Boston Harbor, MA. – March 1, 1943

Boston Harbor – March 1, 1943


P-47B Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the morning of March 1, 1943, a flight of two P-47 Thunderbolts took off from Bedford Field for a simulated combat training flight.  One of those P-47s, (Ser. No. 41-6646), was piloted by 2nd Lt. Stanley Jankowski.  

     The aircraft made their way over the Boston area and engaged in aerial maneuvers.  While doing so, another P-47 entered the area and took part in the exercise.  Then a flight of four other P-47s arrived.  During the exercise, Lieutenant Jankowski’s aircraft was seen to go into a steep dive and plunge into Boston Harbor.  It was speculated that he may have blacked out. 


     Book, “Fatal Army Air Forces Aviation Accidents In The United States, 1941-1945”, by Anthony J. Mireles, C. 2006

Boston Harbor – September 23, 1973

Boston Harbor – September 23, 1973

     On the night September 23, 1973, a twin-engine Beechcraft Baron aircraft with a lone pilot aboard left Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, bound for Logan International Airport in Boston.  Shortly before 11:00 p.m., as the aircraft was passing over Boston Harbor and approaching Runway 4R,  it suddenly disappeared from radar.  The aircraft and its pilot were recovered from the harbor a few days later.


     Providence Journal Bulletin, “New England: Plane Sought In Harbor”, September 25, 1973, page 2.  (with photo of pilot)

     The 99 News, November, 1973, Vol. 15, No. 9

Boston Harbor – December 19, 1928

Boston Harbor – December 19, 1928 

     On December 19, 1928, a U.S. Army O2C biplane, (#627) took off from Boston Airport for a training flight.  At some point the aircraft nose-dived into the harbor from an altitude of 500 feet – the cause was not stated.  Fortunately it stayed afloat long enough for both men aboard to be rescued. 

     The pilot was Joseph A. Wilson.  The identity of the second crewman is unknown.


     The Milwaukee Sentinel, “Army Plane Dives 500 Feet Into Boston Bay”, December 26, 1928  

     Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, R.I.


Boston Harbor – May 30, 1936

Boston Harbor – May 30, 1936

     On May 30, 1936, two army mechanics at Boston Airport took a military airplane for a flight over the harbor.  While stunt-flying in the plane, they crashed in Boston Harbor after coming out of a loop.   

     The men were identified as:

     Pvt. 1st Class  Robert W. Fancher, 24, of Red Bank, New Jersey.  (He has been miss-identified in some news accounts as Robert Tancker.)  He’s buried in Greenlawn Cemetery in West Long Branch, New Jersey. (See, Memorial #29817757.)

     Pvt. William E. Hallowah, (Some sources spell it Hallawah), 24, of Charlottesville, Virginia.     

     It was not stated which man was piloting the airplane, nor was the type of aircraft specified.  When it hit the water several nearby pleasure boats raced to assist, and managed to rescue Pvt. Hallowah who was brought ashore in critical condition.  (Later reports stated he was expected to recover.) Pvt. 1/C Francher went to he bottom with the plane, and both were recovered the following day.  


     St. Petersburg Times, (Fla.) “Plane Crashes In Boston; One Dead, one Hurt.”, May 31, 1936

     Lewiston Daily Sun, (Maine) “Submerged Plane Wreck Found In Boston Harbor”, June 1, 1936


Boston Harbor – March 17, 1930

Boston Harbor – March 17, 1930

     On March 17, 1930, three U.S. Army PT-1 trainer aircraft were getting ready to take off from Boston Airport for a formation training flight.  As the planes were warming up, a sudden snow squall passed over the area lasting about fifteen minutes and leaving behind about 3/8 of an inch of snow. 

     The light snow covered the wings of the aircraft, but ground crews didn’t bother to  brush it off as it was assumed it would blow off on its own once the planes began their take off runs.  However, a bit of sleet had fallen at the beginning of the squall and had formed as ice on the wings before being covered by the snow, thus adding additional weight to the aircraft and changing the wing aerodynamics.  The pilots were unaware of this, and each began to take off towards Boston Harbor.         

