Barnes Airport – Westfield, MA.

Barnes Airport – Westfield, Massachusetts

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Vintage postcard view of Barnes Airport, Westfield, Massachusetts

Vintage Postcard View of Barnes Airport.

Barnes Airport, MA. – October 19, 1952

Barnes Airport, Westfield, Mass. – October 19, 1952


F-86 Sabre – U.S. Air Force Photo

     Shortly before 4:00 p.m. on October 19, 1952, two F-86 Sabres were taking part in an airshow at Barnes Airport in Westfield, Massachusetts, when they were involved in a high-speed mid-air collision.  The planes disintegrated on impact killing both pilots instantly. 

     The men were identified as Captain Fred H. Stevens, 28, of Salem, Virginia, and 1st Lieutenant Robert H. Danell, 25, of Wakefield, Massachusetts.  

     Both pilots were assigned to the 131st Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.

     The airshow was part of the airport dedication ceremonies, in which four F-86 jets had been taking part.  The accident occurred just after the four had completed a maneuver known as a “bombshell” in which the four jets would go into a steep climb and then peel away in different directions.  

     In October of 2012, sixty years after the accident, a memorial honoring Capt. Stevens and Lt. Danell was dedicated at Barnes Airport.   

     Source:  Unknown Massachusetts Newspaper, “2 Die As Jets Collide At Westfield”, October 20, 1952  

Westfield, MA. – October 4, 1974

Westfield, Massachusetts – October 4, 1974

     On October 4, 1974, a Massachusetts Air National Guard F-100D fighter jet was landing at Barnes Airport in Westfield when the drogue parachute failed to deploy properly.  (The parachute is designed to help slow and stop the aircraft during landings.)  

     The fighter jet then overshot the runway after touchdown, and continued at approximately 175 mph through 1,000 feet of brush and two fences before reaching the Massachusetts Turnpike, (aka Rt. 90), where it crashed into a passing car killing the lone 22-year-old woman driver.  The jet then flipped over and came to rest upright on the opposite side of the highway.  There was no fire as a result of the crash, and the 26-year-old pilot wasn’t seriously injured.    

     The aircraft was attached to the 104th Tactical Fighter Group of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.


     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “Woman Killed As Airplane Hits Her Car”, October 8, 1974, page 8.

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