Burlington, VT. – February 11, 1936

Burlington, Vermont – February 11, 1936 

     On February 8, 1936, a fleet of U. S. Army aircraft assigned to the 20th Pursuit Group at Barksdale Airfield in Louisiana, arrived in Burlington to participate in aerial “war games” with army planes from the 3rd Attack Group stationed at Concord, New Hampshire.  In all there were 31 planes which, it was reported, was the largest concentration of aircraft to date at the Burlington Airport.   

     The “war games” were to be conducted over several days to test how the aircraft would react to cold weather, and to hone readiness and response capabilities of the air crews. 

     In one particular exercise, 6 bombers and 9 attack aircraft took off from Concord to conduct and air raid on Burlington.  The aircraft approached the city in groups of three, with each group attacking at five to ten minute intervals.  The raid was successful, but 16 defending aircraft “shot down” the attackers before they could get away, with both sides claiming victory.

     On February 11, three aircraft participating in maneuvers crashed at the Burlington Airport.     

     The first occurred at 6:30 a.m. when a pilot taking off in a Boeing P-26 struck a snow bank and wrecked the aircraft.  The pilot was not seriously injured. 

     The second crash occurred at 8:30 a.m. when a pilot flying a Boeing P-36 came in for a landing and overshot the runway and crashed at high speed into a snowbank.  The pilot was not seriously injured, but the aircraft was wrecked. 

     The third crash occurred later in the day when a pursuit plane taking off in poor visibility failed to gain sufficient altitude and crashed into a snowbank.  The aircraft flipped over onto its back, but the pilot wasn’t seriously injured. 

     The “war games” came to an end on February 15 due to poor weather. 


     Burlington Free Press, “Two Army Planes Here Crack Up In Maneuvers, No Serious Casualties”, February 11, 1936

     Burlington Free Press, No Headline-news snippet, February 12, 1936. 

     Burlington Free Press, “Burlington A Mass Of Ruins”, February 13, 1936, pg. 12.

    Burlington Free Press, “Air Maneuvers Come To End”, February 15, 1936.

   Daily Alaska Empire, “Army Pursuit Planes Crash”, February 11, 1936

Bristol, VT. – October 24, 1945

Bristol, Vermont – October 24, 1945


SB2C Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

     At 12:30 p.m., on October 24, 1945, a U. S. Navy Helldiver aircraft with two men aboard, took off from Burlington, Vermont, bound for the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island.  The pilot was Lieutenant (Jg.) Walter G. Smith, 22, of Kansas City, Missouri, and his passenger was Lieutenant Commander Maurice M. Stone, 28, of Savannah, Georgia.     

     The men were in Vermont with a squadron of Quonset Point airplanes to take part in Navy Week exercises, but Lt. Cmdr. Stone had developed an infection in his left arm and Lt. Smith had volunteered to fly him back to Quonset Point for medical treatment. 

     When the plane failed to arrive at Quonset Point it was declared missing and a large scale search was undertaken.  The search was hampered by bad weather.   

     Two days later the wreckage of the missing plane was spotted from the air near the summit of South Mountain in the town of Bristol, about 82 miles southeast of Burlington.   When ground crews reached the scene, they reported that the plane had broken apart on impact and debris was scattered for quite a distance. The bodies of both men were found amidst the wreckage.   

     Lt. Cmdr. Stone had taken part in the first aircraft carrier aerial strike on Tokyo, Japan, while aboard the U.S.S. Bunker Hill.  For his actions he’d earned the Distinguished Flying Cross with three clusters.  He was a native of Maine, and left behind a wife and three children.  He was the executive officer of VB-81 Squadron. 


     The Burlington Free Press, “2 Navy Fliers, Plane Leaving Burlington, Lost”, October 25, 1945, page 1.  

     The Waterbury Democrat, (Ct.), “Navy Flyers Unreported”, October 25, 1945, page 2. 

     Plattsburgh Press – Republican, (N.Y.), “Seek Two Navy Fliers And Lost Plane In Vermont”, October 26, 1945, page 3. 

     The Burlington Free Press, “To Depart Today For Quonset Point”, October 26, 1945, page 11. 

     The Burlington Free Press, “Private Planes Were Prepared To Search For Missing Fliers”, October 26, 1945, page 11. 

