Quonset Point NAS – June 17, 1943

Quonset Point Naval Air Station – June 17, 1943

     On June 17, 1943, an Ensign pilot was in the cockpit of a navy NE-1 trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 26273), while Lt. (Jg.) Robert Allen Pierce stood at the nose and pulled the propeller thru to start the engine.  Once the engine started, Pierce turned to walkaway, and as he did so the aircraft suddenly lurched forward and struck him with the spinning propeller critically injuring him.     

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident Report #43-7295, dated June 17, 1943

Quonset Point NAS – August 24, 1943

Quonset Point Naval Air Station – August 24, 1943

 

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

     On the night of August 24, 1943, an Ensign was practicing “night familiarization landings” at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station when he failed to put the “wheels down” lever in the full “down” position.  The landing gear subsequently collapsed and the aircraft, an F6F-3N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 08945) was seriously damaged.  The pilot was not  injured.

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident Report #44-8263

 

North Kingstown, R. I. – December 7, 1944

North Kingstown, Rhode Island – December 7, 1944

 

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

     On the night of December 7, 1944, a flight of six F6F-5 Hellcat Aircraft took off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station to practice night carrier landings on Quonset’s runways.  After takeoff, Quonset tower instructed the aircraft to orbit the field two miles outside the designated landing circle to allow an incoming flight of airplanes to land.  After that incoming flight was on the ground, Quonset tower gave clearance for the six Hellcats to begin their practice landings, but when the aircraft circled the field it was noticed that there were now only five airplanes instead of six.  After ordering all five to land, an accounting was made, and it was discovered that one Hellcat, (Bu. No. 71036), piloted by Ensign Patrick Aloysius Hackett, age 22, was missing.

     Shortly afterward another pilot reported seeing a fire in a wooded area of North Kingstown.  State police found the wreckage of Ensign Hackett’s plane on Stooke Hill to the north of Route 138. 

     There had been no witnesses to the crash, and investigators speculated that the cause may have been due to engine failure.   

     Ensign Hackett is buried in Philadelphia National Cemetery in Philadelphia, PA. 

     Sources:

     U.S. Navy Accident Report dated December 7, 1944  

     North Kingstown, R. I. death records, # 44-96 

Quonset Point, R.I. – March 28, 1944

Quonset Point, R.I. – March 28, 1944

 

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

     At 7:45 p.m., on the night of March 28, 1944, members of the U.S. Navy’s VF-7 squadron were at Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, preparing for a night tactics training flight.   All aircraft involved in the operation were F6F-3 Hellcat fighter planes.

     The first six aircraft left the ground without incident.  The next aircraft in line, (Bu. No. 41964), was piloted by Ensign Claude Earl Schilling.  When Ensign Schilling was granted clearance, he proceeded down the runway.  After traveling approximately 2,000 feet down the tarmac, his aircraft inexplicably veered to the right and went off the runway and onto the grass where it ground-looped back onto the runway and came to rest.   Meanwhile, the eighth aircraft, (Bu. No. #41938), piloted by Ensign Charles Francis Sullivan, had also been granted permission to take off on the same runway used by Schilling.  Due to the dark conditions, nobody realized that Schilling hadn’t made it into the air,  and Sullivan’s Hellcat struck Schilling’s plane just aft of  the cockpit severing the fuselage and igniting the fully loaded fuel tanks. 

     Sullivan managed to escape the burning wreckage, but Schilling was killed.

     According to the navy investigation report, what caused Ensign Schilling’s aircraft to leave the runway could not be determined.   

     Ensign Schilling is buried at Rio Vista Fellows Masonic Cemetery, in Rio Vista, California.  See www.findagrave.com, Memorial #135531762. 

     Source:

     U.S. Navy Investigation Report #44-12718    

 

    

 

Atlantic Ocean – July 23, 1942

Atlantic Ocean – July 23, 1942

Approximate Location: Lat. 40-40 N, long. 70-25 W.  

 

OS2U Kingfisher U.S. Navy Photo

OS2U Kingfisher
U.S. Navy Photo

     On July 23, 1942, a flight of U.S. Navy Kingfisher aircraft were on a training flight over the Atlantic off the coast of Rhode Island when they encountered what the navy termed “extremely bad weather”.   As the planes continued on visibility dropped to near zero. 

     One of the planes was piloted by Ensign Harold W. Gray.  Upon entering the weather system, the flight leader signaled to Gray close in tighter which he did, taking a position to the leader’s right.  The leader wanted Gray to be able to keep him n sight as visibility dropped.  The flight leader went on instrument flight shortly afterwards, and at this time the planes were only 500 feet above the water. 

     The leader began a shallow turn to the right, and as he did so, Gray elected to slide his aircraft up and over the tail of the leader to take a new position on the leader’s left.  Gray’s aircraft disappeared into the scud and was never seen again. 

     According to the naval investigation report, it was the opinion of naval investigators that Gray, “lost sight of the leader and being in an unusual position and finding himself with no reference point, due to vertigo, he was unable to orient himself on instruments in time to avoid crashing into the water.” 

     Also lost in the accident was Lt. Jg. William Boddie Bartels of Memphis, Tenn.     

    The aircraft was an OS2U-3 Kingfisher, Bu. No. 09404, assigned to Quonset Point Naval Air Station, VB-9. 

Sources:

U.S. Navy Accident Investigation Brief #43-4537

Woonsocket Call, “Navy Airmen Lost On Patrol Flight”, July 24, 1942, Pg. 1

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