Warwick, R. I. – July 9, 1942

Warwick, Rhode Island – July 9, 1942

     On July 9, 1942, a small plane with a pilot and two passengers aboard took off from Hillsgrove Airport in Warwick for a routine flight.  The pilot, was an experienced flyer with about 2,400 hours in the air.  He also held a commercial pilot’s license with an instructor’s rating.       

      One of the passengers was a 26-year-old man from Putnam, Connecticut, who’d had an interest in aviation, and had obtained his student pilot’s license two days earlier. 

     The other passenger was a 31-year-old man from Killingly, Connecticut.  

     After becoming airborne the pilot began to put the aircraft through a series of aerobatic maneuvers. At one point he reportedly “zoomed” the flight office and then climbed to 1,500 feet.  The aircraft then went into a loop, after which the pilot reportedly deliberately stalled the engine and put the airplane into an intentional spin.  (Investigators later wrote in their final report of the crash that the pilot, “made a practice of thrilling his audience by spinning close to the ground before affecting recovery.”) (The report wasn’t released until January of 1943.)

     The aircraft had almost leveled out when it crashed wheels down near the airport.  The impact killed the West Warwick man, and seriously injured the other passenger and the pilot. 

     The type of aircraft is not known. 


     The Windham County Observer, (Putnam, CT.), “Pilot Blamed For Death Of Putnam Aviation Student”, January 13, 1943, pg. 3.   


Hillsgrove Airport, R. I. – April 14, 1948

Hillsgrove Airport – April 14, 1948

     On April 14, 1948, a 31-year-old pilot was soloing in a Piper Cub J-3 airplane.  The pilot was a student training under the GI benefit program and was making practice landings at the Hillsgrove Airport in Warwick.  The pilot began a landing approach, but while still 1,000 feet short of the runway the engine suddenly stopped.  The pilot managed to “mushroom” the plane atop a cluster of trees just outside the airport.  The plane suffered heavy damage, but the pilot was not injured. 

     Source:  The Pawtucket Times, “Pawtucket Pilot Unhurt In Crash”, April 15, 1948, pg. 18 

Glocester, R. I. – June 10, 1935

Glocester, Rhode Island – June 10, 1935

      On the evening of June 10, 1935, a man and woman took off from Riverhead, Long Island, in a small cabin monoplane bound for Norwood, Massachusetts.  While passing over Rhode Island the plane encountered thick fog and poor visibility.  The pilot opted to make an emergency landing in a hayfield on Putnam Pike, (aka Route 44), in the town of Glocester.   Upon touchdown the landing gear broke away when the plane struck a rock, but there were no injuries.          The plane was reportedly owned by E. W. Wiggins Airways, Inc.  

     Source: The Pawtucket Times, “Plane Couple Escape In Forced Landing”, June 11, 1935, pg. 16. 


Block Island, R. I. – July 8, 1956

Block Island, Rhode Island – July 8, 1956

     At 10 a.m. on the morning July 8, 1956, three men took off from Block Island Airport bound for Connecticut.  Just after take off the plane was shrouded in fog, and the pilot began to circle the area at an altitude of 400 feet.  While doing so, the plane struck and unidentified object which snapped the rudder cable.  The plane then began to loose altitude.  It came out of the low lying fog and narrowly missed crashing into the National Hotel on Water Street.  After missing the hotel, the plane crashed in shallow water just off the beach.  The three men escaped the plane and swam ashore.  They weren’t injured, but the plane was reportedly a total loss. 


     The Pawtucket Times, ” 3 Swim Ashore After Plane Crashes Off Block Is. Beach” July 9, 1956, pg. 11. 

Cumberland, R. I. – January 23, 1948

Cumberland, Rhode Island – January 23, 1948 

     On the morning of January 23, 1948, a 21-year-old pilot from Boston took off from the Norwood, Massachusetts, Airport in a Piper Cub airplane for a practice flight.  Once airborne, thick fog rolled in so the pilot began heading south towards Rhode Island to get clear of the fog.  While over the town of Cumberland he ran out of gas and was obligated to make an emergency landing.  The plane came down in Angell Field about 200 yards from Marshall Avenue. 

     The plane was not damaged, and the pilot was not hurt. 


     The Pawtucket Times, “Hub Pilot Unhurt In Forced Landing”, January 23, 1948, pg. 3.    

Warwick, R. I. – August 16, 1940

Warwick, Rhode Island – August 16, 1940

      On August 16, 1940, a 24-year-old student pilot in a Piper Cub was waiting for clearance to take off from Hillsgrove Airport in Warwick.  Meanwhile, a 35-year-old student pilot in a Luscombe aircraft was returning to the airport from a solo flight.  As the Liscombe was approaching the runway, the control tower operator gave the green light to the Piper Cub to take off.  The pilot of the Piper Cub gunned his engine and began his take off run while the Liscombe continued its approach.  The tower operator suddenly realized what was taking place, and tried to signal the Piper Cub to abort, but it was too late.  The tower operator would later state that a hangar had obstructed his view of the approaching plane. 

     Just as the Piper Cub left the ground it collided in mid-air with the in-coming Liscombe.  The collision took place when both aircraft were about ten feet off the ground. 

     Both aircraft crashed to the ground, but there was no fire.  Despite the damage to each aircraft, neither pilot suffered serious injuries. 


      The Pawtucket Times, “CAA Investigates Two-Plane Crash”, August 17, 1940, pg. 3.       

Smithfield, R. I. – April 23, 1939

Smithfield, Rhode Island – April 23, 1939

     On April 24, 1939, a 24-year-old pilot from Pawtucket, R. I., took off from the Smithfield Airport in a recently repaired two-seat biplane.  After circling the airport, the pilot attempted to land.  As he did so the landing gear collapsed and the plane ground-looped, wrecking the upper wing, rudder, and propeller.  The pilot received facial cuts, but was not seriously injured.  The crash was blamed on a poor welding repair job done by an airport mechanic. 

     The airplane was owned by the Smithfield Airport Club, an organization of twenty youths interested in aviation.

     The Smithfield Airport was located where Bryant University is today. 


     The Pawtucket Times, “Pawtucket Pilot Hurt In Crack-up” April 24, 1939, pg.14.     

Smithfield, R. I. – July 4, 1950

Smithfield, Rhode Island – July 4, 1950 

     On the afternoon of July 4, 1950, a 21-year-old Central Falls man took off from the Smithfield Airport in what was described as a “light army surplus plane”.  It was raining at the time.  Not long after becoming airborne, the engine stalled, and it was presumed because of an obstruction in the fuel line.  The plane went down in a thickly wooded area about a mile from the intersection or Washington Highway and Douglas Pike.   The aircraft was wrecked, and began to burn, but fortunately the pilot was only slightly injured.  He made his way through the woods to Douglas Pike where he flagged down an motorist who drove him to Pawtucket Memorial Hospital.  


     The Pawtucket Times, “Airplane Crashes In Wooded Area”, July 5, 1950, pg. 28. 

Cumberland, R. I. – June 4, 1950

Cumberland, Rhode Island – June 4, 1950 

     On June 4, 1950, a single-engine Taylorcraft airplane with two men aboard crashed into a thickly wooded area of Cumberland.  The plane did not catch fire, but the 19-year-old pilot and his 21-year-old passenger were severely injured.  The pilot suffered a fractured skull, a broken arm, and internal injuries.  Despite his injuries, he managed to crawl on the ground through the woods for a mile to get help.  He came upon the farm of John Wright who notified authorities. 

     Due to his semi-conscious condition, the pilot was unable to give rescue workers the exact location of the plane.  A search was instituted and police and fire fighters from Cumberland and Woonsocket, as well as the Massachusetts  towns of Wrentham and Franklin, scoured the woods until they found the plane.  


     The Boston Globe, “Pilot Crawls Mile After R. I. Crash To Get Aid”, June 5, 1950, pg. 1.  Submitted by Eric Wiberg, author and historian. 


Warwick, R. I. – July 26, 1928

Warwick, Rhode Island – July 26, 1928

    On the evening of July 26, 1928, well known Connecticut aviator, Osmond H. Mather, took off from the Buttonwoods Airfield in Warwick, Rhode Island, in a small black and orange mono-coupe airplane.  With him as a passenger was Clifton H. Thompson, of Foxboro, Massachusetts.  The purpose of the flight was to demonstrate to Mr. Thompson the plane’s capabilities as Thompson was considering buying the plane for use at the newly opened Providence Airport in Seekonk, Massachusetts.  

     About one hundred people on the ground watched as the aircraft went through a series of maneuvers, among them was Thompson’s wife and daughter.  At one point while the aircraft was only 100 feet from the ground, it suddenly went into a dive before it crashed and exploded about 200 yards from the edge of the flying field.  Both occupants were killed instantly. 

     Osmond Mather was a well known pilot in the New England area,   and a World War I veteran who’d served in the Air Corps.   About five months before his death, he flew over the home of Connecticut’s Governor, John Trumbull, and dropped a box containing a miniature reproduction of Charles Lindbergh’s “Spirit of St. Louis”.  The gif was in honor of the Governor’s 55th birthday. 


     Clifton Thompson was also a World War I veteran having served in the Air Corps.  https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/175077080/clifton-badlam-thompson


     New Britain Herald, “Osmond H. Mather Dies In Airplane”, July 27, 1928, p.4.

     New Britain Herald, “Gift From Sky Dropped On Gov. Trumbull’s Lawn”, March 5, 1928, p.1. 


North Providence, R. I. – May 21, 1949

North Providence, Rhode Island – May 21, 1949

     On May 21, 1949, a 48-year-old pilot left Laconia, New Hampshire, in a small two-seat Cessna airplane with one passenger aboard, bound for Mineral Spring Airport in Lincoln, Rhode Island.   The aircraft landed safely at the airport and the passenger got out.  The pilot then took off again bound for Hillsgrove Airport.  ( Today known as T. F. Green Airport.)  Just after takeoff, the motor sputtered and stalled.  Unable to restart the motor, the aircraft crashed in a vacant lot off Angell Road and flipped on its back.  There was no fire, and the pilot was not injured. 

     Source: Providence Sunday Journal, “Providence Airman Uninjured In Crash” May 22, 1949, page 11.  

Woonsocket, R. I. – June 16, 1946

Woonsocket, Rhode Island – June 16, 1946

     On June 16, 1946, a 21-year-old man took off from Mineral Spring Airport in Lincoln in a rented airplane.  He’d had his pilot’s license for about 18 months.    

     While flying over Woonsocket the aircraft developed engine trouble and the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing.  He saw Dunn Memorial Park on Mason Street and aimed for it, but as he approached he saw children playing on the field.  To avoid the children, he was forced to re-aim the airplane towards a small hill at the edge of the park where he crashed into an embankment.  The aircraft was wrecked and the pilot was critically injured. 

     A witness to the crash was a registered nurse living at 370 Mason Street.  She immediately ran to the scene an administered first-aid to the pilot prior to the arrival of an ambulance. 

     The Aircraft was owned by American Aircraft Inc. at Mineral Spring Airport.  


     Woonsocket Call, “Student Pilot Hurt In Crash”, June 17, 1946  

     Providence Journal, “Flyer Badly Hurt Avoiding Children” June 17, 1946

Providence, R. I. – April 10, 1949

Providence, Rhode Island – April 10, 1949 

     On April 10, 1949, an 18-year-old pilot rented an L-3 Aeronca from the Mineral Spring Airport in Lincoln, Rhode Island, and took off with a young female passenger.  Both were members of the Pawtucket Civil Air Patrol.

     As the plane was passing over Providence it developed engine trouble and the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing on the Triggs Memorial Golf Course.  The landing was successful and there were no injuries or damage to the aircraft. 

     A second aircraft later landed on the golf course right behind the first, and after repairs were made, both took off and flew back to Mineral Spring Airport. 

     Source: Providence Journal, “Golfers Scatter To Safety Of Rough As CAP Pilot Lands in Fairway”, April, 11, 1049  

North Smithfield, R. I. – January 26, 1930

North Smithfield, Rhode Island – January 26, 1930

     On January 26, 1930, two men took off from Montgomery Airport in North Smithfield for a test flight of a biplane after having had some difficulty with the engine.  While at an altitude of 1,200 feet the engine began to misfire and the aircraft began loosing altitude.  Realizing they couldn’t make it back to the airport, the pilot made an emergency crash-landing in an orchard on land belonging to Dr. George R. Smith.  Neither man was injured but the aircraft suffered damage to the landing gear, wings, and propeller.   


     The Woonsocket Call, “2 Fliers Escape Injury In Making Forced Landing”, January 27, 1930

Woonsocket, R. I. – September 24, 1939

Woonsocket, Rhode Island – September 24, 1939

     At about 1:30 p.m. on the afternoon of September 24, 1939, a pilot was working on his aircraft motor at the Woonsocket Airport.  The pilot spun the propeller to start the motor before before connecting the throttle rod to the carburetor.  The engine came to life at full throttle, and since only one of the wheels was “chocked”, the plane began turning in circles.  As the pilot was attempting to get at the controls, an 8-year-old boy attracted to the excitement, came running over and was struck a glancing blow on his head by the tail section and was knocked to the ground.  The pilot managed to climb into the cockpit and turn the engine off.  The boy was transported to Woonsocket Hospital for treatment. 


     The Woonsocket Call, “Boy Injured By Pilot-less Plane”, September 25, 1939  

Woonsocket, R. I. – April 27, 1955

Woonsocket, Rhode Island – April 27, 1955

     On the evening of April 27, 1955, a fire broke out in the airplane hangar of the Woonsocket Airport.  One aircraft belonging to George Carter of Wrentham, Massachusetts, a lieutenant in the Woonsocket Civil Air Patrol Squadron, was destroyed by the flames. 

      Two members of the Civil Air Patrol managed to save two other aircraft by rolling them out of an adjoining hangar. 

     Firemen were hampered in their efforts to bring the blaze under control due to a lack of city water lines in that area.  Investigators discovered that the fire was deliberately set and two 15-year-old youths were arrested for the crime.     


     The Woonsocket Call, “Plane Lost In Airport Blaze, Boy Seized, Vandalism Cited”, April 28, 1955

Block Island, R. I. – July 22, 1957

Block Island, Rhode Island – July 22, 1957

     On July 21, 1957, four men took off from the Woonsocket Airport in a 1946 Stinson 150 bound for Block Island, where they intended to spend the day, have dinner, and then fly home.  At 1:05 a.m. on the morning of July 22, the men took off from Block Island Airport for the return trip.  Shortly after becoming airborne the plane suddenly crashed in a thick brushy area about three miles from the airport and burst into flames.  All aboard perished.     

     The men were from Cumberland, R. I., Blackstone, Ma., North Smithfield, R. I. and Milford, Ma.  All had been long time friends. 

     Visibility at the time of the accident was hindered by darkness and patches of thick fog.   

     The cause of the accident is unknown.  


     Woonsocket Call, “Four Men Killed In City Plane Crash On Block Island”, July 22, 1957, pg.1.

     Woonsocket Call, “Last Man To See Quartet Alive Tells Of Takeoff, Crash, Flames”, July 22, 1957, pg. 1.  

     Woonsocket Call, “Pilots Gather At Airport Here, Stunned By Block I. Tragedy”, July 22, 1957, pg. 2. 

East Providence, R. I. – August 12, 1906

East Providence, Rhode Island – August 12, 1906


Advertisement from 1906
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    On the afternoon of August 12, 1906, Professor Joseph La Roux and his wife Tina were scheduled to make a balloon ascension and parachute drop at Crescent Park in East Providence.  As the balloon was lifting off, the professor was sitting atop the parachute bar located under the balloon.  When the balloon had reached an altitude of about ten feet the professor’s safety rope broke and he fell to the ground and seriously injured his back.  Meanwhile, Mrs. La Roux stayed with the balloon which reached an altitude of about 2,500 feet.  At that point she jumped, deployed her parachute and landed safely in Bullocks Point Cove. 


     The News-Democrat, (Providence, R. I.), “Aeronaut La Roux Fell And Struck On Back”, August 13, 1906       

Pawtucket, R.I. – June 13, 1929

Pawtucket, Rhode Island – June 13, 1929

     On the night of June 13, 1929, a 41-year-old man was fatally injured at What Cheer Airport by a spinning propeller.  No further details are known. 


     New Britain Herald, (CT.), “Propeller Kills Aviator”, June 14, 1929, page 14. 

Off Block Island – March 13, 1987

Off Block Island – March 13, 1987

     On March 13, 1987, a single engine Cessna P21, (Reg. No. N6434A), with a lone pilot aboard, left Hyannis, Massachusetts, bound for East Hampton, New York, and ultimately to New Bern, North Carolina, but disappeared in-route.  Officials said the aircraft had been flying at 16,000 feet over water between Block Island and Long Island on IFR rules when its radar signal was lost.  A search was instituted but only a piece of the plane’s antenna was recovered.

     At about 3 p.m. on March 19, the fishing boat Heidi & Kristi was dragging its nets for flounder about four miles northeast of Block Island when the fuselage of the missing plane was snagged in its nets and brought to the surface.  The pilot was still inside.


     The Providence Journal, “Boat Hauls Up Plane, Dead Pilot”, March 20, 1987, page A-3.

     Aviation Safety Network  

Exeter, R. I. – July 11, 1948

Exeter, Rhode Island – July 11, 1948

     Shortly before noon on July 11, 1948, two Warwick men, both in their early 20s, were in a rented PT-23 trainer aircraft flying over Exeter.  When they reached Boon Lake the men decided to “buzz” the cottage occupied by the parents of one of them.  Witnesses related how the plane came in out of the north and dropped very low over the water.  At the end of the run the plane banked sharply just before the cottage at which time the left wing tip struck the water causing the plane to crash into some trees at the shoreline.  The aircraft was demolished but did not catch fire.

     It wasn’t until the two severely injured men were removed from the wreckage that the parents realized one of them was their son.  Both men were treated by a doctor at the scene and then transported to Westerly Hospital where they later succumbed to their injuries. 

     The trainer aircraft was equipped with dual controls, and it was uncertain which of the men had been in control at the time of the crash. 

     Source: The Rhode Island Pendulum, “Two Warwick Vets Die In Plane Crash”, July 15, 1948

Jamestown, R. I. – August 28, 1991

Jamestown, Rhode Island – August 28, 1991

     On August 28, 1991, two men took off from Quonset Point State Airport in a Waco YMF-5 single engine bi-plane for a routine flight.  Ten minutes later the aircraft began to lose power and the pilot attempted an emergency landing at Watson Farm on Jamestown Island.  In doing so, the aircraft clipped some trees and nosed into the ground.  Although the aircraft was damaged, the two men aboard were not seriously injured.  They were transported to Newport Hospital and released.  


     The Standard Times, “Two NK Men Survive Plane Crash On Island”, August 30, 1991

     The Rhode Island Pendulum, “Plane Crashes At Watson Farm”, September 6, 1991, page 6

Westerly, R. I. – September 5, 1999

Westerly, Rhode Island – September 5, 1999

     At 11:30 am on September 5, 1999, a Piper Cherokee aircraft, (Reg. No. N4830S), with a pilot and four passengers from Connecticut aboard, crashed seconds after becoming airborne from the Westerly State Airport.   The plane broke apart on impact and debris was scattered between the end of the runway and Post Road.  The pilot and two people from Hartford, Connecticut, perished in the accident.  The two survivors, both from South Winsor, Connecticut, were transported to medical facilities for treatment. 


     Hartford Courant, “Plane Crash Kills Three In Rhode Island”, September 6, 1999.  

     NTSB Brief, #NYC99FA220

East Greenwich, R. I. – June 11, 1946

East Greenwich, Rhode Island – June 11, 1946

     At 3:30 pm on June 11, 1946,  a 22-year-old man was attempting to take off from Greenwich Cove in a rented Piper Cub airplane fitted with pontoons.  Just as the aircraft was becoming airborne it was struck by a strong gust of wind which forced one of the wings to dip and touch the water causing the plane to flip onto its back.  The pilot was able to quickly extricate himself and swim to the surface uninjured.  With the help of a friend, the partially submerged plane was towed to a nearby dock where it was later removed by a crane.   

     Source: The Rhode Island Pendulum, “King Gorman Has Narrow Escape  As Plane Sinks In Bay”, June 13, 1946

Narragansett Bay – July 12, 1978

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island – July 12, 1978

     On July 12, 1978, a single engine civilian aircraft with two men aboard was attempting to land at the former Quonset Point Naval Air Station when the plane was struck by a strong gust of wind.  The wind gust caused the aircraft to strike a seawall and then careen back out over the water where it crashed.   Fortunately neither man was injured, and both were able to swim to shore before the plane sank in six feet of water.  The aircraft was later recovered by a crane.  

