Brunswick, ME. – July 19, 1946

Brunswick, Maine – July 19, 1946 

 

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

     On July 19, 1946, a flight of F6F-5 Hellcats left Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island for a training flight to Brunswick Naval Air Station in Maine.  Upon reaching Brunswick, the aircraft began to land.  One Hellcat, (Bu. No. 72606), was making a normal landing when the aircraft was caught in a downdraft and forced into an unpaved area 30 feet short of the runway.  Upon touchdown, the left landing gear was torn away.   The aircraft then bounced up and became airborne as the pilot applied throttle.  He was notified by the tower at Brunswick that a portion of the landing gear was missing, and was advised to return to Quonset Point.  Upon his return to Quonset, he made a wheels up landing on the grassy strip alongside the runway.  The aircraft suffered heavy damage, but the pilot was not injured.

     The aircraft was assigned to VF-82.   

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated July 19, 1946

 

Quonset Point, R. I. – February 18, 1946

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – February 18, 1946

 

F8F Bearcat
U. S. Navy Photo

     On February 18, 1946, an F8F-1 Bearcat, (Bu. No. 94830), was taking off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station for a training flight.  Just as the aircraft left the ground the pilot retracted the landing gear.  Just as he did so, the engine lost all power and the aircraft settled back onto the runway with its wheels up.  It skidded for 400 feet before stopping 60 feet from the shore of Narragansett Bay.   The aircraft suffered considerable damage, but the pilot was not hurt.

     The aircraft was assigned to VBF-18 at Quonset Point.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated February 18, 1946 

Quonset Point, R. I. – April 25, 1947

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – April 25, 1947 

 

F8F Bearcat
U. S. Navy Photo

     On April 25, 1947, an F8F-1 Bearcat, (Bu. No. 94797), was taking off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  Just after becoming airborne and while still over the runway, the engine suddenly lost all power.   The pilot made an emergency water landing in Narragansett Bay just off the end of the runway.  The aircraft sank, but the pilot was able to escape and was rescued by a crash-rescue boat from Quonset.  

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

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated April 25, 1947

Quonset Point, R. I. – June 12, 1947

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – June 12, 1947

 

F8F Bearcat
U. S. Navy Photo

     On June 12, 1947, an F8F-1 Bearcat, (Bu. No. 95166), was taking off from Quonset Point Naval Air Station for a training flight.  As the aircraft became airborne, the pilot retracted the landing gear.  As the gear was being raised, the engine suddenly lost power and the aircraft settled back onto the runway where it skidded for approximately 500 feet before it came to rest.  The pilot was not hurt, but the aircraft was severely damaged.

     The aircraft was assigned to VF-8A at Quonset Point.

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

Quonset Point, R. I. – October 31, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – October 31, 1944

 

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

     On October 31, 1944, a pilot took off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in a F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 58302), for a familiarization flight over the area.  Thirty minutes into the flight the pilot detected the odor of gasoline fumes in the cockpit and returned to Quonset.  Just after landing safely the aircraft caught fire and was burned.  The pilot extricated himself without injury.    

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated October 31, 1944.  

Quonset Point, R. I. – October 17, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – October 17, 1944

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On October 17, 1944, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 01769), with three men aboard, was taking off for a training flight from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  Just after becoming airborne, but still over the runway, the engine suddenly lost power and the aircraft fell back onto the runway with its wheels retracted.  The aircraft suffered substantial damage as a result of the incident, but the crew was not injured.

     The aircraft was assigned to VTN-91.

     Source:

     U.S. Navy accident report dated October 19, 1944.  

Quonset Point, R. I. – February 16, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – February 16, 1944

 

U.S. Navy FM-2 Wildcat
U.S. Navy Photo

      At 7:50 p.m. on the night of February 16, 1944, two FM-2 Wildcat aircraft were returning to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station after a night tactics training flight.

     The first aircraft, (Bu. No. 16343), landed first and taxied down the runway.  The second aircraft, (Bu. No. 16161), landed just afterwards and collided into the back of the first aircraft.  The first aircraft was damaged beyond repair, but the second aircraft was repaired and put back in service. Neither pilot was injured.

