Ayer, MA. – August 8, 1944

Ayer, Massachusetts – August 8, 1944 


F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of August 8, 1944, Ensign Henry Clayton Youngdoff took off in an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 58125), from the Ayer Naval Auxiliary Air Field in Ayer, Mass.  The purpose of the flight was to participate in rocket firing dive exercises.   After completing a practice dive over the airfield, Ensign Youngdoff climbed to 6,000 feet where he joined up with the division flight leader.  Just after doing so, Youngdoff’s aircraft began trailing blue smoke and loosing power.  After declaring an emergency, he was granted permission by Ayer tower to make an emergency landing.  Ensign Youngdoff turned towards the field but due to the loss of power his aircraft began loosing altitude.  When he was about three miles from the field he was only at 1,000 feet and still dropping, so he turned the aircraft towards a small lake.  The terrain below was rugged and hilly.  As he headed towards the lake the engine froze, and realizing he wouldn’t make it to the lake he bailed out.  Unfortunately his parachute didn’t fully deploy and he was killed.  The aircraft crashed and burned about a mile away.  Nobody on the ground was injured.  


     U. S. Navy accident report dated August 8, 1944

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