     Source: The Standard Times, “Wind Blamed For Crash”, July 13, 1978

Warwick, R. I. – October 31, 1962

Warwick, Rhode Island – October 31, 1962  

     On the evening of October 31, 1962, a twin-engine aircraft with two men aboard crashed in a thickly wooded area south of Major Potter Road in Warwick, about 3/4 of a mile from Love Lane.  An intensive search was begun involving state and local police, fire fighters, state officials, and numerous volunteers.  The search continued throughout the night in driving rain and thick fog conditions. 

     The wreckage was finally located at 6 a.m. the following morning.  When rescue workers reached the scene, they found one man, a 34-year-old from Woonsocket, to be deceased, and the other unconscious.  The injured man, a 32-year-old from North Smithfield, was taken to Kent County Hospital for treatment.   

     They type of aircraft is unknown. 


     The Rhode Island Pendulum, “Bulletin – The Early Story”, November 1, 1962, page 1.   

     New York Times, “Pilot Found Alive In Crash; Passenger Is dead In Cabin”, November 1, 1962

East Greenwich, R. I. – June 7, 1928

East Greenwich, Rhode Island – June 7, 1928

     On June 7, 1928, pilot Evald Lundberg of East Greenwich was giving airplane rides from a field on the farm of Irvine Law.  After giving several flights without incident, he took off just before 8 pm with a single passenger for what was to be the last flight of the day.  As the airplane was moving across the rough field it seemed to be having trouble gaining speed.  It barely cleared a fence at the edge of the field, and after becoming airborne it hit an air pocket and struck the top of a tall tree.  It then continued on in a nose down angle into a wooded area near some railroad tracks.  There was no fire after the crash.  The aircraft suffered considerable damage and both pilot and passenger received non-life-threatening injuries.      


     The Rhode Island Pendulum, “Lundberg And Wilson In Bad Plane Crash”, June 14, 1928.

     The Pawtucket Times, “Passenger Injured But Pilot Escapes As Biplane Crashes”, June 8, 1928

     Mr. Lundberg later perished in another plane crash on Block Island in 1931.  http://newenglandav.s431.sureserver.com/block-island-r-i-august-27-1931/

East Greenwich, R. I. – November 22, 1971

East Greenwich, Rhode Island – November 22, 1971

       On November 22, 1971, a twin-engine Aero Commander 560A, (Reg. No. N87K), took off from Chatham, Massachusetts, bound for Newark, New Jersey.  The plane carried a pilot, co-pilot, and four passengers. 

     As the flight was passing over Rhode Island it encountered sleet, a low cloud ceiling, and icing conditions on the wings.  Ground fog was also present.  When one of the engines began to run erratically, the pilot radioed T. F. Green Airport in Warwick, R. I., and requested landing instructions.   As the flight was headed toward Green, the aircraft went down in a thickly-wooded swampy area off South Road in East Greenwich.  

     The distressed aircraft was witnessed by a local resident who immediately notified authorities.  When rescue workers reached the scene they had to extricate the injured from the fuselage.  All were transported to Kent County Hospital where one 58-year-old woman passenger succumbed to her injuries.   


     The Rhode Island Pendulum, “1 Killed, 5 Injured in E. G. Plane Crash”, November 24, 1971, page 1.  

     NTSB report #NYC72AN069

     Aviation Safety Network


Richmond, R. I. – January 8, 1990

Richmond, Rhode Island – January 8, 1990

     On the morning of January 8, 1990, a Beechcraft Bonanza V-35 with a man and woman aboard took off from Richmond Airport.  When the plane reached an altitude of about 500 feet the passenger side door popped open.  Air pressure prevented the door from opening completely, but the slight opening created a loud hissing noise and loss of cabin heat.  While attempting to rectify the problem, the aircraft crashed in a wooded area near the airport.  Both pilot and passenger escaped with non-life-threatening injuries before the plane caught fire and was destroyed by flames.  

     Source: Providence Journal, “Two Walk Away From Crash”, January 9, 1990, page A-3

Narragansett Bay – November 16, 1993

Narragansett Bay – November 16, 1993

     At about 9:30 a.m. on the morning of November 16, 1993, a 51-year-old man took off from Runway 34 at the Quonset State Airport in a home-built ultralight aircraft.  Shortly after becoming airborne the engine failed, and the aircraft went down in Narragansett Bay about 1,000 feet off the runway.  The man was rescued by a nearby boater and transported to a medical facility where he was treated and released. The wreckage was recovered and examined by state crash investigators.

     Source: Providence Journal, “Pilot Survives Crash Off Quonset”, November 17, 1993, page D-5.   


Westerly, R. I. – December 4, 1991

Westerly, R. I. – December 4, 1991

     Shortly before 11:30 a.m. on December 4, 1991, a Cessna 182 with two men aboard took off from Westerly Airport bound for Block Island.  Just after take off, while at an altitude of about 500 feet, the engine suddenly lost all power, and the aircraft went down in a cow pasture off Airport Road across the street from the airport entrance.  While making the emergency landing, the aircraft struck a rock causing it to flip onto its back, but it didn’t catch fire.  Both men extricated themselves without injury.  The aircraft was a total loss. 

     Source: Providence Journal, “Plane Loses Power And Crashes In Pasture; Two Aboard”, December 5, 1991, page C-1    


Atlantic Ocean – December 28, 1991

Atlantic Ocean – December 28, 1991

10.6 miles east-north-east of Block island, R. I.

     On the night of December 28, 1991, three pilots were aboard a twin-engine Beechcraft 1900C, (Reg. N811BE), conducting flight training over the Atlantic Ocean about ten miles east-north-east of Block Island.  One of the pilots was an instructor, and all were employed by Business Express Airlines in Connecticut.   At some point during the exercise the aircraft crashed into the water and broke apart.  The following morning a lobster boat out of Block Island came upon floating wreckage, which included a 30-foot wing section, and notified the Coast Guard.   

     The plane had left Bridgeport, Connecticut, at 6:46 p.m.  All of the pilots were experienced, and two were undergoing training to be upgraded from first officer to captain.  The accident had occurred while the aircraft was making practice approaches to Block Island Airport.  Before the crash, the aircraft had made three successful  approaches and landings. 

     The cockpit voice recorder was later recovered in 130 feet of water.

     As of January 21, 1992, no bodies had been recovered. 


     Providence Journal, “Wind, Waves Hamper Search For Pilots Of Missing Off Block Island”, December 31, 1991, page B-3  

     Providence Journal, “Cockpit Tape Of Downed Plane Is Examined”, January 21, 1992, page E-5

     Aviation Safety Network


Block Island Sound – November 28, 1989

Block Island Sound – November 28, 1989

     On the night of November 28, 1989, a New England Airlines twin-engine, Britten-Norman BN-2 Islander aircraft, (N127JL), left Block Island Airport with a pilot, seven passengers, and two dogs aboard bound for Westerly Airport in Westerly, R. I.   The night was dark and moonless, and the aircraft would be flying beneath a layer of cloud cover.  

     The flight left Block Island around 6:20 p.m. but never made it to Westerly.  The 17 mile flight was expected to take about 15 minutes.  When it failed to arrive it was declared “missing” and a search and rescue operation was instituted.  Coast Guard boats and military aircraft from southern New England converged on the area between Block island and the main land, and ground crews searched the shoreline.  Private fishing boats and aircraft also joined the search. 

     By the following day several items believed to have come from the missing plane were found washed up on Block Island beaches.  More debris was found over the next few hours, and the bodies of the two dogs aboard were recovered by the Coast Guard. Indications were that the plane had broken apart on impact.   

     A few days later a Rhode Island fishing boat hauled up aircraft debris in a net and notified authorities.   Underwater sonar located three major portions of the aircraft’s wreckage on the ocean floor in 110 feet of water about 4 miles northwest of Block Island.  The wreckage was examined using remote-controlled underwater cameras.  Portions of the wreckage were recovered and brought to Quonset Point for examination. 

     By April, the remains of five of the eight people aboard the aircraft had been recovered.  Two months later a six was discovered by a fishing boat.  Two of the passengers were never found.      

     The cause of the crash was undetermined.      


     Providence Journal, “Plane, 8 Aboard, Lost Off Westerly, Coast Guard”, November 29, 1989, page A-1  

     Providence Journal, “Block Islanders Stalk Beaches, Stunned By Another Tragedy”, November 29, 1989, page A-1

     Providence Journal, “Debris, Bodies Of Dogs On Downed Plane Found”, November 29, 1989, page A-1

     Providence Journal, “Search Ends For Missing Plane, No Hope Seen”, November 30, 1989, page A-1

     Providence Journal, “Camera Probes Debris Of Plane On Ocean Floor”, December 20, 1989, page C-5

     Providence Journal, “Crews To Raise More Debris From Block Island Plane”, January 3, 1990, page B-4  

     Providence Journal, “Bodies From Block I. Plane Crash Are Found”, February 16, 1990, page C-5

     Providence Journal, “Search For Block I. Plane, 3 Victims Called Off”, May 8, 1990, page A-3

     Providence Journal, “No Mechanical Failure In Block I. Plane Crash”, March 26, 1991, page A-1

     Aviation Safety Network



Narragansett Bay – July 30, 1988

Narragansett Bay – July 30, 1988

     In the early morning hours of July 30, 1988, a Cessna 172 with a man and two women aboard left Wilmington, Delaware, bound for Block Island for a weekend visit with friends.  When the aircraft reached Block Island the pilot was unable to land due to darkness and heavy fog.  He was then directed by FAA controllers to go to Groton Airport in Connecticut, but when he arrived there he was unable to land due to darkness and heavy fog.  He also tried without success to land at Westerly Airport.  He was then directed to go to Green State Airport in Warwick, R.I., and ran out of fuel in-route.   

     When the plane ran out of gas around 5 a.m., the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing the waters of Narragansett Bay, in an area between Wickford and Jamestown.  All three aboard donned life jackets and were able to get out of the airplane before it sank.   

     The three floated in the water until a fisherman happened upon them and took them to Wickford Harbor where they were met by the North Kingstown Fire Department and transported to a medical facility where they were examined and released. 

     Source:  Providence Journal, “3 Rescued In Bay Plane Crash”, July 31, 1988, page C-1


Quonset Point, R. I. – July 30, 1987

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – July 30, 1987

     On July 30, 1987, a pilot and his passenger were practicing take-offs and landings in a single-engine Rockwell aircraft on Runway 16 at the former Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  At about 2:30 p.m. the aircraft came in for a landing and just after touchdown suddenly veered to the left, went over a sea wall, and flipped upside down before crashing into the water of Narragansett Bay about twenty feet from shore.  The aircraft lost a portion of its tail section.  Both men were rescued and transported to medical facilities for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. 

     Source: Providence Journal, “Two Men Injured In Plane crash At Quonset”, July 31, 1987, page A-3   


Block Island, R. I. – June 28, 1987

Block Island, Rhode Island – June 28, 1987 

       At 1 p.m. on June 28, 1987, a single-engine aircraft with a lone pilot aboard took off from Block Island Airport in a Cessna Hawk bound for Westerly, R. I.  Just after take off the engine lost all power and the plane went down in a brushy area about a half-mile from the airport.  The pilot was not injured. 

     Source: Providence Journal, “No One Hurt In Block I. Plane Crash”, July 1, 1987, page A-11     

Tiverton, R.I. – July 4, 1994

Tiverton, Rhode Island – July 4, 1994

     At 10 a.m. on July 4, 1994, a 42-year-old man took off from the Fall River Airport in a home-built ultralight aircraft and set off for a shoreline flight along Mount Hope Bay towards Rhode Island.  Awhile later he turned inland over Horizon Drive in the town of Tiverton.  According to a witness, the aircraft was at an altitude of about 350 feet when its engine suddenly stopped.  As the plane began to drop the pilot deployed the emergency parachute but it was not enough to slow the plane enough to prevent it from crashing about twenty feet from a home on Horizon Drive.   The pilot was killed instantly. 

     Source: Providence Journal, “Ultralight Plane Crashes In Tiverton; Pilot Killed”, July 5, 1994, page A-1

Woonsocket, R. I. – August 19, 1983

Woonsocket, Rhode Island – August 19, 1983 

     On August 19, 1983, and 41-year-old Uxbridge, Massachusetts, man was piloting a one-passenger Ultralight Wizard over Woonsocket when a spark plug wire became disconnected causing the engine to fail.  The homemade aircraft went onto a nose dive and crashed in Cold Spring Park next to a chain link fence about thirty feet from the Blackstone River.  The pilot was transported to Woonsocket Hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. 

     The pilot had taken off earlier from behind the Cocke & Kettle restaurant in Uxbridge. 

     Source: Providence Journal, “Ultralight Pilot Injured In Crash”, August 21, 1983, page C-14

Smithfield, R. I. – June 22, 2019

Smithfield, Rhode Island – June 22, 2019

    On the morning of June 22, 2019, a single engine Ercoupe 415-C was approaching the a runway at North Central State Airport in Smithfield when the aircraft experienced  a loss of power and went down in a swamp area near the airport.   The pilot received minor injuries. 


      WJAR Channel 10 news on-line report, with photo. www.turnto 10.com  

Richmond, R. I. – September 6, 1986

Richmond, Rhode Island – September 6, 1986 

     At about 4:45 p.m. on September 6, 1986, a 42-year-old man from Coventry, R. I., was flying over Richmond Airport in an ultralight aircraft when the fabric on the left wing ripped as he came out of a dive.  The pilot aimed the aircraft towards  a wooded area at the edge of the field and released a parachute designed to be deployed in emergencies.  Just as he did so more wing fabric tore away and the chute became entangled in the landing gear.  The plane crashed through the trees and the pilot was critically injured.


     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Pilot Is Hurt As Ultralight Plummets 1,000 Feet”, unknown date.

     Providence Sunday Journal, “Two R. I. Ultralight Crashes Bring Debate Closer To Home”, October 19, 1986, C Section, page 1.  

     The Sun, (Westerly, R. I.), “Pilot Saw Wing Cloth Tear, Then Knew He Would Crash”, November 23, 1986, page 10.  

East Greenwich, R.I. – November 27, 1985

East Greenwich, Rhode Island – November 27, 1985 

     At 4:30 a.m. on November 27, 1985, a green and white colored Beechcraft C90 King Air, (Reg. No. N220F), with only a pilot and co-pilot aboard, left Morristown, New Jersey, bound for T. F. Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island.  The purpose of the chartered flight was to pick up a female passenger at T. F. Green, and fly her to New York. 

     About an hour later, as the aircraft was about eight miles from the end of Runway 5 at T. F. Green, it suddenly vanished from radar.  The weather at the time was foggy, dark, and drizzly, with poor visibility.  The crew had been operating on instrument flight at the time, and no distress call had been received. 

     The pilot had filed his flight plan shortly before leaving New Jersey.  At that time he was advised that there would be “moderate icing conditions” above 10,000 feet, and to expect “moderate turbulence” below 8,000 feet.  The aircraft would be flying at 13,000 feet for most of the flight.  The aircraft took off with full fuel tanks which amounted to 384 gallons.

     The aircraft was equipped with de-icing equipment which included a heated windshield and pneumatic de-icing boots on the wings. 

     At about 5:30 a.m., as the aircraft was approaching T. F. Green, the pilot requested clearance to land on Runway 5, which is the airport’s longest, and was granted permission.  The control tower at Green then relayed wind speed and barometric pressure readings to the crew.  This was the last radio contact with the plane.

     The plane crashed and exploded in a wooded area to the north of South Road in the town of East Greenwich, leaving a large debris field.  Both crew members were killed.


     Providence Journal Bulletin, “2 Die As Plane Crashes On Path To green; Cause Unknown”, November 28, 1985, Page 1, with photo of tail section.

     The Sun, (Westerly, R.I.), “East Greenwich Air Crash Kills Two”, November 27, 1985, page 1, with photo of tail section.


South Kingstown, R.I. – May 28, 1984

South Kingstown, Rhode Island – May 28, 1984

     On the morning of May 28, 1984, a Cessna 190 with a pilot and woman passenger aboard left Martha’s Vineyard bound for Ansonia, Connecticut. While passing over southern Rhode Island they ran into poor weather and the pilot decided to land until it passed.  He was familiar with the area, and knew of a small private air strip on Green Hill, off Schoolhouse Road, in South Kingston.  The airstrip was primarily used by the owner for take-offs and landing his ultralight aircraft. 

     The pilot of the Cessna attempted to land but aborted the first two passes.  While attempting his third, the airplane overshot the runway and crashed nose-first into a swamp.  A witness to the accident was the first to reach the downed aircraft which was imbedded in soft marshy material, and discovered that both the pilot and his passenger were not injured.  

     The aircraft suffered significant damage.    


     Providence Evening Bulletin, “2 Escape Injury As Plane Misses Strip, Crashes”, May 30, 1984, page A-5 

     The Narragansett Times, ” Passengers, Pilot Unharmed When Plane Dips Into Swamp”, May 31, 1984, page 3

Narragansett Bay – October 26, 1984

Narragansett Bay – October 26, 1984

     At 6:40 p.m. on the evening of October 26, 1984, a Cessna Skyhawk with a husband and wife aboard left T. F. Green State Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island, bound for a small private airport on Prudence Island in Narragansett Bay, a distance of only six miles.  The weather was overcast and raining at the time, with a cloud ceiling of about 300 feet and 1 mile visibility.  By 8:25 p.m. the aircraft was reported as overdue and a search was instituted. 

     The following day the aircraft was located upside-down in about eight feet of water in the channel that runs between Prudence and Patience Islands.  The woman’s body was still inside, however the husband was missing.  Divers who made the recovery reported that the pilot’s door was missing, and that the tail section had been torn away.  

     On November 11, 1984, the body of the missing husband was located along the southern shoreline of Prudence Island.  


     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Search Under Way For Overdue Plane”, October 27, 1984, page A-8

     Providence Sunday Journal, “Missing Airplane Found Off Prudence Island”, October 28, 1984, Page A-2

     The Sun, (Westerly, R.I.), “One dead, One Missing After Plane Crash In Bay”, October 28, 1984, page 33

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Bay Searches For Pilot, Fisherman Are Suspended”, October 29, 1984, page A-2.  (Searchers were also looking for a missing fisherman near the Mt. Hope Bridge.)

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Local Flyers Puzzled By Crash Of Couple On 6-Mile Hop Home”, October 30, 1984, page C-4

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Body Washed Up At Prudence Island Identified By Family As Lost Pilot”, November 13, 1984, page A-4 



Block Island Sound – August 5, 1983

Block Island Sound – August 5, 1983

Updated March 16, 2019

     On the evening of August 5, 1983, a four-seat, Piper Archer PA-28, (N6877J), owned by Yankee Airways, landed at Block Island Airport in Rhode Island, and discharged three passengers. 

     At about 8:30 p.m. the aircraft took off towards Connecticut with a lone 25-year-old female pilot aboard.  A second aircraft owned by Yankee Airways left just afterwards and followed the first aircraft.  

     The destination of both aircraft had been Groton, Connecticut, but while in-route the pilots were informed that heavy fog and low clouds had settled in over the Groton area and both were advised to head for Elizabeth Airport at Fisher’s Island.  (Fisher’s Island is located in Long Island Sound off the coast of Connecticut.) 

     As the two airplanes were making their way to Fisher’s Island, the first was observed to crash into the water and “cartwheel” before sinking.  A search and rescue operation was instituted, but initially nothing was found, and the search was hampered by increasing fog.  The following day the Coast Guard Cutter Cape Fairweather recovered two wheel assemblies from the aircraft floating in the water.  Later that day the owner of a pleasure boat reported finding aircraft debris about five miles south of Fisher’s Island.    

     On August 8, the body of the missing pilot was recovered about one mile off Block Island.   

     The missing aircraft was found three years later on July 25, 1986, when the wreckage was snagged on a fishing net and hauled to the surface.  The plane was located shortly after dawn off  the northwest coast of Fisher’s Island near Hay Harbor.


     New London Day, “Coast Guard Suspends Search For Missing Pilot”, August 7, 1983, page A-1

     The Sun, (Westerly, R.I.), Search For Pilot Of Downed Plane Halted”, August 7, 1983, page 8

     The Sun, (Westerly, R.I.), “Pilot’s Body Found”, August 9, 1983, page 8.

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Body Of Woman Pilot Recovered From Block Island Sound”, August 9, 1983, page A-7

     The Day, (New London, Ct.), “Plane Wreck Found”, July 25, 1986, page 1.   


Off Block Island – March 8, 1982

Off Block Island – March 8, 1982

     On March 8, 1982, a lone pilot was ferrying a single-seat Cessna T188C, (#N9374J), from Virginia to Gander, Newfoundland.  