     Both aircraft were assigned to VF-4.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-11748     

 

Quonset Point, R.I. – April 21, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – April 21, 1944

 

U.S. Navy FM-2 Wildcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     At 10:30 a.m. on the morning of April 21, 1944, an FM-2 Wildcat, (Bu. No. 16583), was taking off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station on Runway 5 for a routine training flight.  Just after becoming airborne, at an altitude of 30 feet, the engine suddenly stopped.  The aircraft fell back onto the runway but there wasn’t enough time or room to stop.  The aircraft went off the end of the runway, over a sea wall, and into Narragansett Bay.  The pilot was rescued, but the aircraft was a total loss.  Inspection revealed fouled sparkplugs to be the cause.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-13366    

Quonset Point, R. I. – August 8, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – August 18, 1944

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the evening of August 18, 1944, a TBF-1D Avenger, (Bu. No. 47884), was taking off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station when the aircraft lost all power just as it became airborne and went into the waters of Narragansett Bay.  The crew escaped without injury and the aircraft was recovered 13.5 hours later.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated August 8, 1944. 

 

Quonset Point, R. I. – July 17, 1946

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – July 17, 1946

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the morning of July 17, 1946, a navy TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 06381), experienced a landing gear collapse after a hard landing at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  The aircraft was irreparably damaged, but none of the crew aboard were injured.

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-97.   

     Source: U.S. Navy accident report dated July 17, 1946.

Jamestown, R. I. – August 21, 1944

Jamestown, Rhode Island – August 21, 1944

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of August 21, 1944, two TBF-1 Avengers, (Bu. No. 23967), and (Bu. No. 06104), left Quonset Point Naval Air Station as part of a flight of several planes that were to take part in a routine training mission.   The two Avengers were flying in a two-plane formation over Narragansett Bay along the western side of Jamestown Island while they waited for other aircraft in the flight to join up with them.  Bu. No. 23967, piloted by Ensign Walter L. Miller, Jr., 21, of Texas, was in the lead position.  The other aircraft, Bu. No. 06104 was piloted by another Ensign, and was flying in the number two position. 

    While both aircraft were about two miles southwest of the Jamestown Bridge, and at an altitude of 1,500 feet, they began to make a ten degree bank to the left.  The air was turbulent, and while the bank was being executed, the right wing of the number two aircraft collided with the elevator of the lead plane.  Immediately after the collision, Ensign Miller’s aircraft went down and crashed into a house and exploded, killing all aboard.  

     Those aboard Ensign Miller’s aircraft included:

     ARM3c Jacob C. Beam,  and AMM3c D. J. Finkler. 

     To see a photograph of Ensign Miller, go to www.findagrave.com, see memorial #38854830.

     The other aircraft was able to make it safely back to Quonset Point without injury to the crew.

     Both aircraft were assigned to CASU-22.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated August 21, 1944 

 

Quonset Point, R. I. – June 22, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – June 22, 1944

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On June 22, 1944, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 06152), was taking off from Quonset Point Naval Air Station when the engine suddenly lost power.  The aircraft came down at the end of the runway with it wheels retracted.  It went off the end of the runway skidding through soft dirt and then over a seawall.  The aircraft required a major overhaul but the three-man crew was not hurt.  The accident was blamed on mechanical failure.

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-48. 

     As a point of fact, this same TBF Avenger, (Bu. No. 06152), had been involved in a previous accident.  On January 13, 1944, while landing at Martha’s Vineyard Naval Air Station during strong wind gusts, the aircraft went off the runway and was damaged, but the crew was not injured.  At that time the aircraft was assigned to VT-7. 

     Sources: 

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-15764 dated June 22, 1944

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-10853 dated January 13, 1944

Quonset Point, R. I. – June 6, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – June 6, 1944

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On June 6, 1944, a TBF-1D Avenger, (Bu. No. 24508), was landing at Quonset Point Naval Air Station after a training flight when the left brakes failed causing the aircraft to ground-loop at a high speed.  Damage consisted a buckled wing and buckled rear stabilizer as well as a blown tire.  The crew was not injured.

     The aircraft was assigned to VC-19.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #41-14953

Quonset Point, R. I. – January 15, 1944

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – January 15, 1944

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On January 15, 1944, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 47520), landed at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station after a training flight.  Just after touchdown, the landing gear collapsed and the aircraft skidded to a stop.  The three man crew was not injured, but the aircraft suffered significant damage.   

