Hartford, CT. – October 17, 1918

Hartford, Connecticut – October 17, 1918

Also Cromwell, Connecticut.

    On the morning of October 17, 1918, six army aircraft took off from Mineola Field on Long Island, New York, bound for Hartford, Connecticut, and points east, as part of a Liberty Loan Campaign to aid the war effort overseas.  The aircraft carried leaflets which would be dropped over certain cities and towns hoping to inspire the populace to purchase war bonds.  The towns of Danielson and Putnam, Connecticut, located in the state’s northeast corner near the Rhode Island line, had made elaborate plans to welcome the pilots and their aircraft at a reception to be held at Alexander’s Lake. 

     There was a layer of low level clouds across Long Island Sound, and the six planes climbed above the scud.  Shortly afterwards, one of the aircraft signaled that it was turning back and returned to Mineola.  The remaining five planes pressed on.

     The clouds got thicker as the flight progressed.   Upon arriving in the Hartford area, the aircraft began to drop below the layer of clouds, only to discover that thick fog obscured the ground. Lieutenant Harold Merritt, the flight leader, attempted a landing at Goodwin Park, and in doing so glanced off the top of a tall tree and then crashed into a nearby house.  The house was only slightly damaged and there were no injuries to its occupants.  Both Merritt and his mechanic were thrown from the aircraft on impact, but only received minor injuries.   

     The next aircraft to crash was that flown by Lieutenant James A. Tong.  He attempted to land at Cromwell, Connecticut, south of Hartford, and crashed int0 some tree tops on the farm of William Delaney, not far from the Berlin Train Station.  Both Tong and his mechanic, Sergeant John Y. Morse, were uninjured, but the plane was wrecked. 

     Lieutenant Tong later related to a reporter, “We came along brushing the (unreadable) off the tops of the trees because the fog was so dense.  We were so low that we almost lifted the hat off a young man we passed along the road.” 

     A second plane also crashed in Cromwell.  Lieutenant Edward Elliott and his mechanic, Sergeant Brown, hit a tree on Stein’s Hill while attempting to land, and were thrown from the aircraft.  Neither was injured, but the aircraft was heavily damaged.       

     It was surmised that the men’s survival, as well as lack of injuries, was nothing short of a miracle. 

     A third aircraft, piloted by Lieutenant Kenneth Reed, with his mechanic Sergeant Charles Craig, landed safely at the Jarvis Farm near the Berlin Turnpike, in Cromwell.   

     The fifth aircraft, Piloted by Lieutenant Rawick, was reported to be missing.  As of this writing, research has not revealed what became of him.  


     New Britain Herald, “Airplanes Wrecked In Cromwell Fog”, October 17, 1918, page 1 & 9.

     New Britain Herald, “Wrecked At Hartford Park”, October 17, 1918, page 9. 

     The Bridgeport Times & Evening Farmer, “Aviators Fall 100 Feet; Not Injured At All”, pg. 2.

     Putnam Patriot, “Battle Airships Failed To Come”, October 18, 1918.  



Brainard Airport, CT. – May 9, 1930

Brainard Airport, Connecticut – May 9, 1930

     At 6 P.M. on the evening of May 9, 1930, a Lewis H. Taylor (55), and Milton H. Moore (30), were flying in a small airplane over Brainard Field in Connecticut.  Taylor was a former Captain who’d served in the U. S. Air Service during WWI.  Moore was the general manager for Interstate Airways (Connecticut) at Brainard Field.  Taylor had been taking flying lessons from Moore.

     As the aircraft was passing over the hangars the motor suddenly stopped.  An attempt was made to turn the aircraft to make an emergency landing but it was unsuccessful, and the plane crashed and exploded in flames.  Both men perished. 

     The accident was witnessed by Moore’s wife. 

     Chief Inspector George Pranaitis of the Connecticut Department of Aeronautics stated the cause of the accident was due to a faulty magneto. 

     In June of 1930 it was announced that Mrs. Moore would succeed her husband as general manager of Interstate Airways. 


     New Britain Herald, “Two Aviators Die In Brainard Crash”, May 10, 1939.

     The Evening Star (Washington D.C.), “Motor Is Blamed For Fatal Crash”, May 10, 1930, p. A-2.

     New Britain Herald, “Aviators Widow Takes Airways Management”, June 4, 1930, p.3. 

Hartford, CT. – October 9, 1942

Hartford, Connecticut – October 9, 1942


U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On October 9, 1942, a civilian test pilot and a civilian observer took off from Hartford Airport in a Douglas SBD-2 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 2187).  The purpose of the flight was to test the performance of a newly installed propeller.  As the pilot was making a power-climb to 12,000 feet smoke and oil began coming from the engine.  The pilot made a rapid descent towards the airfield but lost power and crash-landed short of the runway causing extensive damage to the aircraft.  The pilot, and the observer were not injured. 

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated October 9, 1942  

Connecticut River – September 26, 1966

Connecticut River – September 26, 1966

     At 7: 30 p.m. on September 26, 1966, a Piper Cherokee with six young men aboard took off from Brainard Field in Hartford, Connecticut.  All were between the ages of 19 and 23, and all were students at Trinity College in Hartford.  Shortly after takeoff the aircraft lost power and plunged into the Connecticut River and sank.  All six men were able to escape, but one had reportedly suffered a head injury in the crash. As the group was swimming towards shore, the man with the head injury slipped beneath the water and was swept away by the current.  


     The Hartford Courant, “Plane Engine Runs After River plunge”, September 28, 1966

Brainard Field, CT. – January 31, 1970

Brainard Field, Hartford, Connecticut – January 31, 1970

     On January 31, 1970, two single-engine private aircraft collided in mid-air over Brainard Air Field in Hartford.  Each plane, one a Piper Cherokee, the other a Piper Arrow, carried two people; all four were killed in the accident.  

     The Cherokee, containing a pilot-instructor and his student, fell into the Connecticut River, while the Arrow, containing two men from Ridgefield, Ct., crashed into a wooded section of the neighboring town of East Hartford.  It was not stated who was piloting either aircraft.

     According to witness reports, one aircraft was approaching from the south while the other from the west, each at an altitude of about 2,000 feet.  Then both went into a banking turn at the same time and collided at a 45 degree angle directly over the field.  It was not specified which plane struck the other.    


     Providence Journal, “Four Die In Collision Of Two Light Planes”, February 1, 1970. (With photo)

Hartford, CT – February 3, 1930

Hartford, Connecticut – February 3, 1930

Brainard Filed


Issued In 1930

Issued In 1930

  On February 3, 1930, air mail pilot Lieutenant Carey T. Pridham, 29, took off from Newark Airport in a Pitcairn biplane bound for Brainard Filed in Hartford, Connecticut.  As he was attempting to land at Brainard, the plane struck an observation platform located on the roof of the field house, tearing off the left wing, and sending the aircraft into the Connecticut River about 100 feet off shore.  The plane landed upside down pinning the pilot inside.  By the time someone could reach the site by boat Lt. Pridham was dead.

     Lt. Pridham was born in Virginia, and lived in Lexington, Massachusetts, with his wife and three children.   He’d been flying for over eight years and had 2,500 hours of flight time.  He’d been flying the mail since July of 1929. 

     The aircraft belonged to Colonial Air Transport.

     To see a photo of Lt. Pridman click here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/161164136/carey-thompson-pridham 


     New York Times, “Mail Flier Killed In Hartford Crash”, February 4, 1930  


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