Fall River, MA. – July 21, 1985

Fall River, Massachusetts – July 21, 1985

     On July 21, 1985, a single-engine Bellanca Decathlon, (N5504B), with a lone pilot aboard, took off from the Fall River Airport for the purpose of picking up an advertising banner and flying over the Fall River area with it.  The banner was lying to the side of the runway, with the front end of it suspended about 20 feet off the ground between two poles.  The Bellanca circled the field and came in low to catch the front end of the banner.  This was done successfully, and immediately afterward the aircraft began a steep climb so the banner would clear the trees at the end of the runway.  According to witnesses, the plane suddenly stalled and fell into a thickly wooded area about 90 feet west of the main runway where it exploded into flames. 

     Two men immediately got into a truck and drove to the edge of the woods, and then made their way to the crash site, but there was nothing they could do.  The pilot had been killed instantly.  


     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Pilot Dies In crash In Fall River – Plane Stalls While Picking Up Advertising Banner”, July 22, 1985, page A-4.

     Aviation Safety Network

Fall River, MA. – July 6, 1986

Fall River, Massachusetts – July 6, 1986

     Shortly after 11:00 p.m. on the night of July 6, 1986, a Hughes 500 jet-powered helicopter with two men aboard took off from New Bedford Airport bound for Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.  Not long after takeoff the aircraft encountered thick patches of fog near the Fall River area and the pilot decided to turn back to New Bedford.   While at an altitude of 400 feet over North Watuppa Pond in Fall River, the engine suddenly quit and the helicopter went down in the water, rolled over, and sank.  Both men escaped uninjured, and swam 100 yards to shore.  They came ashore in a thickly wooded area and wandered about until they came to a dirt road.  They followed the road and came to the Fall River water filtration plant about two miles from the crash site.  There were two men on duty inside the plant who gave the men dry clothing and notified authorities of the accident. 

     The helicopter was located in 27 feet of water.  Divers raised the craft to the surface with floatation devices, and another helicopter air-lifted it from the pond and brought it to New Bedford. 


     Providence Journal Bulletin, “2 Survive Copter Crash In Pond In Fall River”, July 7, 1986, page A-2. 

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Two Swam To Shore After Helicopter Crash, Wandered Hours Through Dark Underbrush”, July 8, 1986, page A-3.      

Fall River, MA.- September 9, 1943

Fall River, Massachusetts – September 9, 1943

     On the morning of September 9, 1943, a U. S. Navy SNJ-4C Texan trainer aircraft, (Bu. No. 27022), was on a training flight over the Fall River area with a pilot and instructor aboard.  Shortly before 10:00 a.m. the aircraft went into a practice spin from an altitude of 6,000 feet from which it recovered at 5,000 feet.  However, at that time the pilot discovered that the throttle was jammed in the closed position.  Repeated attempts to rectify the problem were unsuccessful, and the pilot selected an open field in which to make an emergency landing.  As the plane descended, the pilot continued to work on the throttle, which suddenly opened, but the engine didn’t respond with increased power.   As the aircraft lowered to 2,000 feet the cockpit suddenly began filling with smoke, and flames appeared from the engine cowling.   The decision was made to bail out, and the pilot rolled the aircraft onto its back.  After the instructor had successfully left the aircraft the plane rolled into a vertical position and the pilot was unsure of he could successfully jump clear of the plane so he remained at the controls and aimed for a small cove at the Fall River shoreline.  There he made a successful emergency landing in shallow water about 30 feet from shore.  The pilot and the instructor were not injured, but the aircraft was a total loss.   

     Source:  U. S. Navy accident report #41-8538, dated September 9, 1943.

Fall River, MA. – May 11, 1983

Fall River, Massachusetts – May 11, 1983 

     At 6:00 a.m. on the morning of May 11, 1983, a 57-year-old pilot took off from New Bedford Airport in a single-engine, two-seat, fiberglass aircraft that he’d built himself.  Construction of the aircraft had taken two years, and cost $12,000.  The purpose of the flight was to log flight hours on the airplane.  Previous to this flight, the pilot had logged 18 flight hours with it. 

     At about 8:00 a.m., while flying at an altitude of 2,000 feet over the Fall River area, the engine suddenly quit.  The pilot attempted to make a “beeline” to Fall River Municipal Airport but found he was losing altitude too quickly, so he aimed for an open stretch of Riggenbach Road about a half-mile east of the airport.  As it came down, the airplane skimmed some tree tops which tore off the wings.  The fuselage remained intact and when it hit the ground there was no fire. Remarkably, the pilot was not injured, and credited his seatbelt for saving his life. 

     It was reported that the suspected cause of the accident was ice forming in the carburetor.  


     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Just ‘Cooking Along’ When The Engine Quit”, May 12, 1983, page C-5

Fall River, MA – March 30, 1943

Fall River, Massachusetts – March 30, 1943


U.S. Navy Wildcat Fighter U.S. Navy Photo

U.S. Navy Wildcat Fighter
U.S. Navy Photo

     On March 30, 1943, The aircraft carrier USS Ranger was off the coast of Massachusetts heading to the Boston Navy Yard for re-fitting.  As such, the ship’s compliment of aircraft were sent inland, ultimately bound for Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island. 

     As the aircraft neared shore they encountered a weather system with thick cloud cover that started at 200 feet and rose all the ay to 7,000 feet.  Besides zero visibility, radio communications were also affected, and the aircraft became separated. 

     One of the aircraft, an F4F-4 Wildcat, (#12196), piloted by Lieutenant Theodore A. Grell, of VB-42, began experiencing engine trouble while over a rural portion northern Fall River.  As his aircraft began to rapidly loose altitude he was forced to bail out even though he was below the recommended safe altitude for doing so.  His parachute had barely opened when he landed in an apple tree and crashed through its branches, which broke his fall.  His Wildcat crashed on a farm about a half-mile away.    

     Local residents found him the orchard and administered first aid until an ambulance arrived and took him to Trusedale Hospital. 

     This wasn’t Lt. Grell’s first brush with death. He survived being shot down over North Africa during Operation Torch in 1942.  He survived the war and retired from the Navy as a Captain.


     U.S. Navy Crash Brief, #43-6410

     Fall River Herald News, “Plane Falls; Pilot Drops In Parachute”, March 31, 1943, pg. 1  



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