Westerly, R. I. – March 9, 1945

Westerly, Rhode Island – March 9, 1945

 

North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     On the afternoon of March 9, 1945, a navy SNJ-5, “Texan” trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 43917), took off from the Charlestown Navy Auxiliary Air Field for a training flight over southern Rhode Island with two men aboard.  The pilot was Lt. (Jg.) William Edward Stakely.  With him was Lt. (Jg.) Howard Gilmore Boren, Jr., 23.  According to the navy accident report, “The purpose of the flight was to instruct Lt. (Jg.) Boren in recoveries on instruments from stalls, spins, and unusual positions.” 

     As the aircraft was going through a series of aerial maneuvers over the Bradford section of Westerly, Rhode Island, ground observers looked up to see the aircraft spinning violently towards the ground as a “detached portion” of the aircraft could be seen “fluttering” after it.  The aircraft dove into the ground and exploded and neither man was able to bail out.

     The “detached portion” that fell away was found to be the left wing of the aircraft which was recovered in a wooded area about three-quarters of a mile from the crash site. 

      An excerpt from the official U. S. Navy report reads: “A close examination of the left wing showed it to be completely crumpled.  It was curled up and twisted from the leading edge of the wing tip diagonally aft and inboard toward the wing root.” 

     It was believed the wing structure failed due to stresses placed upon it during the routine aerial maneuvers.  The accident was not the fault of the pilot.

     Lt. (Jg.) Boren was a combat veteran and had received the Navy Cross for his actions in battle.  To read the citation or to see a photo of Lt. (Jg.) Boren, go to www.findagrave.com, memorial #56951005.    

     As of this posting no further info is known about Lt. (Jg.) Stakely.

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy accident report dated March 9, 1945 

     www.findagrave.com

 

 

 

Westerly, R. I. – September 25, 1943

Westerly, Rhode Island – September 25, 1943

     On September 25, 1943, a U. S. Navy Howard NH-1 aircraft, (Bu. No. 29446), was landing in a strong cross wind the Westerly Air Field when the aircraft bounced causing major damage to the landing gear.  The plane then came down and struck the runway damaging the propeller and left wing and fuselage before coming to rest.  None of the four men aboard were injured.

     This aircraft was repaired and put back into service.  It was involved in another accident at Otis Air Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts, on May 5, 1944.  The aircraft ground looped upon landing; there were no injuries.   

     Sources:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-8786, dated September 25, 1943.

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-43906, dated May 5, 1944.

Westerly, R. I. – January 15, 1944

Westerly, Rhode Island – January 15, 1944 

     On January 15, 1944, a U. S. Navy Howard NH-1 aircraft, (Bu. No. 29481), with four men aboard, was landing at the Westerly Airport when the right wheel broke away upon touchdown, and the aircraft skidded to a stop.  There were no injures.

     Source:

     U. S. Navy accident report #44-10895, dated January 15, 1944

Westerly, R. I. – November 17, 1943

Westerly, Rhode Island – November 17, 1943

 

TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the evening of November 17, 1943, a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 47472), with a lone pilot aboard, was approaching the runway at Westerly Auxiliary Air Field at a 500 ft. altitude when the engine suddenly lost all power.  The pilot attempted to reach the end of the runway in a normal emergency approach but was unable to do so.  The aircraft burst into flames on impact, but the pilot escaped without injury.  The aircraft was a total loss.   

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-13.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report #44 – 9745

Westerly, R.I. – July 9, 1978

Westerly, Rhode Island – July 9, 1978

     Shortly before 8:30 p.m. on the evening of July 9, 1978, a Piper Cherokee, (#N-5254S), took off from Westerly Airport with four people aboard, bound for Red Hook, New York.  Heavy fog and low cloud cover blanketed the area making for hazardous flying, but the experienced pilot was certified in instrument flight.  As the aircraft took off, it began a long slow turn to the right. 

     Meanwhile, a man was hitting soft balls to a group of boys in a field off East Avenue, not far from the airport.  He later told reporters that he’d heard the low flying aircraft before he saw it come out of the 100 foot cloud cover and crash.  He related how the aircraft came out of the clouds so low that he yelled for the boys to duck as it passed overhead.  The plane then banked to the right as the pilot tried to avoid some trees, and the right wing dropped and dug into the soil, causing the nose to slam into the ground.  The aircraft then cartwheeled for about 100 feet before coming to rest.  All four occupants perished, but nobody on the ground was injured.  

     Source:

     Westerly Sun, “Westerly Crackup: The Pilot Had Lost His Bearings In Life”, July 23, 1978, page 1, (With diagram of crash scene.) 

 

 

Westerly, R. I. – March 4, 1950

Westerly, Rhode Island – March 4, 1950

     On March 4, 1950, two civil aircraft, a Cessna 140, and a Cessna 170, collided in mid-air about a mile-and-a-half off the shore of the Misquamicut section of Westerly and went down in the water.  Each aircraft carried two people; each a flight student and their instructors.

     The Coast Guard was called to employ divers in the search for the aircraft.  Debris from both planes was later washed ashore, confirming that neither plane made it to shore after the collision. 

     As the search continued, many spectators lined the beaches despite the cold weather.  Some doubted the planes would be found.  The Providence Journal reported in part,  “Westerly residents recalled yesterday that during World War II some half-dozen Navy planes had crashed in approximately the same area as the two light craft Saturday, and that neither the planes nor the pilots ever were found. They attributed this to the existence of a rock ledge some distance offshore which deflects the strong tides of the vicinity and tends to wash objects on the bottom out to sea rather than towards shore.”    

     Those aboard the Cessan 170 were identified as (pilot) William A. McCormac, 39, and Lester Silvers, 26. 

     Those aboard the Cessna 140 were identified as (pilot) Reginald Delagrange, 31, and Arthur E. Smith, 25.

     Sources:

Providence Journal, “Divers To Seek 2 Aircraft In Which Four Lost Lives” March 6, 1950, Pg. 2

New York Times, “Four Feared Dead In Crash Of Planes”, March 6, 1950 

 

    

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