Rochester, MA – May 13, 1946

Rochester, Massachusetts – May 13, 1946

Updated October 15, 2023

Updated October 18, 2023

     On May 13, 1946, two U. S. Navy aircraft with lone pilots aboard were practicing aerial maneuvers over the town of Rochester, Massachusetts, when they collided in mid-air.  One aircraft had its tail sheared off, while the other lost a wing.  The tailless plane went down in Mary’s Pond, while the other crashed and exploded in a cranberry bog about 100 feet from the pond.  Both pilots perished in the accident. 

     Thee aircraft were SB2C Helldivers.   Both pilots had taken off from the Quonset Point Naval Air station in Rhode Island.  One newspaper account which appeared in the Waterbury Democrat stated that the planes were part of a six plane training flight. 

     One pilot was identified as Ensign Ralph Raymond Reid, 23, from Casper, Wyoming.  A photo of him can be found at:

     Ensign Reid was survived by his wife Margaret.

     His body was brought to Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being sent to Wyoming.

     The other pilot was identified as Ensign James C. Nichols, of Kings Mountain, North Carolina.   


     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #46-33

     Waterbury Democrat, (Ct.), “Quonset Pilots Die In Plunge”, May 15, 1946. 

     Winston-Salem Journal, (N.C.), “Tar Heel Is Killed In Plane Collision”, May 16, 1946, pg. 8

     First hand written account of Connie Eshbach, from the files of the Rochester Historical Society, forwarded to New England Aviation History by Eric Wiberg, author and historian. 

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