     Source:

     U.S. Navy accident report #44-10885

Narragansett Bay, R. I. – August 13, 1943

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island – August 13, 1943

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of August 13, 1943, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 24031) , was returning to Quonset Point Naval Air Station after a training flight when the engine suddenly lost all power.  At the time this occurred, the aircraft was at an altitude of 900 feet over Narragansett Bay. The pilot turned into the wind and made an emergency water landing with wheels and flaps down.  None of the crew were injured.

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-2.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy crash report #44-8098

Narragansett Bay, R.I. – May 23, 1943

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island – May 23, 1943

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the morning of May 23, 1943, a flight of six TBF-1 Avengers took off from Quonset Point Naval Air Station for a formation-practice bombing flight.  One of those aircraft was Bu. No. 06123, piloted by Ensign Leon T. Gerhart, (22), of Pennsylvania. 

     Ensign Gerhart’s aircraft had a crew of three aboard:

     ARM3c Donald J. Cross, (20-21) of Wisconsin.

     AMM2c Morrison C. Dobson

     AMM3c William Richard Walker

     Once airborne, the TBF’s rendezvoused with Ensign Gerhart flying in the No. 2 position.  The bombing mission was carried out, with each aircraft making their run individually at an anchored target boat.   At about 9:25 a.m., with the exercise completed,  the signal was given to re-form.  As this was taking place, Ensign Gerhart’s aircraft was involved in a collision with another TBF, (Bu. No. 47528).  During the collision, the tail section of Gerhart’s aircraft was completely broken off, and his plane fell out of control and crashed in Narragansett Bay.   All aboard were killed.

     The other aircraft (Bu. No. 47528) suffered damage to its right wing, but was able to successfully make an emergency landing at Quonset Point.  Nobody aboard that aircraft was injured.

     To see a photograph of Ensign Gerhart, go to www.findagrave.com, see memorial #86945634

     Source:

     U. S. Navy Crash Report #43-6986 

 

Narragansett Bay, R. I. – July 16, 1943

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island – July 16, 1943

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     At 12:20 p.m. on the afternoon of July 16, 1943, a U.S. Navy TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 47517), took off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station for what was termed a “special exercise” by the navy.   The weather was clear with unlimited visibility with surface winds of 15 knots. 

     There were three crewmen aboard the aircraft.

     The pilot: Lieutenant Robert Yarnell Bair, 29, of Iowa.

     AOM3C Wade Alexander Harris

     ARM3C Thomas Francis McConnon  

     At about 2:30 p.m., the aircraft was observed by crew members of the USS Thrush, a WWI era minesweeper operating in Rhode Island waters.  At the time, the Thrush was about four to five miles away from the aircraft, when the aircraft was seen diving towards the water and explode on impact. 

     All three crewmen aboard the Avenger were killed, and the aircraft was not recovered.  However, it is mentioned in the navy report of the incident that “confidential gear” was recovered by divers from the USS Thrush. 

     The aircraft was assigned to the Aircraft Anti-Sub Development Project Unit.

      Source:

     U.S. Navy  crash report #44-7664      

Quonset Point, R. I. – June 14, 1951

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – June 14, 1951

     On June 14, 1951, a U. S. Navy Grumman AF-2S Guardian, (Bu. No. 124791), with a lone pilot aboard, was landing at Quonset Point Naval Air Station when the landing gear collapsed casing major damage to the aircraft as it skidded to a stop.  The pilot was not injured.

     Source:

     U.S. Navy crash report dated June 14, 1951   

Quonset Point, R. I. – April 9, 1952

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – April 9, 1952

     On April 9, 1952, a Grumman AF-2S Guardian, (Bu. No. 124848), with three men aboard was returning to Quonset Point Naval Air Station after a two-hour rocket and bombing training mission.  As the pilot was making preparations to land he lowered the landing gear, but noticed that the indicator for the left side landing gear wasn’t showing that the wheels were down and locked.  The pilot asked the bombardier to make a visual check of the landing gear, which was done in two ways; once by looking through a window in the left escape hatch, and by using a centrally located periscope that extended out of the bottom of the aircraft.  While these observations were being made the pilot rocked the aircraft to see if there would be any movement in the landing gear, and none was observed.  The bombardier advised the pilot that the landing gear appeared to be in the full down position. 