     At about 1:15 p.m., the pilot radioed the Federal Aviation Administration’s control center in Nashua, New Hampshire, that he was currently at 9,000 feet over the ocean off the New England coast and was having engine trouble.  He was given a heading and directions to Block Island Airport, but a few minutes later he reported he was donning survival gear and preparing to make an emergency water landing.  He gave his position as about six miles southeast of Block Island.  

     The plane went into the water and broke apart, but the pilot was able to extricate himself and climb atop one of the wings.  There he remained for about a half-hour until the wing sank.  He spent about another 90 minutes in the water before he was rescued by a passing fishing boat.  He was then air-lifted from the boat by a Coast Guard helicopter and transported to Falmouth Hospital on Cape Cod where he was treated and released.         


     The Providence Evening Bulletin, “Pilot Ditches Plane, Saved After 2 Hours”, March 9, 1982, page A-7     

     The Sun, (Westerly, RI), “Pilot Survives Ocean Crash”, March 9, 1982, page 14

Narragansett Bay – June 20, 1982

Narragansett Bay – June 20, 1982

     On June 20, 1982, a Bell Jet Ranger helicopter, (#N20303), with three men aboard was flying about six miles south of Jamestown Island when there was a malfunction with the tail rotor and the craft crashed into the water and immediately flipped over.   All three men aboard managed to escape, and were rescued by nearby pleasure boats. 

     At the time of the accident the men were filming the start of the 635 mile Newport-to-Bermuda yacht race for a national television station.  

     The helicopter sank in 105 feet of water, and was recovered in mid-July of 1982.      


     The Sun, (Westerly, RI), “Helicopter Crashes, Crew Saved”, June 21, 1982, page 16. (With photo)

     The Providence Evening Bulletin, “TV Crew, Pilot Saved As Copter Crashes”, June 21, 1982, page A-6 (With Photo)

     Providence Evening Bulletin, Photo with caption of recovered helicopter, July 15, 1982, page A-6 



Cranston, R.I. – May 29, 1981

Cranston, Rhode Island, – May 29, 1981

     At about 8:30 p.m. on the night of May 29, 1981, a Cessna 127 with a lone 19-year-old pilot was heading to North Central State Airport in Smithfield, R.I., when thick fog forced him to make a precautionary landing in an open field area in the Hillside Farms section of Cranston.  The pilot landed safely, but just after touchdown the aircraft struck a three-foot high pile of dirt, and the fuselage was spun around about 90 degrees.  The aircraft was heavily damaged, and the pilot was transported to a hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

     Hillside Farms is currently a residential area located off Phenix Avenue in the western portion of Cranston that was starting to be developed in the early 1980s. 


     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Pilot Suffers Cuts In Forced Landing”, May 30, 1981, Page A-7, with photo.

     Westerly Sun, (RI), “Minor Injuries In Plane Crash”, May 31, 1981, page 7.


Smithfield, R.I. – July 8, 1981

Smithfield, Rhode Island – July 8, 1981

     On the morning of  July 8, 1981, a Bell 47 helicopter with two men aboard was taking off at North Central State Airport in Smithfield when one of the skids struck a runway taxi light.  The helicopter flipped over and crashed, coming to rest upside-down. The aircraft’s 21-gallon gas tank was ripped away by the impact and landed a few feet away where it burst into flame.  Both men were able to escape without serious injury.


     Providence Evening Bulletin, “2 Slightly Hurt In Crash Of Copter In Smithfield”, July 9, 1981

     Westerly Sun, (RI), “2 Survive Copter Crash”, July 8, 1981, page 2

     Westerly Sun, “Two Escape After helicopter Crashes”, July 9, 1981, page 8


Narragansett Bay – September 28, 1980

Narragansett Bay – September 28, 1980 

     On September 28, 1980, a single engine Cessna 210, with a lone pilot aboard, left Georgia bound for Newport, Rhode Island.  The 56-year-old pilot was coming to Newport to attend his daughter’s graduation from Naval Officer Candidate School.   

     Shortly after 8:00 p.m. that evening, the aircraft landed at Quonset Point, and the pilot reported he was low on fuel.   The aircraft took off about ten minutes later without refueling, bound for Newport Airport.  At about 8:20 p.m. the pilot radioed that he was now out of gas and would be ditching in the water.   Several witnesses reported seeing  the Cessna crash into the East Passage of Narragansett Bay between Short Point and Hull Cove off Jamestown, and Butterball Rock in Newport.

     Despite an intensive search conducted by the Coast Guard, the missing aircraft could not be located, and the search was eventually called off.  The missing plane and its pilot were found on October 21, 1980 when the fishing trawler Rose Jarvis accidentally snagged the wreckage in its nets near Hull Cove.  The aircraft was badly damaged but still intact.  It was brought to Middletown, Rhode Island, for examination. 


     Providence  Evening Bulletin, “Plane Crash In Bay Reported; Search Fails”, September 29, 1980, page 1     

     Westerly Sun, (RI), “Search For Airplane Continues”, September 30, 1980, page 15

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Search Ended For Lost Plane, Pilot’s Daughter In OCS Rite”, October 1, 1980, page A-1  

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Body Of Georgia Flyer And Plane Found In Water Off Jamestown”, October 22, 1980, page A-3

     Providence Evening Bulletin, Photo of aircraft with caption, October 23, 1980, page B-1 

     Westerly Sun, “Pilot Said he Was Out Of Gas”, December 7, 1980, page 31

Foster, R.I. – January 26, 1980

Foster, Rhode Island – January 26, 1980

     On the morning of January 26, 1980, a lone pilot took off from Islip, Long Island, New York, in a single-engine Cessna 150 for a 300 mile cross-country navigational flight.  His flight plane included flying from Islip to North Central State Airport in Smithfield, Rhode Island, then on to Columbia, New York, and then back to Islip.  At about 10:40 a.m., while passing over western Rhode Island, the Cessna developed engine trouble, and the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing.  He set the plane down in a six acre field in Foster.  As the aircraft bounced along the frozen ground, it suddenly hit a dip which sent it into a line of trees behind a cemetery where it hit the trees at about 40 mph and came to rest on its nose.  The field was located adjacent to North Road, about a half-mile from Route 94. 

     The aircraft didn’t burn, and the pilot was able to extricate himself.  He was not injured.


     Providence Sunday Journal, “Pilot Climbs Out Of Cessna Uninjured After Ramming Trees In Foster Landing”, January 27, 1980, page A-16, with photo of crash scene.         

Exeter, R.I. – August 22, 1980

Exeter, Rhode Island – August 22, 1980

     On the evening of August 22, 1980, two men left Quonset State Airport in a single-engine Piper PA-18, (N9863D), bound for Griswold, Connecticut.  Shortly after taking off the engine began running erratically, and the pilot attempted to make an emergency landing in a field in the town of Exeter, about a half mile off Glen Rock Road.   The field was overgrown with brush, and the plane crashed, killing the pilot and seriously injuring the passenger.  The passenger spent the night huddled under one of the wings.  The following day searchers spotted the wreckage from the air, and rescuers transported the injured man to Kent County Hospital for treatment. 


     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “Fatal Crash”, August 24, 1980, page 1. (With photo of crash scene.)   

     Aviation Safety Network

Smithfield, R.I. – May 23, 1979

Smithfield, Rhode Island – May 23, 1979

     On May 23, 1979, a 22-year-old pilot from Foxborough, Massachusetts, left Robert La Fleur Airport in Waterville, Maine, in a rented Cessna 150, bound for Norfolk, Massachusetts.  Prior to take off he’d been assured that the weather would be clear over Massachusetts. However, when he got to within ten miles of Norfolk he encountered cloudy wet weather and visibility dropped to near zero.  His aircraft lacked instruments that would have enabled him to fly in such weather.  Unable to find his way, he contacted Boston for instructions, but they were unable to pick up his aircraft on their radar.   He then began to circle the area, but before long he found he was running low on fuel.  Boston was still unable to pick the aircraft up on radar, so he was advised to head south towards Providence, Rhode Island, and to see if Providence would see him on their radar.  However, Providence was unable to locate him on their radar also, and his fuel was running out.  Then he saw an opening in the clouds that would allow him to make a visual landing.  He came down over Interstate 295 in the town of Smithfield, barely missing some tall light poles.  Then he spotted an open field where the Smithfield Crossing shopping mall is located today, and attempted to land, but at the last moment saw a car parked on the field in his path, so he aborted the landing and began to circle around for another try.  As he was making his second attempt the plane ran out of gas, but he made it to the field and was able to set down and skid to a stop.  The airplane wasn’t damaged, and the pilot was unhurt.

     Two days later, local and state police blocked off Rt. 295 at the Rt. 44 exit to allow the plane to take off and be flown back to Massachusetts.       


     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Pilot Ends White-Knuckle Plane Flight Safely”, May 24, 1979, page B-11

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Town Police Let Airplane Pilot Use Road As Runway”, May 26, 1979

Newport Airport – April 7, 1979

Newport Airport – April 7, 1979 

     At about 4:00 p.m. on April 7, 1979, a Cessna 172 with three occupants attempted to take off from Newport State Airport in Middletown, Rhode Island, while strong winds were gusting up to 45 mph.  Just as the airplane became airborne, a wind gust flipped it over and it crashed in a marshy area about 700 feet from the end of the runway.  There were no reported injuries.  The plane had arrived earlier in the day from Farmingdale, Long Island, New York.  


     Providence Sunday Journal, “3 Escape Injury When Plane Flips In Heavy Winds”.  April 8, 1979, page B-13  

East Providence, R.I. – July 22, 1978

East Providence, Rhode Island – July 22, 1978

     On July 22, 1978, a lone pilot left Falmouth Municipal Airport on Cape Cod bound for Hartford Connecticut.  He was piloting a single-engine Beechcraft Musketeer, (#N5785V), a plane he was delivering to a dealership for his employer.  At about 11:20 a.m., while passing over eastern Rhode Island, he declared an emergency as the aircraft’s engine began to run erratically.  He’d hoped to make it to Green International Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island, but the engine lost all power as he was passing over East Providence.  The aircraft was now at 3,000 feet, and the pilot was forced to glide in for an emergency landing.  He spotted a grassy open area off Pawtucket Avenue and aimed for it.    

     After clearing some large fuel tanks at one end of the field, the plane came down and skidded along the ground before it struck a pole for some high-tension power lines.  The impact cracked the pole sending the top half crashing to the ground.  The aircraft came to rest with its nose completely demolished, but there was no fire, and the pilot was able to extricate himself.  He was transported to a hospital for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries.

     The cause of the accident was suspected to be a fuel leak.


     Providence Sunday Journal, “Out Of Gas, Pilot Wings It”, July 22, 1978, page 1, (With Photo of wrecked airplane.)        

Block Island Airport – September 8, 1976

Block Island Airport – September 8, 1976

     On September 8, 1976, a Beechcraft S-35 Bonanza arrived at Block Island Airport with three men aboard.  After the aircraft taxied to a stop, it was left in place with the engine running.  At that time the pilot exited the aircraft and stood on the wing to assist one of the other men from the cabin.  As this was happening, the third man went to switch his position within the cabin, and as he did so bumped into a seat in the cockpit which fell against the plane’s controls.  The aircraft suddenly lurched, throwing the pilot off the wing.  He hit the ground and struck his head against the pavement.  As the pilot lay bleeding, the aircraft began to spin wildly in circles until someone gained control of it.    

     At the time of the accident, another aircraft belonging to New England Airlines was preparing to take off.  The injured pilot was placed aboard and flown to a hospital in New London, Connecticut, in critical condition.  The pilot did not survive his injuries.       


     Providence Evening Bulletin, “One Badly Hurt At Isle Airport”, September 9, 1976, page B-1

     Providence Sunday Journal, “——— Heir Dead After Plane Accident”, September 12, 1976, Page B-2


Atlantic Ocean – July 23, 1976

Atlantic Ocean – July 23, 1976

     On July 22, 1976, a 31-year-old pilot from Narragansett, Rhode Island, was working as a “spotter” for a commercial fishing vessel based out of Point Judith, R.I..  His job was to find schools of swordfish and radio their location to the boat.  At about 4:30 p.m., crewmen aboard the fishing vessel saw the aircraft suddenly go down in the water and sink.  An extensive search followed, but no sign of the plane or its pilot could be found.


     Providence Evening Bulletin, “CG Ends Search For Pilot”, July 26, 1976, page A-2    

     The Narragansett Times, “Crash Victim Search Ends”, July 29, 1976, page 2.

Tiverton, R.I. – July 20, 1976

Tiverton, Rhode Island – July 20, 1976

     At 11:30 a.m. on July 20, 1976, a single-engine Cessna 172 with two brothers aboard took off from Fall River, Massachusetts, for a sight-seeing trip over the Narragansett Bay and Newport, R.I. area.  About an hour later, as the aircraft was circling the bay, it developed engine trouble and began losing altitude.  The pilot radioed a distress call to Fall River, and airport tower officials tried to provide suggestions for restarting the motor, but nothing worked.  Before long the aircraft was only 50 feet over the water, and the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing. The plane hit the water about 150 feet from shore off a beach in Tiverton, located about 1.5 miles north of the Sakonnet River Bridge.  As it sank, one brother crawled out through a window, while the other managed to get his door open.  While one brother made it to shore on his own, the other struggled in the choppy water due to a health condition. 

     The crash was witnessed by beachgoers, some of who took action.  One of them was 16-year-old Debby Souza, of Tiverton, who swam out to assist the struggling man and was able to keep him afloat.  “I was tired”, the man later told reporters, “I was having a hell of a time staying afloat.  I don’t know if I could have made it to shore alone.”

     As Debby began to make her way towards shore with him, she encountered five other teenagers who swam out from shore towing a skiff.  They were unable to row the boat because there was only one oar.  After getting the man into the boat, they all worked to get it to shore. 

     The other five youths were identified as: Gary Paquin, 17, Paul Simpson, 21, Peter Glewski, 15, Thomas Mc Mahon, 15, all of Tiverton, and Michael Morrissey, 15, of Pawtucket.

     Both brothers were transported to St. Anne’s Hospital in Fall River for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

     Source: Providence Evening Bulletin, “Airplane ditches In Mt. Hope Bay; 6 Teenagers Rescue Exhausted Pilot”, July 21, 1976, page A-14             

Coventry, R.I. – July 9, 1976

Coventry, Rhode Island – July 9, 1976

     On July 9, 1976, a twin-engine Piper Apache with a lone pilot aboard took off from Green State Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island, bound for Plainville, Connecticut.  The purpose of the flight was to ferry the aircraft to Plainville for repairs.  While in-route, one of the engines lost power and began sputtering.  The pilot looked for a place to make an emergency landing  and saw an open pasture surrounded by woods.  The plane came in and clipped the tops of some trees at the edge of the field before crashing into the field and leaving a furrow 150 feet long before coming to rest.  There was no fire after the crash, and the pilot was transported to a hospital for serious injuries. 

     The field where the crash took place was known (at the time) as North Field, located about one mile west of Route 102, within view of Sisson Road.  


     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Plane Crash Lands In Coventry Field; Lone Pilot Injured”, July 10, 1976, Page 7, with photo of crash scene.

T. F. Green Airport – September 27, 1975

T.F. Green Airport, Warwick, R.I. – September 27, 1975

     At about 1:00 a.m., on the morning of September 27, 1975, a Falcon cargo jet belonging to an express company landed at T. F. Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island, after being diverted from its original destination of Boston’s Logan Airport due to low visibility conditions over Boston.    

     Aboard the Falcon was a pilot and co-pilot, and one passenger.  Among its cargo were some low-grade radioactive materials, minor explosives, and flammable liquids.     

     About an hour later the Falcon was given clearance to resume its journey.  The tower gave instructions to use Runway 23 left for take off.   At the time clearance was given, a fog and drizzle condition existed at Green, and the pilot inadvertently turned onto Runway 23 right, instead of 23 left.  Unbeknownst to the Falcon pilot, Runway 23 right had been closed since 5:25 p.m. the previous evening, and two large passenger jets, an Allegheny Airlines DC-9, and an American Airlines 727, were parked about halfway down the 5,000 foot runway and were not visible to the flight crew. 

     The airliners were not occupied at the time, except for one maintenance man working aboard the DC-9.

     Although the runway was closed, the runways lights were still on, which investigators later determined contributed to the accident. 

     The Falcon began its take-off run and reached a speed of 100 mph before its left wind struck the nose wheel of the DC-9 causing damage to the wing and nose wheel.  The initial impact did little to slow the Falcon, which continued on and slammed into a maintenance truck which had also been parked on the runway, sending the truck tumbling under the left wing of the 727.  The truck erupted in flames and burned furiously beneath the fuel laden wing of the 727. 

     After colliding with the truck the Falcon’s main landing gear collapsed and the jet skidded to a stop about 150 yards later.  The plane did not catch fire and the crew and passenger scrambled out through a cockpit escape hatch – unhurt.

     Due to a quick response by the airport fire department the burning truck was extinguished and the fuel in the wing of the 727 did not ignite, although the aircraft did suffer serious damage from the burning truck.

     The lone maintenance man aboard the DC-9 was transported to a medical facility to be treated for shock.

     None of the materials aboard the Falcon jet were found to be leaking or in any way compromised.


     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Radioactive-Cargo Plane Crashes At State Airport”, September 28, 1975.    

     South Middlesex News, “Wrong-Way Takeoff At RI Airport”, September 28, 1975, page 9A 

     Westerly Sun, (RI), “Law Not Violated In Warwick Crash”, September 30, 1975, page 6

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Airport Crash Cost $1 Million”, October 2, 1975, page A-1

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Runway Lights May Have Led To Collision”, October 3, 1975, page B-2

     Westerly Sun, (RI), “Faulty Lights Crash Factor”, October 5, 1975, page 9.

     Additional reading for researchers: 

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Cargo Aboard Crashed Jet ‘Sounded Worse That It Was'”, February 3, 1976, page A-7

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “State Seeking Dismissal Of Runway Crash Suit”, December 4, 1976, page 8.  

Coventry, R. I. – June 8, 1975

Coventry, Rhode Island – June 8, 1975 


     On June 8, 1975, a 49-year-old pilot from Niantic, Connecticut, landed at RICONN Airport in western Coventry for an outing of the Southeastern Connecticut Chapter of the Experimental Aircraft Association.  The aircraft the pilot landed in was referred to in the newspapers as a “Baby Ace”, (registration no. N4184A) , and was a single-engine, single-seat, home-built airplane, with a canvas covered steel frame.  The plane had been built more than ten years earlier, and had been flown extensively without incident.  Furthermore, the aircraft had recently passed its annual inspection.

     RICONN Airport has a grass filed in which planes take off and land.  At about 3:40 p.m. the pilot took off from the field for his intended destination of Waterford, Connecticut, but shortly after becoming airborne the aircraft lost power and stalled.  Witnesses saw the plane dive to the ground from an altitude of about 250 feet and crash in a wooded area about a quarter of a mile from the field, where it burst into flames.  The pilot did not survive.      


     New London Day, “Niantic Man Dies In Crash”, June 9, 1975 – with photo of aircraft.

     Providence Journal, “Two Pilots Killed In Crashes”, June 9, 1975, Page 1. – with photo of crash scene.  (The second crash referred to in the headline happened in Massachusetts.)

T. F. Green Airport – January 22, 1966

T. F. Green Airport – January 22, 1966

Warwick, Rhode Island

     On January 22, 1966, a Piper Cherokee owned by the Newport Air Taxi Co. of Newport, R.I., was coming in for a landing at T. F. Green Airport when it was involved in a mid-air collision with a Cessna 150 owned by Wille Aero Inc.  The Cessna had an instructor and student aboard, and was making touch and go landings at the time of the accident.  The pilot of the Cherokee was alone.

     The two planes collided about 100 feet above the airfield and came down just inside the airport fence near a residential area at the southern end of the airport.  Everyone aboard both airplanes was killed instantly.


     The Boston Sunday Globe, “Planes Collide, 3 Die”, January 23, 1966, page 40.     

