crash As Observed From Submarine”, November 21, 1952 

       

        

         

 

         

Warwick, R.I. – September 21, 1985

Warwick, Rhode Island – September 21, 1985

     On September 21, 1985, a Beech V35B, (N5NG), with a husband and wife aboard took off from Worcester, Massachusetts.  While over the Providence metropolitan area, approximately 12 miles away from T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, the pilot radioed he was having trouble with the engine and requested clearance to land.  The pilot was given vectors to T.F. Greene, but on his approach, the aircraft lost power and crashed into the Jersey barrier of the northbound lanes of Interstate Route 95, about a tenth of a mile south of Exit 15.  Both were killed.  

     Miraculously, no vehicles on the highway were involved in the accident.    

     The cause of the crash was determined to be a failure of the engine crankshaft from fatigue.  

     Source:

     NTSB – NYC85FA244, microfiche # 29832

     Woonsocket Call, “Crash Of Small Plane On I-95 Claims Lives Of Worcester Couple”, September 22, 1985

Northern Maine – May 19, 1972

Northern Maine – May 19, 1972

Several miles southeast of St. Pamphile, Quebec  

    

The TBM-3E Avenger modified for crop spraying  as it looked in 1991.  Note the engine is missing, and the cowl ring lies in the foreground.  Photo courtesy Larry Webster,  Quonset Air Museum.

The TBM-3E Avenger modified for crop spraying as it looked in 1991. Note the engine is missing, and the cowl ring lies in the foreground.
Photo courtesy Larry Webster,
Quonset Air Museum.

     On May 19, 1972, a former World War II, U.S. Navy TBM-3E Avenger that had been converted to a crop sprayer was on a flight from New Brunswick to Ottawa, Canada, on a course that took it over U.S. airspace.  While over northern Maine, the plane developed engine trouble and the pilot, Alan Woytaz, 40, was forced to make an emergency crash-landing in the Maine wilderness. 

     The former warbird belonged to Hicks & Lawrence Ltd., an aerial spraying company based in Ontario, Canada.   On the day of the crash, Woytaz was piloting one of four aircraft sent to New Brunswick to have the sprayers calibrated.  Afterwards, as the four planes made their way to a spraying job north of Ottawa, the carburetor on Woytaz’s plane malfunctioned.

     “I was real lucky,” Woytaz told reporters, “everything happened right, including the soft spruce saplings I could see below.  There I was, in the trees, not injured, but without a map.  My buddy had a map and his aircraft was flying away.”

    The area Woytaz had gone down in 1s extremely remote, and under other circumstances he might never have been found. Fortunately, one of the other pilots witnessed the crash, and circled briefly before having to fly on due to oncoming thunder storms. Woytaz was forced to spend the night in the aircraft until he was rescued the following day.     

Another view of the crash site.   Note brush and trees have been cleared.  Courtesy of Larry Webster Quonset Air Museum

Another view of the crash site.
Note brush and trees have been cleared.
Courtesy of Larry Webster
Quonset Air Museum

     The aircraft was not recovered, and remained where it fell for the next 19 years.  During that time portions of the plane were removed.  Three brothers from St. Pamphille, Quebec, hiked to the wreck, and over a period of three weekends, carefully disassembled and removed the engine, hauling it in sections through the thick forest and across a river to their home.  This was no easy endeavor, for the fully assembled motor weighs 2,600 pounds.  At their home, they reassembled the engine and preserved in in working order. 

     Other parts such as cockpit gauges were removed by the occasional souvenir hunter, and at one point a family of bears used the fuselage for their home, but overall the aircraft remained in good condition.     

 

The tail, wings, and nose of the aircraft   had been painted orange.   Courtesy of Larry Webster Quonset Air Museum

The tail, wings, and nose of the aircraft
had been painted orange.
Courtesy of Larry Webster
Quonset Air Museum

     Eventually the wreck came to the attention of the Rhode Island Aviation Heritage Association, which was interested in recovering and restoring it as a warbird.  The plane held special significance because it was the same type flown by former President George H. Bush during World War II, and Bush had received his flight training in Charlestown, Rhode Island.  If the plane could be salvaged, the plan was to restore it with the markings of Bush’s aircraft.  The association sought, and was granted, permission to salvage the Avenger.

     An incredible amount of planning and logistics went into the recovery.  As stated, the plane had gone down in a remote area, and the only practical way to bring it out was by air-lifting it via helicopter – a very big helicopter.   Yet before that could happen, the land surrounding the wreck had to be cleared, which meant cutting down trees and removing thick brush.  Over the years the plane had settled into the soil, which had to be dug away, and the wings had to be removed to reduce weight.     

