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

Presque Isle, ME. – November 21, 1956

Presque Isle, Maine – November 21, 1956   

T-33 Trainer Jet
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On November 21, 1956, Air Force Captain Billy Ray Ward, (33), was piloting a T-33 jet aircraft, (Ser. No. 53-6033), from Rome, New York, to Presque Isle, Maine, when the plane crashed in a wooded area about two miles north of the town center.   The cause of the accident is unknown.    

     Captain Ward was the Assistant Operations Officer for the 76th Fighter Interceptor Squadron, and a veteran of World War II.  He is survived by his wife and two children.  He’s buried in Maplewood Park Cemetery in Paducah, Kentucky.    

     To see a photo of Captain Ward, click on the link below.


     Paducah Sun Democrat, “Paducah Jet Pilot Dies In Crash”, November 22, 1956.

     Aviation Safety Network 

Atlantic Ocean – October 6, 1980

Atlantic Ocean – October 6, 1980


U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the night of October 6, 1980, two U.S. Air Force FB-111A fighter jets, each with a crew of two aboard, left Plattsburgh Air Force Base in upstate New York for a routine training mission over Maine and the Atlantic Ocean.  One aircraft was flying about twelve minutes ahead of the other. 

     At 10:12 p.m., while both aircraft were over the ocean about 18 miles off the coast of Jonesport, Maine, the second FB-111 suddenly disappeared from radar.  A search and rescue mission was instituted for the missing jet. 

     About 3 1/2 hours later, a Coast Guard vessel recovered a helmet and seat cushion floating in the water, but there were no signs of the crew.  Some small partial debris of the aircraft were recovered later also floating on the surface.   The search for the missing crew was called off two days later.

     The deceased crewmen were identified as:

     The pilot, Major Thomas M. Mullen, 35.  Major Mullen died just 11 days short of his 36th birthday.   

     The Navigator, Captain Gary A. Davis, 32. 

     Both men were assigned to the 380th Bomb Wing at Plattsburgh AFB.

     The FB-111 was a strategic bomber, and it was initially reported that the aircraft involved in this accident was unarmed, but it was later reported that it was carrying a “training missile” which was equipped with an explosive warhead.  On September 4, 1981, the missile was recovered by navy divers.      


     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “Unarmed Bomber Crashes Off Maine”, October 7, 1980, page 16

     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “Crew Of Downed Plane Presumed Dead”, October 8, 1980, page 33

     Providence Sunday Journal, “Navy Divers Find Missing Missile, Resubmerge It For Safety Concerns”, September 6, 1981, page A-7

4.5 Miles West of Amherst, ME – April 22, 1948

4.5 miles West Of Amherst, ME – April 22, 1948 



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

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

     At 1:55 p.m. on April 22, 1948, a USAF P-84B Thunderjet, (#45-59580), piloted by 1st Lt. Herbert F. Hawes, Jr., 27, departed from Dow Air Force Base for what was to be a local transition flight.  At some point during the high altitude flight, Lt. Hawes was blown off course.  The reason, according to the Air Force investigation report, may have been due to strong high-altitude winds, for the report stated in part: “Winds aloft for the general area, at altitudes the mission was flown, were reported as being from a westerly direction and varying from 39 to 62 miles per hour.”   

     At approximately 2:45 p.m., Lt. Hawes contacted Dow tower and requested a homer bearing.  He was advised to switch to “F” channel for further instructions. 

     At 3:00 p.m., he was given a heading of 273 degrees.  Eight minutes later he asked the tower for a recheck as he was still uncertain of his position, and advised he was beginning to run low on fuel.  Successive headings were given at three to five minute intervals.

     At 3:20 p.m., Lt. Hawes reported his altitude to be 26,000 feet with 60 gallons of fuel remaining, and asked Dow tower how far he was from the base.  Dow tower replied that by their estimate he was fifty miles out. 

     At 3:36 p.m. Lt. Hawes advised that he was still unable to orient himself to his location.  At that time he was given a course correction to 276 degrees. 

    Ten minutes later Lt. Hawes had descended to 16,000 feet and found himself over Deblois airstrip in Deblois, Maine, with 25 gallons of fuel remaining.   At about that time Hawes was in contact with a captain who was piloting another P-84 in the vicinity. Hawes asked him for advice, and the captain advised to “throttle back to idling fuel pressure and establish a glide of 170 mph.”

     Lt. Hawes also contacted Dow tower and asked for instructions, and was advised to attempt to make it back to Dow AFB, which is about 40 miles distant from Deblois. 

    Another captain piloting a P-84 in the area contacted Hawes and advised him to attempt to land at Deblois, but Lt. Hawes elected to head for Dow AFB instead. 

     At 3:58 p.m., while still about 19 miles east of Dow AFB, Lt. Hawes reported he was now out of fuel and was going down.  Instead of bailing out, he elected to remain with the aircraft and aimed towards a small open field amidst hilly and wooded terrain.  With no engine with which to guide the aircraft, he crashed about one mile short of the field and was killed.    

     The crash was witnessed by the P-84 pilot who had advised Lt. Hawes to attempt an emergency  landing at Deblois airstrip. 

     The “P” in the P-84 aircraft designation stood for “pursuit”.  The designation was later changed to “F” as in F-84, which stands for “fighter”.  The P-84 and the F-84, were essentially the same aircraft.    

     At the time of this accident Lt. Hawes was assigned to the 14th Fighter Group, 49th Fighter Squadron, then based at Dow AFB in Bangor, Maine.  This was the first fatal accident for the 49th FS since its activation on December 21, 1946. 

     Lt. Hawes is buried at the U.S. Military Academy Cemetery at West Point.


     Report Of Special Investigation Of Aircraft Accident Involving P-84B, No. 45-59580. 

     The Hangman’s News, (The Official Publication Of The 49th Fighter Squadron Association), “From Props To Jets Part 4 – 1 Apr. 1948 To 30 June 1948”, by Paul Scoskie, September 2008, Vol. 6, Issue 3. , memorial #41509101.          



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