Springfield, MA. – March 9, 1963

Springfield, Massachusetts – March 9, 1963

 

B-52 Stratofortress
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On March 9, 1963, a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress was on a flight from Westover Air Force Base when the escape hatch door beneath Lt. Col. John T. Ertler, the B-52’s Radar Navigator, suddenly blew open and he was sucked out of the aircraft while the plane was at 30,000 feet.  Fortunately Lt. Col. Ertler was wearing his parachute and landed in a tree in Springfield where he suffered cuts and a broken arm.   

     The escape hatch came down in the back yard of a private home in Springfield.   There were no injuries to the occupants of the home.  

     Source:

     Providence Journal, “Tossed From Bomber 30,000 Feet In Air”, March 10, 1963  

     Update, May 19, 2018

     The escape hatch measured about 3ft by 5 ft.  It reportedly came down in the yard of 37 Linden Street which is directly across from Sacred Heart School where classes were in session at the time.

     An air force helicopter was able to land in the back yard of 51 Cunningham Street to take the injured flyer to the hospital. 

     Source: Springfield Union, “Navigator Is Sucked Out Opening, lands Near Van Horn Dike”, Mach 8, 1963   

Springfield, MA. – October 18, 1910

Springfield, MA. – October 18, 1910

     On October 18, 1910, aviator Louis G. Erickson, 32, was piloting a Curtiss biplane over Springfield.  At one point, as he was making a turn, the aircraft suddenly dropped from an altitude of about forty feet and fell into the top of a tree.  Erickson was tossed clear by the impact, and fell the rest of the way to the ground.  He was unconscious when help arrived, but he later recovered. The aircraft was reported to be “considerably damaged”.     

     Source:

     Hartford Courant, (Conn.), “Aviator Falls In Springfield”, October 19, 1910 

Springfield, MA – May 28, 1910

Springfield, Massachusetts – May 28, 1910

 

     On the evening of May 28, 1910, the balloon Springfield, took off from the Court Square extension in the city of Springfield, Massachusetts, with five men aboard.  The trip was reported to be “another comet party”, presumably to observe Halley’s Comet which was present in the nighttime sky at that time.   

     The pilot was J. B Benton, of Boston.  Passengers included David P. Todd, a professor at Amherst College; two Amherst students, Robert Wells of Paris, France, and Nelson Waite; and Boston businessman Louis Dederick. 

     The balloon lifted slowly upwards as it drifted towards the railroad tracks of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad.  While only about twenty feet in the air, the balloon lines leading from the passenger gondola to the balloon netting got snagged on wires suspended over the tracks.  The balloon was now bobbing above the wires while the gondola with its cargo was left helplessly dangling beneath, directly over the tracks.  A crowd gathered as the occupants struggled to free the lines, but before much could be done, the sounds of an approaching express train could be heard. 

     The train showed no signs of slowing as it approached, but fortunately it only grazed the gondola as it sped past and continued on its way without stopping. 

     After recovering from what they thought was their certain end, the men decided to abandon their plans for a balloon flight for that evening. 

     Sources:

     New York Tribune, “Express Grazes Balloon”, May 29, 1910 

     Omaha Daily Bee, (Omaha, Neb.) “Train And Balloon Nearly Collide”, May 30, 1910

Springfield, MA – April 20, 1910

Springfield, Massachusetts – April 20, 1910

 

     old balloonOn the afternoon of April 20, 1910, A. Holland Forbes of the New York Aero Club, along with John Parker and William Hull, were making a balloon ascension from Court Square in Springfield, Massachusetts, when the balloon veered towards a tall tree.  The balloon struck the tree-top which was about 100 feet off the ground, and was briefly caught in the upper branches.  When it broke free, it began swiftly heading towards the upper floors of a nearby apartment building.  Mr. Forbes immediately tossed out several hundred pounds of sand-ballast which caused the balloon to abruptly rise straight upwards barely missing the building. 

     It was reported that ,”The danger was over in so short a time and the balloon was gliding rapidly northward almost before the 3,000 spectators were aware of it.”

     The balloon later landed in Hadley, Massachusetts, about twenty-five miles distant.

     Source: The Bridgeport Evening Farmer, “Forbes Balloon Runs Into Tree”, April 21, 1910, page 5 

Springfield, MA – October 8, 1908

Springfield, Massachusetts – October 8, 1908

 

    Early balloon with net On October 8, 1908, well known aeronaut, Leo Stevens, was making a balloon ascension at Springfield, Massachusetts, when something went wrong with the safety valve on the gas bag.  Aboard the balloon with Mr. Stevens were Floyd B. Smith, of Yonkers, New York, and Harlan T. Pierpont, of Springfield, Mass.

     As the balloon rose to 1,000 feet Stevens realized that it was becoming over-inflated and was at risk of bursting open.  If it did, the three of them would surly fall to their deaths. 

     With no other choice, Stevens climbed out of the balloon and into the rigging where he managed to tear open the safety valve with his teeth while holding on to the rigging.  

     With disaster averted, the balloon landed safely in the town of Granby, about 12 miles from Springfield.

     For other balloon ascensions involving Mr. Stevens, see “Dalton, MA – July 29, 1908”, and “Near Providence – November 19, 1910” under Aviation Accidents on this website.

     Source:

     New York Tribune, “Teeth To Open Valve”, October 9, 1908

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