     The Burlington Free Press, “Bodies Of Two Navy Fliers Removed From Mountain, Flown To R. I.”, October 29, 1945, page 9.

Burlington, VT. – November 26, 1943

Burlington, Vermont – November 26, 1943


U.S. Army A-29 Attack Bomber – U.S. Air Force Photo

     This accident involved a military airplane manned by a civilian crew.  The reason for a civilian crew is unclear. 

     On November 26, 1943, a twin-engine Lockheed RA-29 Army Air Force aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-23335), with three men aboard, took off from Boston for what was to be a test flight of the aircraft’s service ceiling.  The aircraft climbed to 24,000 feet and maintained that altitude until the pilot reported that the port engine had lost all power and requested an emergency landing at Burlington Airport in Burlington, Vermont.  The plane crashed and burned one mile from the runway at Burlington, and all aboard perished.    

     The crew were:

     Pilot: Harry Babcock Brown, (31).  He’s buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord, Massachusetts.

     Co-pilot: Harry T. Nordbeck.  (Info unknown.)

    Engineer: James Vaught Dotson, (29).  He’s buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Nashville, Tenn. 


     Book: “Fatal Army Air Forces Aviation Accidents In The United States, 1941-1945”, by Anthony J. Mireles, C. 2006.


     The Boston Globe, “Army Air Force Plane Crash”, November 26, 1943, pg. 19 

Windsor, VT. – November 17, 1945

Windsor, Vermont – November 17, 1945


TBM-3E Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On November 17, 1945, a navy TBM-3E Avenger, (Bu. No. 68984) was on a cross country training flight over Vermont, when icing conditions led to engine failure.  The pilot was forced to make an emergency wheels-up landing in an open field in the town of Windsor.  The landing caused extensive damage to the aircraft, but no one aboard the aircraft was injured. 

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-43.  

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated November 17, 1945 

Ryegate, VT. – October 6, 1978

Ryegate, Vermont – October 6, 1978

     On October 6, 1978, an Air National Guard F-100 fighter jet with two crewmen aboard was passing over northern Vermont when the crew was forced to eject.  The aircraft crashed in a field in the town of Ryegate.  The two crewmen, Captain Donald C. Malatesta, 26, and Captain Gary L. Senseney, 26, both of Connecticut, landed safely and without injury.  The cause of the crash was not given.


     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Military Jet Crashes; Pilots Safe” October 7, 1978, page B-1 

Londonderry, VT. – February 3, 1975

Londonderry, Vermont – February 3, 1975

     On the night of February 3, 1975, two U.S. Air Force F-111A Aircraft, (68-0280, and 69-6505), were passing over the area of Londonderry, Vermont, on a training flight, when they were involved in a mid-air collision.  The two-man crew of both aircraft ejected safely and landed near the Magic Mountain Ski Resort in Londonderry. 

     The accident occurred as the aircraft were getting ready for an in-flight re-fueling operation.   

     Both aircraft were assigned to the 34oth Bomb Group, 380th Bomb, based at Plattsburg, New York. 


     Providence Evening Bulletin, “4 Escape Air Crash”, February 4, 1975, page A6. 

     Aviation Safety Network, Wikibase #152909

Barre, VT. – December 9, 1960

Barre, Vermont – December 9, 1960


B-52 Stratofortress
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On December 9, 1960, a B-52 Stratofortress, (Ser. No. 55-0114), left Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a training flight that would take it over upstate New York.  While over the Adirondack Mountians the aircraft experienced a significant drop in altitude and the crew, believing the aircraft was going to crash, ejected.   After all eight crewmen left the aircraft, the B-52 continued on for nearly one-hundred miles before crashing on the outskirts of Barre, Vermont, near the Plainfield town line.  The plane exploded on impact and was blown to pieces.  

     The crew were identified as:

     Pilot: Captain William T. Combs, 42, of Bristol, Va.

     Co-pilot: Lieutenant James Saravo, 25, of Newport, R.I.

     Navigator: Captain Ronald D. Little, 29, of Altoona, Pa.

     Radar Observer: Major Karl E. Keyes, 43, of Hyattsville, Md.

     Electronics Warfare Officer: 1st Lieutenant George M. Davis, of Pawtucket, R.I.

     Tail Gunner: Staff Sergeant Pierre J. Maheux, of Auburn, Maine.

