Presque Isle, ME. – September 7, 1944

Presque Isle, Maine – September 7, 1944

     On the morning of September 7, 1944, a U. S. Army Douglas C-54A, (Ser. No. 42-72211), crashed shortly after take off from the Presque Isle Army Air Base.  The plane made a normal take off and was seen to rise 1,000 feet into the air before turning to the left.   As it did so, it suddenly fell to the ground and exploded on impact.  The aircraft came down about a mile from the air field on the property of Walter Carmichael, a Presque Isle potato farmer.    

     All three crewmen aboard perished.  They were identified as:    Major George H. Shafer, Captain Knute Nordahl, and Master Sergeant Thomas W. Marshall.  

     The purpose of the flight was for training purposes.  


     The Nashua Telegraph, “Several Believed Dead As Plane crashes In Maine”, September 7, 1944, page 10.

     Aviation Safety Network



Deer Mountain, ME. – July 11, 1944

Deer Mountain, Maine – July 11, 1944


B-17G “Flying Fortress”
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 11, 1944, a B-17 “Flying Fortress”, (Ser. No. 43-83023), with ten crewmen aboard left Kearney Army Air Field in Nebraska for a cross-country flight to Dow Army Air Field in Bangor, Maine.  The purpose of the flight was to land in Maine before proceeding overseas for combat duty.   

     As the aircraft came into the New England area in encountered bad weather, with low visibility, and low cloud cover.  The last radio transmission from the plane was received by the control tower at Grenier Army Air Field in Manchester, New Hampshire at 11:55 a.m.  At some point afterwards the plane crashed into Deer Mountain in the unincorporated area of North Oxford, Maine. 

     When the aircraft failed to arrive at Dow a search was instituted, and when searchers reached the crash site they found all ten crewmen deceased. 

     The crew were identified as:

     Pilot: 2nd Lt. John T. Cast, (27) of Springfield, Ohio.  He’s buried at St. Bernard Cemetery in Springfield, OH.  He was survived by his wife and five month old son.      

     Co-pilot: 2nd Lt. John W. Drake, (21) from Port Arthur, Texas. He buried in Greenlawn Memorial Park, Groves, Texas.

     Navigator: 2nd Lt. William H. Hudgems of Flagstaff, Arizona. 

     Bombardier: 2nd Lt. Robert S. Talley, (26) of San Angelo, Texas.  he’s buried in Fairview Cemetery in Pampa, Texas.  He was survived by his wife. 

     Engineer: Staff Sgt. Wayne D. McCavran, of Seymour, Iowa.

    Radio Operator: Sgt. Cecil Leon Murphy, (21) of Falls City, Nebraska.  He’s buried in Falls City Cemetery, Falls City, Neb. 

    Gunner: Cpl. John H. Jones, Jr., of Buffalo, New York.  He was survived by his wife.   

    Gunner: Sgt. Clarence Marvin Waln, (22), of Ten Sleep, Wyoming.  He’s buried in Ten Sleep Cemetery.  He would have been 22 on July 30th. 

    Gunner: Sgt. Gerald V. Biddle, (23) of East Orange, New Jersey.  He’s buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Akron, Ohio.  he was survived by his wife. 

     To see a photo of Sgt. Biddle, click here:

     Armor Gunner: Sgt. James A. Benson, (21), of Clark, South Dakota.  He’s buried in Clark Center Cemetery, Clark, S.D.


     The Nashua Telegram, “Army Squads Search Woods For Wreckage Of Fortress”, July 14, 1944


Caribou, ME. – June 26, 1943

Caribou, Maine – June 26, 1943


B-26G Bomber
U.S. Air Force Photo

     Shortly after 8:00 a.m. on the morning of June 26, 1943, an army B-26 bomber, (Ser. No. 41-31645), was en-route to cross the Atlantic  with a crew of five aboard.   

     Meanwhile, four adults and a 10-year-old boy were working in an open field on the farm of Carl Rasmussen in Caribou loading rocks on two horse-drawn wagons.  

     The B-26 came out of the sky and crashed right were the civilians were working, killing four of the five of them, as well as all members of the aircraft crew.  The momentum of the aircraft carried it onward into an adjoining field and the debris field stretched all the way to a wooded area.  

     The four civilians killed on the ground were identified as Alfred Winters and his 10-year-old son, Miss Ann Theriault, (25), and Miss Elouise Newton, (18)  

     The servicemen were identified as:

     (Pilot) 1st. Lt. Bertrand N. Robertson, (28) of Maine.

     1st Lt. Edwin Hankinson, (25 – 26) of Morrice, Michigan.

     2nd Lt. Herbert Myers, of Portland, Maine.

     S/Sgt. William H. Jochim, (20), of Louisville, Nebraska

     T/Sgt. John Kuser, of New York City

     Source: Fort Fairfield Review, (Me.), “Nine-Death Bomber Crash Sat. Was Third Airplane Accident In Green Ridge Section In Ten-Month Period”, June 30, 1943, page 1.  



