Franklin, Mass – April 4, 1944

Franklin, Massachusetts – April 4, 1944


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

     On April 4, 1944, two U.S. Army P-47 fighter planes were conducting “dog fighting” practice over Franklin, Massachusetts, when one aircraft crashed into a wooded area off Maple Street in Franklin.  The plane exploded on impact, killing the pilot, 2nd Lt. William J. Bradt, of Buffalo, N.Y.  The explosion reportedly left a crater 80 ft. wide and 20 ft. deep in a “boggy” area.   Wreckage was scattered for some distance.

     Witnesses said the plane went into a sharp dive trailing smoke before bursting into flames, and it was speculated that the pilot aimed for the wooded area to avoid nearby buildings. 

     News accounts stated “thousands” came to the scene and engaged in souvenir hunting, prompting police to issue warnings about unexploded .50 caliber bullets.  One news reporter found $330 dollars which had been blown from the pilot’s clothing, which he turned over to police.    

     The aircraft flown by Lt. Bradt was a P-47D. serial number 42-22449


Woonsocket Call, “Plane Explodes Over Franklin” , April 4, 1944, pg. 1 

Woonsocket Call, “Shells From Plane Wreck Prompt Franklin Warning”, April 5, 1944, pg. 4 



Franklin, MA – August 2, 1929

Franklin, Massachusetts – August 2, 1929

     In August of 1929, a barnstorming exhibition was to be given at the Indian Rock Race Track in Franklin.  In anticipation of the event, it was reported that the owner had “improved the field”.  

     “A windsock has been erected, and the top of the reviewing stand has been painted with the flying insignia with the lettering of an airfield.  Bushes along the runway have been cut down, and trees at one end cut so that a long glide can be made to the field.  the runway is a hard smooth dirt road which will be ideal for landing.  It is planned to have parachute jumping as a feature when the plane arrives.”

     Unfortunately, the expected aircraft was delayed one day due to stormy weather.     

     On August 2, it was reported that “The Command-Air” bi-plane arrived with Sergeant Julien Buckwalder of Bridgeport, Connecticut, at the helm, and H. Lester Metcalfe of Franklin as a passenger.  As the plane was coming in to land, the huge crowd of spectators suddenly rushed forward onto the landing field, apparently unaware of the danger they were putting themselves in.  To avoid injury to the people, Buckwalder aimed the plane for an un-mowed grassy area, and upon touching down the wheels hit a rut sending the plane into a ground loop before flipping over. 

     Both pilot and passenger climbed out of the wreck with minor injuries.  Upon seeing the crash, the swarm of humanity mobbed the aircraft ignoring the high octane fuel leaking from its tanks.  Fortunately no fire erupted.

     As a point of interest, on November 14, 1940, an unidentified pilot made an emergency landing with his small “flivver” aircraft in the center field of Indian Rock Race Track when he encountered bad weather while on his way from Philadelphia to Norwood (Mass.) Airport.   


Woonsocket Call, “Flyer Forced back By Storms”, August 2, 1929, Pg. 2

Woonsocket Call, “Plane crashes In Landing On franklin Field”, August 3, 1929

Woonsocket Call, “Pilot Makes Emergency Landing In Center Of Indian Rock Race Track”, November 14, 1940, Pg.2


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