Brainard Airport, CT. – August 29, 1928

Brainard Airport, Connecticut – August 29, 1928 

     On the morning of August 29, 1928, pilot Frederick J. Boots, (29) took off from Brainard Airport in a Monocoupe airplane.  Once airborne he circled the field and appeared to be attempting to land when the plane suddenly fell from an altitude of about 100 feet and crashed nose first into the ground at the rear of the municipal hangar.  Boots was taken to a nearby hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. 

     State aeronautical inspectors who investigated the accident concluded that due to this accident, and another which had occurred in Rhode Island a short time earlier, that Monocoupe airplanes “constitute a menace to the safety and aviation in this state” and therefor banned their use for the time being in Connecticut.   

     Mr. Boots had formerly been the chief pilot for Massachusetts Airways Inc. of Springfield, Mass., and had recently come to work for L & H Aircraft Company at Brainard Field.


     The New Britain Herald, “Hartford Aviator Suffers Fatal Injuries When Plane Crashes At Brainard Field”, August 29, 1928, pg. 1  


Brainard Airport, CT. – September, 1928

Brainard Airport, Connecticut – September, 1928

     In early September of 1928, (exact date unknown), a 21-year-old mechanic for Interstate Airways at Brainard Airport was working on a plane, which he started by himself with the throttle set on “open”.  Once started, the unmanned aircraft pulled away from him and it was reported that “it was only prevented from taking off without a pilot by striking a fence.” 

     The accident was investigated by Sergeant George Pranaitis, state aviation inspector, who found negligence with the mechanic, who was fined $25 and costs in court for “starting an airplane with an open throttle”. 

     It was stated that this was believed to be the first case of its kind.

     The type of aircraft was not stated.  

     Source: New Britain Herald, “Starts Plane With Open Throttle; Fined”, September 11, 1928, page 7. 

Brainard Airport – August 17, 1993

Brainard Airport – August 17, 1993 

     Shortly before 2:30 a.m. in the early morning hours of August 17, 1993, a twin-engine, Swearingen Metro II aircraft with only a pilot and co-pilot aboard was approaching Brainard Airport in Hartford, Connecticut.  The Brainard control tower had closed at midnight, and the flight was being monitored by controllers at Bradley International Airport .  As the aircraft was in the process of landing,  the tips of the propeller blades struck the runway and the landing was aborted. As the aircraft was attempting to regain altitude it crashed into the Connecticut River near the Charter Oak Bridge.  Both men aboard perished.  


     Providence Journal, “Tower Had No Warning In Fatal Conn. Plane Crash”, August 18, 1993, page D-11

     Aviation Safety Network

     NTSB accident report #NYC93FA159

Brainard Airport – November 28, 1978

Brainard Airport – November 28, 1978

     On November 28, 1978, a twin-engine Aerostar, (#N8999A), with three people aboard, took off from Runway 2 at Brainard Airport in Hartford, Connecticut.  Moments later, the aircraft suddenly lost all power, and fell to the ground and exploded about 300 feet off the end of the runway.   There were no survivors.

     Moments before the crash a witness observed “gas or smoke” coming from the left engine.

     The aircraft was bound for Newburgh, New York.


     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Brainard Conn., Airport Plane Crash Fatal To Three”, November 29, 1978, page A-1

     Aviation Safety Network, Wikibase #3158


Brainard Field, CT. – January 31, 1970

Brainard Field, Hartford, Connecticut – January 31, 1970

     On January 31, 1970, two single-engine private aircraft collided in mid-air over Brainard Air Field in Hartford.  Each plane, one a Piper Cherokee, the other a Piper Arrow, carried two people; all four were killed in the accident.  

     The Cherokee, containing a pilot-instructor and his student, fell into the Connecticut River, while the Arrow, containing two men from Ridgefield, Ct., crashed into a wooded section of the neighboring town of East Hartford.  It was not stated who was piloting either aircraft.

     According to witness reports, one aircraft was approaching from the south while the other from the west, each at an altitude of about 2,000 feet.  Then both went into a banking turn at the same time and collided at a 45 degree angle directly over the field.  It was not specified which plane struck the other.    


     Providence Journal, “Four Die In Collision Of Two Light Planes”, February 1, 1970. (With photo)

Hartford, CT – October 2, 1920

Hartford, Connecticut – October 2, 1920

Updated January 27, 2016

     Hartford-Brainard Airport is a small airport south of downtown Hartford, and should not be confused with Bradley International Airport, which is in Windsor Locks.  

    Brainard Airport was established in 1921 because of a tragic accident which took the lives of two naval officers.  On October 2, 1920, the two officers, (Pilot) Lt. Arthur C. Wagner, and Lt. Commander William Merrill Corry, Jr., flew from Mineola, N.Y. and landed in an open area of the Hartford Club golf course because in 1920 airfields were few and far between.  They had come to Connecticut to meet with other military personnel.  

     Late in the afternoon they attempted to take off and return to New York, but as the plane began to rise the engine suddenly lost power and they crashed into a grove of trees.  Almost immediately the plane burst into flame.    Lt. Wagner was pinned in the wreckage, but  Lt. Cmdr. Corry had been thrown clear.  Yet despite his injuries, Corry returned to the flaming wreck and tried to rescue the pilot.  Two civilians who’d witnessed the crash, Walter E. Batterson, and Martin Keane, ran to his assistance, and together they pulled Wagner free and carried him a safe distance away.  

     Lt. Wagner was transported to an area hospital and died of his injuries later that night.  Lt. Cmdr. Corry was also badly burned in the rescue attempt, and died four days later on October 6th.  Both civilians also suffered burns, but they recovered.

     For his efforts, Corry was awarded the Medal of Honor (Posthumously).  Corry Airfield in Florida was later named in his honor in 1923.  Three U.S. Navy destroyers were also named in his honor, one in 1921, the next in 1941, and the third in 1945.

     Due to this horrific accident, Brainard Airport was established to provide aviators with a safe place to land and take off, without having to look for random open spaces to set down.  The airport was named for Mayor Newton C. Brainard.

     Lt. Cmdr. Corry is buried in Eastern Cemetery in Quincy, Florida.  He was born October 5, 1889, and died just one day after his 31st birthday. To see a photo of Lt. Cmdr. Corry and his grave, go to and see memorial #7134215. 


     Meriden Morning Record, “One Aviator Killed In Hartford When Airplane Crashed To Earth”, October 4, 1920

     Hartford Courant, “Naval Flier Burned To death, Companion Badly Injured As Plane Crashes At Golf Club”, October 4, 1920

     Hartford Courant, “Airshow To Honor Brainard Airport’s 75 Years”, July 19, 1996 

     Congressional Medal Of Honor Society

     Wikipedia – Lt. Cmdr. William Merrill Cory, Jr.



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