     Instructor Pilot: Major Henry Luscomb, 41, of Simsbury, Ct.

     Airman 1C Charles E. Morris, 32, of Clearwater, Fl.

     The aircraft was part of the 348th Bomber Squadron, 99th Bombardment Group, based at Westover AFB.       

     Most of the crew came down in the Schroon Lake region.  Some were injured, and each faced dealing with below freezing temperatures before being rescued.  All would later recover.

     After two days the only crewman unaccounted for was Staff Sergeant Maheux.  His remains were found by a fisherman several months later on July 4, 1961.  He’s buried in St. Peters Cemetery, in Lewiston, Maine.     


     Springfield Union, “B52 From Westover Crashes In Vermont”, December 10, 1960, page 1.

     Springfield Union, “6 Westover Fliers Found; Search Is On For 2 Others”, December 12, 1960  

     Springfield Union, “Seventh Man Rescued In AF Plane Crash”,

     www.findagrave.com  memorial #121568372

Rutland, Vermont – June 24, 1934

Rutland, Vermont – June 24, 1934

     At about 11:30 a.m., on June 24, 1934, Captain H. H. Mills of the 118th Observation Squadron of the Connecticut National Guard was piloting a Douglas observation plane over the new municipal airfield in Rutland, Vermont, as part of the field’s dedication exercises. 

     At the same time, a Bellanca monoplane with two men aboard was also in the area on a photographic survey mission for the government. 

    For reason’s not determined, the two aircraft collided head-on at an altitude of 5,000 feet over the airport.   The impact ejected Captain Mills from his aircraft and he found himself hurling through space dazed from an head wound.  Fortunately he was able to release his parachute and land safely.  His airplane came down in the center of the airport and was destroyed.

     The Bellanca disintegrated as it came down, dropping its engine and two occupants before striking the ground on a farm about a mile from the airport.  Both men were killed. 

     The dead were identified as W.H. McMullen, the pilot, and R.L. Oakes, the photographer.  Both were from New York City.   

Source: New York Times, “Two Die As Planes Crash at 5,000 Feet”, June 25, 1934 

South Mountain, Vermont – October 24, 1945

South Mountain, Vermont – October 24, 1945


SB2C Helldiver U.S. Navy Photo

SB2C Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

     On October 24, 1945, a U.S. Navy Helldiver left Burlington, Vt., headed for Quonset Naval Air Station in Rhode Island, when it crashed into South Mountain at the 2,300 foot level, cutting a wide path and scattering wreckage over a large area.  Both men aboard were killed.  

     150  searchers found the wreck site after two days.     

     The pilot was Ensign Walter G. Smith, Jr., 22, of Kansas City, Mo.   

     The passenger was 28-year-old Lt. Cmdr. Maurice M. Stone of Raleigh, North Carolina.  Stone was the executive officer of a squadron based at Quonset Point, and had arrived in Burlington with his squadron for Navy Day exercises.   At some point his hand became infected, and he was being flown to R.I. for treatment when the accident occurred.  

     Stone was a veteran of the first aircraft carrier based attack on Tokyo, Japan.  He was survived by his wife Maureen (Smith) Stone. He’s buried in Savannah, Georgia.


Providence Journal, “Bodies of Two Quonset Aviators, Wrecked Plane Found In Vermont”,  October 27, 1945, Pg. 1    

North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-100 & 45-101

Camel’s Hump Mt. – October 16, 1944

Camel’s Hump Mountain, Vermont- October 16, 1944

B-24 Liberator  U.S. Air Force Photo

B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On October 16, 1944, a U. S. Army B-24J Liberator (#42-51067) crashed into Camel’s Hump Mountain killing all but one crewman aboard.  The sole survivor was Aerial Gunner James W. Wilson who was found by members of the Civil Air Patrol a short distance from the wreck.  Investigators found the wreckage near the top of the 4,083 mountain, covering more than an acre of land.   

     Other members of the crew included:

     Pilot: 1st Lt. David E. Potter, age 30.  To see a photo of Lt. Potter, click here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/54537510/david-edgar-potter

     Co-pilot: Flight Officer John J. Ramasocky, age 23.  https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/114692750/john-j-ramasocky 

     F.O. Ramasocky’s brother was killed in a military plane crash on August 12, 1947. Click here for info. 

