Billerica, MA – June 27, 1940

Billerica, Massachusetts – June 27, 1940

     At about 7 p.m. on the night of June 27, 1940, a four passenger biplane was passing over the town of Billerica when, according to a witness, something fell from the aircraft.  Just afterwards, the plane went into a sideslip before falling from an altitude of approximately 500 feet and crashing into a wooded area of town known as Garden City.   The pilot and two passengers aboard were killed.

     The pilot was identified as Elliot Underhill, 43, of, Spotswood, New Jersey.  The two passengers were identified as Walter Abrams, 32, of Lowell, Massachusetts, and Edwin Martin, 22, of Billerica. 

     Mr. Underhill was an experienced pilot.  He served as a pilot with the U.S. Marine Corps in the 1st Aero Squadron from 1917 to 1920.


     The Lowell Sun, “Federal Probe Of Plane Crash – Three Killed In No. Billerica”, June, 28, 1940, page 1., Elliot Underhill, Memorial #43985518

Billerica, MA – February 16, 1980

Billerica, Massachusetts – February 16, 1980

     At 2:10 p.m., on February 16, 1980, a Bristol Britannia 253-F, four-engine turbo-prop cargo plane (Registration # G-BRAC)  with eight people aboard left Logan International Airport in Boston bound for Shannon Airport in Ireland.  The plane was carrying computer equipment, and its tanks were topped off with 6,650 pounds of fuel.  (Some news accounts indicate there was 10,000 pounds of fuel, but the UK crash report states 6,650.)  

     It was foggy and snowing at the time the plane left Logan, with a 400 foot overcast, and 1/2 mile visibility.  Icing conditions as well as air turbulence had been reported by other pilots.   

     Shortly after becoming airborne the pilot reported he was having trouble climbing.  As the flight was passing over the town of Billerica, Massachusetts, a community just northwest of Boston, it suddenly lost altitude and crashed in a thickly wooded area behind a business on Route 3A.   The plane cut a huge swath through the trees and exploded.  

     Seven of those aboard were killed.  The sole survivor, Richard Creer, 59, of Dorset, England, was found by first responders, and transported in critical condition to St. John’s Hospital in Lowell, Massachusetts. (Today known as Saints Memorial Medical Center.)  He eventually recovered from his injuries.

     The cause of the crash was attributed to ice and snow buildup on the wings.

     The dead, all British citizens, were identified as:

     (Pilot) Capt. William Coburn, of Lechlade-on-Thames.

     (1st Officer) Jack Jones, of Malmesbury, Wilts.

     (Navigator) Anthony Beckett, of Hove, Sussex.

     (Load Master) David White, of Milton Keynes, Bucks.

     (Ground Engineer) William Brady, of Luton Beds.

     (Load Agent) Lionel Heady, of Charlwood, Surrey.

     (Passenger) Mrs. Sharon Parker, of Lyneham, Wilts.

     Mr. Creer, the sole survivor, was the Flight Engineer.

     The aircraft was owned by Redcoat Air Cargo Ltd. which ceased operations in 1982.  


     The Providence Sunday Journal, “Cargo Plane Crashes Near Boston; 7 Killed”, February 17, 1980, Page A-1

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Doctors For Crash Survivor Call It Miracle”, February 18, 1980, Page A-12 (With photo of crash scene.)

     UK Government- Air Accident Investigation Branch – Report # 3/1981

     Ocala Star-Banner, “Six Die In Plane Crash At Boston”, February 17, 1980 

     Glasgo Herald, “Crash Plane Took Off In Snow Storm”, February 18, 1980

     Boston Globe, “30 Years Later, Fatal Plane Crash Still A Vivid Memory”, February 11, 2010. 

     Lowell Sun, “Remembering The Billerica Plane Crash of 1980”, February 16, 2010

     Aviation Safety Network

     Wikipedia- Redcoat Air Cargo Ltd.


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