     The first two planes slowly made it into the air, but the third, (Ser. No. 27-147), piloted by Captain Clarence J. A’Hearn, had difficulty gaining altitude once it left the ground and gradually settled lower until it went down in the water about 2,000 feet off the end of the runway.  

     Captain A’Hearn and his observer, Private Buell E. Warner, were rescued from the cold water without injury.

     Investigators blamed ice build-up on the wings as the cause of the accident.

     Source: Army Air Corps Aircraft Accident Report dated March 17, 1930

Boston Harbor – August 18, 1941

Boston Harbor – August 18, 1941

     On August 18, 1941, a O-47A observation aircraft, (Ser. No. 38-306), was pulling anti-aircraft targets over the waters of Boston Harbor when the pilot needed to land for refueling.  After flying for two hours, the fuel in the two main tanks was exhausted, so the pilot switched to the reserve tank, which according to the fuel gauge in the cockpit held 50 gallons, and began to approach the field.   As he was making the approach the engine suddenly quit, forcing the pilot to ditch in the water.  The plane sank, but the three crewmen aboard were able to climb out and be rescued. 

     The crewmen were identified as:

     (Pilot) 1st Lt. J. F. Barrett

     Pvt. Melvyn A. Cady

     Pvt. Harold E. Sutcliffe

     The men were assigned to the 152nd Observation Squadron based at Ft. Devens, Massachusetts, on Cape Cod.  

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Air Craft Accident dated August 27, 1941         

Boston Harbor – June 5, 1930

Boston Harbor – June 5, 1930

Updated January 19, 2016

     On June 5, 1930, a Ford Tri-motor aircraft,  Nacomis, (NC9675) owned by Colonial Air Transport, with fifteen people aboard, took off from Boston Airport bound for New York.  Just after becoming airborne, while at an altitude of 100 feet, the right motor suddenly quit, causing the plane to go into a side slip and spin into the water of Boston Harbor.

     The tide was out at the time, and the water was only several feet deep, which many believed prevented the accident from being worse than it was. 

     One passenger drowned before help could arrive.   The deceased was identified as P. S. Thorsen, a contractor of both Boston and New York.

     Others aboard included:

     (Pilot) Owen O’Connor, and (Co-pilot) Val Chick


     Mrs. H. E. Webster, of N.Y.

     Simon De Vaulchier, of N.Y.

     W. E. Wilson, of Boston

     I. H. Morrison, of N.Y.

     M. H. Shapiro, of Boston

     H. D. Beaton, of N.Y.

     W. H. Sheafer, of Pittsburg, PA.

     Charles H. Jacobson, of Long Island, N.Y.

     Mrs. Charles Jacobson, of Long Island, N.Y.

     H. S. Ford Jr., of Brookline, MA.

     W. A. Stayton, of Rochester, PA.

     Henry Wallis, of Boston


     Aviation Safety Network,

     The Pittsburgh Press, “Pittsburger Hurt As Plane Dives Into Sea”, June 5, 1930

     New York Times, “Air Liner Plunges 15 In Boston Bay, 1 Dies”, June 6, 1930

Boston Harbor, MA – May 18, 1930

Boston Harbor, Massachusetts – May 18, 1930

     On May 18, 1930, a 26-year-old man from Winthrop, Massachusetts, was test flying a new Curtiss – cabin monoplane over East Boston Airport when he suddenly developed a problem with the rudder.  He tried to bring the plane down on the airfield but overshot the landing and sailed out over the harbor and hit the water about 200 feet from shore.  

     Richard Cowden, a salesman for Curtiss-Wright, jumped into the water and swam to the pilot’s assistance. Both clung to a wing of the partly submerged aircraft until rescued by a motorboat sent from the air field.    

     The pilot was treated for cuts and immersion.

     Source: New York Times, “Saves Self In Plunge Of Plane Into Water”, May 19, 1930

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