Hartford, CT. – November 12, 1922

Hartford, Connecticut – November 12, 1922

Brainard Field


De Havilland DH-4B

     On the afternoon of November 12, 1922, U. S. Army First Lieutenant John E. Blaney, 30, was piloting a DeHaviland biplane, (Ser. No. AS-63626), at the Hartford Air Meet, where he was taking part in a three-plane relay race.  At the end of his third lap around the course, he was expected to land at a designated mark on the ground near the finish line where another plane was waiting to take off and continue the race.   Lieutenant Blaney was flying low as he approached the mark at an estimated 140 mph.  Without warning, his aircraft clipped the top of a tree at the southern end of the field.  This caused him to lose control and crash into the ground where the plane exploded into a massive fireball killing him instantly. 

     The accident was witnessed by an estimated 20,000 people, many of whom made a rush towards the site of the crash, but police and other military personnel held them at bay.      

     Lt. Blaney was an experienced pilot who’d enlisted in the air service in 1917, and served overseas during WWI.  At the time of his death he was in command of the 5th Observation Squadron based at Mitchell Field at Mineola, Long Island, New York.  He was survived by his wife of ten months. 

     He was survived by his wife.

     Lieutenant Blaney is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Sutton, Nebraska.  To see a photo of his grave, and to read more about him, click here:  https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/52122387/john-e-blaney


     Hartford Courant, (Conn.), “20,000 Watch Airman Swoop To His death At Brainard Field.”, November 13, 1922.  

     The Bridgeport Times and Evening Farmer, “Aviator Dies In Flames At Hartford Meet”, November 13, 1922, page 3.

     New York Tribune, “Pilot Killed As Plane Hits Tree And Takes Fire”, November 13, 1922, page 1.

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