Fall River, MA. – December 14, 1991

Fall River, Massachusetts – December 14, 1991 

     On the evening of December 14, 1991, a lone 57-year-old pilot was making his way from Bowling Green, Kentucky, to Fall River in a twin-engine Piper Apache, (Reg. N4959P).   He made the trip without stopping in 5 hours and 40 minutes.  As he was approaching the Fall River area he encountered darkness, rain, thick fog, and strong wind conditions which caused low visibility.  At about 6:30 p.m. the aircraft crashed and burned in a wooded section of the Freetown State Forest about a mile from the airport.  The pilot was killed instantly.  Searchers located the wreckage at 4:30 a.m. the following morning.              


     Providence Journal, “Perfect Pilot Dies As He Tries To Land Plane”, December 16, 1991, page A-1

     Aviation Safety Network #40065


Fall River, MA. – June 4, 1989

Fall River, Massachusetts – June 4, 1989 

     On the evening of June 4, 1989, a 30-year-old man took off from a runway at the Fall River Airport in a home-built ultralight “gyrocopter” aircraft.  A few seconds after take off, when at an altitude of between 50 to 60 feet, the aircraft suddenly dove to the ground.  Several witnesses ran to aid the pilot and began CPR, but the pilot did not survive.  The accident was videotaped by the pilot’s girlfriend.   

     Source: Providence Journal, “Pilot Killed In Gyrocopter Crash”, June 6, 1989, page E-3.  

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. – April 19, 1973

Fall River, Massachusetts – April 19, 1973

     On April 19, 1973, a Piper Cherokee, (N7577R), with two men aboard, a student-pilot, and his instructor, were making a training flight over the city of Fall River when the fuel supply in one tank ran low.  When the instructor attempted to switch to the other fuel tank he discovered the switching device was broken.  The instructor then attempted to glide the plane towards an open sand pit area, but towards the end of the glide the plane began glancing off tree tops about 150 feet from the pit.  The plane then nosed over and dove into the ground, tearing the wings off in the process.  Both men were injured, but not seriously.

     The plane crashed about 300 yards off Bell Rock Road in the eastern portion of the city.  Fortunately there was no fire, and the instructor was able to walk to a nearby house and ask for help.  


     Fall River Herald News, “Two Men narrowly Miss Death In Plane Crash”, April 20, 1973, page 1 (with photo) 

     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), Two Men Injured In Plane Crash” April 20, 1973, page 8 


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