Westerly, R.I. – August 17, 1966

Westerly, Rhode Island – August 17, 1966

     On August 17, 1966, a Cessna 206 took off from Black Island bound for Westerly Airport.  Aboard the aircraft was the 28-year-old pilot and a 30-year-old woman passenger from New York.  As the plane approached the shore of Westerly, the engine lost power, and the pilot was forced to make an emergency landing in the water about 1,600 yards off shore from Weekapaug Beach.  Both escaped the aircraft before it sank, and were rescued a few minutes later by the crew of a two-masted sailboat named Camelot.  A short time later they were transferred to a Coast Guard boat and ultimately transported to South County Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

     Source:  New London Day, “Plane Ditches In Ocean; Pilot, Passenger Saved”, August 18, 1966, page 6     

Block Island Sound – June 19, 1965

Block Island Sound – June 19, 1965

     On June 19, 1965, a Waterford, Connecticut, man left New London – Waterford Airport in a four-passenger Piper Comanche  bound for Montauk Point, Long Island, New York.   Ten minutes into the trip the aircraft developed engine trouble.  The pilot attempted to radio a distress call on an emergency frequency monitored by the Federal Aviation Administration, rescue facilities, and airport control towers, but nobody acknowledged receiving the call.   When the engine lost all power the pilot was forced to make an emergency water landing about three miles off Fisher’s Island, New York.  The plane remained afloat for several minutes before sinking, during which time the pilot was able to stand on the wing and search for any passing boats but didn’t see any.  After donning two life jackets, he began to swim towards Fisher’s Island.  The water temperature was about 50 degrees, and after the first hour he began to tire. Finally a passing charter boat, Skipjack, happened upon him and he was rescued.  Ironically, the boat’s captain was a former neighbor of the downed airman.       


     New London Day, “Waterford Man Rescued As Plane Sinks In Sea”, June 22, 1965 


Providence, R.I. – January 15, 1913

Providence, Rhode Island – January 15, 1913


     At 2:12 p.m. on January 13, 1913, aviator Harry M. Jones set out from Boston for New York City in a Curtiss bi-plane, with scheduled stops in Rhode Island and Connecticut along the way.  This was to be the first parcel post flight in America, and among the letters and packages Jones was carrying were nine pots of Boston baked beans which were to be delivered to prominent public officials along the route.    

     The first scheduled stop was in Providence, Rhode Island, and Jones landed in a baseball field off Elmwood Avenue just after 3:00 p.m.

     The following morning he resumed his journey.  As he took off from the baseball field and began a wide circle around it, the aircraft was suddenly encountered a strong cross-wind and was pushed towards some telephone wires and railroad tracks.  The crash landing broke several wooden ribs of the airplane which required two weeks to repair.

     Jones was not seriously injured.  When he resumed his journey it was reported that his cargo included Rhode Island Johnny Cakes in addition to the baked beans.       

     Harry Jones was involved in another plane crash in Rhode Island on May 25, 1913, when he crashed into Narragansett Bay.  To learn more click on link below. 

     Narragansett Bay, May 25, 1913

     He was also involved n another crash in 1915.

     Quincy, Mass. June 15, 1915

     Jones also made the first airmail flight in Maine. 

     First Airmail Flight in Maine

     Jones is buried in Massachusetts. 



     The Sun, (N.Y.), Aero Parcel Post On Way”, January 14, 1913 

     New York Tribune, “Postal Plane Smashed”, January 17, 1913

     New York Tribune, “Parcel Ship May Move – Harry M. Jones Expects To Fly From Providence To-day”, January 27, 1913

West Greenwich, R.I. – July 23, 1979

West Greenwich, Rhode Island – July 23, 1979  

     On July 23, 1979, a 26-year-old pilot, and his 60-year-old female passenger, took off from Richmond, Rhode Island, bound for Westerly,  R.I., to refuel the airplane as there were no fuel facilities at Richmond Airport.   While passing over the town of West Greenwich, R.I., the aircraft crash-landed on an unused portion of St. Joseph’s Cemetery.  After striking an open area of the cemetery, the plane bounded into some trees about 100 yards from the chapel, and 30 yards from Nooseneck Hill Rd., a.k.a., Route 3.   

     Both the pilot and his passenger suffered serious injuries, and the aircraft was heavily damaged.  The aircraft came to rest upside down with its tail up against a tree, and with one of its wings sheared off.

      West Greenwich’s chief of police was quoted as saying, “That plane is really a mess.  They’re lucky to be alive.”    

    It was further reported that the pilot had obtained his flying license the week before the accident. 

     The aircraft was described as a 1973 single-engine Grumman AA1B.  


     Westerly Sun, “Couple In plane Crash ‘Lucky To Be Alive'”, July 24, 1979, page 9.

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Airplane Pilot Likely Was Lost And Out Of Fuel”, July 24, 1979, page A8, (With 2 photos of the crash.)

     Providence Journal, “2 Hurt As Plane falls Near Rt. 3”, July 24, 1979, page 1.

Scituate Reservoir, R.I. – August 30, 1986

Scituate Reservoir – Scituate, Rhode Island – August 30, 1986


     On August 30, 1986, a 32-year-old man from Glocester, Rhode Island, was piloting an ultra-light aircraft over the Scituate Reservoir with a video camera attached to his helmet, and a video recorder belted to his waist.  Suddenly, while at an altitude of 700 feet, the small two-cycle motor abruptly stopped.  The pilot didn’t know why the engine had quit, and as the aircraft began to fall he tried everything he could to re-start it, but was unsuccessful.  As he approached the water he tried to set the plane down in a “nose up” position, but when the wheels hit the water the craft flipped over and began to sink about 100 feet from shore.  As the aircraft went under, the pilot couldn’t get his seatbelt off, but finally managed to do so.  Then, as he tried to swim to the surface, he found himself caught by the video recorder belt.  As the plane settled on the bottom he managed to free himself and barely made it to the surface.  He then swam to shore where he marked his location with a pile of rocks before setting out to find a telephone.   

     A few days later police divers raised the ultra-light from the bottom, and recovered the video tape of the accident. 


     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Ultra-light Plane Crashes Near Reservoir”, August 31, 1986, page C7  

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Pilot Videotapes Flight Plunge Into Reservoir”, September 1, 1986, Page A3

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Ultra-light Plane, Videotape Recovered By Scuba Divers”, September 4, 1986 

Richmond, R.I. Airport – October 24, 1986

Richmond, Rhode Island, Airport – October 24, 1986 

     On October 24, 1986, a 59-year-old Woonsocket man was piloting a gyroplane at the Richmond Airport when it crashed on takeoff killing him.  The pilot was moving down the runway about four feet off the ground when the aircraft suddenly tilted to one side and one of the propeller blades struck the ground causing it to flip several times.

     The pilot had owned the craft for less than a year.

     Source: The Sun, (Westerly, R.I.), “Man Dies In Airport Crash”, October 26, 1986, page 2.  

Newport Harbor, R.I. – December 11, 1986

Newport Harbor, Rhode Island – December 11, 1986

     On the evening of December 11, 1986, a Bell Ranger helicopter took off from Newport, R.I. bound for Cranston, R.I., with a lone pilot aboard.  Heavy wet snow was falling at the time, but the pilot was a veteran aviator.  As the helicopter was passing over Newport Harbor it suddenly fell into the water and turned upside down, but was kept afloat by its two pontoons.  The pilot was able to free himself and climb atop one of the pontoons, but he was now soaking wet and in danger of dying of exposure.    

     As luck would have it, Petty Officer Larry Fletcher was on duty at the Navy’s Stillwater Basin docks a short distance away, and shortly after the crash he stepped outside to get his coat.  It was then he heard faint cries for help coming from across the water, but couldn’t see anything due to the swirling snow and darkness of the night.      

     Fletcher then notified William Myers, a civilian boat engineer working in the area, and the two of them took a navy boat out into the harbor to search for the source of the cries.   A short time later they came upon the helicopter pilot atop one of the pontoons.

     After being taken aboard the navy vessel the pilot was placed next to the heater and given a coat and hat to put on.  Once ashore he was transported to the Newport Naval Hospital to be examined.

     Source: Providence Journal-Evening Bulletin, “Cranston Copter Pilot Plucked From Newport Harbor”, December 12, 1986, page A2           


Near Providence, RI – November 19, 1910

Near Providence, RI – November 19, 1910

     On November 19, 1910, the balloon Cleveland, took off from North Adams, Massachusetts, with five men aboard.  The craft was piloted by Leo Stevens, and carrying four Williams College students as passengers. 

     Strong winds on the ground delayed the ascension for nearly an hour, but when it finally took to the sky the balloon “shot up like a rocket” before being carried away in an easterly direction.  Three hours and thirty-five minutes later the balloon was over Rhode Island approaching Providence when it began to lose altitude.   Ballast was dropped, but the balloon continued to fall, and appeared to heading for a large lake.  The aeronauts were forced to strip off their clothing to lighten the weight in order to avoid a water landing.  The tactic worked, and the balloon sailed across the lake before crashing onto the far shore.

     Upon impact, one of the occupants, H.P. Scharman was pitched out and received serious injuries.  Thus relieved of significant weight, the balloon suddenly rose upwards leaving Scharman behind.  It then continued onward several hundred feet, propelled forward by heavy winds, before it slammed into a stone wall.  The crash sent the others tumbling out causing relatively minor injuries.    

Source: New York Times, “Balloon Up In Gale, Spills Aviators”, November 20, 1910


Cranston, RI – June 25, 1910

Cranston, RI – June 25, 1910

      On June 25, 1910, aviator Joe Seymour was giving a demonstration of his Curtis bi-plane at Narragansett Trotting Park in Cranston, Rhode Island, when he crashed upon takeoff.  A newspaper article which appeared in the Providence Journal reported, “Joseph Seymour, the aviator, was severely hurt, and his Curtis aeroplane badly wrecked at Narragansett Park late yesterday afternoon, when the machine going 30 miles an hour, crashed into a post hidden in the grass, while Seymour was attempting to alight.”  Seymour was thrown from his airplane and received cuts and bruises.     

     Narragansett Park, a.k.a. Narragansett Trotting Park, was a race track that once existed between present-day Park Avenue, that Gansett Avenue, and Spectacle Pond, in Cranston, Rhode Island. 

    After wrecking, Seymour contacted the Herring Aeroplane Factory in Massachusetts, and ordered two replacement propellers.  Oddly enough, they just happened to have two in stock that would fit his aircraft.  This was good news, for otherwise they would have had to be custom made – out of wood – which would take considerable time. 

   From Rhode Island, Mr. Seymour went to Garden City, Long Island, where he took part in another air exhibition in July.  Unfortunately, bad luck followed him there and he crashed again while making an in-flight turn.  The following September, Seymour’s plane was nearly hit in mid-air by another aircraft while flying at yet another exhibition.


Providence Journal, “Aviator Soars In Air In Night Flight Here”, June 24, 1910, Pg. 1

Providence Journal, “Seymour, In Biplane Crashes Into Post.”, June 25, 1910, Pg. 1

Providence Journal, “Rushes Aeroplane Repairs”, June 26, 1910, Pg. 2

New York Times, “Aeroplane Hits Post”, June 25, 1910

New York Times, “Seymour Machine Wrecked”, July 28, 1910


Providence, RI – May 13, 1929

Providence R.I. – May 13, 1929

Edgewood Beach

      Edgewood Beach no longer exists, but from the late 1800s to the early 20th century it was a tourist and recreational destination during the warmer months. 

     Located on the city line of both Providence and Cranston, the beach was also the location of the former Washington Park Yacht Club which overlooked Narragansett Bay.

     On May 13, 1929, Major O. Caylor of Providence was flying his Challenger biplane over the area maneuvering his it through a series of stunts much to the delight of those watching below.  Also aboard was 21-year-old Ralph Kirker of Cranston, a registered U.S. Government aviation mechanic who was working towards his federal pilot’s license. 

      According to witnesses, the pilot was putting the plane through a series of aerobatic loops between 300 and 500 feet off the ground when at the end of a steep dive the plane began to rise skyward but then abruptly fell from the sky.  Some claimed they heard the engine stall, others said it was skipping.  Either way, the plane came in at a steep angle and slammed into the ground between the yacht club and Alabama Avenue.  

     One witness who was almost too close to the event was a young boy named Erwin Rydstrom, of 105 Alabama Avenue.  As the plane was plummeting towards the ground, Erwin realized he was directly in its path!  He barely had time to scramble out of the way as the aircraft dove into the very spot where he had been standing.

     Two other witnesses were Herbert E. Slayton and his wife who saw the crash from their home on Washington Avenue.  Mrs. Slayton, a nurse, ran to assist while her husband called Rhode Island Hospital for an ambulance.   

      As onlookers surrounded to the wreck they discovered that both men were still alive but critically injured.  By the time they reached the hospital only Kirker was still alive, but he succumbed to his injuries at 1:30 the following morning. 

     As news of the crash spread, hundreds of curious spectators descended on the scene, some of whom began to tear pieces off the fuselage as souvenirs.  The nose of the craft was buried in the ground and the fuselage had crumpled upon itself like an accordion, ripping the right wing off and spilling high octane aviation fuel.   

      Both Cranston and Providence police arrived on the scene to keep scavengers at bay. Since the plane had crashed very close to the city line, there was a question as to which police department would be responsible for the investigation, until it was finally determined that the plane had crashed six feet on the Providence side. 

      The investigation revealed that Caylor took off from Providence Airport at 5:41 p.m. and according to an airport official appeared to have trouble gaining altitude on take off.  The official stated that Caylor had pulled the nose of the aircraft up too soon causing the plane to loose lift and fall back to the ground.  On a second attempt he again pulled the nose up at what was described as a “dangerous angle” but managed to get airborne.  

     After leaving Providence, the plane was seen to circle What Cheer Airport in Pawtucket before heading south towards Edgewood Beach.    

     Investigators concluded that Mr. Caylor had been too low for conducting aerobatic loops, noting that federal regulations required an altitude of at least 1000 feet.  In addition, the pilot had been looping with the wind and not against it, which was considered a poor tactic. 

     Caylor had brought his plane to Rhode Island from Duncan, Oklahoma, four months earlier.  He had been in Oklahoma to start a flying school, but had changed his plans and returned to Rhode Island, where he got involved with an undertaking to establish a seaplane service between Providence, Newport, and Block Island.  After negotiations with Providence officials, a lease agreement was signed allowing Caylor to operate his air service out of Field’s Point in that city.  The venture was to be called Eastern Airways Inc. and was set to begin operations May 14th, the day after the crash.            

     Caylor had only been flying for about a year and reportedly had survived another plane crash in Florida only a few months earlier. His home was located at 1680 Broad Street, about a mile from the crash site.

     Ralph Kirker lived at 120 Norfolk Street in the Auburn section of Cranston.  He graduated from Cranston High School in 1926, and after graduation obtained aviation mechanic training at Mitchell Field on Long Island, New York.  From there he went to Chicago for advanced schooling before returning to Rhode Island in November of 1928 and began working towards obtaining his pilots license.  In the meantime he was hired by Caylor to be the mechanic for Eastern Airways, and the day he died was actually his first day on the job. 

     Edgewood Beach was a destination spot for more than seventy years. The Washington Park Yacht Club was destroyed in the Hurricane of 1938.  During World War II the area was converted to a ship yard where “Liberty Ships” were produced in vast quantities for the war effort.  By the 1950s it was being used as a landfill. Today a college campus occupies the site.      


Providence Journal, “R.I. Fliers Killed In Plane Crash At Edgewood Beach”, May 14, 1929 Pg 1. 

Internet site; www.savethebay.org  Fields Point History


Woonsocket, RI – March 22, 1950

Woonsocket, Rhode Island

March 22, 1950

      26-year old Charles B——–, of New Haven, Connecticut, was a new pilot, having only obtained his license six months earlier, so it was with trepidation that he looked over the field at Berkeley Airport in Cumberland and decided that he didn’t like what he saw.  In his opinion, the field was too muddy, and he feared the Cessna 140 airplane that he planned to rent would either nose over or fail to gain sufficient speed to achieve altitude.  Besides his own safety, there was his wife to consider, who planned on taking the flight with him.

     He expressed his concerns to the airport manager, who didn’t share the young man’s concerns.  To prove it, the manager offered to fly the Cessna to Woonsocket Airport a few miles away and meet the couple there.  Then, if they liked conditions there, they could take-off and return the plane to Berkeley.  The couple agreed, and got a ride to Woonsocket airport from Officer John M. Roberts of the Woonsocket police who had been at Berkeley taking a pilot’s instructors course.   

     A short time later the couple stood at Woonsocket Airport and Mr. B——- decided it was safe to fly from there.  The couple climbed into the airplane with the husband at the controls.  All seemed well as the plane headed down the runway and into the sky, but then the plane went into a stall and nosed to the ground.  The fall was broken in part when a wing struck some power lines before it crashed at the intersection of Diamond Hill Road and Bound Road. 

     The severed power lines caused a delay in calling for help, so a bystander took the injured couple to Woonsocket Hospital in his private car.  Fortunately their injuries weren’t serious.   The airplane however, was a total loss.  

      Ironically, it was the just this type of accident the husband was trying to avoid in Berkeley that happened in Woonsocket.


Woonsocket Call, “Conn. Couple Misses Death In Crash At City Airport”, March 23, 1950


North Central Airport – May 2, 1980

North Central Airport – May 2, 1980

Smithfield, Rhode Island


North Central Airport, Smithfield, R. I.  May 2, 1980

North Central Airport, Smithfield, R. I.
May 2, 1980

On May 2, 1980, a 59-year-old man was landing his aircraft, a Piper Tomahawk, at North Central State Airport in Smithfield, Rhode Island, while another Piper Tomahawk was sitting on or near the runway with two men inside.   The incoming plane clipped the second with its wingtip, flipping it over and tearing off the tail section, completely demolishing the aircraft.   Fortunately both men inside were able to climb out on their own and there was no fire.  The incoming plane sustained only minor damage.

     All three men were taken to area hospitals with non-life-threatening injuries.  

     An official from the Department of transportation believed the crash might have been avoided if North Central had a manned control tower – which it does not. 

North Central Airport  Smithfield, R.I. May 2, 1980

North Central Airport
Smithfield, R.I.
May 2, 1980

North Central Airport Smithfield, R.I. May 2, 1980

North Central Airport
Smithfield, R.I.
May 2, 1980


Source: Woonsocket Call, “2 Light Planes Collide At Area Airport; 3 Hurt”, May 3, 1980


Missing Aircraft – April 19, 1980

MISSING AIRCRAFT – April 19, 1980

Aircraft: Cessna 150, Registration N19593

      At 9:00 a.m., on April 19, 1980, a Cessna 150 left Bayport Airdrome on Long Island, New York, for a three-leg navigational training flight to Newport, Rhode Island, then to Oxford, Connecticut, and back to Bayport.  The pilot was 55-year-old Rose Heinlen, a student pilot from Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y. with less than 60 hours of flight time.  Somewhere between Long Island and Newport she and the Cessna disappeared and have not been seen since.  No distress calls were received.

     Civil Air Patrol wings from New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard participated in the search.  25 aircraft of all types searched the waters from Montauk, Long Island, to Martha’s Vineyard, including waters along the coasts of three states.  

     One area of focus was Narragansett Bay north of the Mount Hope Bridge, where it was reported that an oil slick had been sighted on the water.  A Coast Guard vessel sent to investigate found only a wooden raft that was not connected to the missing plane.

     One woman reported that she had seen an airplane resembling a Cessna flying only ten feet off the water of Narragansett Bay on the day of the disappearance. Three fishermen later corroborated this, but nothing was found. 

     Part of the investigation revealed that a steady 20 to 30 knot wind had been blowing at the time of the flight which could have pushed the aircraft as much as 300 degrees off course towards Cape Cod and the islands, and Mrs. Heinlen may not have been aware of this.

     On April 23rd it was reported that Mrs. Heinlin may have communicated with another pilot via radio between 10:30 and 11:00 a.m. stating she was lost.  The revelation came about after a Rhode Island pilot reported hearing a radio conversation between a woman and another pilot.  The woman stated she was lost, and the pilot was attempting to give her directions.  Unfortunately, the pilot giving directions was never identified. 

     As of this time the case remains open. 


Providence Journal, “4-state Search For Small Plane Centers Briefly In Touisset Area”, April 22, 1980, Pg. A-3

Providence Journal, “Lost Pilot May Have Sought Directions”, April 23, 1980, Pg. B-13

Providence Evening Bulletin, “CAP Widens Search For Lost Cessna”, April 22, 1980, page A-6    





Block Island Airport – June 1959

Block Island Airport, R.I. – June 11, 1959

     At 2:55 a.m. on June 11, 1959, a small plane was attempting to land at Block Island Airport when it crash-landed about 250 feet from the end of the airport’s only runway.   The pilot stated a sudden shift in the wind caused the plane to loose airspeed on final approach. 

     The plane was a 1955 Beechcraft Bonanza low-wing monoplane which suffered significant damage.  Fortunately the three men aboard escaped unhurt.

     The accident was investigated by the State Aeronautics Administration.

