Off Nantucket, MA – July 26, 1936

Off Nantucket, Massachusetts – July 26, 1936

     On July 26, 1936, a ten-passenger, high-wing, Bellanca Airbus, flew out over the Atlantic Ocean to intercept the R.M.S. Queen Mary which was inbound to New York.  The plane carried nine men aboard, most of them press photographers looking to get aerial pictures of the ship. 

     The plane intercepted the ship five miles east of the Nantucket Light Ship anchored off the coast of Nantucket Island.  As the aircraft circled the low around liner’s stern it abruptly crashed into the sea. 

     The merchant freighter S. S. Exermont was following not far behind the Queen Mary and stopped to effect rescue operations. 

     All nine passengers and crew of the Airbus were taken aboard the Exermont.  One passenger, Edwin T. Ramsdell, 46, a photographer for the Boston Post, was severely injured when brought aboard, and died shortly afterwards.  The others were treated for shock and lesser injuries.

     A U.S. Coast Guard plane arrived and offered to take the survivors to land via the aircraft, but all opted to stay aboard the Exermont.   

     The cause of the accident was determined to be the powerful downdraft created at the stern of the ship as the ocean liner sped across the water.    

     In memory to the loss of Mr. Ramsdell, the Edwin T. Ramsdell Memorial Trophy was established, and is awarded every year to press photographers.


     New York Times, “Plane With 9 Men Plunges Into Sea Near Queen Mary”, July 27, 1936

     Madera Tribune, “Liner Blamed In Plane Crash”, July 27, 1936

     The Miami News, “Plane Crash Laid To Ship Downdraft”, July 27 1936

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