Westfield, MA. – October 3, 1986

Westfield, Massachusetts, October 3, 1986  

     On the evening of October 3, 1986, a single-engine Piper PA-28 Cherokee, (N3688),  with a lone pilot aboard left Barnes Airport in Westfield bound for LeFleur Airport in nearby Northampton.   

     After arriving safely at Le Fleur, the pilot took a husband and wife aboard as passengers.  The husband and the pilot were long-time friends.  The aircraft then took off from LeFluer headed back to Barnes, a distance of about ten miles, but bad weather had settled in and visibility dropped to near zero. 

     At 7:05 p.m. the pilot contacted the tower at Barnes and requested a “special VFR landing”, but was advised that another incoming aircraft had priority.  A few minutes later, after being granted clearance to land, the aircraft flew into a vertical cliff on the Westfield side of East Mountain.  The resulting fireball was observed by the air traffic controller at Barnes.

     All three persons aboard the aircraft were killed instantly.

     The crash site was in a remote section of the mountain, and rescue workers had a difficult time reaching it.   


     Springfield Republican, “Three Bodies Recovered At remote Plane Crash Site”, October 5, 1986, page 1.  (Photo of crash site.) 

     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “Pilot Ignored Weather; Three Killed In Crash”, October 5, 1986, page 12.

Holyoke, MA – November 4, 1955

Holyoke, Massachusetts – November 4, 1955


C-47 Aircraft - U.S. Air Force Photo

C-47 Aircraft – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the night of November 4, 1955, a U. S. Army C-47 transport plane (#43-48276) en-route from Bolling Air Force Base in Washington D.C to its home base at Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, crashed into the Connecticut River during a heavy rainstorm in an area known as Smith’s Ferry, in the town of Holyoke.  There were eight men aboard, and when the plane hit the water four managed to get away before the aircraft sank taking the rest with it.   

     A civilian later told reporters he heard the plane’s engines sputtering and backfiring before the crash.

     The four survivors were identified as :

     U.S. Navy Captain Henry C. Nichols of Salem, Mass.  

     1st Lt. Joseph M. Delaunentis, 40, of South Hadley, Mass.

     S/Sgt. Alex Wermeichik, of Brooklyn, New York.

     T/Sgt. Richard Gearhard, 32, of Rochester, New York.

     The heavy rains caused the level of the river to rise, and the current to flow faster, which hampered recovery efforts.  The water was so muddy that visibility for rescue and recovery divers was zero.   

     The dead were later identified as:

     Capt. Wilmer R. Paulson, 35.  He was survived by his wife Barbara and three children.

     A2C Gerald J. Jolicoeur, of Augusta, Maine.

     A2C John Carrington, of Rutland, Vermont.

     Navy Pharmacist Mate Emanuel Casserly, 19, of Washington, D.C..  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Section 33, Site 2485.  To see a photo of his grave go to www.findagrave.com, memorial #49165016.


     New York Times, “4 lost In Air Crash”, November 6, 1955

     Spokane Daily Chronicle, “C-47 Falls Into River; 4 Saved And 4 Missing”, November 5, 1955

     Lowell Sun, “Muddy Water Curbs Search For Missing Men In Holyoke Crash”, November 6, 1955

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