Source: Providence Evening Bulletin, “3 Unhurt In Block Island Plane Crash”, June 11, 1959, Pg. 13



Lincoln, R.I. – August 29, 2003

Lincoln, Rhode Island – August 29, 2003

     On the morning of August 29, 2003, a 38-year-old North Providence man took off from T. F. Green Airport in a Piper Tomahawk bound for North Central State Airport in Smithfield, Rhode Island, to practice “touch-and-go” landings and take offs. Shortly before 11 a.m. he was approaching Runway 23 when the aircraft suddenly lost all power and crashed about 500 feet from the end of the runway in a wooded area off Albion Road on the Lincoln/Smithfield town line, not far from the A.T. Cross Co.  The airplane was completely wrecked, having landed up-side down with one wing torn away.  Fortunately there was no fire, and the lone pilot was able to extricate himself and walk out to a nearby roadway where he encountered Chief Frank Sylvester of the Lime Rock Fire Department.  


The Observer, “Student Pilot Escapes Harm In Crash Near Airport”, by Beth Hurd, September 4, 2003, page 3A       

Providence Journal, “Pilot Unharmed In North Smithfield Crash”, August 30, 2003

Woonsocket Call, “Pilot Escapes Injury In Plane Crash”, August 30, 2003. 

T.F. Green Airport – November 23, 1974

T.F. Green Airport – November 23, 1974

     On the morning of November 23, 1974, a single-engine aircraft with a family of four aboard left Teterboro, New Jersey bound for Lawrence, Massachusetts.  While en-route, the aircraft developed engine trouble when the pilot was switching fuel tanks. The pilot was forced to make an emergency landing on the northeast runway at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island. 

     Upon touching down the aircraft skidded for about 500 feet before it nosed over and came to rest.  The nose and propeller suffered heavy damage, and the right wheel had broken away.   There was no fire, and the family was uninjured, and left the aircraft on their own.   The wreckage was removed from the runway within twenty-five minutes, and the runway reopened.


     Providence Sunday Journal, “Family Of 4 Unhurt In Plane Crash”, November 24, 1974, page C-16   


Block Island, R.I. – October 24, 1974

Block Island, Rhode Island – October 24, 1974

     On the afternoon of October 24, 1974, a Cessna 180 seaplane was attempting to land at Block Island’s Old Harbor when the left wing dipped and caught the water causing the plane to capsize about 300 feet from shore.  The lone pilot aboard was able to free himself from the submerged cockpit and was rescued a short time later by nearby boaters.


     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Seaplane Tips In Landing At Block Island”, October 25, 1974, page B-5

     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “Seaplane Pilot Rescued”, October 25, 1974, page 2

Middletown, R.I. – October 13, 1974

Middletown, Rhode Island – October 13, 1974

     On the afternoon of October 13, 1974, a small aircraft with two persons aboard left T. F. Green Airport in Warwick bound for Middletown.  During their flight a pilot in another aircraft reported that they had what appeared to be a problem with the landing gear of their airplane.  Authorities were notified, and preparations were made for an emergency landing at Newport Airport, located in Middletown.  As the plane approached the runway fire engines and rescue vehicles were standing by.   The landing gear collapsed as soon as the plane touched down, and the aircraft nosed over and skidded to a stop.  There was no fire.  Fortunately none of the occupants were injured.

     Source: (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Two Escape Injury In Plane Mishap”, October 15, 1974, page B-1

Block Island Airport – August 25, 1974

Block Island Airport – August 25, 1974

     On August 25, 1975, three men, all members of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary, left Danbury, Connecticut, bound for Block Island, R.I., in a single-engine Beech Musketeer aircraft.  They arrived at Block Island at about 2:00 p.m., and as the plane approached the runway of Block Island State Airport, the engine lost power and the plane crash landed 93 feet short of the runway.  Two of the three men aboard suffered minor injuries.      

     This was the second aviation accident to occur in Rhode Island on this date.  Another man was killed when his homemade plane crashed into the water off Deluca’s Beach in Narragansett, R.I.  That accident is also posted on this website.


     Westerly Sun, “Man Killed As Plane Crashes Off Scarborough State Beach”, August 26, 1974, Page 1.     

Narragansett, R.I. – August 25, 1974

Narragansett, Rhode Island – August 25, 1974

     At about 1:30 p.m. on August 25, 1974, a single-engine, one-man, “experimental” aircraft was seen passing over  DeLuca’s Beach in the town of Narragansett, heading out over the water.  Suddenly a loud “pop” was heard, and the aircraft spun into the water from an altitude of 200 feet.  The airplane struck nose first, crumpling the front of the aircraft and pinning the pilot inside as the cockpit sank below the surface.  Although the cockpit was underwater, the wreckage remained partially afloat about 250 yards from shore, in water estimated to be 40-50 feet deep.   

     A man and woman from a nearby boat dove into the water to attempt a rescue, but were unsuccessful.  They were relieved by six life guards who rowed out to the scene in two small boats, yet they couldn’t free the pilot either.  When a Coast Guard vessel from Point Judith arrived the aircraft was towed to shore.  There the body of the pilot was removed and transported to South County Hospital where he was pronounced dead.  


     The Providence Journal, (Massachusetts Edition), “Pilot Dies When Homemade Plane Crashes Off South County Beach”, August 26, 1974, page 1. (With Photo)

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Pilot Dies In crash Of Homemade Plane”, August 26, 1974, (With Photo)

Atlantic Ocean – August 22, 1974

Atlantic Ocean – August 22, 1974


     On the afternoon of August 22, 1974, a trail race between 12-meter yachts competing for the America’s Cup trophy was taking place about six miles southeast off Point Judith, Rhode Island.  Among the media covering the event were two CBS employees, along with a pilot, aboard a Bell-47 helicopter following the progress of the race from 150 – 200 feet in the air. 

     At about 3:00 p.m., the helicopter suddenly developed control difficulties and spun into the water landing on its side as it hit.  One witnesses was quoted as saying, “All of a sudden, the copter started to whirlybird.”  Just after striking the water the helicopter rolled over upside down and only the bottoms of its pontoons could be seen. 

     Several boats in the immediate vicinity quickly raced to the scene including a U.S. Coast Guard vessel.  The pilot managed to free himself and came to the surface on his own.  As the Coast Guard boat came alongside, Lieutenant David Hosmer dove into the water and pulled a second man from the aircraft.  A civilian from another boat rescued the third.  

     One victim was brought aboard the Coast Guard boat while the others were taken aboard separate civilian vessels.  All three vessels then raced to Point Judith where ambulances were waiting to transport the injured.  One of the victims, a 26-year-old CBS-TV electrician from Des Plaines, Ill. was pronounced dead on arrival at South County Hospital.  The other two men were admitted for treatment, and later recovered.  

     The helicopter was recovered by the Coast Guard.  The cause of the crash was found to be mechanical failure. 


     The Providence Journal, (Massachusetts Edition), “Copter Filming Cup Race Falls; 1 Killed, 2 Hurt”, August 23, 1974, page 1. 

     The Providence Journal, (Massachusetts Edition), Vessels headed For Downed Craft”, August 23, 1974, page 1.

     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “Two Killed In Rhode Island Waters”, August 23, 1974, page 1.

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Tragedy Mars Cup Race”, August 23, 1974, Page 1 

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Helicopter Crash Blamed On Control Malfunction”, August 24, 1974, page 10.  

Charlestown, R.I. – July 20, 1974

Charlestown, Rhode Island – July 20, 1974

     On July 20, 1974, a pair of one-man Gyrocopters were flying together over the area of Qonochontaug Beach when one aircraft suddenly lost all power and crashed into the water about 150 feet from shore.  The machine sank, but the pilot was able to fee himself, and was rescued by two college students who happened to be passing by in a small sailboat.  He was shaken, but apparently uninjured. Meanwhile, the other gyrocopter left the area and landed at Westerly Airport. 

     The depth of the water where the gyrocopter had crashed is about 20 feet.  Once the students had deposited the downed pilot on shore, they returned to the wreck site with masks and fins, and dove under the water and tied a strong rope to the machine.  By now a crowd had gathered on the beach, and with everyone’s help the aircraft was successfully dragged to shore.    

     Meanwhile, the pilot of the other gyrocopter had returned to the beach with a trailer.  He and the other pilot disassembled the damaged gyrocopter, and after putting it in the trailer said they were going to Westerly Airport. 

     After a few days a report of the crash reached the Westerly Sun newspaper, but when a reporter inquired about details, it was learned that the accident had never been reported to the police, Westerly Airport officials, or to state aeronautics officials.  The identities of the pilots was unknown.  It was further reported that gyrocopters didn’t have to be registered, nor did one need a license to fly one, which was going to make it difficult for officials to question the pilots.


     Westerly Sun, “Rescue At Sea Went Unreported”, August 1, 1974, page 10.   


Smithfield, R.I. – June 16, 1974

Smithfield, Rhode Island – June 16, 1974

     On the morning of June 16, 1974, a 47-year-old man from Wrentham, Massachusetts, was piloting a small aircraft from Block Island, R.I., to North Central State Airport in Smithfield.  The aircraft was a four-passenger Beech Debonnaire, (N9782Y).   As the pilot was approaching Runway 15 in preparation of landing, the airplane stalled and crashed nose-down into a wooded area about 500 yards short of the runway.  The plane struck the trees in such a way that the foliage broke its fall, and it came to rest with its tail pointing towards the air.  Although there was damage to the plane, there was no fire.  The pilot received a minor injury to his head, and was able to away from the crash.  There were no passengers aboard.  The aircraft had to be removed by helicopter.


     Providence Journal, “Lady Luck Was His Co-pilot”, June 17, 1974, (With Photo)

     (Providence) Evening Bulletin, “Copter Retrieves Crashed Aircraft”, June 19, 1974



South Kingstown, R.I. – December 2, 1973

South Kingstown, Rhode Island – December 2, 1973


     On the afternoon of December 2, 1973, several sky divers were making parachute jumps over the area of the Laurel Lane Golf Course in South Kingston, not far from the Richmond Airport. 

     At about 3:30 p.m. a Cessna 182F took off from the Richmond Airport and climbed to an altitude of 3,000 feet.  At about 3:45 p.m., a 35-year-old man from Westerly, R.I. jumped from the plane but his parachute failed to fully deploy.  Witnesses later stated that he pulled his reserve parachute, but was too low to the ground at the time, and it did not have time to fully deploy to break his fall.  The man was transported to South County Hospital in Wakefield, R.I. where he was pronounced dead on arrival. 


    Providence Journal, “Chute Fails, Jump Kills R.I. Man”, December 3, 1973, page 1.   

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “FAA Probe Set In Fall Of Parachutist”, December 3, 1973, page 2

     Westerly Sun, “Sky Diver Killed As Chute Fails”, December 3, 1973, page 1

Coventry, R.I. – August 24, 1973

Coventry, Rhode Island – August 24, 1973  

     RICONN Airport is located in the western portion of the town of Coventry, R.I., just off Route 14, (aka Plainfield Pike), bordering the Connecticut state line.  The runway area is an open grass field.

     On August 24, 1973, a Piper PA-12 with two men aboard took off from RICONN Airport.  As the plane was gaining altitude it suddenly backfired and developed engine trouble.  The pilot attempted to bring the aircraft around to land back at RICONN, but with the engine running erratically was unable to gain enough altitude.  The plane was wrecked when it crashed in a wooded area about 300 yards from the runway.  Although the gas tank ruptured, there was no fire.  The pilot suffered a broken leg, but the passenger was able to hike through the woods to find help.     


     Providence Journal Bulletin, “”2 Survive R.I. Plane Crash”, August 25, 1973, page 1. (Photo of aircraft)



Warwick, R.I. – November 17, 1970

Warwick, Rhode Island – November 17, 1970 

     Shortly after 1 p.m. on November 17, 1970, a twin-engine Cessna 310 aircraft with a husband and wife aboard took off from T.F. Green Airport.  Just after takeoff the plane lost power in its left engine and the pilot made a left turn in an attempt to get back to the runway.  As he was doing so, the airplane came down in a neighborhood adjacent to the airport, where it skimmed the top of a tree located in front of 57-59 Kilvert Street.  It then glanced off a three-story house before slamming into another three-story home at 51 Kilvert Street and exploded into flame. 

     Inside 51 Kilvert Street, a 37-year-old mother lay sleeping with her 1-year-old son.  The crash set the room ablaze.  Her husband, who was out in front of the house at the time, ran in and rescued his wife and son, but the woman later died of her injuries.

     The occupants of the aircraft were pulled from the wreckage by firefighters, both were suffering from severe burns. 

     The flames spread to an adjacent house, and four firefighters were injured battling the blaze.  The burned homes were later torn down. 


     Providence Journal, and Providence Evening Bulletin, (unknown  dates – not recorded on clippings.)

     “Plane Crashes After takeoff At Green”

     “Spectators Come To View Floodlighted Plane Wreck”

     “Mother, Infant Pulled Out After Plane Hits R.I. Home”, November 18, 1970.

     “A Neighborhood Learns Horror”

     “One Of The Hazards…Now It’s Happened Here”

     “Experts Probing Plane Crash”

     “Burns Claim Woman; Home Hit By Plane”

     “Pilot’s Wife Quizzed, Condition Still Poor” 

     “Hurt Woman Questioned On Warwick Plane Crash”






Cranston, R.I. – April 5, 1970

Cranston, R.I. – April 5, 1970

     On April 5, 1970, an 18-year-old student pilot, and member of the Little Rhody Flying Club, was soloing over Cranston in a Cessna 120 aircraft.  At 1:39 p.m. he radioed a distress call that his aircraft was on fire, and shortly afterward crashed in an open field in the western portion of the city, about 1.5 miles from Laten Knight Road in an area known as Fiskville.  The youth was killed on impact.

     While examining the wreckage, investigators found no evidence of fire. 


     Providence Journal, “Pilot, 18, Killed In Cranston”, April 6, 1970 (with photo)

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “State, U.S. Officials Probe Crash”, April 6, 1970 (with photo)

Lincoln, R.I. – May 26, 1966

Lincoln, Rhode Island – May 26, 1966

     On May 26, 1966, a twin-engine Piper Apache aircraft, (N218P), with three people aboard, was approaching North Central State Airport in Smithfield, Rhode Island, when both engines suddenly lost all power.  The pilot, Raymond J. Morissette, the (then) Mayor of Central Falls, R.I., radioed a “May-Day” before the plane crashed into a thickly wooded section of Lincoln.  The plane came down  about one mile from the end of runway 33, to the southwest of Jenckes Hill Road in Lincoln, and to the northeast of Clark Road in Smithfield.  Although the aircraft was completely wrecked, with the wings being torn off from hitting trees, Mr. Morissette and his two passengers, a mother and her son, were able to extricate themselves and walk out of the woods to seek help.   


     Providence Journal, “Mayors Mayday Heeded”, May 27, 1966 

Smithfield, R.I. – October 13, 2016

Smithfield, Rhode Island – October 13, 2016

     On the morning of October 13, 2016, a private corporate jet with four passengers and two crew aboard left Allegheny County Airport in Pennsylvania bound for North Central State Airport in Smithfield, Rhode Island.  The aircraft was a Cessna Citation,  tail number N518AR.   

     The plane arrived at North Central at about 10:30 a.m. and was attempting to land on Runway 5 when it  overshot and crash landed in brush filled area.  The plane suffered damage, but there was no fire and nobody was hurt.  The four businessmen aboard were in Rhode Island to attend a meeting in Providence.   

     The photographs attached to this post are courtesy of Jim Grande Jr., of the Smithfield Fire Department. 

     Click on images to enlarge.

Smithfield, R.I. – October 13, 2016

Smithfield, R.I. – October 13, 2016

Smithfield, R.I. – October 13, 2016


     Providence Journal, “Jet travelers Make Business Meeting After Plane Scare In Smithfield “, October 13, 2016

     Pittsburgh’s Action 4 News, “Flight From Allegheny County Airport Crashes On Landing In Rhode Island”, October 13, 2016

     WJAR Turn To 10 News, “Small Plane Runs Off Runway At North Central State Airport”, October 13, 2016

South Kingstown, RI – July 1, 1941

South Kingstown, Rhode Island – July 1, 1941 

Matunuck Beach

     At about 11:30 a.m., on July 1, 1941, a small airplane with a man and a woman aboard left Newport Airport bound for New York City.  The woman was Miss Eleanor Young, 23, and her companion was Nicholas S. Embirieos, 31.   Both were known in society circles.

     As the plane flew across Narragansett Bay it encountered fog conditions.  Embirieos, who was at the controls, circled the area of Matunuck Beach several times before the aircraft suddenly crashed into the water just off shore of Matunuck Beach, a popular swimming area in South Kingstown R.I.  Both occupants were pulled from the wreck by lifeguards, George Gilson, and David Smith, but died of their injuries. 

     A photograph of part of the plane wreckage can be found on page 53 of the book, “Images Of America – South Shore Rhode Island”, by Betty J. Cotter, 1999.


     New York Times, “Eleanor Young Dies In Air Crash; Was One Of First Glamor Girls”, July 2, 1941

    The Daily Times, “Socialite, Friend Killed In Plane”, July 2, 1941

Block Island, R.I. – August 26, 1995

Block Island, Rhode Island – August 26, 1995

Town of New Shoreham

     On August 26, 1995, a Cessna 185 (N4944E) took off from East Hampton, Long Island, New York, bound for Block Island.  The aircraft was a seaplane capable of water landings.

     There were four people aboard, a 52-year-old pilot and three passengers in their 20s.  

     The plane arrived at Block Island shortly after 1 p.m. and attempted to land at Old Harbor Beach, touching down about 400 feet from shore and heading towards land.  After traveling about 100 feet the pilot aborted due to rocks and swimmers in the area.  The airplane leveled off at 15 feet and continued towards shore where it rose again to clear a building and some electrical wires.  After clearing the first set of wires, the plane settled downward and caught a second set of wires.  It then dove towards a restaurant known as G.R. Sharkey’s which also had an attached gas station.  One of the aircraft’s pontoons slammed into a car occupied by a 79-yrear-old woman who was parked at the gas pumps, before crashing into the restaurant and bursting into flames.  The woman and three people aboard the plane died at the scene.  One male passenger aboard the aircraft managed to free himself from the wreckage, but later died of his injuries at Rhode Island Hospital.   

     Fortunately the restaurant was fairly empty at the time of the crash, and no patrons or employees were hurt.  

     This incident remains the worst aviation disaster to occur on Block Island.


     National Transportation Safety Board accident report brief – #NYC95FA203 

    New York Times, “Plane Hits Block Island Restaurant, Killing 5”, August 27, 1995

     New York Times, “Small Town tries To Get Over Shattering Plane Crash”, August 28, 1995

     New York Times, “Last 3 Victims Identified In seaplane Crash”, August 29, 1995

Middletown, R.I. – May 25, 1998

Middletown, Rhode Island – May 25, 1998


      On May 25, 1998, a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza with four people aboard took off from Nantucket, Massachusetts, bound for Connecticut when it developed engine trouble while in-route.  The nearest airport at the time of the trouble was Rhode Island’s Newport State Airport, which is actually in Middletown, Rhode Island.  As the plane was making its approach, it crashed into a tree at the edge of a field off Jepson Road in Middletown and burst into flame.   Two people in the rear of the plane managed to escape, but the two in front perished.   The survivors were transported to Newport Hospital and were later transferred by helicopter to hospitals in Massachusetts.


     Providence Journal, “Middletown Plane Crash Kills Two, Injures Two”, May 26, 1998 

     Westerly Sun, “Plane Crash Leaves Two Dead”, May 26, 1998





Providence River – July 27, 1913

Providence River – July 27, 1913

Jack McGee in his "Kite" Pawtucket (RI) Historical Society Photo

Jack McGee in his “Kite”
Pawtucket (RI) Historical Society Photo

     On the evening of July 27, 1913, Rhode Island aviator Jack McGee was making flights from Crescent Park in East Providence, Rhode Island.  After making a solo flight at 5:30 p.m., he landed and took off again with his younger brother Robert as a passenger.  At about 6:30 McGee then made a third flight, this time with an unidentified friend as a passenger.  As the plane headed out over the Providence River a chain to one of the propellers suddenly snapped and the aircraft began to fall.  There was nothing that McGee could do, and the plane dove nose-first into the river just off the Bullock’s Point Lighthouse, and sank to the bottom taking both men with it. 

     Fortunately the water was only 20 feet deep.  McGee was able to free himself, and then assisted his passenger from the tangled wires of the wreck, and both made it to the surface with relatively minor injuries.  The aeronauts were rescued by a passing boat and brought to shore.   

     The Bullock’s Point Lighthouse was destroyed by the Hurricane of 1938.   

     Source: The Providence Journal, “Two In Aeroplane Fall Into The Bay”, July 28, 1913.  (Article provided by Patricia Zacks.)