     Navigator: 2nd Lt. Robert W. Geoffrey, age 22.To see a photo of Lt. Geoffrey, click here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/99670033/robert-w-geoffroy

     Bombardier: 1st Lt. David C. McNary, age 25.  To see a photo of Lt. McNary click here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/61504687/david-capp-mcnary  

     Engineer: Corporal Luther N. Hagler, age 21. To see a photo of Cpl. Hagler, click here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/15323357/luther-napoleon-hagler

     Radio Operator: Corporal James Perry, age 19.  To see a photo of Cpl. Perry’s grave, click here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/146382962/james-perry

     Ball Turret Gunner: Corporal Robert E. Denton, age 22 or 23.  To see a photo of his grave click here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/78505722/robert-e-denton 

     Tail Gunner: PFC Richard C. Wynne, age 18.  To see a photo of PFC Wynne’s grave, click here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/79231128/richard-carlton-wynne


     Nose Gunner: PFC Casper Zacher, age 19.  To see a photo of PFC Zacher’s grave, click here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/3518436/casper-zacher

     A memorial plaque and a wing section of the aircraft can be found at the crash site.


     Woonsocket Call, “Single Member Of Crashed Bomber’s Crew Found Alive Near Vermont Mountain Debris”, October 18, 1944, pg. 1

     Aircraft Info supplied by Lawrence Webster – Aviation Historian

     New York Times, “Bomber Wreck Found On Vermont Mountain”, October 18, 1944


     Unknown Newspaper, “Wreckage Of Missing Westover Plane Found”, October 18, 1944


Vergennes, Vermont – November 4, 1959

Vergennes, Vermont – November 4, 1959

     On November 4, 1959, a twin-engine Army plane on its way to Fort Monmouth, N.J., developed engine trouble and crash landed on a farm injuring one of the passengers aboard, Brig. General Charles M. Baer, who suffered cuts to his head and face.  The others aboard, Lt. Col. Herbert F. Hartzel, Captain Charles McGee (pilot) and co-pilot Louis Galambos were uninjured.

Source: Woonsocket Call, “General Hurt In Vt. Crash Of Army Plane”, November 5, 1959, Pg. 3  

Montpelier, Vermont – November 1927

Montpelier, Vermont – November 14, 1927

     At 11 a.m. on November 14, 1927, a small plane carrying Reuben S. Sleight, and piloted by Lieutenant Franklin Wolfe, was attempting to land at Montpelier Field when it crashed and flipped over, killing Sleight.

     Mr. Sleight was an assistant to then Secretary Herbert Hoover, and was on his way to prepare for a meeting between Secretary Hoover, Governor Weeks, and Attorney General Sargent on flood relief problems in the area.   

     Source: New York Times, “Hoover Aide Killed In Vermont Flight”, November 15, 1927

Burlington, VT. – December 6, 1970

Burlington, Vermont – December 6, 1970


Dehavilland U-6 Beaver
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At about 3 p.m. on December 6, 1970, a Rhode Island Air National Guard De Havilland U-6 Beaver aircraft, (Ser. No. 0-16489), took off from Burlington Airport with five men aboard bound for T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island.  It was snowing heavily at the time with 20 mph winds. 

     Immediately after take off the pilot, Lt. Colonel Benjamin F. Mendes, radioed Burlington tower that some radio directional equipment had suddenly become inoperative.  Moments later the plane crashed in a wooded area about a half-mile from Interstate 89.  Six youths who were riding in a car on the interstate at that time reported that they saw flames coming from the De Havilland as it was going down.  All five men perished in the crash. 

     The passengers were identified as:

     Roger Baron, 42, of Laconia, New Hampshire.

     Charles Larsen, 32, of Bedford, Massachusetts.

     Raymond Maher, 37, of Lincoln, Massachusetts.

     Louis Pappas, 39, of Framingham, Massachusetts.

     Lt. Col. Mendes, a native of Rhode Island, was assigned to the First Army at Fort Meade, Maryland, but at the time of his death was living with his family on Long Island, New York, while studying for an advanced degree at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York, under a program called “Operation Bootstrap”. 

     As a military pilot, Lt. Col. Mendes was required to fly a minimum of four hours a month to maintain his proficiency rating, which was a common practice for pilots not assigned to active flight duty.  As such, arrangements were made for him to use the De Havilland belonging to the Rhode Island Air National Guard to make the flight to Burlington.  He’d made the flight from Rhode Island to Vermont alone, and picked up the passengers before leaving Burlington.     


