Little Compton, R.I. – July 6, 1945

Little Compton, Rhode Island – July 6, 1945

Updated May 24, 2019   


North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     On July 6, 1945, two navy SNJ-3 “Texan” trainer aircraft took off from the Quonset Point Naval Air station for a routine training flight to Otis Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  About twelve minutes into the flight, both aircraft encountered thick clouds and fog over the eastern passage of Narragansett Bay.  The pilots attempted to fly under the overcast until they got down to an altitude of 100 feet.  At that time one of the aircraft pulled up and went through the overcast and turned around and proceeded back to Quonset Point where it landed safely.

     The second aircraft, (Bu. No. 6946), was piloted by navy Lieutenant Nelson Eugene Wiggins, 29, of Oklahoma.  He followed the first aircraft into the overcast, but his plane suddenly experienced engine trouble and lost all power.  Unable to re-start the engine, he opted to bail out, but he was too low for the chute to deploy.  His aircraft crashed at a 45 degree angle and exploded in Little Compton.

     There had been no one else aboard the aircraft, and nobody on the ground was injured.     

     Lt. Wiggins’ body was brought to Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being sent to Sulphur, Oklahoma, for burial.  He’s buried in Oaklawn Cemetery.   A photo of his grave is on, Memorial # 38305859.


     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-62

     U. S. Navy Accident Report dated July 6, 1945


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