Williamstown, MA. – October 10, 1958

Williamstown, Massachusetts – October 10, 1958

 

Grumman S-2 Tracker
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of October 10, 1958, a U. S. Navy twin-engine Grumman S-2 Tracker aircraft left the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island, bound for Hartford, Connecticut.   The plane carried three navy officers and an enlisted man, all assigned to the 32nd Air Anti-Submarine Squadron based at Quonset.  When the plane landed in Hartford, the enlisted man exited the aircraft.  Then the plane took off bound for Harriman-West Airport in North Adams Massachusetts. 

     The purpose of the flight was to meet with the airport manager, and to examine the field to see if it was suitable for other navy aircraft to participate in an upcoming airshow being sponsored by the Civil Air Patrol.   

     At 3:35 p.m., After conducting their business at the airport, the plane took off to return to Quonset Point.  It went down the runway in a westerly direction towards the town of Williamstown.  According to numerous witnesses, when the aircraft left the ground it began a very step climb.  It continued to climb in an almost vertical position until it reached an altitude of about 2,500 feet, when black smoke suddenly belched from one of the engines.  Then the plane nosed over and began to fall, but then seemed to recover.  It then made a left turn towards the airport as if the pilot was tying to return, and then went down into a wooded area about 500 feet west of the Williamstown-North Adams town line, and about 1,000 feet east of Luce Road.   

     Witnesses rushed to the crash site.  The first to arrive found the aircraft broken in two sections and on fire. When they tried to approach, one of the four auxiliary wing tanks suddenly exploded sending a fiery mushroom cloud 100 feet in the air.   

     The injured pilot was found a few feet away, having been thrown clear on impact.  The pilot was conscious but seriously injured.  After dragging him to safety, there was nothing more they could do.  The other two men aboard did not survive.

     Several clergymen arrived at the scene and gave last rites to the dead.  

     It was speculated that the cause of the accident was due to unresponsive mechanical controls.

     The dead were identified as:

     Lt. (Jg.) Louis M Bradshaw, 22 or 23, of Austin Texas.  He’s buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Austin.

     Lt. Arthur U. Roberge, 27, of Vermont. He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

     Sources:

     North Adams Transcript, “Two Die, One Saved In Fiery Navy Plane Crash”, October 11, 1958 

     North Adams Transcript, “Witness Stories Agree Plane Climbed Steep, Faltered, Turned, Crashed”, October 11, 1958

     www.findgrave.com, memorial #26212486, and 49302817.

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