Narragansett Bay – May 25, 1913

Narragansett Bay – May 25, 1913


    early biplane On May 25, 1913, a Providence baseball team was playing against another team from Jersey City, New Jersey, at a baseball field that overlooked Narragansett Bay.  Part of the post-game festivities included a flight exhibition given by aviator Harry M. Jones, who was locally famous for being the first to fly mail from Boston to New York.  

     Just after 5:00 p.m., his bi-plane was maneuvered to the area of first base in preparation for take off.  As “cargo” Jones was taking along a box of baseballs, which he planned to drop from the air to players on the field. 

     From the start Jones seemed to be having trouble getting the motor to start and keep running, but after several attempts he was successful, and took off in view of several thousand spectators.  After circling the field a few times at an altitude of 50 feet, he began getting ready to  drop the baseballs when the engine suddenly quit.  As the plane began loosing altitude, Jones tried to restart the motor but couldn’t.  His glide path was taking him directly towards the huge crowd of people on the ground who at that point were beginning to scatter in all directions.  Fortunately Jones had just enough altitude to swing the aircraft towards Narragansett Bay, where he crashed into the water and sank with his plane.  Several seconds later he bobbed to the surface, shaken and bruised, but otherwise unhurt. 

     It took four hours to recover the plane from the water.   

     Jones was involved in a more serious crash in Narragansett, Rhode Island on August 9, 1914.  For more details, see Rhode Island Civil Aviation Accidents on this website.         

     Source: The Providence Journal, “Jones, In Biplane, Plunges Into Bay”, May 26, 1913.  (Article supplied by Patricia Zacks.)      


T.F. Green Airport – October 20, 1999

T.F. Green Airport – October 20, 1999

     On the evening of October 20, 1999, a Delta Airlines jet, (Flight 2049), en-route to Atlanta, Georgia, was taking off from T.F. green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island, when a tire blew out as the plane was becoming airborne.  Pieces of the tire were sucked into the number 2 engine setting it on fire and causing some smoke to filter into the cabin.

     At 6:28 p.m. the pilot declared an emergency and diverted to Boston’s Logan Airport, for it would have taken just as long to turn around and attempt to return to Green.  (This type of aircraft can fly with just one engine.)  Seventeen minutes later the plane landed safely at Logan at 6:45 p.m. 

     None of the passengers and crew aboard were injured, but two women were transported to a local hospital; one for anxiety, the other due to suffering a seizure.  

     The aircraft involved was a McDonnell Douglas MD-80.   


     Providence Journal, “Jet Forced To Land At Logan After leaving T.F. green”, October 21, 1999   

     Westerly Sun, “Blown-out Tire Caused Plane Engine problems”, October 22, 1999, pg.7

     Providence Journal, “Flight 2049: The Fire, The fear And The Anger”, October 22, 1999, Pg. 1


North Central Airport, R.I. – September 30, 2002

North Central Airport, R.I. – September 30, 2002

Skydiving Accident

     On September 30, 2002, Suzanne Costa, 35, of New Bedford, Massachusetts, went to North Central State Airport in Smithfield, Rhode Island, to do some skydiving.  This was to be her 17th jump. 

     When Costa jumped, she landed near a Cessna aircraft that was getting ready to take off with other skydivers aboard.  22-year-old Daren Fiske was assisting the skydivers get aboard when he saw Costa land in front of the plane.  Her parachute fell across the spinning prop and she was pulled in.  At the same instant, Fiske tackled Costa and held on as the pilot quickly cut the engine.  

     Although seriously injured, Costa recovered from her injuries.


     Providence Journal, “Skydiver Entangled In Plane’s Propeller”, by Michael Corkery, September 30, 2002

     Boston Herald, “Skydiver Survives Propeller Accident”, by Franci Richardson, October 1, 2002.  



Smithfield, R.I. – November 17, 2008

Smithfield, Rhode Island – November 17, 2008

     On the evening of November 17, 2008, a Piper PA-38, (N2316P) was approaching runway 33 at North Central State Airport in Smithfield, when it crashed in a wooded area about 2/3 of a mile short of the runway.  The plane exploded on impact killing both the pilot and his passenger.

     The dead were identified as (Pilot) Robert A. Zoglio Jr., 43, of Richmond, R.I., and Ronald Tetreault, 64, of Glocester, R.I.   

     The plane had left Green State Airport in Warwick, R.I. bound for North Central to practice landings and take-offs.    


     NSTB Report #ERA09FA060

     Providence Journal, “Two Killed In Plane Crash In Smithfield”, November 18, 2008, Section B, Pg. B1

     Providence Journal, “Experienced pilots died doing what they loved”, November 19, 2008, Pg. 1



The Lockheed Learstar Disaster – December 15, 1958


North Smithfield, Rhode Island – December 15, 1958

      One of Rhode Island’s worst civil aviation crashes occurred in the town of North Smithfield, Rhode Island during a snowstorm which claimed the lives of seven people. 

     At about 8:30 a.m., on December 15, 1958, a twin engine, Lockheed, Learstar, (Registration N37500) owned by the Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Company took off from Linden, New Jersey, bound for Logan Airport in Boston.  The plane carried five passengers, all top executives for Johnson & Johnson, and a crew of two. 

     From Boston, the executives were to go on to Gloucester, Massachusetts, where the company operated its LePage Glue Division.  While en-route to Boston the plane ran into an unexpected snowstorm and was diverted by Logan officials to land in Beverly, Massachusetts.  When the aircraft arrived at Beverly, the crew was informed that they too were closed due to weather.  With no other option, the pilot set a course southward back to New Jersey.

     As the plane passed over the town of Franklin, Massachusetts, a town just to the north of the Rhode Island border, the pilot reported that one of the engines had died. This was the last radio transmission ever heard from the aircraft. 

     The plane continued south and passed over the town of Bellingham, Massachusetts, where  a man living on Pond Street later reported that he heard a plane overhead with an engine sputtering.

      The aircraft then passed over the City of Woonsocket, Rhode Island, and then North Smithfield. The nearest airport at this point would have been North Central State Airport in Smithfield, about four miles away, and it was later speculated that the crew was attempting to reach the airport when the plane went down. 

     Although it was equipped with radar, the plane was flying in heavy snow, and the cloud ceiling was a mere 400 feet.  The pilots were in effect, “flying blind”, relying on instruments to get them to safe haven.   

      At 9:45, the Learstar plunged nose first into a swampy wooded area between Farnum Pike, (Route 104)  and Douglas Pike, (Route 7) below the old New Haven Rail Road tracks, about half a mile in from the road, and three-and-a-half miles short of the runway at North Central Airport. 

     A woman living on Slatersville Road heard the crash and called North Smithfield’s, Chief of Police, Joseph Freitas, to report that she thought a plane had crashed. 

     As a ground search got underway, a National Guard aircraft began searching overhead, and within a few minutes the wreckage was spotted, and the Guard plane began to circle to draw ground searchers to the site. 

     Chief Freitas was one of the first to reach the scene where he found one man still alive, lying with his lower extremities in a pool of icy water mixed with aviation fuel.  Rescue workers carefully pulled him free and laid him on dry land where he died shortly thereafter. 

     The cockpit containing the pilot and co-pilot had buried itself in the soft mud and was submerged under gasoline soaked water.  Firemen found four other bodies in the crumpled passenger compartment. The Reverend Thomas I. Myrick, pastor of Saint John’s Church in Slatersville, was on hand to administer last rites.  It took until 7:30 p.m. to recover the bodies of the crew. 

     The dead were identified as:

     The pilot, Alexander Sable, 38, of Metuchen, N.J.

     The co-pilot, Edward F. Luidcinaitis, of Roselle, N.J..  

     Milton A. Bergstedt, age 45, of Linden, N.J.

     Ferdinand Liot, age 39, of Franklin Park, N.J.

     Stephen Baksal, age 44, of Scotch Plain, N.J.

     Raymond Buese, age 31, of South River, N.J.  

     Jesse Hackney, of Pleasentville, N.J. 

     Mr. Bergstedt was wearing a broken wristwatch that stopped at 9:45.      

     Investigators later determined that the cause of the crash was ice formation in the carburetors of the engines. It was said that carburetor icing was a fairly common danger in a plane of this type.  Investigators believed the first engine failed due to icing, and the second failed afterward for the same reason. 

      This accident served as a lesson for all big business corporations when it came to transportation of top executives – not to transport everyone together in the same aircraft.  This way, if an accident did occur, the entire top management staff isn’t lost.  Today, many corporations fly top executives on separate flights for this reason.

     The area where the accident occurred is now occupied by a sand and gravel company. 


Woonsocket Call, “Crippled Plane Sought In Area”, December 15, 1958, Pg. 1

Woonsocket Call, “…Engine Failure Seen”, December 15, 1958, Pg. 1

Woonsocket Call,  “Investigators Seek Crash Solution”, December 16, 1958

Woonsocket Call, “Routine Flight Gives Hill Man 1st Crash View”, December 16, 1958

Woonsocket Call, “Air Crash Story Wrapped Up By Call While Presses Roll”, December 16, 1958

Woonsocket Call, “Carburetor Icing Seen Crash Cause”, December 1958

Providence Journal, “Pilot Cleared In Woon. Crash”, October 8, 1960, Pg. 5

Providence Journal, “Icing ‘Probable’ Cause of crash Which Killed 7”, February 20, 1961, Pg, 27


He Nearly Drowned In A Balloon -1906

He Nearly Drowned In A Balloon – 1906 

19th Century Illustration Of An Early Aeronaut

19th Century Illustration
Of An Early Aeronaut

     Being blown out to sea was one the biggest fears of early aeronauts who took to the sky in balloons, for weight considerations didn’t allow for life rafts, and chances of survival were slim.  Such an experience happened to “Professor” James K. Allen, a famous Rhode Island balloonist, in 1906. 

     Allen took off in his balloon from Providence on July 4, 1906, as part of a Fourth of July celebration.  The weather was threatening, but Allen didn’t want to disappoint the huge crowds who had come to witness the ascension.

     Allen lifted off shortly after noon time, but a few minutes into the flight he realized there was a problem with the craft’s drag rope and anchor, so he set down to fix the problem.  He came down on the Bowen estate just outside Providence.  (The present-day location of the former Bowen estate is unknown.)  The balloon was 52 feet high and 28 feet wide, decorated with numerous flags for Independence Day, which attracted a lot of attention as it came in to land, and Allen had no trouble finding volunteers to hold the balloon down while he made the necessary repairs.  Ten minutes later he was finished, and once again took off. 

     Wind currents carried him north towards Attleboro, Massachusetts, where he lost considerable altitude, but after dropping ballast bags full of sand to attain more altitude, the balloon shot upwards to a height of 10,000 feet. 

     “I tell you it was a fine sight, ” he later told reporters, “those clouds rolled up in banks, like mountains of snow way down underneath the balloon.  Sometimes the clouds look dark when you get over them, but these clouds were light and white, as they look after a storm.”    

Ad from August, 1870

     When asked how fast he was going at this point, Allen replied, “Ah, I was fooled up there.  It was blowing something fierce, and I couldn’t tell how fast I was going.  I guess I was going along over the clouds for a couple of hours when I saw the water.  Then I let out some gas, and came down a little to get my bearings, for I didn’t want to go out to sea.  I kept going out, however, and apparently to the southeast, but it was stormy and raining, and I couldn’t very well tell just where I was.”

     Just as it was getting dark Allen realized he was passing over Provincetown, Massachusetts, on the very tip of Cape Cod, and being pushed out to sea.  In the fading light he let out all five-hundred feet of his drag rope as well as the anchor which caught in the water below and pulled him down to about one hundred feet above the waves.  The drag rope also served to reduce his speed, but high winds were still pushing him away from shore.  With a cloudy sky and no moon, Allen found himself traveling along in utter darkness.  

     Shortly after midnight the gondola struck the water drenching its occupant.  “The minute we touched the water, “Allen related, “I grabbed the ropes overhead and I was none too quick for the basket was almost submerged.  I threw out a few bagfulls of sand and went up again, about a hundred feet, I guess, but about an hour later I struck the water again and got another good soaking.”     

     Each time the gondola went into the water Allen was forced to drop more ballast to allow the balloon to rise up again.  By dawn he had received three dunkings. 

     As the sky grew lighter, he saw a steamship approaching from the opposite direction, but despite his efforts to signal for help the ship kept going.  Somehow the bridge crew and the lookout had missed the huge colorful balloon bobbing just above the surface.   “I shouted,” said Allen, “but I guess she didn’t see me, for she paid no attention to me and kept right on her course.”

     About an hour later the balloon was seen by the crew of a tugboat that was pulling several barges.   Allen signaled for help, and the tug captain cut the barges loose and gave chase, but the wind picked up and blew the balloon faster than the tug could go, and the boat’s captain was forced to abandon his rescue efforts.

     “I was tearing along at a pretty good pace in spite of the drag.” (rope) Allen related.

     Later he came upon a fishing schooner with two long boats in the water, and the crew of one of the boats managed to grab ahold of the drag rope behind the balloon and secure it to the boat.  The boat came along side to help, yet the wind was still blowing hard enough that the balloon began pulling the boats! 

     “When I saw they held on,” Allen recalled, “I began letting out the gas, and I got down lower and lower, until finally I landed safely in one of the dories as pretty as you could wish, and stepped out.  It was pretty calm by this time, and we didn’t have much trouble with the balloon.  The schooner came up and Captain John V. Silva invited me on board.”    

     The schooner was the Francis V. Silva out of Provincetown, Massachusetts.  The location of Mr. Allen’s rescue was ten miles off Chatham, Mass.  

      When asked by the press how many times he had flown in a balloon, Allen replied, “About 400 times; 185 times I’ve cut loose from earth; the other times I just ascended in the balloon while it was tied by a rope 400 to 500 feet.  It’s the best fun in the world.”

     As a point of fact, it had originally been planned for Mr. Allen’s wife to accompany him on this flight.  After his harrowing adventure, he was happy she stayed behind.  

     This was not Mr. Allen’s only brush with death in his flying career.  See “Providence, R. I. – July 16, 1892”, under “Rhode Island Civil Aviation Accidents” on this website. 


     (Woonsocket R.I. )Evening Reporter, “Balloonist Is Rescued”, July 7, 1906.     

     Update, February 7, 2017

     Thirty-five years before the above mentioned incident, Mr. Allen had another adventure in one of the family balloons.  

     On July 4, 1871, James K. Allen made an ascension at Troy, New York, in his balloon the “Empyrean“.  The balloon held 15,000 cubic feet of gas, and was reportedly “gaily trimmed with bunting and natural flowers.”   

     The balloon rose to over 12,000 feet and drifted over the upstate New York countryside, rising and falling at different times.  After an uneventful flight, the Empyrean came down in a large tract of wilderness, and Allen was forced to climb down the tree in which it had become entangled.  As he was doing so a branch broke under his weight and he landed hard on the ground below, but wasn’t seriously injured.  He lacked a compass, and using his own best judgement, hiked his way to help.  he eventually came to a farm in Putnam, New York, about 100 miles from Troy.  

     The Allen’s of Providence, Rhode Island, have been called the first family of Rhode Island aviation.  Besides the Empyrean, they reportedly owned two other balloons, “Monarch of the Air“, and the “Jupiter Olympus”  


     Rutland Weekly Herald, (VT.), “A Perilous Balloon Ascension And Narrow Escape Of The Aeronaut”, July 20, 1871 

Updated February 26, 2017

     The following article appeared in the St. Johnsbury Caledonian, (St. Johnsbury, VT.) on October 11, 1895


     The Boston Journal last week had a sensational account of the marvelous escape from death of the well known aeronaut, James K. Allen, of Providence, R.I.  Mr. Allen has many friends in St. Johnsbury, and has made successful ascensions from our fairground.  His adventure came near costing his life.  He became suffocated by escaping gas, and would have fallen from the balloon had not his two companions caught him and held him by his heels until the balloon drifted to earth again.  As the companions knew nothing about the management of balloons, it took the air ship 45 minutes to reach the ground, and when terra firma was reached the professor was crazy.  His two companions declared that nothing would hire them to go up in a balloon again.

     Source: St. Johnsbury Caledonian, “An Aeronaut’s Escape”, October 11, 1895    

Providence, R.I. – July 16, 1892

Providence, Rhode Island – July 16, 1892 


Old Postcard View Of The Providence Armory  And Dexter Training Field - Providence, R.I.

Old Postcard View Of The Providence Armory
And Dexter Training Field – Providence, R.I.

     On July 16, 1892, four men took off in a balloon from the Dexter training field located next to the Providence Armory.  The balloon was named Royal Sovereign, and belonged to the famous aeronaut “Professor” James K. Allen who was at the controls.  Besides Allen, the balloon also carried his assistant Charles E. Albee, an unidentified reporter from the Providence Journal, and a fourth man, Edward Barnett.    

     Almost as soon as the Royal Sovereign lifted from the ground, it was caught by a strong wind that carried it towards Dexter Street which was lined with trees and houses.  Allen quickly tried to release several bags of ballast to gain altitude, but he couldn’t do it fast enough, and the balloon scrapped the tree tops and crashed into several chimneys as it continued in a southeast direction over Cranston Street and towards Lester Street.  As the craft flew across Lester Street it snagged several telephone and electrical wires tearing them free from the poles.  When it did so, Allen was pitched from the controls and tossed to the street where he suffered a broken leg, a fractured knee, and multiple bumps and bruises.  What may have saved is life is the fact that held fast to the emergency release rope which tore open the side of the balloon as he fell possibly slowing his descent. 

     As the gas escaped, the balloon fell rapidly and crashed into a barn about fifty yards from where Allen lay in the street.  The impact threw the other three men from the gondola, but their injuries were not life threatening.  

     Allen was taken to his home in an ambulance where doctors set his leg. 


     New York Times, “Another Balloon Accident” July 17, 1892

Smithfield, R. I. – March 8, 1990

Smithfield, Rhode Island – March 8, 1990

      On the afternoon of March 8, 1990, five friends from Providence College met at North Central State Airport in Smithfield to go flying.  One of the group, Scott H. Lyons, 20, had a pilots license, and had been certified the day before for carrying passengers.  

     Lyons rented a two-seat Piper Tomahawk (N2603G) and took off around 1:00 p.m. with one passenger, his college roommate, Gregory D. Aucoin, 20, while the other three members of their group waited at the airport for their turn. 

     Shortly after takeoff, when the plane was about five miles from the airport, the engine began to sputter.  Two Smithfield Highway Department workers cutting brush in the area heard the sputtering and witnessed the plane go down. 

     The plane crashed in a wooded area of the Judson Farm at the end of Williams Road.  It didn’t burn on impact, but both men aboard were killed.


     Providence Journal, “Plane Goes Down In Smithfield Woods”, March 9, 1990 Pg. 1A

     Providence Journal, “PC Students’ Flight Ended Lives Full Of Promise”, March 10, 1990, Pg. A1

     Journal Bulletin, “PC Roommates Die In Airplane Crash”, March 10, 1990, Pg. A1

Smithfield, R.I. – November 6, 1988

Smithfield, Rhode Island – November 6, 1988

     On November 6, 1988, a Cessna 152 II, (N5462B), carrying two people crashed in a field on Mann School Road in Smithfield killing both.  Shortly before the crash, the plane was seen making several low passes over the passenger’s home. 

     The dead were identified as (pilot) Harrison G. Chapman, 37, of Key Largo Florida, and (passenger) Lauren A. Sullivan, 35, of Smithfield. 


     Woonsocket Call, “Two Killed In “Pleasure Ride” Out Of North Central Airport”, November 7, 1988  

     NTSB report brief #NYC89FA021, microfiche # 39456


Westerly, R.I. – July 9, 1978

Westerly, Rhode Island – July 9, 1978

     Shortly before 8:30 p.m. on the evening of July 9, 1978, a Piper Cherokee, (#N-5254S), took off from Westerly Airport with four people aboard, bound for Red Hook, New York.  Heavy fog and low cloud cover blanketed the area making for hazardous flying, but the experienced pilot was certified in instrument flight.  As the aircraft took off, it began a long slow turn to the right. 

     Meanwhile, a man was hitting soft balls to a group of boys in a field off East Avenue, not far from the airport.  He later told reporters that he’d heard the low flying aircraft before he saw it come out of the 100 foot cloud cover and crash.  He related how the aircraft came out of the clouds so low that he yelled for the boys to duck as it passed overhead.  The plane then banked to the right as the pilot tried to avoid some trees, and the right wing dropped and dug into the soil, causing the nose to slam into the ground.  The aircraft then cartwheeled for about 100 feet before coming to rest.  All four occupants perished, but nobody on the ground was injured.  


     Westerly Sun, “Westerly Crackup: The Pilot Had Lost His Bearings In Life”, July 23, 1978, page 1, (With diagram of crash scene.) 



