Warwick, R. I. – October 31, 1962

Warwick, Rhode Island – October 31, 1962  

     On the evening of October 31, 1962, a twin-engine aircraft with two men aboard crashed in a thickly wooded area south of Major Potter Road in Warwick, about 3/4 of a mile from Love Lane.  An intensive search was begun involving state and local police, fire fighters, state officials, and numerous volunteers.  The search continued throughout the night in driving rain and thick fog conditions. 

     The wreckage was finally located at 6 a.m. the following morning.  When rescue workers reached the scene, they found one man, a 34-year-old from Woonsocket, to be deceased, and the other unconscious.  The injured man, a 32-year-old from North Smithfield, was taken to Kent County Hospital for treatment.   

     They type of aircraft is unknown. 

     Sources:

     The Rhode Island Pendulum, “Bulletin – The Early Story”, November 1, 1962, page 1.   

     New York Times, “Pilot Found Alive In Crash; Passenger Is dead In Cabin”, November 1, 1962

T. F. Green Airport – September 27, 1975

T.F. Green Airport, Warwick, R.I. – September 27, 1975

     At about 1:00 a.m., on the morning of September 27, 1975, a Falcon cargo jet belonging to an express company landed at T. F. Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island, after being diverted from its original destination of Boston’s Logan Airport due to low visibility conditions over Boston.    

     Aboard the Falcon was a pilot and co-pilot, and one passenger.  Among its cargo were some low-grade radioactive materials, minor explosives, and flammable liquids.     

     About an hour later the Falcon was given clearance to resume its journey.  The tower gave instructions to use Runway 23 left for take off.   At the time clearance was given, a fog and drizzle condition existed at Green, and the pilot inadvertently turned onto Runway 23 right, instead of 23 left.  Unbeknownst to the Falcon pilot, Runway 23 right had been closed since 5:25 p.m. the previous evening, and two large passenger jets, an Allegheny Airlines DC-9, and an American Airlines 727, were parked about halfway down the 5,000 foot runway and were not visible to the flight crew. 

     The airliners were not occupied at the time, except for one maintenance man working aboard the DC-9.

     Although the runway was closed, the runways lights were still on, which investigators later determined contributed to the accident. 

     The Falcon began its take-off run and reached a speed of 100 mph before its left wind struck the nose wheel of the DC-9 causing damage to the wing and nose wheel.  The initial impact did little to slow the Falcon, which continued on and slammed into a maintenance truck which had also been parked on the runway, sending the truck tumbling under the left wing of the 727.  The truck erupted in flames and burned furiously beneath the fuel laden wing of the 727. 

     After colliding with the truck the Falcon’s main landing gear collapsed and the jet skidded to a stop about 150 yards later.  The plane did not catch fire and the crew and passenger scrambled out through a cockpit escape hatch – unhurt.

     Due to a quick response by the airport fire department the burning truck was extinguished and the fuel in the wing of the 727 did not ignite, although the aircraft did suffer serious damage from the burning truck.

     The lone maintenance man aboard the DC-9 was transported to a medical facility to be treated for shock.

     None of the materials aboard the Falcon jet were found to be leaking or in any way compromised.

     Sources:

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Radioactive-Cargo Plane Crashes At State Airport”, September 28, 1975.    

     South Middlesex News, “Wrong-Way Takeoff At RI Airport”, September 28, 1975, page 9A 

     Westerly Sun, (RI), “Law Not Violated In Warwick Crash”, September 30, 1975, page 6

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Airport Crash Cost $1 Million”, October 2, 1975, page A-1

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Runway Lights May Have Led To Collision”, October 3, 1975, page B-2

     Westerly Sun, (RI), “Faulty Lights Crash Factor”, October 5, 1975, page 9.

     Additional reading for researchers: 

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Cargo Aboard Crashed Jet ‘Sounded Worse That It Was'”, February 3, 1976, page A-7

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “State Seeking Dismissal Of Runway Crash Suit”, December 4, 1976, page 8.  

Rocky Point, R.I. – July 4, 1913

Rocky Point, R.I. – July 4, 1913

 

DFP50096     Nels J. Nelson was sixteen when the Wright Brothers flew at Kittyhawk, North Carolina, in 1903.  Eight years later he was building his own airplanes in New Britain, Connecticut.  His first airplane made its maiden flight over Plainfield, Connecticut, May 1st, 1911. 

      Nelson took to giving flying exhibitions which were well received by a public eager to see what those “new fangled flying machines” could do.  By 1913 he’d developed what he called a “Hydroplane” capable of taking off and landing in water.  On July 1, 1913, Nelson flew his Hydroplane over Providence, Rhode Island, where he circled the area of Exchange Place and City Hall twice before making a turn around the dome of the state capitol.  From there he flew south where he landed in the water just off shore from the famous Rocky Point Amusement Park in Warwick.  The purpose of the flight was to generate interest in several flying exhibitions he was to give at Rocky Point as part of the 4th of July celebration festivities.  Advertisements of his arrival had been posted in local papers for several days. 

     Mr. Nelson was scheduled to give three exhibitions on July 4th; at 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 5 p.m.  An article that appeared in The Woonsocket Call on July 5th described the first flight; “Shortly before 10 o’clock Nels Nelson sailed his 70 horse-power flying boat out into the bay in front of the Mansion House, watched by thousands of interested spectators.  The motor began to buzz and immediately the huge hydroplane commenced to skim at a rapid rate over the water.  As soon as the maximum speed was attained, the planes were slanted and the boat rose into the air, dripping like a sea gull which had captured its prey.  For a few moments Nelson drove the machine on the level – about 12 feet from the surface of the bay.  Soon, however, he rose higher until it became necessary to tip back one’s head to watch the flight.  Higher and higher went the boat, finally becoming but a speck in the sky sailing towards Prudence Island.”    

      On the second flight of the day Nelson took 21-year-old Irving Tukey aboard as a passenger.  The take-off went smoothly and the flight was uneventful until the aircraft was returning to land.  As Nelson was making his final approach, he cut power to the engine in anticipation of gliding down to the water, but at that instant, a strong gust of wind caught the plane and sent it into a sharp down-turn into the Narragansett Bay from an altitude of 60 feet.  

     Tukey suffered a broken wrist, a laceration to his forehead and numerous bumps and bruises.  Nelson was battered and dazed, but otherwise alright.  Both men were rescued by a private boat that was anchored nearby watching the festivities. 

     What became of Nelson’s hydroplane isn’t recorded, but the accident didn’t deter him from further flying.  The following September he flew another plane that he had built from New Britain, Connecticut to Chicago, Illinois.

      Mr. Nelson died in 1964 at the age of 77.  Many of his fellow aviators never reached middle age. His interest in aviation continued throughout his life.  Between 1903 and 1964, (the span of 61 years), he had witnessed the birth of the airplane, the jet, the rocket, and manned space flight.     

 Sources:

The Woonsocket Call, “Birdman Flies At Rocky Point”, July 3, 1913, Page 10

The Woonsocket Call, “Fourth Big Day At Rocky Point”, July 5, 1913, Page. 2

The Woonsocket Call, “Drop Into Bay”, July 7, 1913, Page 1

Internet website  www.earlyaviators.com Nels J. Nelson, 1887-1964

 

 

 

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