Fishers Island Sound – March 5, 1943

Fishers Island Sound – March 5, 1943


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

     On March 5, 1943, 2nd Lt. Carl P. Bock, (22), was killed when the P47B Thunderbolt, (Ser. No. 41-5975), he was piloting crashed in Fishers Island Sound.  He was returning to Trumbull Field in Groton after taking part in a gunnery practice exercise when the aircraft developed engine trouble.  When the plane hit the water he was knocked unconscious and drowned.   


     Book, “Fatal Army Air Forces Aviation Accidents In The United States, 1941-1945”, By Anthony J. Mireles, C. 2006

Groton, CT. – May 1, 1942

Groton, Connecticut – May 1, 1942


Curtis P-40 Aircraft
U. S. Army Air Corps Photo

     On May 1, 1942, 2nd Lt. Kenneth R. MacQuarrie, (25), was piloting a P-40E , (Ser. No. 40-497), over Groton.  He and two other P-40s had recently taken off from Trumbull Field in Groton to engage in a mock aerial combat fight over the area.  While participating in this exercise, Lieutenant MacQuarrie’s aircraft crashed and exploded in a wooded area about two miles north of the airfield.  There had been no collision between his aircraft and the other two.     

     To see a photo of Lt. MacQuarrie, click here:


     Book, “Fatal Army Air Forces Aviation Accidents In The United States, 1941-1945,”, by Anthony J. Mireles

Groton, CT. – October 11, 1944

Groton, Connecticut – October 11, 1944 


F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On October 11, 1944, a pilot flying an F6F-4 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 71347), was making touch-and-go practice landings on Runway 33 at the Groton Naval Auxiliary Air Field.  After making five successful landings, the pilot forgot to lower the landing gear for the sixth, and made a wheels up landing causing considerable damage to the aircraft.  The pilot was not injured. 


     U. S. Navy Accident Report dated October 11, 1944

Groton, CT. – August 3, 1928

Groton, Connecticut – August 3, 1928

     On the morning of August 3, 1928, famous performer Fred Stone flew a private biplane from his summer residence in Lyme, Connecticut, to the newly opened airport in Groton.  With him was his daughter Paula, and his flight instructor.  Stone held a student flyers license and needed to practice solo flying to obtain his pilot certification.  After arriving in Groton, Stone took off alone for a short solo flight.  About ten minutes later, as he was returning to the airfield, the motor suddenly stopped and the plane went into a nose dive and crashed.  Stone was trapped in the wreckage  with serious injuries and after his extrication, was transported to a hospital in New London. 


     The Evening Star, (Washington, D. C.), “Fred Stone Injured In Crash Flying For Pilots License”, August 3, 1928.  

     New York Times, “Injuries May Keep Fred Stone Off Stage”, August 5, 1928 

     Nashua Telegraph, “Fred Stone Has Even Chance To Dance Again” (with photo of wrecked plane), August 7, 1928, page 6

     To learn more about Fred Stone, click here:    


Groton, CT. – August 2, 1935

Groton, Connecticut – August 2, 1935

     On August 2, 1935, two Connecticut National Guardsmen took off from Trumbull Airport at Groton in a Douglas O-38E, (Ser. No. 34-3), biplane.  As the aircraft was making a wide circling climb the motor stalled and the plane went down and crashed into a shallow brook near the edge of the airport.  Both men aboard perished in the crash.  

     The men were identified as Lieutenant William H. Laughlin, and Staff Sergeant Russell E. Clark, (27).


     Evening Star, (Wash. D. C.), “Guard Plane Crashes”, August 3, 1935, page B-4.

     The Waterbury Democrat, “Stalled Motor Caused Crash”, August 5, 1935, page 8

Groton, CT. – June 12, 1945

Groton, Connecticut – June 12, 1945


SB2C Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

     On June 12, 1945, a navy SB2C Helldiver, (Bu. No. 20916), was landing at Groton Field in strong gusty winds when the aircraft ground-looped at high speed, causing major damage to the aircraft.  Neither the pilot or the gunner aboard were injured.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated June 12, 1945    

Off Groton, CT. – July 31, 1979

Off Groton, Connecticut – July 31, 1979

     On Sunday, July, 29, 1979, a California man and his two teenaged sons, 13, and 16, left California on a cross-country vacation flight in a Piper PA-30 Twin-Comanche, (N8602Y).  Their ultimate destination was Maine, with planned stops along the way.  On the morning of July 31, the aircraft attempted to land at Groton-New London Airport in heavy fog conditions.  The pilot aborted the first attempt, and turned to go around again.  As the aircraft was making its second approach from over the water towards Runway 5, it crashed and sank about 150 yards southeast of Pine Island, about 1/4 mile from the airport.  There were no survivors. 