     Providence Journal, “Army Probes Plane Crash”, December 7, 1970

     Providence Journal, “Five Killed In Crash Of R. I. Guard Plane”, December 8, 1970

Springfield, VT. – August 19, 1964

Springfield, Vermont – August 19, 1964


T-33 Shooting Star – U. S. Air Force Photo

     On August 19, 1964, a Lockheed T-33 Shooting Star trainer-jet took off from Hanscom Field in Bedford, Massachusetts, for a training flight to Pease Air Force Base in Newington, New Hampshire.   

     During the flight, the aircraft crashed and exploded into a hill known as Mount Ararat near Springfield, Vermont, about 75 miles northwest of Bedford, Mass.  Wreckage was scattered over a half-mile. 

     Both crewmen aboard were killed instantly. They were identified as: 

     Captain Robert L. Wessell, age unknown, of Watertown, Mass. and Bakersfield, Calif.  

     Major William C. Smith, age 38, of Lexington, Mass., and Oak Park, Ill.  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  major Smith was survived by a wife and daughter. 


     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Two Air Officers Die In Vt. Plane Crash”, August 20, 1964

     www.findagrave.com, memorial #49318775


Lake Champlain, VT – June 23, 1957

Lake Champlain, Vermont – June 23, 1957


P2V Neptune
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On June 23, 1957, a U.S. Navy P2V Neptune was on a reserve training flight from Grosse Isle Naval Air Station, to Plattsburgh Air Force Base in Plattsburgh, New York.  It landed at Plattsburgh, at 2:30 p.m. and departed for Virginia thirty minutes later. 

     At 3:30 p.m., the pilot, Lt. (Jg.) Richard Schwaller, radioed Plattsburgh tower that he was having engine trouble and was returning to the base.  

     At 3: 37 p.m., one engine lost all power, and Lt. Schwaller was forced to make an emergency landing in Lake Champlain.  The aircraft hit the water about a half mile off shore from Shoreham, Vermont, where it struck a submerged sandbar and flipped onto its back snapping off the tail section.     

     The water on the lake was rough due to storm activity in the area, but fortunately all nine men aboard were able to escape the wreckage without injury before the fuselage sank in 12 to  18 feet of water.  

     The men were soon rescued by a passing yacht belonging to John L. Cooney, who owned a car dealership in Rutland, Vt.  Once ashore at Chipman Point, Vermont, the crew was brought by helicopter to Ethan Allen Air Force base in Burlington, Vermont.  


     Unknown Newspaper, “Pilot Ditches Big Plane In Lake; Nine Are Saved”, June 24, 1957

     Unknown Newspaper, “Navy Probing Bomber Crash”, Unknown Date.

     Unknown Newspaper, “Navy Will Try To Raise Bomber From Champlain” Unknown Date.


Lake Memphremagog, VT – June 28, 1942

Lake Memphremagog, Vermont – June 28, 1942

     Very little information seems to exist relating to this accident.  The information was released in a small Associated Press article that also included two other military plane crashes; one in Boston, and the other in Rhode Island. 

     On June 28, 1942, an aircraft piloted by C. N. Pate, of the Royal Canadian Air Force, crashed and sank in Lake Memphremagog, off shore from Newport, Vermont.  The pilot did not survive. 

     The type of aircraft, the pilot’s full name, and rank, were not specified.  Only that he had flown out of Hubert Field in Quebec.

     Lake Memphremagog covers about 40 square miles, and straddles the Canadian and United States border, most of it being in Canada.  


     Nashua Telegraph, “Three Army Plane Crashes Add To Weekend Death Toll”, June 29, 1942

Update February 24, 2017

     The following information was supplied to New England Aviation History by Mr. David Archer.  Thank you Mr. Archer.

     The full name of the pilot was Roy Nelson Pate, age 22, of Toronto, Canada.  He was born June 12, 1920, and was only 16 days shy of his 23rd birthday.  He enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force on August 22, 1941, and is buried in Toronto (Resthaven) Memorial Garden; Ontario Canada. 

