Wingdale, N.Y. – November 3, 1945

Wingdale, New York – November 3, 1945


North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     The flight of this aircraft originated at the Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field in Charlestown, Rhode Island, but ended in upstate New York. 

     On November 2, 1945, a U. S. Navy  SNJ-4 “Texan” trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 27381), left Charlestown, Rhode Island, on a cross country training flight to Chincoteague, Virginia, where it arrived safely. 

     The aircraft carried two men.  The pilot was Ensign James Frederick Wagner, 25, of Titusville, Penn.  The other man was Ensign Shannon R. Caulk, 21, of Columbia, Tenn.  Both were assigned to Carrier Aircraft Service Unit 26, (CASU-27), at Charlestown.        

     On the morning of November 3, the men took off from Virginia bound for Groton, Connecticut.  The aircraft’s expected time of arrival at Groton was to be 11:31 a.m.

     While passing over the upstate New York area not far from the Connecticut boarder, the men encountered foggy weather and a cloud ceiling of 1,000 feet.  At approximately 11:15 a.m. the aircraft crashed into East Mountain, an 1,800 foot tall hill in the village of Wingdale, New York.  The impact took place along a rocky ledge about 100 feet from the summit.  There was no explosion, but wreckage was scattered along the mountain side.  Both Ensign Wagner and Ensign Caulk were killed instantly.

     A man living nearby heard the accident and upon investigation found the crash site and notified authorities.       

     For more information click on the links below.


     U. S. Navy accident report dated November 3, 1945

     Poughkeepsie Journal, “Two Ensigns Killed In crash Of Navy Plane”, November 5, 1945, page 1.

     Poughkeepsie Journal, “Wrecked Ship And Bodies Found On East Mountain”, November 4, 1945



Westfield, MA. – October 3, 1986

Westfield, Massachusetts, October 3, 1986  

     On the evening of October 3, 1986, a single-engine Piper PA-28 Cherokee, (N3688),  with a lone pilot aboard left Barnes Airport in Westfield bound for LeFleur Airport in nearby Northampton.   

     After arriving safely at Le Fleur, the pilot took a husband and wife aboard as passengers.  The husband and the pilot were long-time friends.  The aircraft then took off from LeFluer headed back to Barnes, a distance of about ten miles, but bad weather had settled in and visibility dropped to near zero. 

     At 7:05 p.m. the pilot contacted the tower at Barnes and requested a “special VFR landing”, but was advised that another incoming aircraft had priority.  A few minutes later, after being granted clearance to land, the aircraft flew into a vertical cliff on the Westfield side of East Mountain.  The resulting fireball was observed by the air traffic controller at Barnes.

     All three persons aboard the aircraft were killed instantly.

     The crash site was in a remote section of the mountain, and rescue workers had a difficult time reaching it.   


     Springfield Republican, “Three Bodies Recovered At remote Plane Crash Site”, October 5, 1986, page 1.  (Photo of crash site.) 

     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “Pilot Ignored Weather; Three Killed In Crash”, October 5, 1986, page 12.

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