     The Day, (New London), “Doctor, Two Sons Are Crash Victims”, August 1, 1979, page 1.    

     The Day, (New London), “Guidance System: Factor In Crash?”, August 1, 1979, page 1. (With map of crash site.) 

      The Day, (New London), “Crash Still Puzzles Probers”, August 3, 1979, page 1.  (With photo of aircraft.)

     Norwich Bulletin, “Shroud Of Bay Fog Covers Recovery Site”, August 3, 1979, page 19

     Norwich Bulletin, “Hulk Of Ill-Fated Aircraft Retrieved”, August 3, 1979, page 19.

Groton, CT. – May 9, 1944

Groton, Connecticut – May 9, 1944


TBM-3E Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On May 9, 1944, a TBM-1C Avenger, (Bu. No. 45503), took off from Groton Field with a three-man crew aboard.  After climbing to an altitude of 500 feet the engine suddenly backfired and quit.  The pilot was unable to restart the engine, and the plane crashed in a wooded area of the Noank section of Groton.   The crew escaped with non-life-threatening injuries – the aircraft was consumed by fire. 


     U. S. Navy accident report dated May 9, 1944.

Groton, CT. – February 24, 1984

Groton, Connecticut – February 24, 1984

     At about 5:00 p.m. on the evening of February 24, 1984, a Hercules cargo plane was taxiing at Groton-New London Airport when its wingtip struck the nose of a moored and unoccupied DC-3 passenger liner slicing through the nose of the DC-3.  There were no injuries in the incident.

     The cargo plane was operated by a California company, and the DC-3, built in 1950, had been purchased three years earlier by a local airline, but had never been put in service.  


     The Day, (New London, CT.), “Plane Is Hit Near Taxiway”, February 25, 1984, page 1.  

Groton, CT. – January 24, 1984

Groton, Connecticut – January 24, 1984

     On the night of January 24, 1984, a Cessna 210, (N900FE), left Waukegan, Ill. with three people aboard bound for Groton, Connecticut.  The aircraft arrived at Groton-New London Airport around 10:40 p.m. and found the airport surrounded by heavy fog.  As it came in to land it struck some trees and then crashed in an area known as Burrows Field off Poquonnock Road, about one mile from the airport. The aircraft was completely demolished and there were no survivors.


     Norwich Bulletin, “3 Die In Groton Plane Crash”, January 25, 1984, page 1, with photograph.   

     The Sun, (Westerly, R.I.), “Plane Crash Near Groton Airport Kills 3”, January 25, 1984, page 1 with photograph.

Groton, CT. – February 1, 1982

Groton, Connecticut – February 1, 1982

     On February 1, 1982, Pilgrim Airlines Flight 466 left New York’s LaGuardia Airport with a crew of two, and five passengers aboard.  The aircraft was a twin-engine Beechcraft 99.

     The weather was raining and cloudy with a low ceiling, and strong gusty winds. 

     When the flight reached Groton-New London Airport at about 12:45 p.m. it was cleared to land.  As the aircraft made its approach to Runway 5 from the southwest, a strong gust of wind forced it to crash in a marshy area about 100 feet before the end of the runway.  The aircraft fuselage remained largely intact and there was no fire.  Thick ground fog, along with mucky-icy conditions of the marshland, made it difficult for rescuers to locate and reach the aircraft.  When they arrived at the scene, they found seven people hurt, three seriously.  All were transported to medical facilities for treatment.

     As a point of fact, another Pilgrim Airlines flight was awaiting landing instructions at the time of the accident, and was diverted to Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks.   