North Central State Airport – April 21, 1986

North Central State Airport – April 21, 1986

Smithfield, Rhode Island

     At 12:30 p.m. on April 21, 1986, a Cessna 310 (N128K), left Willow Run Airport in Michigan bound for North Central Airport in Smithfield, R.I., to make a delivery for a company located in North Smithfield.  

     At 3:28 p.m. the pilot took off for his return flight, and according to witnesses, circled the airport area twice before suddenly diving nose-first onto a rocky outcrop about 600 feet from the north-south runway.  The plane exploded on impact killing the 23-year-old pilot. 

     One witness from a business located on Albion Road told a Woonsocket Call reporter, “It made a low pass over our shop the first time it came by.  The engines sounded okay.  I just thought the pilot was disoriented.  When it came by low again the second time, it was flipped over on it side, and when it went over the fence (separating Albion Road from the airport) it was completely flipped over and no where near where it should have been approaching from.”


     Woonsocket Call, “Michigan Pilot Killed In Fiery No. Central Crash”, April 22, 1986 

     NTSB report NYC86FA112, microfiche # 32967    

West Greenwich, R.I. – May 22, 1976

West Greenwich, Rhode Island – May 22, 1976  

     At about noon time on May 22, 1976, a helicopter carrying Rhode Island’s Governor Phillip Noel, and a pilot, Thomas Shortall, left T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, Rhode Island, and landed at the Warwick Mall about three miles away.  At 12:15 p.m., the helicopter took off again bound for the Alton Jones Campus of the University of Rhode Island, located in West Greenwich, where the Governor was scheduled to address the American Federation of Teachers. 

     The helicopter was scheduled to land in a hay field on the campus, where a police car awaited to transport the Governor to his scheduled talk.  As the helicopter was making its final approach at an altitude of about 200 feet, it suddenly lost the tail rotor and fell into the woods surrounding the field.  

      Both the Governor and Mr. Shortall were admitted to Kent County Hospital in Warwick, with non-life-threatening injuries.   The helicopter was wrecked.


     (Del.) Wilmington Sate-News, “Rhode Island Governor Hurt In Copter Crash”, May 23, 1976 

     (Ct.) The Day, “Governor Noel, Pilot Suffer Injuries In Helicopter Crash”, May 24, 1976

Glocester, R. I. – February 22, 1981

Glocester, Rhode Island – February 22, 1981 

     On February 22, 1981, two men took off from Franklin Airport near Williamsburg, Virginia, bound for Bedford, Massachusetts, when they ran into fog and clouds over New England.  While over the Glocester area, the aircraft crashed on a wooded hilltop overlooking Spring Grove Pond, on the east side of Spring Grove Road.   

     Both pilot and passenger were able to extricate themselves from the wreck before police and fire arrived, and were transported to Fogarty Hospital in North Smithfield for non-life-threatening injuries.

     The aircraft, a Piper Cherokee PA-28 (N5248L) was a total loss.   


Rhode Island State Police Report – Chepachet Barracks #5-81  

Providence Journal, “2 Survive Chepachet Plane Crash” February 23, 1981   


Jamestown, R. I. – July 1, 1976

Jamestown, Rhode Island – July 1, 1976

Off Beavertail Light

     As part of America’s 1976 bicentennial celebration, a flotilla of tall ships comprising sailing vessels from around the world made their way to the United States and down the east coast.   On July 1, 1976, after visiting Newport, the ships left Rhode Island for New York.  As they were passing for review just off the coast of Jamestown near Beavertail Light, two private aircraft narrowly missed having a mid-air collision.   As one aircraft flew on, the other was seen going down into the water about 50 yards off the eastern shore of Beavertail Park.  It sank immediately and no survivors were seen in the water.

     The downed aircraft, a Piper PA-28, (N9184K) was piloted by Charles Kramos, of Barrington, R.I.  His body was later recovered by divers.  The other aircraft was not identified.


     (Meriden Ct.) The Morning Record, “Plane Crashes While Circling Ship Parade”, July 2, 1976

     (New London, Ct.) The Day, “Plane Crash Mars Start Of Tall Ships”, July 2, 1976, Pg. 19    

Jamestown, R. I. – August 1, 1968

Jamestown, Rhode Island – August 1, 1968

     On August 1, 1968, a single engine Cessna flying over Jamestown struck a 600 foot radio antenna near Beavertail Light.  It then crashed and burned.  The pilot and two passengers aboard were killed, but not identified in the newspaper.

     The antenna belonged to the U.S. Navy, and had been put into operation less than three months earlier on May 22.      

Source: Woonsocket Call, “”Trio Killed As Light Plane Hits Jamestown Guy Wire”, August 1, 1968, Pg. 1 

Westerly Airport – June 19, 1965

Westerly Airport – June 19, 1965

Westerly, Rhode Island

     On June 19, 1965, a small plane with two men aboard crashed while attempting an emergency landing at Westerly Airport.  Both men were killed.

     The dead were identified as (pilot) Robert White, 25, of Stratford, Ct., and Herman Stephens of Moosup, Ct.. 

     Witnesses said the planes engine could be heard “sputtering” on approach.  In May of 1966, the Civil Aeronautics Board released the finding of its investigation.  “An inspection revealed low compression of the No. 3 cylinder with appreciable leakage of the No. 3 intake valve…From the overall evidence it was concluded that a power failure did occur.”    

Source: Woonsocket Call, “Power Failure Blamed For RI Plane Crash”, May 9, 1966, Pg. 1  

Smithfield Airport, R.I. – August 25, 1940

Smithfield Airport, Smithfield, Rhode Island – August 25, 1940

     On August 25, 1940, Stanley G. Smith, 21, of Woonsocket, crashed while practicing take-offs and landings at the Smithfield Airport.  His aircraft landed upside-down in an apple orchard about 275 yards from the end of the grass runway.  The plane, a 1937 Continental Cub Monoplane (NC-20012) was a total wreck, but fortunately Smith escaped with only minor injuries.   Undaunted by his brush with death, he climbed into another airplane and flew again a few minutes later!

     The former Smithfield Airport was located where Bryant University stands today.  The runway was located near the present-day football stadium.  The airport opened in 1932, and remained in operation into the 1950s, and should not be confused with present-day North Central State Airport, which is located in Smithfield, R. I., and is sometimes referred to as the Smithfield Airport.    


Woonsocket Call, “Woonsocket Flier Escapes Serious Injury As Plane Crashes Near Smithfield Airport.” August 26, 1940


Lincoln, R. I. – June 22, 1982

Lincoln, Rhode Island – June 22, 1982

     On the evening of June 22, 1982, a lone 42-year-old pilot took off from North Central State Airport in Smithfield, R. I. for a pleasure flight in his home-built, Davis model DA-2A, with the word “Experimental” on the side.  The plans for building such aircraft, it was reported, were available through magazines, and the pilot had built his in 1978.  It was approved by the FAA and the pilot had flown the aircraft many times without incident.

     About fifteen minutes into the flight the aircraft developed engine trouble, and crashed on the green near the sixth hole at Lincoln Country Club on Dexter Rock Road.   The aircraft was destroyed and the pilot was killed instantly, but nobody on the ground was injured.

     One witness reported hearing a loud “pop” from the engine just before the crash. 


     Woonsocket Call, “Pilot Is Killed In Lincoln Crash”, June 23, 1982

     Pawtucket Evening Times, “A Sputter And It Was All Over”, June 23, 1982, page 1. (With photo)

     Pawtucket Evening Times, “Plane Crash Puzzles Pilots”, June 23, 1982, page 24

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Pilot Killed In Lincoln Plane Crash”, June 23, 1982, page A-11, (With Photo)

     The Sun, (Westerly, RI), “Victim Of Airplane Crash Was An Experienced Pilot”, June 24, 1982, page 16

North Central Airport – June 24, 1978

North Central Airport – June 24, 1978

Smithfield, Rhode Island

     On June 25, 1978, a local man went to North Central State Airport to fly his aircraft, a Grumman AA-1A, and discovered that the battery was dead.  A 19-year-old mechanic went to assist, and attempted to hand-start the plane.  When the engine suddenly kicked over, the propeller blade struck the mechanic in the head causing an open fracture to his skull.   He was rushed to a nearby hospital and underwent surgery, but succumbed to his injuries on June 30th.


Woonsocket Call, “Propeller Accident Injures Mechanic”, June 25, 1978.  

NTSB Report #NYC78FNA32


Smithfield, R. I. – February 4, 1977

Smithfield, Rhode Island – February 4, 1977

Nadeau Farm, Limerock Road

     Shortly before 11:30 a.m. on February 4, 1977, a Cessna 150-L (N6756G) made a run over North Central State Airport at an altitude of only 200 feet.  (The normal height for a run at the airport is 800 feet.) Runway workers who saw the plane go by noted it didn’t make a turn to land, and considered the possibility that it may have been involved in an accident.  They drove to the end of the runway, and then along the tree line, but after finding nothing, returned to their work figuring the pilot had decided not to land.  Unknown to everyone at the time was that the plane had crashed into a livestock shed on the farm of Edward Nadeau on Limerock Road. 

     The accident was discovered by Mr. Nadeau when he went out to feed his cattle.  Rescue personnel responded, and found one man, flight instructor Steven Nottell, 30, of Cranston, R. I., still alive and transported him to Fogarty Memorial Hospital in North Smithfield, where he was listed in critical condition.  Another man, student pilot Paul D. Gurette, 24, of North Kingstown, R. I., was dead at the scene.  

     Officials ruled out engine trouble as no distress call had been received, and theorized the plane may have stalled while attempting to turn back towards the airport.  It landed nose-down, with the tail sticking upwards out of the shed.

     On February 8th, it was reported that officials suspected a second aircraft may have been involved, and that a possible minor mid-air collision may have occurred.  This idea was based on some un-explained traces of paint found on the fuselage, and that someone reported another Cessna had taken off from the airport shortly before the accident.  However, this theory was later discounted.   

     On February 17th, it was reported that Steven Nottell was still in a coma, and had not regained consciousness since the crash, and investigators said they still hadn’t determined a cause for the accident. 

     On March 6, 1977, it was reported that Mr. Nottell had passed away, and never regained consciousness.


     Woonsocket Call, “Man Killed, 1 Critical, In Smithfield”, February 4, 1977.    

     Woonsocket Call, “Plane Crash Survivor Critical”, February 5, 1977.

     Providence Journal, “Flight Teacher Still Critical”, February 6, 1977, Pg. B-15.

     Woonsocket Call, “Prober Suspects Midair Scrape In Plane Crash”, February 8, 1977

     Providence Journal, “Second Plane Eyed As Cause Of Fatal Crash”, February 8, 1977, Pg. B-1.    

     Providence Journal, “Aviation Officials Discount 2nd Plane”, February 9, 1977, Pg. B-4.

     Providence Journal, “Air Crash Victim Still In Coma After 12 Days”, February 17, 1977, Pg. B-13.

     Providence Journal, “Second Air Crash Victim Dies”, March 6, 1977, Pg. B-15.




Lincoln, R. I. – July 24, 1971

Lincoln, Rhode Island – July 24, 1971

     In the early morning hours of July 24, 1971, two men took off from North Central State Airport in Smithfield, R.I. for a practice flight.  The pilot, Robert R. Rogers, 32, of North Providence, R.I., was flying with one passenger, Pasquale J. Petrarca, 28, of Providence.  At about 2:40 a.m. while circling the airport, the aircraft suddenly went down in a wooded area about a quarter of a mile from the airport.  Both men were killed instantly.

     The airport is located in Smithfield, R.I., but the aircraft came down in the town of Lincoln, R.I.  The airport sits on the town line.

     The aircraft involved was a Cessna 172-K  (N84446)  


     Woonsocket Call, “Lincoln Plane Crash Kills 2”, July 25, 1971

Smithfield, R. I. – August 19, 1970

Smithfield, Rhode Island  – August 19, 1970

Updated July 6, 2017

     At 9:35 p.m., on August 19, 1970, an single-engine Ercoupe Model E, (N94832), took off from runway 23 at North Central State Airport in Smithfield.   According to witnesses, shortly thereafter, the plane made two left turns, as if the pilot was attempting to land back on the runway.   Then the plane suddenly exploded in mid-air and nose-dived into a wooded area off Lime Rock Road.  The lone pilot did not survive.    

     One theory considered by investigators was that the pilot had experienced engine trouble.   


    Woonsocket Call, “Plane Crash Victim Believed Johnston Man”, August 20, 1970, Pg. 1  

     Providence Journal, “Man Killed In Burning Plane Crash”, August 20, 1970 (with photo)

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Pilot Killed As Plane Explodes, Crashes In Smithfield Woods”, August 20, 1970, page 2 (with photo)

North Central Airport – July 19, 1952

North Central Airport – July 19, 1952

Smithfield, Rhode Island

     North Central State Airport, located in the northeast corner of Smithfield, Rhode Island, opened in December of 1951.  Several months later the first aviation related fatality at the airport occurred there.

     On July 18, 1952, Clinton Corey, 31, made an emergency landing at North Central Airport after the Piper Cub he was piloting developed engine trouble.  The aircraft was owned by E. W. Wiggins Airways of Norwood, Massachusetts, which Corey worked for.  He notified the company of the situation, and arrangements were made to leave the plane overnight to be repaired the following day.

     On the morning of July 19th, Corey returned with William Coullahan, another Wiggins employee, in another Wiggins aircraft.  Both men thoroughly went over the aircraft Corey had been flying the day before, and by 3:30 p.m. they deemed it ready for a flight back to Norwood. 

     Coullahan climbed aboard the plane they had been working on, while Corey agreed to fly the other one.  Coullahan was to take off first, and then Corey would follow, and both would stay together while en-route back to Norwood.       

     As Coullahan took off, he completed a 200 foot circle at the end of the field before suddenly crashing in a cow pasture just beyond the airport.  Coullahan was taken to Roger Williams Hospital in Providence where he died the following day.

     Coullahan, 29, of Westwood, Mass. was a Marine Corps veteran of World War II where he served in the Pacific Theatre.  He was survived by his wife Florence Mae. 


Providence Journal, “Mass.. pilot Injured When Plane Falls Near Smithfield Airport”, July 20, 1952, Pg. S1  

Providence Journal, “Mass. pilot Dies After R.I. Crash”, July 21, 1952, Pg. 20

Woonsocket Call, Photo with caption. July 21, 1952, Pg. 5

The Pawtucket Times, “Pilot Dies After Crash”, July 21, 1952, pg. 2.

Westerly, R. I. – March 4, 1950

Westerly, Rhode Island – March 4, 1950

     On March 4, 1950, two civil aircraft, a Cessna 140, and a Cessna 170, collided in mid-air about a mile-and-a-half off the shore of the Misquamicut section of Westerly and went down in the water.  Each aircraft carried two people; each a flight student and their instructors.

     The Coast Guard was called to employ divers in the search for the aircraft.  Debris from both planes was later washed ashore, confirming that neither plane made it to shore after the collision. 

     As the search continued, many spectators lined the beaches despite the cold weather.  Some doubted the planes would be found.  The Providence Journal reported in part,  “Westerly residents recalled yesterday that during World War II some half-dozen Navy planes had crashed in approximately the same area as the two light craft Saturday, and that neither the planes nor the pilots ever were found. They attributed this to the existence of a rock ledge some distance offshore which deflects the strong tides of the vicinity and tends to wash objects on the bottom out to sea rather than towards shore.”    

     Those aboard the Cessan 170 were identified as (pilot) William A. McCormac, 39, and Lester Silvers, 26. 

     Those aboard the Cessna 140 were identified as (pilot) Reginald Delagrange, 31, and Arthur E. Smith, 25.


Providence Journal, “Divers To Seek 2 Aircraft In Which Four Lost Lives” March 6, 1950, Pg. 2

New York Times, “Four Feared Dead In Crash Of Planes”, March 6, 1950 



Smithfield Airport – May 17, 1947

Smithfield Airport – May 17, 1947

Smithfield, Rhode Island

     On May 17, 1947, a 34-year-old pilot from Cranston suffered critical injuries when he undershot the grass runway at the Smithfield Airport and crashed his WWII surplus monoplane through a stone wall after which it flipped onto its back.  He was transported to Roger Williams Hospital in Providence. 

     The aircraft was a Ryan PT-22 low wing monoplane.  

     The Smithfield Airport opened in 1932, and once occupied the land now owned by Bryant University.  The airfield was located where the Bryant football stadium stands today.  Smithfield  Airport no longer exists, and should not be confused with North Central State Airport, which is still an active airport in the town of Smithfield, Rhode Island.


Woonsocket Call, “Men Escape Without Injuries As Plane Crashes In Cumberland”, May 26, 1947.  This article focused on a plane crash in Cumberland, R. I. which occurred on May 25, 1947, but mentioned that the Cumberland accident was the third aviation accident for the month of May in Rhode Island.  One of the other two accidents mentioned was the one in Smithfield at the Smithfield Airport on May 17th.  


Pawtucket Times, “Trio Unhurt In Plane Crash”, May 26, 1947.  Article tells of another plane that crashed in Cumberland, as well as the Smithfield accident.



Berkley Airfield – May 25, 1947

Berkley Airfield – May 25, 1947

Cumberland, Rhode Island

       On May 25, 1947, a 25-year old pilot from Pawtucket took off in a small biplane from Berkley Airfield in Cumberland, with his brother and a friend aboard as passengers.   Just after becoming airborne the engine started to run erratically so the pilot turned back to make an emergency landing.  As he was approaching the field he noticed some boys playing baseball, and had to re-direct his course to avoid them.  When he did so the aircraft struck some electrical wires tearing off the wings and causing the plane to crash.  Despite the damage to the plane, neither the pilot or his passengers suffered injury.   

     Berkley Airfield once existed in the Berkley section of the town of Cumberland, R. I..    


     Providence Journal, “Men Escape Without Injuries As Plane Crashes In Cumberland”, May 26, 1947, Pg. 1 

     Pawtucket Times, “Trio Unhurt In Plane Crash”, May 26, 1947.

Hillsgrove Airport – May 14, 1947

     Hillsgrove Airport – May 14, 1947

Warwick, Rhode Island

     On the afternoon of May 14, 1947, a Bell helicopter containing a student pilot and an instructor took off from Hillsgrove Airport in Warwick.  (Today the airport is known as T. F. Green)  Just after take off, according to witnesses, the aircraft was about 200 feet in the air when one of the rotor blades suddenly broke away. 

     The helicopter fell and burst into flame.  Two women who witnessed the crash, Mrs. George Page, and Mrs. William Buell, ran to the site and managed to pull one of the men from the wreckage.  Unfortunately, despite the rescue effort, both men aboard the helicopter perished.  They were identified as: Robert F. Chott, 29, of Providence, the instructor, and Gardiner Watts, 27, of Boston, the student.    


     New York Times, “2 In Helicopter Killed” May 15, 1947 

     Unknown Paper, “Helicopter Crash Kills Two In Mass.”, May 15, 1947.  Headline should read R.I., not “Mass.”

     The Pawtucket Times, “Copter Parts Studied For Wreck Clues”, May 16, 1947, pg. 9

     Niagra Falls Gazette, “Bell Copter Death Case Is Resumed”, November 12, 1955.  Article pertains to a lawsuit relating to the accident. 


Lincoln, R. I. – December 18, 1946

Lincoln, Rhode Island – December 18, 1946

     On December 18, 1946, William E. Ouger, 19, took off from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, in a Ercoupe monoplane  bound for Hillsgrove Airport in Warwick, R.I.    As he was passing over northern Rhode Island, he noticed that his aircraft was very low on fuel, so he began looking for a place to land.  He spotted Clarke’s Field in Albion section of Lincoln, R. I., and attempted to land there, but he overshot the field and crashed in the middle of the intersection of Manville and Contrexeville Roads.  Ougar crawled out of the wrecked airplane virtually unharmed.

     The airplane was owned by the Connecticut Aviation Company.   


     Woonsocket Call, “Plane crashes On Albion Rd., Pilot Uninjured”, December 18, 1946

Cumberland, R. I. – September 8, 1940

Cumberland, Rhode Island – September 8, 1940

     On September 8, 1940, a small airplane crashed in a cornfield off Diamond Hill Road in Cumberland, not far from the Woonsocket Airport.  The plane was badly damaged, but there were no rep[orts of injuries.  No further details were mentioned.

Source: Woonsocket Call, “Twas A Corn-y Landing”, September 9, 1940, Pg. 4

Off Prudence Island, R.I. – October 26, 1984

Off Prudence Island, Rhode Island – October 26, 1984

     On the evening of October 26,1984, a small private plane with a husband and wife aboard left T.F. Green State Airport in Warwick, R.I., bound for Prudence Island, an island located in Narragansett Bay.   The couple owned property on Prudence Island, and routinely commuted via airplane to the mainland.

