Atlantic Ocean – August 11, 1946

Atlantic Ocean – August 11, 1946

     On August 11, 1946, a navy trainer aircraft took off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station with several men aboard.  One of those aboard was Commander Joseph W. Runyan, an experienced and decorated WWII navy pilot.  Commander Runyan was taking an in-service-training course at Quonset, which was the reason he was aboard the plane. 

     The type of aircraft was not described in the press other than a  bomber, and apparently the men aboard were taking turns at each position aboard the plane.

     While the aircraft was at 6,000 feet over the Atlantic Ocean, Commander Runyan switched from the co-pilot’s seat to the bombardier’s position.  As he reached the bombardier’s place in the nose of the plane, the aircraft suddenly “lurched” throwing the commander against a forward escape hatch.  The hatch burst open and the commander fell to his death.  His life jacket kept him afloat and his body was recovered by a private yacht cruising in the area.    

     Cmdr. Runyan is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. To see a photo of his grave and more information about him, click on the link below.


     Waterbury Democrat, “Airman Falls From Airplane”, August 12, 1946.

     Evening Star, (Wash. D.C.), “Comdr. Runyan Rites Today at Fort Myer”, August 15, 1946. 

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