Atlantic Ocean – November 11, 1966

Atlantic Ocean – November 11, 1966


EC-121 Super Constellation
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On November 11, 1966, a U.S. Air Force EC-121-H “Warning Star” radar picket Constellation, (Ser. No. 55-5262), was on a mission about 125 miles east of Nantucket, Massachusetts, when it suffered a catastrophic event and crashed into the ocean.  The aircraft contained a crew of 19 men, all assigned to the 551st Airborne Early Warning & Control Wing stationed at Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

     The aircraft had departed from Otis at 12:35 a.m., and the last radio contact was made at 1:22 a.m.  The weather was said to be clear with ten miles of visibility.  At 1:30 a.m. the captain of a New Bedford fishing vessel reported seeing a large aircraft with a stream trailing behind it pass over his 70-foot boat, roll onto its back, and crash into the ocean where it exploded on impact.  He couldn’t be certain if the stream was due to an onboard fire or from a jet trail.   The New Bedford vessel as well as several others raced to the scene to look for survivors. 

     No distress call had been received from the aircraft. 

     A large scale search was conducted over the next few days during which debris from the aircraft was recovered, however there were no survivors.

     Wreckage of the aircraft was later recovered off the ocean floor in December of 1966, and serial numbers confirmed it to be the missing airplane.

     The only crew member identified in the press was the aircraft commander, Major Robert A. Baird.  To see a photograph of Major Baird, go to, Memorial #101715135.

     The names of the other 18 crewmen are unknown. 


     Cape Cod Standard Times, “Otis Base Radar Picket Plane Crashes, Explodes; 19 Crewmen Believed Dead”, November 12, 1966

     Cape Cod Standard Times, “Otis Sure Debris From Lost Plane”, November 13, 1966

     Boston Sunday Advertiser, “Piece Of Baggage From Radar Plane Identified”, November 13, 1966

     New London Day, “AF Abandons Search For Radar Plane”, November 14, 1966

     New London Day, “Missing Plane Found In Ocean”, December 22, 1966



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