     The plane left T.F. Green at 6:40 p.m.  The weather at the time was cloudy and rain was falling.  At 8:25 p.m. that night the plane was reported overdue.

     The following morning, two friends of the missing couple began a search using an aircraft, and spotted the wreckage in 8 feet of water between Prudence Island and Patience Island.  The tails section had been torn away by the crash.

     Divers recovered the body of the wife inside the aircraft, but the husband was reportedly missing.  


     The Day, “One Dead, One Missing In R.I. Plane Crash”, October 28, 1984

North Smithfield, R.I. – May 11,1941

North Smithfield, R.I. – May 11, 1941

Slatersville Athletic Field

     On May 11, 1941, George W. Verdon Jr., 22, took off from Ironstone Airport in Uxbridge, Massachusetts, in a small airplane.  Shortly afterward he developed engine trouble and was forced to make an emergency landing at the Slatersville Athletic Field in North Smithfield, Rhode Island. After landing safely, he set to work on the motor.  After awhile, he was ready to take off again.

     As the aircraft began to leave the ground the engine suddenly cut out and the plane nosed into the field and skidded to a halt.  George emerged with minor injuries and was taken to Woonsocket Hospital for treatment.

Source: Woonsocket Call, “Plane Crashes On Slatersville Athletic Field”, May 12, 1941 


Hillsgrove Airport – August 28, 1935

Hillsgrove Airport – August 28, 1935 

Warwick, Rhode Island     

Vintage Hillsgrove Airport Postcard. Today known as T.F. Green State Airport - Warwick, R.I.

Vintage Hillsgrove Airport Postcard.
Today known as T.F. Green State Airport – Warwick, R.I.

     On the morning of August 28, 1935, veteran pilot Joshua Crane Jr., 37, began his final approach to a temporary field adjoining Hillsgrove Airport from an altitude of 1500 feet.  Crane was flying a Waco, model YOC, (NC-14621), a four passenger aircraft.   Also aboard was Arthur E. Howe, 26, of Philadelphia.  Both were en-route from Boston to Cleveland, Ohio, and were stopping at Hillsgrove to pick up a third man, Arthur L. Johnson of Cranston. 

    The weather was clear with a southwest wind of 20 miles per hour and gusty.  When the plane had dropped to 500 feet, a gust of wind sent it into a left spin and it plunged to the ground in a small lot on Occupassatuxet Road in Warwick’s Hoxie section, miraculously missing any houses in the area.  (Occupassatuxet Road no longer exists.  It was taken by eminent domain during an airport expansion project.) The impact drove the plane’s motor into the passenger cabin causing severe crushing injuries to both men.   

     Bystanders pulled Crane and Howe from the crumpled wreck and both were transported St. Joseph’s Hospital in critical condition.  Crane died shortly afterwards, and Howe was reportedly only given a 50-50 chance of survival.   

    The death of Joshua Crane came as a shock to the New England aviation world, for he was regarded as an excellent pilot throughout the region. He began flying after graduating from Harvard University in 1917 at the age of twenty.  At that time, World War I was raging in Europe and he enlisted in the United States Navy as a pilot where he received training at Squantum, Massachusetts, and Hampton Roads, Virginia.  By 1918 he was stationed in England flying anti-submarine patrols trying to prevent German U-boats from attacking convoys.  

     While in England, he met his future wife Dora, and they married in 1920.  

     After leaving the navy, he continued flying in the relatively new sport of air racing where his reputation grew.  Besides racing, he also became involved with several air-passenger service ventures that flew out of Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.   By 1930 he had become general manager of Southern New England Airways, Inc., a long defunct service that once flew out of Pawtucket, Rhode Island.  During the literally thousands of hours he logged in the air, it was estimated that he had transported more than 25,000 passengers.

     In addition to passengers, he also flew humanitarian missions and ferried people for the government.  On one occasion he flew from Boston with a planeload of prisoners destined for the federal penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.  Shortly before his death, he had taken Rhode Island’s Governor Theodore Francis Green and a military aide to an army camp in upstate New York to observe war games.  The plane that the governor flew on was the same one that Mr. Crane was piloting the day he crashed. 

     Like many pilots, Crane had his share of “close calls”.  One incident occurred in November of 1930 when a glider he was piloting went down in Pawtucket.  Neither he nor his two passengers were seriously hurt. In April of 1933 his plane loaded with passengers crash landed in southern Rhode Island when the motor lost power, but thankfully those aboard suffered only minor injuries.  Then in July of that same year the landing gear collapsed as he touched down at an airport in Skowhegan, Maine. 

     In February of 1934 he became stranded on an island that he owned known as “No Man’s Land” located about three miles off the southern coast of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.  (Today the island is known as “Normans Land”). On that occasion, he had “nosed-over” on landing and damaged the propeller which forced him to wait until the Coast Guard could bring a new one.   

     The accident which killed Joshua Crane was investigated by the Department of Commerce.  Investigators who examined the wreckage found, “The airplane was so broken up that very little could be learned as to the control system prior to the accident except that all control surfaces were still attached, and the left wing flap was found to be in full down position while the right one was in full up position.  In analyzing this accident, full cognizance was given to the fact that most probably the left wing flap functioned while the right one did not.” 

    This possible malfunction of the flaps, combined with gusty wind conditions, may have led to the crash.  


The Woonsocket Call, Joshua Crane Jr., Dead, Passenger Injured In Crash”, August 28, 1935, Page 1.

The Providence Journal, “Joshua Crane, Jr., Fatally Injured As Plane Crashes”, August 29, 1935, Page 1.

Department Of Commerce, Report of the Accident Board 



Woonsocket R.I. – March 17, 1936

Woonsocket, R.I. – March 17, 1936


Plane crash in Woonsocket R.I., Oak Hill Cemetery  March 17, 1936 Woonsocket Call Photo

Plane crash in Woonsocket R.I., Oak Hill Cemetery
March 17, 1936
Woonsocket Call Photo

     On the afternoon of March 17, 1936, Waldemar M. E. Hagberg, 26, of Springfield, Massachusetts, flew two passengers from Springfield to Boston.  He later left Boston Airport at 8:40 p.m. to return to Springfield, and got lost in fog as he neared Worcester.  Realizing his situation, he set down on  the frozen ice on Indian Lake located in northern Worcester, but  afterwards discovered that he couldn’t get to shore due to surrounding water.  He therefore took off again hoping to find Grafton Airport in the neighboring community of Grafton.  Unfortunately the Grafton Airport wasn’t lighted, and Waldemar circled for some time unable to locate it.   He then decided to set a course towards Providence, Rhode Island, but found the weather getting worse the farther south he flew.  As he passed over the City of Woonsocket, he saw the lights below and began looking for a place to land.  After circling for several minutes he saw what appeared to be a clear area.

     The area was dark, which indicated that there were probably no wires from streetlights or buildings, but he couldn’t tell about any trees.  Fearing that he might not find another opportunity, he decided to take a chance and make a landing.   After cutting his motor and turning off his navigation lights to prevent a fire, he nursed his airplane down slowly until the landing gear unexpectedly struck some tree tops.  Waldemar  yanked back on the stick as the plane tore through the branches and came to rest almost nose first. 

     Waldemar was shaken, but not injured.  As he climbed fro the wreck, he discovered that he had crashed in Woonsocket’s Oak Hill Cemetery, which accounted for the trees and lack of lights.   Officers W. L. Cote, and William Brady transported him to Woonsocket Hospital for examination.

     The plane was a Kittyhawk bi-plane with room for a pilot and two passengers.   


Woonsocket Call, “Air Pilot Escapes Injury In Landing In City Cemetery”, March 18, 1936 




Hillsgrove Airport – December 22, 1940

Hillsgrove Airport – December 22, 1940

Warwick, Rhode Island

     On December 22, 1940, two aircraft, each flown by student pilots, collided in mid-air directly over Hillsgrove Airport.  One, an Aeronca Cub, flown by Gilbert B. Kornstein, 19, and the other a Taylorcraft, flown by Millard McInnis, 26.   

    The impact broke the tail off the Aeronca, sending it plummeting to the ground killing Kornstein instantly.

     McInnis was able to nurse his damaged plane down, clipping a tree and flipping over in the Norwood section of Warwick, about three miles from the airport.  He required a tourniquet to stem the flow of blood from a leg wound, but he survived. 


Woonsocket Call, “Young North Smithfield Flier Dies In Mid-Air Crash”, December 23, 1940, Pg. 1  


Block Island, R.I. – August 27, 1931

Block Island, R. I. – August 27, 1931

     Very little information is available about this accident.  On the afternoon of August 27, 1931, Evald Lundberg, a.k.a. Gottfred E. Lundberg, of East Greenwich, Rhode Island, was burned to death when his airplane crashed on Block Island after his engine failed.

     For those that don’t know, Block Island is three miles off the coast of Rhode Island. 

Source: New York Times, “Flier Dies In Block Island Crash”, August 28, 1931.     

Westerly, R. I. – September 2, 1929

Westerly, R.I. – September 2, 1929

Updated November 26, 2022

     At 4:30 p.m. on the afternoon of September 2, 1929, a small airplane with a pilot and two women passengers aboard took off from Misquamicut Field, (Today known as Westerly Airport), for what was to be a sightseeing flight over the area.  Shortly after take off, while at an altitude of 75 to 100 feet, the engine began to skip.  The pilot attempted to remedy the situation by opening the throttle, but this didn’t correct the malfunction.  He then banked the aircraft with the intention of returning to the airfield.  Realizing he wouldn’t make it to the field, he aimed for Brightman’s Pond, a small salt water pond between Masquamicut Beach and the airfield.  Realizing that a crash was inevitable, the pilot undid his safety belt and called for the women to do the same.  The plane crashed short of the pond, coming down on Misquamicut Beach.  It landed on its left wing, and just as it did so the pilot jumped clear. The aircraft then spun around before coming to an abrupt stop.  Immediately afterwards the plane erupted in flames, and the two passengers perished.   

     According to witnesses, the pilot attempted to reach the plane but was driven back by the smoke and flames. 

     It was reported that the pilot admitted to state police investigators that he’d failed to turn off the ignition prior to the crash.    

      The dead were identified as Mrs. Marie A. Hunter, (31), of 3 Avery Street, Westfield, Massachusetts, and Miss Marie Day, (20), of 20 Colton Avenue, West Springfield, Massachusetts. No autopsies were performed. 

     The type of aircraft is unknown. 


     Woonsocket Call, “2 Women Die In Airplane Crash Near Westerly”, September 3, 1929

     Woonsocket Call, “Fatal Airplane Crash Probed”, September 4, 1929, Pg. 3.      

Newport, R.I. – July 20, 1923

Newport, R.I. – July 20, 1923

Updated January 9, 2016

     On July 20, 1923, a plane belonging to the New York – Newport Air Line (Service) was making a flight from New York City to Newport, Rhode Island, with a pilot and two passengers aboard, when it crashed at Newport.  The aircraft, named Fleet Wing, suddenly fell from an altitude of 75 feet while making a sharp turn in preparation for a water landing.  The plane plunged into the water and flipped over, and all three men were ejected by the impact. 

     The most seriously injured was H. Cary Morgan, who suffered a compound fracture to his leg.  He was transported to Newport Naval Hospital where it was determined that his leg was too badly mangled to be saved, and amputation was necessary.  A pint-and-a-half of blood was donated by Pharmacists Mate 3C William J. Majeski of Meriden, Connecticut.  Unfortunately, complications set in, and Mr. Morgan passed away.

     The pilot, H.H. Thorburn, and the other passenger, Henry Fowler, survived the crash with minor injuries.

     The terminal for the airline was close to the Newport Naval Station.  When the accident occurred, help from the station arrived quickly.  The heavily damaged plane was towed to shore by two navy boats.   

     The airline also had another plane in its fleet, the Gray Lark, which had arrived a few minutes before the accident.   


Woonsocket Call, “Newport Line Plane Upsets As It Lands”, July 21, 1923, Pg. 9

Woonsocket Call, “H. Cary Morgan Dead Following Accident”, July 24, 1923, Pg. 1

Meriden Morning Record, “Meriden Boy Gives His Blood In Vain”, July 30, 1923       

New York Times, “Air Liner Crashes In Newport Landing”, July 21, 1923  


Glocester, R.I. – January 17, 1966

Glocester, R.I. – January 17, 1966

     On January 17, 1966, a single-engine Beechcraft T-34 took off from North Central Airport in Smithfield en-route to upstate New York.   Shortly after take off, the pilot noticed the oil pressure dropping rapidly.  After declaring an emergency, he attempted to return to North Central, but then the engine began to skip and sputter before it stopped completely.  The pilot was forced to set the plane down in an open field on the farm of Kenneth Clemence, located on Tarklin Road near the Glocester/Smithfield town line.   

     The plane skidded about 40 yards across the field up a slight incline before coming to rest against a stone wall.  Damage was minor, and the pilot, Airman 1c William J. Fornes, 26, and his passenger, Airman 1c Richard L. Berube, 20, both of Griffiss Air Force base in Rome, New York, were unhurt.  The plane was a civilian aircraft belonging to a flying-club at Griffiss.  

Source: Providence Journal, “Plane’s Forced Landing Probed”, January 18, 1966, Pg. 31

Rocky Point, R.I. – July 4, 1913

Rocky Point, R.I. – July 4, 1913


DFP50096     Nels J. Nelson was sixteen when the Wright Brothers flew at Kittyhawk, North Carolina, in 1903.  Eight years later he was building his own airplanes in New Britain, Connecticut.  His first airplane made its maiden flight over Plainfield, Connecticut, May 1st, 1911. 

      Nelson took to giving flying exhibitions which were well received by a public eager to see what those “new fangled flying machines” could do.  By 1913 he’d developed what he called a “Hydroplane” capable of taking off and landing in water.  On July 1, 1913, Nelson flew his Hydroplane over Providence, Rhode Island, where he circled the area of Exchange Place and City Hall twice before making a turn around the dome of the state capitol.  From there he flew south where he landed in the water just off shore from the famous Rocky Point Amusement Park in Warwick.  The purpose of the flight was to generate interest in several flying exhibitions he was to give at Rocky Point as part of the 4th of July celebration festivities.  Advertisements of his arrival had been posted in local papers for several days. 

     Mr. Nelson was scheduled to give three exhibitions on July 4th; at 10 a.m., 2 p.m., and 5 p.m.  An article that appeared in The Woonsocket Call on July 5th described the first flight; “Shortly before 10 o’clock Nels Nelson sailed his 70 horse-power flying boat out into the bay in front of the Mansion House, watched by thousands of interested spectators.  The motor began to buzz and immediately the huge hydroplane commenced to skim at a rapid rate over the water.  As soon as the maximum speed was attained, the planes were slanted and the boat rose into the air, dripping like a sea gull which had captured its prey.  For a few moments Nelson drove the machine on the level – about 12 feet from the surface of the bay.  Soon, however, he rose higher until it became necessary to tip back one’s head to watch the flight.  Higher and higher went the boat, finally becoming but a speck in the sky sailing towards Prudence Island.”    

      On the second flight of the day Nelson took 21-year-old Irving Tukey aboard as a passenger.  The take-off went smoothly and the flight was uneventful until the aircraft was returning to land.  As Nelson was making his final approach, he cut power to the engine in anticipation of gliding down to the water, but at that instant, a strong gust of wind caught the plane and sent it into a sharp down-turn into the Narragansett Bay from an altitude of 60 feet.  

     Tukey suffered a broken wrist, a laceration to his forehead and numerous bumps and bruises.  Nelson was battered and dazed, but otherwise alright.  Both men were rescued by a private boat that was anchored nearby watching the festivities. 

     What became of Nelson’s hydroplane isn’t recorded, but the accident didn’t deter him from further flying.  The following September he flew another plane that he had built from New Britain, Connecticut to Chicago, Illinois.

      Mr. Nelson died in 1964 at the age of 77.  Many of his fellow aviators never reached middle age. His interest in aviation continued throughout his life.  Between 1903 and 1964, (the span of 61 years), he had witnessed the birth of the airplane, the jet, the rocket, and manned space flight.     


The Woonsocket Call, “Birdman Flies At Rocky Point”, July 3, 1913, Page 10

The Woonsocket Call, “Fourth Big Day At Rocky Point”, July 5, 1913, Page. 2

The Woonsocket Call, “Drop Into Bay”, July 7, 1913, Page 1

Internet website  www.earlyaviators.com Nels J. Nelson, 1887-1964




Quonset Point, R.I. – June 5, 1971

Quonset Point, R.I. – June 5, 1971


F8F Bearcat
U. S. Navy Photo

     On June 5, 1971, the annual Quonset Air Show, a.k.a. Rhode Island Air Show, was being held at Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.  The second to last portion of the show that day included an aerobatic exposition of two former U.S. Navy F8F Bearcat aircraft flown by a father and son team.   Ten minutes into the exhibition, the wing of one aircraft, (N7700C) piloted by J. W. “Bill” Fornof, suddenly broke away.  The aircraft crashed in a wooded area on Quidnesset Road, about 1.5 miles from the base.   Mr. Fornof, 46, of Houma, Louisiana, was killed.

    His son, J. W. “Corkey” Fornof, flying the other Bearcat was not injured.    

    Investigators blamed the wing failure on metal fatigue.

    Mr. Fornof earned his wings as a navy pilot at the age of 19 in 1945, and served in both WWII and Korea.   

    For more information about J. W. “Bill” Fornof, and a photo of his aircraft, see “Bill Fornof Memorial – Chapter 513 Houma, LA”, at www.513.eaachapter.org/billfornofmemorial.htm 


    The Standard Times, (R. I.), “At Navy’s ‘Successful’ Carnival: A Memory Of Tragedy”, June 10, 1971

     Nashua Telegraph, “Pilot Killed In Accident At Air Show”, June 7, 1971, Pg. 3

    (Lafourche Parish, Louisiana) Daily Comet, ” Courier Reports On Death Of Local Aviator”, By Bill Ellzey, June 8, 2011.

     U.S. Navy & U.S. Marine Corps BuNos, www.joebaugher.com


Warwick, R.I. – September 21, 1985

Warwick, Rhode Island – September 21, 1985

     On September 21, 1985, a Beech V35B, (N5NG), with a husband and wife aboard took off from Worcester, Massachusetts.  While over the Providence metropolitan area, approximately 12 miles away from T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, the pilot radioed he was having trouble with the engine and requested clearance to land.  The pilot was given vectors to T.F. Greene, but on his approach, the aircraft lost power and crashed into the Jersey barrier of the northbound lanes of Interstate Route 95, about a tenth of a mile south of Exit 15.  Both were killed.  

     Miraculously, no vehicles on the highway were involved in the accident.    

     The cause of the crash was determined to be a failure of the engine crankshaft from fatigue.  


     NTSB – NYC85FA244, microfiche # 29832

     Woonsocket Call, “Crash Of Small Plane On I-95 Claims Lives Of Worcester Couple”, September 22, 1985

Narragansett, RI – August 9, 1914

Narragansett, Rhode Island – August 9, 1914

     On August 9, 1914, aviator Harry M. Jones was seriously injured when he crashed his airplane in the Narrow River in Narragansett.  No further details were given.

Source: New York Times, “Narragansett Flier Hurt”, August 10, 1914

     Jones was famous for landing his airplane on the Boston Common on January 2, 1913, to collect a cash prize offered by a Boston newspaper to the first person to do it. Unfortunately the newspaper had rescinded the offer two days earlier. 

Update June 19, 2016

     Jones was involved in an earlier crash on May 25, 1913, when he crashed into Narragansett Bay while giving an exhibition at a baseball game.. For details, see elsewhere on this website under Rhode Island Civil Aviation Accidents. 


Middletown, R.I. – August 3, 1937

Middletown, Rhode Island – August 3, 1937


1930s map showing the former location of the airport in Middletown, R.I.

1930s map showing the former location of the airport in Middletown, R.I.

     On the morning of August 3, 1937, Everett Johnson Peck Jr., of New York, flew his private airplane from Bridgehamption, Long Island, to Newport Airport, in Middletown, Rhode Island.

     The airport currently known as Newport State Airport was opened n 1967, and is not the same Newport Airport that Mr. Peck flew to.  That airport was located on the shore of Narragansett Bay in the town of Middletown, and no longer exists. (See map – click on image to enlarge.)   

     Mr. Peck arrived at the airport safely.  At about noon time, he decided to take off again to view the start of the America’s Cup Race, however he crashed on takeoff and was taken to Newport Hospital with serious injuries.    

     The type of plane was not stated.

     Source: New York Times, “E. J. Peck Jr. Injured”, August 5, 1937

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