Mapleton, ME. – July 3, 1943

Mapleton, Maine – July 3, 1943


B-26G Bomber
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At about 5 p.m. on July 3, 1943, a U. S. Army B-26C bomber aircraft, (Ser. # 41-35181), took off from the Presque Isle, Maine, Air Base, for a routine training flight when it lost an engine shortly after take off and went down and exploded in a wooded area of Mapleton, about five miles west of the airfield.    

     There were five men aboard at the time, three of whom perished. 

     The dead were identified as:

     The pilot: 1st Lt. Walter M. Cochran of Wilmington, Del.

     The co-pilot: 1st Lt. Walter H. Peoples of Wilmington, Del.

     Flight Engineer: Corporal Albert O. Williams of Central, New Mexico.  

     The injured survivors were identified as:

     Corporal Richard P. Hamilton of Pasadena, Cal.

     1st Lt. Norman F. Smith, of Sandena, Cal.

     Both were brought to Presque Isle Air Base Hospital. 


     Evening Star, (Wash. D.C.), “Three Army Fliers Die In Maine Plane Crash”, July 4, 1943m, page C-7 

     Aviation Safety Network








Sanford, ME. – July 25, 1944

Sandford, Maine – July 25, 1944


F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On July 25, 1944, several aircraft were taking part in a “carrier landing practice” exercise at the Sanford Naval Auxiliary Air Field.  One aircraft was a F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42759).  As the pilot made his landing on a simulated aircraft carrier deck platform the arresting wire broke causing the plane to swing violently to the right and skid for about 40 feet.  The aircraft required a major overhaul, but the pilot was not injured.  


     U. S. Navy accident report dated July 25, 1944

Brunswick, ME. – March 10, 1943

Brunswick, Maine – March 10, 1943 


U.S. Navy PV-1 Ventura
U. S. Navy Photo

     On March 10, 1943, a U. S. Navy PV-3 Ventura aircraft, (Bu. No. 33949), ground-looped upon landing at the Brunswick Naval Air Station.  The aircraft required a major overhaul but the crew was not injured. 


     U. S. Navy accident report #43-6197, dated March 10, 1943.    

Brunswick, ME. – July 7, 1943

Brunswick, Maine – July 7, 1943


North American Texan Military Trainer
Author Photo

     On July 7, 1943, a U. S. Navy SNJ-4 Texan trainer aircraft , (Bu. No. 27614), was landing at the Brunswick Naval Air Station in a strong 90-degree cross-wind.  As the pilot attempted to use alternate brakes to prevent a ground loop the aircraft nosed over.  The pilot and instructor aboard suffered non-life-threatening injuries.  The aircraft required a major overhaul.        


     U. S. Navy accident report #44-7567, dated July 7, 1943.

Brunswick, ME. – April 2, 1944

Brunswick, Maine – April 2, 1944


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

     On April 2, 1944, an SBD-5 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 28262), was returning to the Brunswick Naval Air Station after a training flight.  The pilot was making a normal landing approach, but was unable to establish radio contact with the control tower, and unknown to the pilot was the fact that one of the landing gear wheels had failed to come down.  When the aircraft touched down it went off the runway and nosed over.  The aircraft was heavily damaged, but the two-man crew was not injured.  

     The aircraft was assigned to VS-44.


     U. S. Navy accident report #44-12844, dated April 2, 1944.

Sanford, ME. – May 16, 1944

Sanford, Maine – May 16, 1944 


TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On May 16, 1944, a TBM-1C, (Bu. No. 17085), made a normal landing on Runway 14 at the Sanford Maine Navy Auxiliary Air Field.  As the aircraft was rolling down the runway the left landing gear collapsed.  The aircraft skidded to a stop and the three-man crew was not hurt. 

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report #44-14211, dated May 16, 1944.


Brunswick, ME. – January 28, 1944

Brunswick, ME. – January 28, 1944


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

     On January 28, 1944, a flight of three Douglas SBD Dauntless aircraft were returning to the Brunswick Naval Air Station after a formation training flight.  As the aircraft approached the field at an altitude of 1,800 feet in a “V” formation, one of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 28727), left the formation and went into a spin from which it did not recover.  The aircraft crashed and burned killing the pilot, Ensign James A. Andrew, Jr., and the gunner, Seaman 1/c Harry Hoerr. 

     The men were assigned to VS-31.


     U. S. Navy accident report #44-11278, dated January 28, 1944.  

Brunswick, ME. – August 4, 1945

Brunswick, Maine – August 4, 1945 


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

    On August 4, 1945, an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 94055), was taxiing into position in preparation for take off at the Brunswick Naval Air Station.  Unbeknownst to the pilot, some workers were in the process of digging a trench along the side of the taxi way, however no signalman had been stationed on the tarmac to give warning.  As the airplane approached, one of the workers suddenly ran into its path waving his arms for the pilot to stop.  The pilot was forced to hit the brakes hard enough to cause the aircraft to nose over causing damage to the propeller and the engine.  There were no injuries.   


