Otis Air Force Base – May 31, 1949

Otis Air Force Base – May 31, 1949

Falmouth, Massachusetts

 

F8F Bearcat
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the morning of May 31, 1949, Lt.(jg.) Roland G. Wittig, (25), was making a landing approach to Otis Air Force Base in a F8F-1B Bearcat, (Bu. No. 121522).  While at an altitude of 500 feet the engine suddenly began to loose power.  The pilot continued his descent with wheels and flaps down and the canopy locked open.  At approximately 60 feet of altitude, the aircraft was seen to stall and crash into the ground where it exploded, killing the pilot instantly.

     Lt.(jg.) Wittig was assigned to Fighter Squadron 32, (VF-32), at Quonset Point, R.I.  He’s buried in George Washington Memorial park in Paramus, New Jersey.  He was survived by his wife.    

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated May 31, 1949

     www.findagrave.com, memorial #102167281 

Otis Air Force Base – June 12, 1947

Otis Air Force Base – June 12, 1947

 

F8F Bearcat
U. S. Navy Photo

    On June 12, 1947, an F8F-1 Bearcat, (Bu. No. 95125), left Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island bound for Otis AFB in Falmouth, Massachusetts. Upon landing at Otis, the right wing dropped and struck the runway causing the aircraft to flip onto its back and skid for approximately 500 feet before it came to rest.  The aircraft was badly damaged, but the pilot was not seriously injured.  

     The aircraft was assigned to VF-17A at Quonset.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated June 12, 1947

Otis Air Force Base – June 27, 1947

Otis Air Force Base – June 27, 1947

 

F8F Bearcat
U. S. Navy Photo

     On June 27, 1947, a flight of F8F Bearcats left the Quonset Naval Air Station bound for Otis Air Force base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, to conduct practice carrier landings and takeoffs The aircraft were assigned to VF-8A at Quonset.

     Once at Otis the aircraft commenced the takeoff and landing exercise.  As one aircraft, (Bu. No. 95227), was making its approach for its sixth landing, in came in too close behind the aircraft ahead of it.  After landing, the pilot applied the brakes to avoid a rear-end collision with the plane ahead, but at that moment the left brake failed which caused the aircraft to swerve off the runway and onto a grassy area.  On the grassy area was a parked truck, which the pilot would have struck had he not intentionally ground-looped the aircraft.  After missing the truck, the aircraft went into a small ravine and nosed over onto its back.  The aircraft was substantially damaged, but the pilot was not seriously hurt.   

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated June 27, 1947

Otis Air Force Base – October 17, 1947

Otis Air Force Base – October 17, 1947

 

F8F Bearcat
U. S. Navy Photo

     On October 17, 1947, an F8F-1 Bearcat, (Bu. No. 95331), left the Quonset Naval Air Station in Rhode Island bound for Otis AFB in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  As the pilot was coming into to land at Otis, the engine suddenly lost all power.  Realizing he couldn’t make it to the service runway, the pilot decided to make an emergency wheels-up landing in the grass nearby.  The aircraft received considerable damage as it skidded for about 600 feet before coming to rest.  The pilot was not injured.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated October 17, 1947 

Atlantic Ocean – November 11, 1966

Atlantic Ocean – November 11, 1966

 

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

     On November 11, 1966, a U.S. Air Force EC-121-H “Warning Star” radar picket Constellation, (Ser. No. 55-5262), was on a mission about 125 miles east of Nantucket, Massachusetts, when it suffered a catastrophic event and crashed into the ocean.  The aircraft contained a crew of 19 men, all assigned to the 551st Airborne Early Warning & Control Wing stationed at Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

     The aircraft had departed from Otis at 12:35 a.m., and the last radio contact was made at 1:22 a.m.  The weather was said to be clear with ten miles of visibility.  At 1:30 a.m. the captain of a New Bedford fishing vessel reported seeing a large aircraft with a stream trailing behind it pass over his 70-foot boat, roll onto its back, and crash into the ocean where it exploded on impact.  He couldn’t be certain if the stream was due to an onboard fire or from a jet trail.   The New Bedford vessel as well as several others raced to the scene to look for survivors. 

     No distress call had been received from the aircraft. 

     A large scale search was conducted over the next few days during which debris from the aircraft was recovered, however there were no survivors.

     Wreckage of the aircraft was later recovered off the ocean floor in December of 1966, and serial numbers confirmed it to be the missing airplane.

     The only crew member identified in the press was the aircraft commander, Major Robert A. Baird.  To see a photograph of Major Baird, go to www.findagrave.com, Memorial #101715135.

     The names of the other 18 crewmen are unknown. 