     After receiving clearance, the aircraft landed on the runway, and the left landing gear collapsed causing damage to the aircraft as it skidded to a stop.  None of the men aboard were injured.    

     The aircraft was assigned to VS-24 at Quonset Point.

     Source:

     U.S. Navy crash report dated April 9, 1952

Narragansett Bay – June 5, 1942

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island – June 5, 1942

Windsor Locks, Connecticut – June 5, 1942

 

P-40 Warhawk  U.S. Air Force Photo

P-40 Warhawk
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On June 5, 1942, 2nd Lt. Martin Taub of Newark, New Jersey, was piloting a P-40E (41-24782) over Rhode Island when his aircraft crashed in Narragansett Bay, killing him. 

     It was reported that he was the second serviceman from New Jersey to loose his life in an aviation accident over southern New England that day.  The other pilot was Lt. Richard M. Stafford, of Summit, N.J. who was killed in a crash at Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Stafford’s plane was a P-40F, (41-13765). 

     Source: New York Times, “New Jersey Pilot Killed”, June 7, 1942

     Updated March 12, 2016    

P-40E-1   #41-24782 Quonset Point NAS June 5, 1942 U.S. Army Photo

P-40E-1 #41-24782
Quonset Point NAS
June 5, 1942
U.S. Army Photo

     According to the Army Air Corps crash investigation report relating to Lt. Taub’s accident, his airplane crashed on land at Quonset Point Naval Air Station, and not in Narragansett Bay.  (Quonset Point NAS was situated on Narragansett Bay.)

     On June 5, 1942, Lt. Taub was part of a three aircraft formation flight over Narragansett Bay when he radioed the flight leader that his P-40 was having mechanical difficulties.  The Flight leader advised that the formation would return to Quonset Point, and that Lt. Taub would land first.   Taub’s aircraft was also having problems with the electrical system, which affected the radio and lowering of the landing gear.  (Lt. Taub had to lower the landing gear manually.)          

     As he came in to land the plane, he overshot the runway, and then turned sharply towards the hangars and flew over them.  Witnesses said the engine was running smoothly, but laboring at low RPMs.  Suddenly the engine started popping, and without sufficient speed to land on a runway, the aircraft craft fell from the sky and landed upright before catching fire.  

     At the time of his accident, Lt. Taub was assigned to the 66th Fighter Squadron. 

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident, #42-6-3-11    

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 – January 31, 1944

Quonset Point Naval Air Station – January 31, 1944

 

Douglas SBD-6 Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo

     On January 31, 1944, Ensign A. G. King was piloting an SBD-5 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 29030), while practicing field carrier landings at Quonset Point.  As he was making a landing approach, he lowered the landing gear, but due to a mechanical failure with the aircraft, only one of the wheels came down.  The aircraft suffered heavy damage, but Ensign King was not hurt.

     Source; U.S. Navy Accident Report #44-11373 

 

Quonset Point NAS – December 9, 1943

Quonset Point Naval Air Station – December 9, 1943

 

Douglas SBD-6 Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the night of December 9, 1943, an SBD-5 Dauntless aircraft, ( Bu. No. 28767), struck an unoccupied truck that was left parked along the side of the runway during take off.  The aircraft was damaged beyond repair, but the pilot and the gunner were unhurt. 

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report #44-19181

Quonset Point NAS – March 29, 1945

Quonset Point Naval Air Station – March 29, 1945

 

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

     At 3:36 a.m. on the morning of March 29, 1945, an Ensign was practicing night landings and take offs at Quonset Point NAS in an F6F-5N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 71001).  As the pilot was coming in to land, the right wing of the aircraft  suddenly dropped and the plane rolled over and crashed into a wall.  The aircraft was completely wrecked, and the pilot received lacerations, burses, and possible internal injuries, but he later recovered.          

     Source:

     U.S. Navy crash investigation report #33-45

Narragansett Bay, R. I. – October 4, 1945

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island – October 4, 1945

 

F4U Corsair
US Navy Photo

     On October 4, 1945, Ensign Clinton S. Winter, Jr., took off from Quonset Point Naval Air Station in an F4U-4 Corsair, (Bu. No. 81380), for a routine training flight.  Just after takeoff, while at an altitude of 200 feet, the engine suddenly lost all power and the plane crash-landed into Narragansett Bay about two miles off the end of the runway.  The plane sank, but Ensign Winter escaped and was rescued a short time later.

