Granby, MA. – January 23, 1956

Granby, Massachusetts – January 23, 1956

Updated June 14, 2018


F-86 Sabre – U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 2:25 p.m. on the afternoon of January 23, 1956, an F-86D Sabre jet took off from Runway 05 at Westover Air Force Base for what was to be a routine training mission.  However, just after take-off, the jet crashed in the neighboring town of Granby.  It came down in an open pasture on the east side of Taylor Street not far from where it intersects with Brook and Carver Streets.  The aircraft created a four-foot deep crater where it struck the ground and exploded. 

     The pilot, 2nd Lt. John D. Ritchie, 20, of Lowell, Massachusetts, was killed instantly.  He’d been assigned to the 337th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Westover AFB.    


     Springfield Union, “Pilot Dies In Granby Crash”, January 24, 1956, page 1

     Springfield Union, “Lowell Pilot Crash Victim”, January 25, 1956

Quabbin Reservoir – February 28, 1957

Quabbin Reservoir – February 28, 1957


U.S.A.F. F-86 Fighter Jet

     On February 28, 1957, two F-86D Sabre jets from Westover Air Force Base were on a routine training flight when they collided in mid-air over the Quabbin Reservoir in central Massachusetts.  

     One aircraft, piloted by Lieutenant Robert Smyth, (28),went down in a wooded area off Bay Road in Belchertown.   Smyth ejected safely, and landed about 1.5 miles from the wreckage.

     The second aircraft, piloted by Lieutenant John Young, (25), dove down through the ice covered reservoir and sank to the bottom.  Young also ejected safely, and came down on a small un-named island in the reservoir.  He was rescued a short time later by helicopter.

     Neither pilot suffered serious injury.

     The men were assigned to the 337th Fighter Interceptor Squadron based at Westover Field in Chicopee, Mass.

     Source: Springfield Union, “Jets Collide Over Quabbin; Two Pilots Bail Out Safely”, February 29, 1957, page 1.

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