Lt. Jg. K. B. McQuady Accident

Description of accident that killed Lt. McQuady

Description of accident that killed Lt. McQuady

Lt. Jg. Kenneth B. McQuady Memorial

Quonset Air Museum Memorial to Lt. Jg. Kenneth Bruce McQuady

Quonset Air Museum Memorial to Lt. Jg. Kenneth Bruce McQuady

Description of accident that killed Lt. McQuady

Description of accident that killed Lt. McQuady

Photos OF The Former Quonset Air Museum

Photos Of The Former Quonset Air Museum

 

     The Quonset Air Museum was formally established in 1992 by a group of dedicated aviation enthusiasts and for many years it was a popular Rhode Island tourist destination. The museum was located in a WWII era airplane hangar at 483 Eccleston Avenue, North Kingstown, Rhode Island, in the Quonset Business Park, on land that was formerly part of the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.      

     The winter of 2013-14 produced above average snowfall amounts for Rhode Island.   In March of 2014, a portion of the museum’s roof caved in due to the weight of heavy snow that had accumulated there.  The collapse occurred in a portion of the building that was not open to visitors, and it didn’t affect any part of the museum’s collection of airplanes or artifacts, however, the building was declared unsafe and ordered closed to the public. 

     For more than two years the museum’s  board of directors worked with local and state politicians hoping to raise funds to have the building repaired and reopened, but they were unsuccessful.  The board also looked into the possibility of obtaining a site for a new building, but those plans were also unsuccessful.  

     In December of 2016 it was officially announced that the museum would remain permanently closed, and plans were begun to disperse    the museum’s collection of 28 aircraft to other organizations.

     As of this posting, the future of the former WWII aircraft hangar which housed the museum is uncertain.  

      Click on the images to enlarge.

Northeast side of the Quonset Air Museum – 2004

Quonset Air Museum
Interior View – 2008

Quonset Air Museum – 2008

Quonset Air Museum – 2008

Quonset Air Museum – 2008

Southeast lot of the Quonset Air Museum – 2009

Southeast lot Quonset Air Museum 2009

TBM-3E Avenger
Recovered from the woods of Maine in 1991.
Restored by the Quonset Air Museum.
Photo taken in 2009.

     This TBM-3E Avenger, (Bu. No. 53914), was built by General Motors in 1944.  In 1963 it was sold as surplus to a private company and converted to a crop duster.  In 1972 it crashed in the woods of northern Maine where it remained until 1991 when it was recovered by members of the Quonset Air Museum.  It was brought to Quonset where volunteers painstakingly restored it to original condition.

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.

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

Interior of TBM-3E
Quonset Air Museum

 

F6F-5 Hellcat undergoing restoration.
Quonset Air Museum – 2009

     On April 3, 1945, Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz was piloting an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70185), on a training mission off the island Nantucket, Massachusetts, when he was forced to ditch in the 42 degree water due to engine trouble.  He got out of the plane safely before it sank, but died before rescue boats could arrive.  In late 1993 the Hellcat was recovered by members of the Quonset Air Museum and eventually brought to Quonset for restoration.  It was planned to make the aircraft a memorial to Ensign Frankwitz.  While much work was done on the plane, as of the museum’s closing, the restoration had not yet been completed.      

Quonset Air Museum – 2009

U.S. Navy P2V Neptune
Before Restoration
Quonset Air Museum – 2009

P2V Neptune during restoration – 2009
Quonset Air Museum

P2V Neptune
Quonset Air Museum

Quonset Air Museum – 2009

Wicker seat from an early airplane.
Quonset Air Museum – 2009

Joseph Zino Human Powered Aircraft Display
Quonset Air Museum – 2009

     The display pictured above depicted memorabilia relating to Joseph Zino and his human powered aircraft, The Olympian.  (The tail section of The Olympian can be seen in the display case.)  The airplane made its first flight on April 16, 1976.  It was the first human powered airplane to ever fly in in New England.   

 

Quonset Air Museum – 2009

Quonset Air Museum – 2009

Quonset Air Museum – 2009

Quonset Air Museum – 2009

Quonset Air Museum – 2009

Quonset Air Museum – 2009

Quonset Air Museum – 2009

     The above two photographs show the restored Blue Angel aircraft honoring Lt. Cmdr. Mike Gershon who was killed at Niagara Falls, New York, on July 13, 1985, while preforming with the navy’s Blue Angels team.

Quonset Air Museum – 2009

U. S. Navy Banshee
under restoration
Quonset Air Museum – 2012

U.S. Navy F2H Banshee
Under restoration
Quonset Air Museum – 2012

 

Granite sign located near the entrance of the north east side of the building.

 

 

Rhode Island Aviation Heritage Association

Rhode Island Aviation Heritage Association

ri-aviation-heritage-assoc

     The Rhode Island Aviation Heritage Association was formed in 1989, and established the Quonset Air Museum in a former navy aircraft hanger at the former Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island.   The hangar was formerly occupied by General Dynamics Corporation/Electric Boat Division before it was turned over to the R.I.A.H.A. for use as a museum. 

     The R.I.A.H.A. is a sub-committee of the Rhode Island Heritage Commission dedicated to preserving Rhode Island aviation history.   

     The association was open to anyone with an interest in aviation history.

2nd-annual-awards-1992

Click on image to enlarge.

 

Lt. Jg. Kenneth B. McQuady Memorial

Lt. Jg. Kenneth B. McQuady Memorial

Quonset Air Museum

     Lt. Jg. McQuady was killed on March 2, 1945, when his F6F Hellcat crashed on takeoff from Charlestown Auxiliary Air Field in Charlestown, Rhode Island.   The propeller from his Hellcat was donated to the Quonset Air Museum in his memory.  

Quonset Air Museum Memorial to Lt. Jg. Kenneth Bruce McQuady

Quonset Air Museum Memorial to Lt. Jg. Kenneth Bruce McQuady

Description of accident that killed Lt. McQuady

Description of accident that killed Lt. McQuady

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

     

                       

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