     The Day, (New London, CT.), “7 Hurt, 3 Seriously In Plane Crash”, February 1, 1982, page 1. (With photo)

     The Day, “Copilot Tried To Land In Strong Wind”, February 2, 1982, page 1

     The Day, “Passenger describes Ordeal”, February 2, 1982, page 1

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Commuter Plane Crashes In Groton; 7 Hurt”, February 1, 1982, page A-13

     Westerly Sun, (RI), “Investigators Seek Cause Of Groton Plane Crash”, February 2, 1982, page 13.


Groton, CT. – December 15, 1977

Groton, Connecticut – December 15, 1977

     On the evening of December 15, 1977, a Learjet with a pilot and one passenger aboard was attempting to land at Groton-New London Airport in foggy weather when it glanced off some tree tops near the end of the runway.  The pilot immediately pulled the aircraft up, and radioed Quonset Control Tower in Rhode Island of the situation, and advised he needed an airport with a longer runway and rescue equipment standing by.  He was directed to land at T. F. Green Airport in Warwick, R.I.  He landed at T. F. Green without further incident at 7:30 p.m.  Nobody aboard the aircraft was injured, however, the plane had suffered damage to its nose, wings, and engine housing from striking the trees in Groton.


     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Jet Hits Trees At Groton, Then Lands At Green”, December 16, 1977, page C-8    

Groton, CT – September 18, 1948

Groton, CT – September 18, 1948 

Updated January 21, 2016

     On September 18, 1948, two men, Edward S. Brown, 29, of Dansville, N.Y., and Stephen E. Hyde, 40, of Wayland, N.Y., took off from Hornell, New York, in a trainer airplane on what was to be a navigational flight from Hornell, to Providence, Rhode Island, and back.   After arriving at Providence, they were heading back to New York when they encountered heavy thunderstorms over the Groton, Connecticut, area. 

     Witnesses reported that the aircraft circled the area at an altitude of about 500 feet before suddenly loosing power and crashing into the front yard of 37 Grand Street in the city’s Groton (Navy) Heights section.   Brown and Hyde were killed instantly when the plane exploded on impact. 

     Playing in the yard at the time were 4-year-old Gerald D’Aquilla, and 13-year-old Valerie Maltby.  Just before the crash, Gerald’s mother Emily D’Aquilla, 27, hearing the plane circling overhead, came outside the house fearing for the children.  Just as she did so the plane exploded, dousing her with flaming gasoline.  The force of the explosion blew Gerald into the next yard, but fortunately he only suffered minor injuries.  Valerie Maltby was relatively unhurt, but Mrs. D’Aquilla suffered severe burns and was rushed to a nearby hospital.  Her husband, Nicholas, D’Aquilla, a navy serviceman assigned to the submarine base in Groton, was also burned when he came to the aid of his wife and put out the flames.      

     The aircraft involved was reported to be a BT-13, a former U.S. Army trainer plane.   

     The accident was investigated by the Connecticut State Police.


     New York Times, “Two Fliers Die In Crash” , September 19, 1948 

     (New London, CT.) The Day, “Two Die In Groton Plane Crash; Navy Wife Is Critically Burned.” September 20, 1948 



Groton, CT. – July 4, 1945

Groton, Connecticut – July 4, 1945


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On the night of July 4, 1945, a group of navy aircraft were making a series of landings and takeoffs at the Groton Naval Auxiliary Air Field as part of a training exercise.   One of the aircraft taking part was an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70879).  Another aircraft was an F4U Corsair, (Bu. No. 81612).



F4U Corsair
US Navy Photo

  Shortly before 11:00 p.m., the Corsair made a normal landing and taxied towards the end of the runway while the Hellcat made its approach and landed.  The Hellcat landed at a normal speed and proper interval from the Corsair however, due to excessive darkness, what the pilot of the Hellcat didn’t realize was that the Corsair hadn’t completely cleared the end of the runway.  At 170 feet before the end of the runway the Hellcat drove into the rear of the Corsair completely demolishing the Corsair, and causing substantial damage to the Hellcat.  Fortunately neither pilot was seriously hurt.    

     Source: U.S. Navy Accident report dated July 4, 1945.