     Sources:

     Cape Cod Standard Times, “Otis Base Radar Picket Plane Crashes, Explodes; 19 Crewmen Believed Dead”, November 12, 1966

     Cape Cod Standard Times, “Otis Sure Debris From Lost Plane”, November 13, 1966

     Boston Sunday Advertiser, “Piece Of Baggage From Radar Plane Identified”, November 13, 1966

     New London Day, “AF Abandons Search For Radar Plane”, November 14, 1966

     New London Day, “Missing Plane Found In Ocean”, December 22, 1966

 

 

Sandwich, MA – August 11, 1951

Sandwich, Massachusetts – August 11, 1951 

     On August 11, 1951, Captain Frank C. Newell, 28, of Linden, N.J., was killed when his F-86 Sabre Jet crashed at Scorton Neck in Sandwich.  Newell was a veteran of WWII and Korea, and flew 182 combat missions during his career.  He was survived by his wife and one child.

Sources:

Falmouth Enterprise, “Otis Pilot Killed” August 17, 1951

New York Times, “Third Pilot Loses His Life In Massachusetts” , August 12, 1951 

Otis Field, MA. – June 14, 1944

Otis Field, Falmouth, Massachusetts – June 14, 1944

 

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

     In the early morning hours of June 14, 1944, a flight of navy aircraft were returning from a night training flight.  As one of the aircraft, an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 58145), was coming in to land, the pilot forgot to lower the landing gear, and belly landed on the runway before skidding to a stop.  The aircraft was badly damaged, but the pilot was uninjured.

     The aircraft was assigned to Fighter Squadron 81, (VF-81) 

     Source:  U.S. Navy Crash Investigation Report, dated June 14, 1944 

Otis Air Force Base – December 3, 1967

Otis Air Force Base – December 3, 1967 

Falmouth, Massachusetts

    

P2V Neptune U.S. Air Force Photo

P2V Neptune
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On December 3, 1967, a U.S. Navy P2V-Neptune with twelve crewmen aboard departed the Brunswick, Maine, Naval Air Station for a routine patrol flight.  At some point the aircraft developed mechanical problems and received clearance to land at Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  As the aircraft was making its final approach it crashed a half-mile short of the runway.  All twelve men aboard escaped; four of them suffered minor injuries.   

     Source: Nashua Telegraph, “Plane Crash At Otis base”, December 4, 1967 

Otis Air Force Base – September 21, 1954

Otis Air Force Base – September 21, 1954

Falmouth, Massachusetts

    

U.S. Air Force F-94 Starfire U.S. Air Force Photo

U.S. Air Force F-94 Starfire
U.S. Air Force Photo

      At about 9:30 p.m., on the night of September 21, 1954, a flight of three F94-C Starfire aircraft were returning to Otis AFB during a driving rain storm in what was described as “zero visibility”.  The first of the three jets, piloted by 1st Lt. Frederick J. Luddy, 25, was cleared to land, but upon touchdown a landing gear tire blew out bringing the jet to a skidding halt and disabling it in the middle of the runway.  Lt. Luddy tried to call the control tower via radio to inform them of the situation, but got no response due to radio communication problems. 

     The men in the tower, unable to see Luddy’s disabled plane, cleared the second of the three F-94s to land.  That aircraft, piloted by 2nd Lt. Anthony Cunningham, 26, and his radar observer, 2nd Lt. Joseph Gallagher, 24, fell short of the runway due to poor visibility and crash landed amidst some small trees and brush.  Neither man was injured, but the aircraft suffered damage.  There was no fire afterward.

     Those in the tower had failed to see the crash, and were still unaware that Lt. Luddy’s aircraft was still sitting in the middle of the runway.   They therefore cleared the third F-94 to land.  That aircraft was piloted by 2nd Lt. Russell H. Olson, 24, and radar observer, 1st Lt. John T. Steele, 24. 

     Lt. Olsen made his approach unaware of the situations involving the other two aircraft.  Meanwhile, Lt. Luddy, and his radar observer, had climbed out of their aircraft and attempted to signal Olsen with a flashlight, but it was of no use.  At the last moment both were forced to dive for cover just as Olsen’s jet crashed into Luddy’s and exploded in flame.  Both Olsen and Steele were killed. 

     Lt. Olson is buried in Sunset Memorial Park Cemetery in Minneapolis, MN.

     Lt. Steele is buried in Machpelah Cemetery in Le Roy, New York.   

     Source:

     Lewiston Daily Sun, “Two Airmen Killed In Otis Field Crash”, September 23, 1954 

     www.findagrave.com, Memorial # 114350887, and 156686268  

Otis Air Force Base – July 9, 1954

Otis Air Force Base – July 9, 1954

Falmouth, Massachusetts

     On the afternoon of July 9, 1954, air force captain Robert J. Fox was scheduled to fly a single-engine L-20 airplane on a routine training flight from Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts.   As he was lifting off the runway at 4:05 p.m., the aircraft suddenly lost altitude dipping its wing which caught the ground causing the plane to crash.  Despite heavy damage to the plane, was no fire, and Captain Fox escaped without injury. 

     Fox was assigned to the 4707th Air defense Wing as a communications electronics officer.         

     Source:

     Falmouth Enterprise, “Capt. Robert Fox Unhurt In Crash”, July 9, 1954

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