Belchertown, MA. – June 21, 1963

Belchertown, Massachusetts – June 21, 1963   

     At about 1:00 a.m. in the morning of June 21, 1963, a U.S. Air Force KC-135 Strato-Tanker, (Ser. No. 57-1498), was returning to Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, during a heavy rain storm when the aircraft crashed into the Granby side of Turkey Hill in Belchertown.  The crash site was in a heavily wooded area about one mile from the Granby/Belchertown town line.  The pilot, co-pilot, and navigator all survived the crash, but the (fuel) boom operator, Master Sergeant Daniel F. Donahue, 32, of Rye, New York, was killed. 

     The plane had been assigned to the 99th Air Refueling Squadron at Westover AFB. 


      Crown Sentinel, (Belchertown, Ma.), “Westover Refueler Crash”, June 28, 1963.      

     Book, “Voices From An Old Warrior – Why KC-135 Safety Matters”, by Christopher J. B. Hoctor, Mizzou Publishing, University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo., Copyright 2013.

Belchetown, MA. – May 3, 1962

Belchertown, Massachusetts – May 3, 1962

Near Quabbin Reservoir    

F-102A Delta Dart – U.S. Air Force Photo

      At 9:00 p.m. on the night of May 3, 1962, Lt. Col. William B. Howell, 39, took off from Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a routine training flight in an F-102 Delta Dart fighter aircraft.  At 10:32 p.m., as he was passing over the area of the Quabbin Reservoir, the aircraft abruptly disappeared from radar.  The weather at the time was rainy with flashes of lightning.

     A search was instituted, and the aircraft was located the following day in a thickly wooded area of Belchertown near the Pelham town line, to the west of Rt. 202, about a half mile from the nearest home.  The fuselage was demolished and it was apparent that Lt. Col. Howell had been killed instantly.  The cause to the accident wasn’t stated.  

     Lt. Col. Howell was assigned to the 76th Fighter Interceptor Squadron based at Westover AFB.


     Springfield Union, “100 Men Searching For Westover F-102 In Quabbin District”, May 4, 1962, page 1

     Springfield Union, “Board Set Up To Investigate Plunge Fatal To Maj. W. B. Howell”, May 5, 1962, page 1 




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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