Boston Airport – August 27, 1929

Boston Airport – August 27, 1929

     On August 27, 1929, two small monoplanes were racing each other from Philadelphia to Boston on the first leg of the Philadelphia-Cleveland Air Derby.  Both planes were the same model, manufactured by the same company.     

     The first was piloted by Edward J. (Red) Devereaux of Woodside, Long Island, N.Y.  With him were his wife Herma, and his mechanic, E.J. Reiss, of New York.   (Devereaux was a salesman for  Curtiss Flyting Service.)

     The second plane was piloted by Joseph L. McGrady of Hartford, Connecticut.

     Just before noon both planes bore down on Boston Airport where a finish line had been painted on the tarmac.  Devereaux was slightly ahead of McGrady, and zoomed over it first at an altitude of barely 50 feet, while traveling about 200 miles per hour.  Just as he did so the ailerons on both wings were seen to be fluttering just before they broke off.  The plane continued its forward momentum, sailing upwards and over the field before crashing in the mud flats near the edge of the airport.  The impact propelled Edward Devereaux and his mechanic through the roof of the cabin killing them instantly.  Mrs. Devereaux was found still alive, but trapped in the crumpled wreckage.  She died later that night at East Boston Relief Hospital.   

     McGrady’s aircraft crossed the finish line seconds after Devereaux’s and experienced the same situation with fluttering ailerons, but fortunately he was able to land safely.  When officials examined his plane they discovered three hinges on the left aileron had torn off, and the rear wing spar had broken.  His plane was immediately grounded.   

     Officials speculated that the ailerons failed due to the strain placed on them by the high speed dive.


     New York Times, “Three Killed In Boston Crash In Air Derby; Pilot’s Bride Among Victims As Plane Fails”, August 28, 1929 

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