     At the time of the accident, Ensign Winter was assigned to VBF-81.

     Source: National Archives, AAR 7-45, TD451004RI, via Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

 

Quonset Point, R.I. – March 29, 1945

Quonset Point Naval Air Station – March 29, 1945 

 

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

     In the early morning hours of March 29, 1945, an Ensign piloting an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 71001), was making night practice landings on Runway 34, when the aircraft stalled and crashed into a sea wall coming to rest upside down.  The aircraft was a complete loss and the pilot was seriously injured.  

     Source: National Archives AAR 33-45: TD450329RI, via Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

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.

 

 

Quonset Point, R.I. – October 14, 1970

Quonset Point Naval Air Station, Rhode Island – October 14, 1970

     At 5:55 p.m. on October 14, 1970, a U.S. Navy Grumman S-2E Tracker, (Bu. No. 153), left Quonset Point for a routine training flight.  The S-2E was used by the navy in anti-submarine patrols, and this plane was attached to Antisubmarine Squadron 30.   

    The aircraft carried a crew of two men: the pilot, Lt. Cmdr. George H. Wigfall, 33, and Lt. (jg.) Richard J. Moriarty, 24. 

     Twenty five minutes into the flight, the crew realized that the landing gear was malfunctioning.  After alerting the Quonset tower of their situation, the base crash trucks were activated and began spraying foam over the runway.  Meanwhile the plane circled overhead until this was completed.   

     The aircraft made a wheels up belly landing and skidded for 2,300 feet along runway 16 causing extensive damage to the plane, but the crew was not injured.

     Source:

     Providence Journal, “Navy Antisub Plane Make Emergency Landing At Quonset”, October 15, 1970 

Narragansett Bay, R.I. – June 28, 1943

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island – June 28, 1943

 

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of June 28, 1943, Ensign Sven Rolfsen, Jr., was piloting an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 80908), at 30,000 feet over Narragansett Bay when the engine suddenly lost all power.  He put the plane into a glide and tried to restart the engine, but without success.  He was forced to make an emergency water landing on Narragansett Bay in an area just off shore from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.   Rolfsen was able to climb out of the plane before it sank.   He was not injured.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy Accident Report #43-7446

Narragansett Bay, R.I. – November 1, 1943

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island – November 1, 1943

 

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

     On November 1, 1943, fighter squadron VF-14 was commencing a carrier breakup over the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  Two flights were in the air at the time; one flight of six planes, and a second flight of four.  All aircraft were F6F-3 Hellcats. 

     As the flight of four planes crossed over the flight of six, the last two planes in each group collided in mid-air.  On aircraft, (#66024), was piloted by Ensign Prentice A. Martin, age 23.  The other aircraft, (#65923), was piloted by Ensign George E. Kloss, age 23.  Both planes fell into 26 feet of water not far from the shore of the naval air station.  Neither pilot survived. 

     Ensign Kloss is buried in Holy Sepulchire Cemetery in Alsip, Illinois.

     Ensign Martin is buried in Memorial Park Cemetery in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

     Source:

     U.S. Navy Accident Report #44-9424 

     www.findagrave.com, Memorial #58751036, and # 43654228

Joseph A. Zinno And The Olympian – 1976

Joseph A. Zinno And The Olympian – 1976

New England’s First Human Powered Airplane

     Note: As of this writing the Quonset Air Museum in Rhode Island is currently closed, and its future is uncertain.  All artifacts have been placed in storage.      

 

Remains of the tail section of the Olympian; the first human-powered airplane to fly in America.
Click on image to enlarge.

       There was an interesting display at the Quonset Air Museum that included a rare artifact relating to New England’s aviation history – a portion of the tail section of the Olympian; all that remains of the first human powered aircraft to fly in America.

   The story of the Olympian began in the 1960s, when an English businessman announced that he would award a large cash prize to the first person who could fly a completely human-powered aircraft in a figure-eight around two pylons set a half-mile apart.  As of 1974 the prize money was still unclaimed.

     Enter Joseph A. Zinno of North Providence, Rhode Island, a retired U.S. Air Force pilot who served in three wars.  He became intrigued with the idea of human-powered flight, and after careful study, decided to build his own human-powered airplane.  The result was the Olympian, constructed in a former World War II aircraft hangar at Quonset Point, Rhode Island.          

