Westbrook, CT – June 27, 1943

Westbrook, Connecticut – June 27, 1943


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

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

     On Sunday, June 27, 1943, a U.S. Army, P-47B (41-5951), piloted by Robert McKeith 19, left Long Island, New York, and was passing over Long Island Sound when the plane caught fire.  His aircraft, trailing brown smoke, was seen by aircraft spotting posts in Westbrook and Deep River Connecticut. 

     As McKeith passed over Westbrook, he aimed his aircraft towards Wrights Pond and away from any populated areas.   At this point the smoke and heat became too much and he bailed out and landed safely.  The P-47 came down in a wooded area near Wright’s Pond in the Pondmeadow district of Westbrook.     

     The cause of the fire was not stated.

     McKeith was from Rochester, New York.  His rank was not stated.


     The New Era, “Pilot Escapes In Sunday Plane Crash”, July 2, 1943, Pg. 1


Brooklyn, CT – August 4, 1986

Brooklyn, Connecticut – August 4, 1986


TBM-3E Avenger National Archives Photo

TBM-3E Avenger
U.S. Navy Photo

     On August 4, 1986, a former U.S. Navy TBM-3E Avenger (With civilian registration N6581D) took off from Danielson Airport in Danielson, Connecticut, en-route to Florida for its annual inspection.  Shortly after takeoff the engine began to sputter and skip, and then the aircraft began trailing black smoke.  On witness told state police that the plane was low over the tree tops, and when the engine quit, the plane rolled over and crashed upside-down and exploded.  

     The plane crashed in a wooded-swampy area off Route 6,, between Church St. and Day St., and firefighters had to clear a path to the site.  It then took four hours to put out the flames because they were fed by the magnesium metal used in the plane’s construction.

     The lone pilot, Charles A. Sewell, 56, of Setauket, Long Island, N.Y. was killed.  Sewell was a highly decorated former U.S. Marine Corps pilot having served in both Korea and Vietnam with 330 combat missions to his credit, and more than 10,000 hours flying time. 

     During his 20-year military career he earned the Legion of Merit, two Distinguished Flying Corsses, fifteen Air Medals, and two Purple Hearts.  He retired a lieutenant colonel 1969, went to work for Grumman Aircraft on Long Island.  Within two years became their chief test pilot, and was still employed as such at the time of his accident.

     Investigators who examined the wreckage determined that the #8 and #10 piston heads each had a hole burned through them, and others showed signs of head damage.  The last inspection on the plane had been conducted September 7, 1983, and the aircraft had been issued a special permit for this flight.


New York Times, “Grumman’s Chief Test Pilot Dies In Crash Of World War II Bomber”, August  5, 1986.   

NTSB brief #NYC86FA196, microfiche #33675  

Providence Journal Bulletin, “A Top Test Pilot Dies As WWII Bomber Slices Into Woods After Takeoff In Danielson, Conn.”, August 5, 1986, page A9.

Providence Journal, “Top Test Pilot Crashes WWII Craft Near Foster”, August 5, 1986, page 1, (2 photos of crash.)

Westerly Sun, “Vintage Plane’s Crash Kills Grumman Pilot”, August 5, 1986, page 17.

Norwich Bulletin, “Brooklyn Plane Crash Kills Pilot”, August 5, 1986, page 1. (2 photos of crash.)




Waterford, CT – February 11, 1960

Waterford, CT – February 11, 1960

     On the night of February 11, 1960, a twin-engine airplane carrying four men en-route from Washington to Connecticut crashed into a water-filled quarry in the town of Waterford, Connecticut.  One of the men, Richard A. Georgetti, 25, managed to escape before the fuselage sank to the bottom carrying the others down with it. 

     The bodies of the other three, (the pilot) Elwin Hendricksen, 24, Richard Edwin Opdyke, 29, and Fred Luecke, 27, were later recovered by divers.  

     Source:, New York Times, “Two Die In Air Crash, Another Is Missing As Craft Falls In Connecticut”, February 12, 1960

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