Groton, CT. – July 20, 1944

Groton, Connecticut – July 20, 1944


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On the night of July 20, 1944, a flight of F6F Hellcat aircraft were returning to Groton Field after a night training flight.  The pilot of one Hellcat forgot to lower the landing gear and belly landed on the runway.  The aircraft suffered heavy damage, but the pilot was unhurt.

     The aircraft involved in the accident was assigned to Fighter Squadron 46, (VF-46)

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report, dated July 20, 1944

Groton, CT. – July 17, 1944

Groton, Connecticut – July 17, 1944


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On July 17, 1944, Ensign Robert Byron took off in an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 41485), from Groton Field with a tow target secured to the tail of his airplane.  He was to take part in a gunnery training exercise.

     Immediately after takeoff the engine began to sputter and loose power before stopping completely.  Ensign Byron crash landed in a creek with the tow target still attached. 

     The plane was damaged beyond repair.  Ensign Byron suffered non-life threatening injuries. 

     Ensign Byron was assigned to Fighter Squadron 46, (VF-46)

     The cause was found to be mechanical, and no fault was assigned to the pilot.

     Source:  U. S. Navy Accident Report, dated June 17, 1944



Off Groton, CT. – June 14, 1944

 Groton, Connecticut – June 14, 1944


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On June 14, 1944, Lt. A. C. Howard was practicing air defensive tactics with other aircraft at an altitude between five to six thousand feet over the Groton area.  At one point Lt. Howard’s aircraft, an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42754), and another F6F-3, (Bu. No. 41482), were involved in a mid-air collision.  Lt. Howard was killed when his plane plunged into the waters of Long Island Sound off Groton.  The other aircraft was able to land safely.

     The aircraft were part of Fighter Squadron 46, (VF-46).           

     Source:  U.S. Navy Crash Investigation Report dated June 14, 1944.  


Groton, CT- March 14, 1984

Groton, Connecticut – March 14, 1984

Groton – New London Airport

     At about 4:40 a.m. on the morning of March, 14, 1984, a single-engine Piper PA-28 with a lone pilot aboard was attempting to land at Groton-New London Airport in rain and fog conditions when it crashed in a marshy area about 700 feet before Runway 5.  When rescue workers reached the aircraft they found the pilot to be deceased.


     New York Times, “Physicist, 67, Dies In Crash Of His Plane In Connecticut”, March 15, 1984

     The Day, “Plane Crash Investigators Still Uncertain About Cause”, March 15, 1984, Pg. 6  

     The Sun, (Westerly, R.I.), “Man Dies In Groton Plane Crash”, March 14, 1984 with photograph of crash site.

Trumbull Field, CT – April 26, 1941

Trumbull Field, Groton, Connecticut – April 26, 1941


Curtiss P-40
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 7:35 a.m., on April 26, 1941, a Curtiss P-40 aircraft, (Ser. No. 39-183), piloted by 2nd Lt. William A. Webber, took off for a gunnery training flight from Trumbull Field, but crashed shortly after takeoff.   Lt. Webber did not survive.

      The cause of the crash was determined to be a rag blocking the intake manifold which caused a “power plant failure”. 

     The accident investigation committee praised the pilot, and wrote in part, “The judgment of the pilot in attempting to continue  flight is believed to have been excellent in view of the fact that at the time of his engine failure he was only a few hundred feet above houses, wires, and other obstructions.”   

     In short, the pilot elected to stay with his plane to protect civilians on the ground. 

     As to the rag, the committee wrote the following, “It is not believed that it is within the jurisdiction of this committee to investigate further the circumstances surrounding the presence of the rag in the intake manifold screen.” 

     Lt. Webber was assigned to the 33rd Pursuit Squadron at Mitchel Field, Long Island, New York.  He received his pilot’s rating on May 11, 1940. 


     U.S. Army Aircraft Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #41-4-26-2


Groton, CT – February 8, 1942

Groton, Connecticut – February 8, 1942

     At 10:40 a.m., on February 8, 1942, 2nd Lt. Melvin B. Kimball, and Staff Sergeant Sherrill Roark, began a scheduled training flight from Trumbull Field in Groton.  As their aircraft, a Stearman PT-17, (Ser. No. 41-8001) began to lift from the ground, Lt. Kimball noticed a lack of power in the engine.  As the plane struggled to climb to 50 feet, Kimball decided to return to the field, and initiated a turn.   While doing so, the plane went down in a swamp next to the airfield and flipped over on to its back.  Neither man was seriously injured.