      The Olympian represented 7,000 man-hours of careful labor.  It  consisted mostly of balsa wood covered with a clear light plastic. The aircraft was 21 feet long, had a wingspan of 78 feet, 6 inches, weighed 150 pounds, and a propeller powered by bicycle components.

     The Federal Aviation Administration issued the Olympian tail number N1ZB.

   On April 16, 1976, the Olympian made its maiden flight before a small group of reporters at Quonset Point.  The first three attempts to leave the ground were unsuccessful, but on the forth try the Olympian rose 12 inches off the ground and flew for 77 feet.  This short but historic flight made Joseph Zinno the first American to fly a human-powered aircraft.

     Throughout the rest of the spring and summer of 1976, Zinno conducted further tests. Come winter, the Olympian was stored in a hangar at Quonset Point, suspended from the ceiling by cables to prevent damage. Unfortunately, one of the suspension cables broke lose causing the ship to crash on the cement floor below. The plane was a total loss, and today, only the tail portion is believed to have survived. 

     The tail remnant was later put on display at the Quonset Air Museum, along with the flight suit worn by Zinno on his historic flight, as well as photographs of the event.   

     Mr. Zinno had been planning to build another human-powered aircraft when the prize money was finally claimed by a California man in 1977.

     For his efforts and contribution to aviation history, Mr. Zinno was inducted into the Rhode Island Aviation Hall of Fame in November, 2006.

     To see photographs, and read more detailed and biographical information about Mr. Zinno, see http://www.globalsolutions-87.com  then click on “Hosting Client Links”. 

     Sources:

     Popular Science magazine, “Man Powered Aircraft”, July, 1976, page 47 

     Biography of “Lt. Col. Joseph A. Zinno, USAF (Ret.), Air transport Pilot- World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Aviation Pioneer, Artist, Architectual/Industrial Designer” for website www.globalsolutions-87.com

     Providence Journal, “The Man Who Could Fly – R.I. native was first American to fly in a human-powered plane”, November 18, 2006, Section D

     Astronautics and Aeronautics 1976 – A Chronology, Page 79.  (A publication of NASA.)    

 

 

Quonset Point NAS – June 1, 1950

Quonset Point Naval Air Station – June 1, 1950

Rhode Island

P2V Neptune U.S. Air Force Photo

P2V Neptune

U.S. Air Force Photo

     One of the worst military aviation accidents to occur in Rhode Island in terms of loss of life occurred on June 1, 1950, at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  On that day, a P2V-2 Neptune aircraft, (Bu. No. 122454),  left Jacksonville, Florida, and landed at Quonset to refuel before proceeding on to Newfoundland.  After the brief stop-over, the Neptune resumed its journey. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

P2V Neptune Crash Quonset Point, R.I., June 1, 1950 U.S. Navy Photo

P2V Neptune Crash

Quonset Point, R.I., June 1, 1950

U.S. Navy Photo

     Shortly after leaving Quonset, a fire developed in one of the engines forcing the pilot to declare an emergency and turn back.  As the aircraft was making its final approach on runway 34, a strong gusty cross-wind suddenly caught the wing and flipped it over while still in the air.  The plane crashed down on the runway and the fully loaded fuel tanks exploded.  The pilot and co-pilot managed to escape through emergency hatches, but the other nine men aboard were killed.

     The dead were identified as:     

     Lt. (Jg.) Clarence R. Plank, 25.  He’s buried in Evergreen Home Cemetery in Beatrice, Nebraska.  

     Ensign David M. Arter, 23.  He’s buried in Lisbon Cemetery in Lisbon, Ohio. 

     Midshipman Clarence A. Payne. (No further info.)

     Chief Aviation Machinist Mate Francis J. Mc Swiggan, 34.  He’s buried in Beverly national Cemetery in Beverly, New Jersey.

     Chief Aviation Electrician’s Mate Huilette E. Fountain, 29.  He’s buried in Elmwood cemetery in Birmingham, Alabama.

     Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic Clarence A. Thorson Sr., 27.  He’s buried in Cypress Grove Cemetery in New Orleans, Louisiana.  For more information and a photograph of Clarence, see www.findagrave.com, Memorial #5660419. 

     Chief Aviation Electricians Mate Harvey D. Thomas.  He’s buried in Oakland Cemetery in Dallas, Texas.  