Courtesy of Larry Webster Quonset Air Museum

Courtesy of Larry Webster
Quonset Air Museum

     Arrangements were made with the Connecticut Army National Guard to use one of their helicopters to air-lift the plane from the woods.  This was done as a three-day training operation for the Guard.  Once the plane had been extricated from the wilderness,  it had to be transported to Rhode Island by flatbed trucks.   Numerous man-hours went into this project.

     The engine wasn’t overlooked, and a deal was struck to purchase it from the men who recovered it.   It too had to be transported to Rhode Island.

      

    

How the Avenger looked upon arrival at the  Quonset Air Museum - 1991 Courtesy Larry Webster, Quonset Air Museum

How the Avenger looked upon arrival at the
Quonset Air Museum – 1991
Courtesy Larry Webster, Quonset Air Museum

  

Front view prior to restoration. Courtesy Larry Webster Quonset Air Museum

Front view prior to restoration.
Courtesy Larry Webster
Quonset Air Museum

     The removal took place on September 17, 1991, and within a few days the Avenger arrived at the Quonset Air Museum in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.  Over the next several years volunteers worked diligently to bring it back to its former glory.  As a result, the TBM-3E Avenger, (Bu. No. 53914) is now on display at the Quonset Air Museum.

     Of the 9,839 TBM/TBF Avengers built, less than 200 survive today.     

Photo showing the interior restoration of the  TBM-3E Bu. No. 53914 Photo by Jim Ignasher

Photo showing the interior restoration of the
TBM-3E Bu. No. 53914
Photo by Jim Ignasher

Restoration nearly complete.  Photo by Jim Ignasher

Restoration nearly complete.
Photo by Jim Ignasher

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Bangor Daily News, “Three Brothers Treated Engine Like Baby For Nearly 20 Years”, September 21, 1991, Pg. 1

Bangor Daily News, “Recovery Operation Had Its Exciting Moments, But It Was Scary Too.”, September 21, 1991.

Bangor Daily News, “Bomber Recovery Called ‘Fantastic'”, September 21, 1991, Pg. 1

Bangor Daily News, “Pilot Recalls Day Plane Crashed”, September 21, 1991

The Westerly Sun, photo and caption, October 23, 1991, Pg. 3

The Westerly Sun, Recovered Plane May Be Shown Locally”, September 20, 1991

Morning Sentinel, “WWII Bomber Recovered”, September 20, 1991, Pg. 6

Morning Sentinel, “WWII Bomber Retrieved”, more detailed article than one above- no date.

Kennebec Journal, “WWII Bomber Lifted Out Of Northern Maine”, September 20, 1991

Providence Journal, “Rivet By Rivet, Plane Aficionados Restore WWII Torpedo Bomber”, January 11, 1998, PC4C4 

Warbirds International, “Avenger Recovery” by Howard Weekly, Jr., January/February 1992

Other information and photos provided by Larry Webster, Aviation Archeologist and Historian, Quonset Air Museum.

 

 

 

 

     

                       

Near Bennington, VT – July 15, 1930

Near Bennington, Vermont – July 15, 1930

     On July 15, 1930, Frank Goldsborough and Donald Mockler were flying from Cleveland, Ohio, to Keene, New Hampshire, when they encountered fog over the Bennington region and crashed into a mountain eight miles east of Bennington.   The plane had struck a tree and slid to the ground pinning Goldsborough in the wreck, but Mockler was able to extricate himself and go for help.  For five hours he made his way through the woods and brush before coming to a farmhouse a mile out of Bennington.   

     A contingent of about 100 volunteers accompanied Mockler back into the woods to the wreck site.  Progress was slow because Mockler had lost his glasses, and had trouble identifying landmarks.   Sixteen hours after the crash, Goldsborough was carried down the mountain and brought to Putnam Memorial Hospital in Bennington where he died the following day. 

     Frank Goldsborough had recently achieved fame as the American record holder of the Junior Transcontinental Air Speed Record.   He was the son of Frank Goldsborough who was himself a well known pilot, who died in December of 1927 when his aircraft disappeared off Cape Cod.

Source: New York Times, “Goldsborough Crashes In Vermont Mountain; Party Seeks Young Flier Pinned Under Plane”, July 15, 1930 

Wikipedia – Frank Goldsborough

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