Source: Canadian Virtual War Memorial

     Mr. Archer also included the following (AP) newspaper article:

     R.C.A.F. Flier Killed In Vermont Crash

     Newport, Vt., June 28 (AP) – An airplane plunged into Lake Memphremagog within sight of this town today, and the body of a Royal Canadian Air Force flier was recovered later by a diver.  The plane went into the lake about four miles from here and a half-mile from shore, close to the Canadian border.  Oliver Packer, a Newport fire department diver, operating from a special diving raft towed by a United States customs boat, said he found the flier’s body jammed in the cockpit of the plane, which was submerged in thirty feet of water.  There was no indication that more than one man was in the plane.  


Burlington, VT – May 18, 1949

Burlington, Vermont – May 18, 1949

P-47 Thunderbolt - U.S. Air Force Photo

P-47 Thunderbolt – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On May 18, 1949, a flight of twelve F-47 National Guard aircraft was scheduled to depart Burlington Airport for a formation training flight.  The formation was to be led by Major Carroll A. Prybylo, 28, piloting F-47 (#45-49545).

     The F-47 was the new designation assigned to the P-47 Thunderbolt used by the Army Air Force during WWII.  By 1949 they had been relegated to National Guard status.

     After pre-flight preparations, the flight was cleared for takeoff on runway 15, with Major Prybylo going first.  According to witnesses, it appeared that the major’s aircraft wasn’t traveling as fast as it should, and didn’t become airborne until it had used up 4,000 feet of runway.  Even then, the aircraft appeared to have trouble climbing, and only reached an altitude of about 24 feet.  It continued on for 608 feet from the end of the runway where the left wing and left horizontal stabilizer struck some trees 15 feet from the tops.  The wing and stabilizer were torn away and the plane crashed and exploded. 

     The plane crashed in an area of rough terrain which made it difficult for rescue and fire personnel to reach the scene.  Due to the total destruction of the aircraft and subsequent fire, investigators were unable to determine a definite cause of the accident.

    Major Prybylo was born in Walpole, New Hampshire, on December 17, 1921, and entered the service in March of 1942.  After receiving his pilot’s wings on January 4, 1943, he was sent to the European Theatre and flew numerous combat missions during WWII, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with numerous clusters, and other awards.  He was survived by his wife and daughter, and is buried in St. Mary’s cemetery in Springfield, Vermont. 


     Air Force Crash Investigation Report, #49-5-18-5

     Burlington Free Press, “Major Carroll A. Prybylo Of Essex Jctn., Perishes In Wreck Of F-47 Thunderbolt Which Crashes Near Burlington Airport”, May 19, 1949  

     (Unnamed newspaper) “Probe Of Fatal Plane Crack-up Now Under Way”, May 20, 1949

     www.findagrave.com, Memorial #151212590    

Hawks Mountain, VT – June 14, 1947

Hawks Mountain, Vermont – June 14, 1947

In the Town of Perkinsville, Vermont


B-29 Super Fortress U.S. Air Force Photo

B-29 Super Fortress
U.S. Air Force Photo

      Shortly after midnight on June 14, 1947, a U.S. Air Force B-29A bomber, (44-62228), crashed into the southeast side of Hawks Mountain and exploded.  All twelve men aboard were killed, and to this day the incident remains the worst aviation accident to ever occur in Vermont.  

     The flight had originated the previous morning when the plane took off from Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, for a navigational training mission to the east coast.  The plane was scheduled to land at Andrews Field (Later known as Andrews Air Force Base) in Washington, D.C., but due to bad weather was diverted to Pittsburg Airport where it arrived at 3:07 p.m.  After refueling, the aircraft proceeded towards Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, Massachusetts, where it was to remain overnight before flying back to Arizona the following day.  However, the weather grew worse, and with poor visibility and darkness falling the crew became lost, ending up over Vermont instead of Massachusetts.   

    Just before midnight the B-29’s radio operator tried making contact with Boston, but was unsuccessful.  The transmissions were picked up by Corporal Wendell J. Adams monitoring the radio at Grenier Field in Manchester, who contacted the aircraft to ask if he could be of assistance, to which he was told that he could not.  

     Not long afterwards citizens of Perkinsville reported hearing the B-29 circle low over the town just before the engines abruptly stopped and a huge fireball erupted on Hawks Mountain.  The time was set at 12:14 a.m.

     One witness to the crash was Mrs. Neil Pike, the town telephone operator, who immediately notified authorities of the crash.  “I saw a big glow like a bonfire,” she told reporters, “The whole sky was lighted up.”