     Chief Aviation Machinist Mate John A. Seger, 27.  He’s buried in Garden of Memories Cemetery in Salinas, California.

     Aviation Ordinance Mate 1st Class Peter Rapnick.  (No further info.)     

P2V Neptune, Bu. No. 122454 Quonset Point, R.I., June 1, 1950 U.S. Navy Photo

P2V Neptune, Bu. No. 122454

Quonset Point, R.I., June 1, 1950

U.S. Navy Photo

     The aircraft was assigned to AP-3 based in Jacksonville.

     Another aviation accident that also took the lives of nine navy men occurred several years earlier at Quonset Point on December 5, 1943 when a PV-1 Ventura crashed into a hangar and exploded. The details of that accident can be found elsewhere on this website.

     Sources:

    Troy Record, June 20, 1950.

     www.findagrave.com

Quonset Point NAS – December 5, 1943

Quonset Point Naval Air Station – December 5, 1943

    

Lockheed PV-1 Ventura U.S. Navy Photo

Lockheed PV-1 Ventura
U.S. Navy Photo

     One of the worst aviation accidents to occur in Rhode Island happened on December 5, 1943 at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  Early that morning a U. S. Navy PV-1 Ventura, (#33413), took off from Quonset Point to practice bombing techniques off Block Island.  The aircraft was assigned to bomber squadron VB-134. 

     The plane returned to Quonset Point at 11:38 a.m. and the pilot attempted to land on runway 34.  While doing so the aircraft went out of control and crashed into Hangar #2 and burst into flames.  

     The Navy investigation report describes the final moments before the crash. 

     “Aircraft crossed edge of runway 34 at 50-75 ft. at approximately 100 knots.  Plane made “back of  wheel” landing at too great a speed.  Maine wheels hit the ground first and then the tail-wheel, as tail-wheel hit – the plane bounced off the ground and assumed an unusual nose high attitude at which time the pilot pushed his engines full on in an attempt to go around the field again.  The main landing gear seemed to be retracting which would tend to verify that the pilot was attempting to go around again.  The initial bounce plus the use of engines took the plane up to about 100 ft. of altitude in a very nose high attitude.  Nose high tab used in landing probably increased the pilot’s dilemma and ended with the plane in a full-power stall at 100 ft.  The control surfaces in this stalled condition could not counter-act the torque at full power and the plane began a slow steady turn to the left  barely maintaining altitude. When approximately 90 degrees to the original heading of 340 degrees, the plane’s left wing began to slowly drop and at about the same time it struck the hangar and sheared off near the wing tip.  The rest of the airplane crashed into the hangar and was consumed in flames.”            

     All six crewmen aboard the Ventura were killed, as well as three men working in the hangar.  The dead were identified as:

     (Pilot) Lt. Walter Philbrick Craig, Sr., 27, of Jacksonville, Florida. He was survived by his wife and son.  He’s buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Jacksonville, Florida.  

     (Radioman) ARM2c Max Ivan Colaw, 19, of Yates Center, Kansas.  He was survived y his wife, Marie, and two brothers, Orrie, and Victor, both of whom were also serving in the military.  He’s buried in Long Island national Cemetery in East Farmingdale, New York.  

     AOM 3c  Norman Louis Simoneau, 18, of Portland, Maine. He’s buried in Calvary Cemetery, South Portland, Maine.  

     AMM 3c William George Wheeler, 22, of Braintree, Massachusetts.  He’s buried in Evergreen Cemetery, Woodville, Massachusetts.  

     AMM 3c Hugh Patrick Biddick, 22, of New Hyde Park, New York.  He’s buried in St. John’s Cemetery, Middle Village, New York.   

     AMM 3c William Edward O’Hern, 20, of McKeesport, Penn.  He was survived by his wife Dorothy. He’s buried in McKeesport Versailles Cemetery in McKeesport, Penn.  To see a photograph of AMM 3c O’Hern, and read more information about him, see www.findagrave.com, Memorial #56158727.  

     Those killed in the hangar were identified as:

     AOM 3c Luvern Charles Klinger, 22, of Richville, Minnesota.   He’s buried in St. Lawrence Cemetery, Otto Township, Minnesota.   

     AOM 2c John Stanley Wojcik, 23, of Amsterdam, New York. He’s buried in Amsterdam, N.Y.