     The accident investigation committee determined the possible cause of the crash to be carburetor icing. 

     The men were assigned to the 65th Pursuit Squadron stationed at Trumbull Field. 

     Lt. Kimball obtained his pilot’s rating December 12, 1941.

     Lt. Kimball later served in China under Brig. Gen. Claire Chennault.  In March of 1943 he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for “repeated dangerous missions flying men and material to fighting front bases in Free China.”  He was credited with shooting down two enemy aircraft; a Japanese Zero on November 8, 1942, and a bomber aircraft on December 26, 1942. 

     He was later credited with two more aerial victories on January 16, 1943, and May 8, 1943.   


     U. S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-2-8-7 

     (N.H.) Newmarket News, “Lt. Kimball Receives Distinguished Cross”, March 26, 1943 

     Book – Army Air Force Victories: a daily count, by Arthur Wyllie, 2004

Groton, CT – March 8, 1942

Groton, Connecticut – March 8, 1942


P-40 Warhawk  U.S. Air Force Photo

P-40 Warhawk
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On March 8, 1942, a Curtiss P-40E, (41-24786), piloted by 2nd Lt. Gerald A. Brandon of the 61st Pursuit Squadron, crashed on take off from Trumbull Airport in Groton.  The aircraft failed to gain altitude as it left the ground and the left wing clipped a fence post at the end of the runway which caused the plane to rotate 90 degrees and crash into a field.  Lt. Brandon survived.     


     U.S. Army Crash Investigation Report #42-3-8-2 

Groton, CT – October 9, 1945

Groton, Connecticut – October 9, 1945

Updated July 2, 2019


F4U Corsair
US Navy Photo

     On the afternoon October 9, 1945, navy Lieutenant John Seymour Tyler, 24, was piloting an Vought F4U-4 Corsair, (Bu. No. 81424), 5,000 feet over the Groton area on a familiarization flight.  At about 3:30 p.m. he began practicing a series of aerial loops.  After completing the first loop successfully, he immediately began a second, but as he reached the top of the second loop the aircraft stalled and went into an inverted spin.  As the plane fell it appeared to partially recover before it went back into a spin.  Lieutenant Tyler was killed when the aircraft crashed.        

      Lieutenant Tyler’s body was brought to the Quonset Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being transported to New York for burial.  According to a Rhode Island death certificate, he was born in San Francisco, California, and listed an address of Hudson Parkway, New York, N.Y. 

     Lieutenant Tyler was attached to VBF-4.  


     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death certificate #45-97

     U. S. Navy accident report dated October 9, 1945

     Info provided by Mr. Philip O. Richart who contacted New England Aviation History.  Prior to his contact, the details of this accident and type of aircraft were not known.  Thank you Mr. Richart. 

Groton, CT – October 19, 1944

Groton, Connecticut – October 19, 1944

Updated January 13, 2019


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On October 19, 1944, a navy Hellcat fighter plane crashed into the roof of a home belonging to Fillibert L. Bergeron, causing substantial damage to the structure.  (The exact address was not stated in the press.)  As the plane tore through the house, it snagged the blanket off a sleeping 2-year-old girl.  After striking the home, the aircraft continued onward and came down in the nearby school yard of the Colonel Ledyard School on Chicago Avenue.  State troopers found the blanket amidst the aircraft wreckage. 

     The pilot was identified as navy Lieutenant W. J. McCartney, of Toledo, Ohio, who survived the ordeal with non-life threatening injuries. 

     The sleeping girl was unharmed.       

     Update: Lieutenant McCartney later married a woman who lived in the home his aircraft crashed into.  The story of their romance was published in a book titled “New London Goes To War” (c. 2011), written by Connecticut author Clark van der Lyke, who in 1944 was a child attending the school where Lieutenant McCartney’s Hellcat came to rest.   Mr. van der Lyke has also published the story in Kindle format under the title “Cupid Was His Co-pilot”.


     New York Times, “Plane Wrecks Room; Sleeping Baby Saved”, October 20, 1944.    (Two photos with article.)


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