     The B-29 was part of the 64th Bomb Squadron assigned to the 43rd Bomb Group. 

      The dead were identified as:

     (Pilot) 1st Lt. Robert G. Fessler, 29, of Manchester, South Dakota.  To see a photo of him, click here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/59350421/robert-g-fessler

     (Co-pilot) 2nd Lt. Wilfred E. Gassett, age 24, of Massachusetts.  

     (Observer) 2nd Lt. Ceasare P. Fontana

     (Crew Chief) Master Sgt. D. D. Jack

     T/Sgt. Paul H. Fetterhoff

     T/Sgt. Clayton K. Knight

     Staff Sgt. Oliver W. Hartwell

     Staff Sgt. Sylvester S. Machalac

     Staff Sgt. John J. O’Toole, age 23.

     Cpl. Harry C. Humphrey

     Cpl. Robert Clark

     Pfc. Robert M. Stewart

     Lieutenants Fessler, Gassett, and Fintana, as well as sergeants Fetterhoff and Macalac, are all buried together at Long Island National Cemetery in East Farmingdale, New York, plot number M-25563. (See www.findagrave.com  memorial # 59350421) https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/2682076/wilfred-everett-gassett

     Staff Sergeant John O’Toole is also buried in the same cemetery, but not with the others. (see www.findagrave.com  memorial  #2777950) https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/2777950/john-j-o’toole

     According to Corporal Harry C. Humphrey’s tombstone, he was born June 11, 1930, which means he had just celebrated his 17th birthday at the time of his death.  He’s buried in Mt. Calvary Cemetery in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  (See www.findagrave.com memorial # 83945570) https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/83945570/harry-c-humphrey

     Pfc. Robert M. Stewart is buried in Mt. Olive Cemetery in Connellsville, Penn. (See www.findagrave.com  memorial #86342395) https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/86342395/robert-m-stewart


     New York Times, “”12 Killed As Army B-29 Hits Vermont Mountain In Storm”, June 16, 1947

     Lowell Sun, “Plane Only 12 Feet From Clearing Peak”, June 16, 1947

     The Evening Star, “4 Agencies Probe B-29 Crash In Vermont Costing 12 Lives”, June 16, 1947, page A-6





Williston, VT – March 4, 1965

Williston, Vermont – March 4, 1965


F-89 Scorpion U. S. Air Force Photo

F-89 Scorpion
U. S. Air Force Photo

     On March 4, 1965, a Vermont National Guard F-89J Scorpion jet was approaching Burlington Airport when an onboard fire broke out.  The aircraft went down about three miles form the airport in the town of Williston, in an area known as Taft Corners, barely missing some trailer homes.




      Nether the pilot or the radar observer survived.  They were identified as: 

     (Pilot) Colonel Robert P. Goyette, 45, of Burlington, Vermont.

     (Radar Observer) Lieutenant Jeffrey B. Pollack, 28, of Burlington, Vermont.

     Today there is a memorial on Rt 2 in the town of Williston honoring these two men, located at GPS coordinates 18T E 65336  N 4922338. (This is not the site of the crash.)


     Lewiston Daily Sun, “Two Vermont Air Guard Officers Die In Jet Crash”, March 5, 1965

     Schenectady Gazette, “2 In Vermont Air Guard Die In Jet Trainer Crash”, March 5, 1965  



Kirby, VT – February 2, 1989

Kirby, Vermont – February 2, 1989


FB-111 U.S. Air Force Photo

U.S. Air Force Photo

     On February 2, 1989, an FB-111 out of Plattsburgh, N.Y., was on a training flight over Vermont, when a problem with one of the fuel tanks forced the crew to bail out.  The pilot, Captain Randall F. Voorhees, 31, of Upper Darby, PA, and his radar navigator, Captain Len J. Esterly Jr., 30, of Reading, PA, parachuted to safety with only minor injuries.

     The aircraft crashed and exploded in a wooded area about a mile off Route 2, in the town of Kirby, Vermont.   




FB-111 U.S. Air Force Photo

U.S. Air Force Photo


(Nashua, New Hampshire newspaper) The Telegraph, Associated Press article by Jill Arabas, “Air Force To Probe Fighter Plane Crash In Vermont”, February 3, 1989, Pg. 6.

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