Caswell, ME. – June 18, 1952

Caswell, Maine – June 18, 1952   

F-86 Sabre – U.S. Air Force Photo

     Shortly after midnight on the morning of June 18, 1952, Air Force Captain Paul H. Wilkins was piloting an F-86 Sabre jet (Ser. No. 49-1310) on a routine training flight over northern Maine when the engine lost all power and he was forced to bail out.  The jet reportedly crashed in a “thickly-wooded boggy area” in the town of Caswell, while Capt. Wilkins came down in the neighboring town of Hamlin, near Van Buren Road.  The area was covered with thick fog at the time of the crash.  Wilkins made his way to a nearby home and telephoned Limestone Air Force Base to notify them of the incident.        

     Capt. Wilkins was assigned to the 4711 Defense Wing.  He was a Korean War veteran with 129 combat missions to his credit.  

     Source: Fort Fairfield Review, “Pilot Bails Out Before Jet Crashes At Hamlin”, June 18, 1952

Atlantic Ocean – December 10, 1965

Atlantic Ocean – December 11, 1965


P2V Neptune
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On December 11, 1965, a U.S. Navy P2V Neptune patrol plane with a crew of six aboard was flying about 25 miles off the coast of Maine when an unspecified in-flight emergency occurred.  A navy spokesman later told reporters that the pilot barely had time to radio a distress call before the aircraft went down in the frigid water.   Search and rescue aircraft and boats were immediately dispatched to the area and recovered all six men, however, the co-pilot, Lt. (Jg.) Donald S. Lavigne, 26, of Albany, N.Y., had succumbed to exposure before he could be rescued.  The five survivors were all transported to the Brunswick Maine Naval Air Station and were reported to be in good condition.    

     The other members of the crew were identified as:

     Pilot: Lt. Robert C. Muller of Lombard, Ill.

     Aviation Tec 1/c Emanuel A. Croasmun, 33, of Cleveland, Ohio.

     Aviation Machinist Mate 2/c Paul L. Force, 28, of Paterson, N.J.

     Aviation Machinist Mate 3/c Pasquale Pape, 21, of Rome, N.Y.  

     Ordinance Man 1/c Larry R. Clark, 23, of Brunswick, Maine.


     New London Day, “One Dies As Navy Patrol Plane crashes”, December 11, 1965

     New York Times, “Co-pilot Dies, 5 Survive As Navy Plane Crashes”, December 11, 1965


Bucksport, ME – August 7, 1954

Bucksport, Maine – August 7, 1954


F-84 Thunderjet - U.S. Air Force Photo

F-84 Thunderjet – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On August 7, 1954, a flight of four F-84F aircraft took off from Dow Air Force Base in Bangor, for an instrument practice, and aerial refueling, training mission.  The flight took off at 8:28 a.m. and climbed to 20,000 feet, where the pilots practiced formation flying for about 25 minutes before beginning instrument flight practice.  It was at this time that the pilot of the number 2 aircraft reported to the flight leader, 1st Lt. Richard C. Hafenrichter, that he was unable to get fuel flow from his pylon tanks.  Lt. Hafenrichter directed to the flight to rendezvous with the air-tanker at 10,000 feet for refueling. 

     As the number 2 aircraft was refueling, Lt. Hafenrichter positioned himself off the tanker’s right wing to observe the operation.  As he slowed his aircraft to match the tanker’s speed he noticed a vibration in his aircraft, (#51-1464A).  The vibration would cease as he increased his throttle, but then come back when he reduced power.  At this time he turned command of the flight over to another pilot and turned his F-84 towards Dow AFB. 

     As he approached Dow at 10,000 feet, he began a wide circle around the base in preparation of making a flame out landing on runway 33, but as he eased back the throttle the vibration returned, and then began to increase.  He tried to reduce the vibration by increasing the throttle, but discovered that this no longer worked.  The F-84 then began to shake violently and the engine RPM suddenly dropped to zero. 

     Lt. Hafenrichter ejected safely, and the aircraft crashed and burned in a wooded area of Bucksport, about 8.5 miles from the base. 

    Source: Air Force Crash Investigation Report, #54-8-7-3


Portland Airport, ME – August 30, 1941

Portland Airport, Maine – August 30, 1941

     At 1:45 p.m., on August 30, 1941, a U.S. Army  O-52 observation plane (Ser. No. 40-2705), was making a landing at Portland Airport, on the north-south runway.  Just as the plane was about to touch down, a civilian plane crossed its path from the east-west runway and a collision between the two occurred. 

     The O-52 was wrecked, but the pilot and his passenger escaped with minor injuries.  The two civilians aboard the other aircraft were uninjured.

     The O-52 was assigned to the 152nd Observation Squadron.

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident dated September 18, 1941.

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