Off Graves Light, MA. – July 17, 1947

Off Graves Light, Massachusetts – July 17, 1947


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On July 17, 1947, Lt. Cmdr. Russell F. Craig took off from the Squantum Naval Air Station in Weymouth, Massachusetts, in a F6F-5N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 71995), for a “special night project” in which he was to test an experimental fire control tracking device.  He proceeded to the outer bay of Boston Harbor and began making simulated attack runs on the Graves Lighthouse.   While passing the lighthouse, the engine of his aircraft suddenly began to sputter and loose power.  The pilot attempted to gain altitude, but the engine froze and lost all power.  The oil pressure gage at that moment read zero. 

     With great skill, the pilot was able to make an emergency water landing northeast of the lighthouse.  When the plane hit the water it flipped onto its back trapping the pilot inside, but he managed to free himself and floated in the water until rescued by a passing yacht.   

     The navy did not recover the aircraft, so the cause of the engine failure could not be determined.  

     Lt. Cmdr. Craig was a combat veteran of WWII having served in the Pacific Theatre.  He retired from the navy at the rank of Captain in July of 1972 after serving for 31 years.  


     U. S. Navy accident report, dated July 17, 1947.

     Boston American, “Flier Tells Of Escape From Cockpit Of Sinking Hellcat”, July 18, 1947 

     Seattle Post Intelligencer, “Seattle Navy Flyer Saved After Crash:, July 17, 1947 

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