     AOM 2c Walter Edward Connelly, 19, of Milford, Nebraska. He’s buried in Dorchester Cemetery, Dorchester, Nebraska.

     The hangar in which the plane crashed was repaired.  It was one of four that stood near the runway.  It was torn down in 2010. 

     Sources:

     U.S. Navy Crash Report, #41-10111

     Town of North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records

     New York Times, “Eight Killed In Navy Plane Crash”, December 6, 1943, Pg. 24. 

     Providence Journal, “Eight Men Killed In Bomber Crash At Quonset Base”, December 6, 1943, Pg. 1

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Quonset Death Toll Now Nine”, December 6, 1943, Pg. 1 

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, Quonset’s Fatal Accident Probed”, December 7, 1943, pg. 4.   

     Amsterdam Evening Recorder, “Amsterdam Boy Meets Death In Plane Crash While Serving At Naval Station In Rhode Island”, (John S. Wojcik), December 6, 1943

     Florida Times-Union, “Navy Aviator Dies In Crash”, (Lt. Craig.) December 8, 1943.    

     Perham Enterprise Bulletin, “Luvern Klinger Fatally Hurt In Airplane Crash”, December 9, 1943.

     Yates Center News, “Max Colaw Killed In Navy Plane Crash”, December 9, 1943.  

 

    

Narragansett Bay – February 25, 1945

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island – February 25, 1945 

    

F6F Hellcat U.S. Navy Photo

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On February 25, 1945, Ensign Thomas William McSteen, 21, was killed when the F6F-5N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70670) he was piloting crashed near Fox Island in the west passage of Narragansett Bay, between Jamestown and the mainland.  Ensign McSteen and three other Hellcat aircraft were taking part in a carrier landing training exercise at the time.  After examining the recovered aircraft, investigators concluded the accident occurred as a result of engine failure.  

     Ensign McSteen graduated Mt. Lebanon, Penn. High School in 1941, and enlisted in the navy in February of 1943. He received his Ensign’s commission and his pilot’s wings at Pensacola Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida, in July of 1944.

     Ensign McSteen was survived by his wife Margaret Elizabeth, who he married at Pensacola NAS on July 22, 1944.  He’s buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Pennsylvania.    

  

Image from  "That We Might Have A Better World" by the Mt. Lebanon, Penn. School Dist. 1946 CLICK TO ENLARGE

Image from
“That We Might Have A Better World” by the Mt. Lebanon, Penn. School Dist. 1946
CLICK TO ENLARGE

     Sources:

     Larry Webster, Aviation Historian & Archaeologist

     Pittsburgh Post – Gazzette, “Mt. Lebanon Girl Ensign’s Bride”, July 30, 1944 

     Historic Pitsburgh General Text Collection – Pittsburgh Library, “That We Might Have A Better World”, authored by the Mt. Lebanon School District, 1946. www.images.library.pitt.edu 

U.S. Navy Accident Report dated February 25, 1945

Charlestown, R.I. – April 17, 1944

Charlestown, Rhode Island – April 17, 1944

Great Swamp

Updated July 8, 2017 

 

Hellcat Fighters
U.S. Navy Photo

     On April 17, 1944, a flight of four F6F-3 Hellcats left Quonset Point Naval Air Station for a familiarization training flight.   During the flight the aircraft flew in a line of four, in a “follow the leader” type of pattern.  It was during a phase of the exercise when the aircraft were changing positions in the formation that a mid-air collision between two of the aircraft occurred.  Both aircraft, (Bu. No. 40345), piloted by Ensign Stephen L. Smith, 21, and (Bu. No. 66034), piloted by Lieutenant Robert C. Stimson, 27, crashed and exploded in a wooded portion of the “Great Swamp” area of Charlestown.  Neither pilot survived.

     Ensign Stephen Luther Smith was from of St. Andrews, Florida. He’s buried in Greenwood Cemetery in Panama City, Florida.  (See www.findagrave.com, memorial #32844142)

     Lieutenant Robert Charles Stimson was from of Shelby, Ohio, and was survived by his wife. He’s buried in Oakland Cemetery in Shelby.  To read more about Lt. Stimson, and to see photographs of him, go to www.findagrave.com, memorial 73196817.

     Sources:

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records       

     U.S. Navy Accident Report #44-12263

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