Bradley Field, CT. – August 19, 1944

Bradley Field, Windsor Locks, Connecticut – August 19, 1944 

 

P-47 Thunderbolt – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On August 19, 1944, 1st Lieutenant Walter L. Gibson Jr., took off from Bradley Army Air Field for a test flight in a P-47D Thunderbolt, (Ser# 42-8307).  The reason for the test flight was due to troubles previously reported with this aircraft.  Prior to take off, Lt. Gibson had spoken with the line chief, and performed two thorough “run-up checks” of the aircraft.  Almost immediately after take off, when the plane had reached an altitude of only 250 feet, the engine began to cut out and emit black oily smoke.  Lt. Gibson called the tower and advised he was making an emergency landing and the tower replied that he could use any runway as all were clear.  As Gibson began to make a left turn the engine lost all power and the plane fell into a wooded area about a half-mile from the end of the runway.   The plane was wrecked and Lt. Gibson was killed.

     Lt. Gibson had attained his pilot rating on August 5, 1942. 

     Source: U.S. Army Air Forces Report Of Aircraft Accident #45-8-19-17 

 

Windsor Locks, CT – August 31, 1945

Winsor Locks, Connecticut – August 31, 1945

Updated August 22, 2017

 

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

     On the morning of August 31, 1945, Ensign Richard Henry Di Sesa, age 22, was part of a flight of twelve airplanes out of Quonset Point Naval Air Station practicing formation flight training over the Connecticut River Valley area.  Ensign Di Sesa was piloting an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42802), and was flying in the number 2 position in the second division of the flight.   

     At one point, while the formation was only at 2,000 feet, it began a slight downward glide over the Connecticut River in a “follow the leader” pattern.  While pulling out of the glide over the river, Ensign Di Sesa’s aircraft struck two high tension wires strung 120 feet above the water.  His aircraft went out of control and crashed into the ground killing him instantly.     

     Ensign Di Sesa’s body was brought to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island before being sent to Brooklyn, New York, for burial. 

     Di Sesa died just three days after his 22nd birthday.

     For a photo of Ensign Di Sesa, go to:

     www.warmemorial.columbia.edu/richard-henry-di-sesa

     Sources:

    North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-84

     National Archives, AAR VBF-97B-1 revised, TD450831, via Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

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