     U. S. Navy crash report dated August 4, 1945

Sebago Lake, ME. – May 16, 1944

Sebago Lake, Maine – May 16, 1944


British Corsairs – WWII
U.S. Navy Photo

     Shortly before noon on May 16, 1944, a flight of British Navy D4V Corsairs, was on a low level formation training flight over Sebago Lake.  (Some sources state there were six panes in the flight, while others state there were only four.) The purpose of the flight was to give the pilots experience flying low over water.  

     Among those taking part in the exercise was Sub-Lieutenant Vaughn Reginald Gill, piloting aircraft number JT-132, and Sub-Lieutenant Raymond Laurence Knott, age 19, piloting JT-160.  Both men were assigned to 732 Squadron based at nearby Brunswick Naval Air Station.    

     As the formation was passing over the water, one aircraft suddenly dropped and struck the lake sending up a large plume of water that was struck by the second, causing it too to crash.  Both aircraft, one containing Sub-Lieutenant Gill, and the other, Sub-Lieutenant Knott, immediately sank in over 300 feet of water and disappeared.  Despite a search conducted immediately afterward, neither the airplanes or the pilots were found. 

     The aircraft were later discovered and photographed in the 1990s.  The courts have decided that these aircraft are not to be disturbed as they are considered war graves.


     Portland Evening Express, “Two British Planes Crash In Sebago Lake”, May 16, 1944, page 1.

     Maine Aviation Historical Society Newsletter, Dirigo Flyer, June, 1998. 

     Pacific Wrecks website:

     Book: “Finding The Fallen: Outstanding Aircrew Mysteries From The First World War to Desert Storm, by Andy Saunders, Grub Street Publishing, London, 2011.   

Atlantic Ocean, ME – February 2, 1943

Atlantic Ocean, Maine – February 2, 1943


WWII Civil Air Patrol Insignia

WWII Civil Air Patrol Insignia

     On the morning of February 2, 1943, a Civil Air Patrol airplane with two men aboard took off from Trenton, Maine, for a routine patrol flight off the Maine coast.  Shortly after 9:00 a.m. the aircraft developed engine trouble and the pilot was forced to ditch in the sea about 45 miles off Brunswick.  

     The pilot, 1st Lt. William B. Hites, 30, of Jamestown, New York, and the flight officer/observer, 1st Lt. Welles L. Bishop, 34, of Meriden, Connecticut, were able to escape from the plane before it sank.  Another aircraft radioed their position to a shore control station, but rough seas made rescue operations difficult.  Although both men wore life-vests and waterproof coveralls, they perished before help could reach them.    

     Both men were survived by their wives.

     Update July 15, 2016

     In 1970, twenty-seven years after the crash, Lt. Welles L. Bishop was posthumously honored by the town of Meridian and the Connecticut Civil Air Patrol during ceremonies marking the 29th anniversary of the establishment of the national Civil Air Patrol, (Dec. 1, 1941).  


     Bangor Daily News, “2 CAP Officers Killed On Duty Off Maine Coast”, February 3, 1943

     Lewiston Daily Sun, “Two Fliers Killed Off Maine Coast”, February 3, 1943

     The Morning Record, “Meridian Pilot Lost In War To Be Honored”, November 13, 1970.

5 mi. east of Howe Brook, ME – May 24, 1942

 5 miles east of Howe Brook, Maine – May 24, 1942

     On Sunday, May 24, 1942, a U.S. Army C-40D aircraft, (Ser. No. 42-22249) crashed  5 miles east of Howe Brook, Maine while on a transport mission from Bolling Field in Washington, D.C., to Montreal, Canada, to Presque Isle, Maine.   The plane dove in at a steep angle, (Estimated by investigators to be 75 degrees.) with such force that debris was thrown up to 1,000 feet ahead of the impact. 

     Due to the total destruction of the aircraft, investigators were unable to determine the cause of the accident, but noted that weather “was undoubtedly a strong causal factor”.  

     All aboard the aircraft were killed instantly.  They were identified as:

     (Pilot) 1st Lt. Clarence A. Wright.  He’s buried in Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas.  (See, Memorial #3059564)

     (Flight Engineer) S/Sgt. Frederick J. Taylor.  (10th Ferrying Command.)  He’s buried in  Chester Rural Cemetery, Chester, Penn. (See, Memorial #88208245)

     Lt. Col. Louis H. Gimbel.  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  (See, Memorial #22787359)

     Capt. John D. Franciscus.  He’s buried in Calvary Cemetery and Mausoleum in St. Louis, Mo.  (See, Memorial #49551001) 

     Capt. Gilbert M. Herbach.  He was from New York.  Place of burial unknown.  (See, Memorial #88680256)

     2nd Lt. Earl R. Wilkenson.  He’s buried in St. Joseph Cemetery, Batavia, New York.  (See, Memorial #75139854)


     U. S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-5-24-13

     Evening Star, (Wash. D.C.), “Arlington Pilot, Five Others Die In Army Plane Crash In Maine”, May 25, 1942, page A-2


Bangor Air Base, ME – December 30, 1941

Bangor Air Base, Maine – December 30, 1941


U.S. Army A-29 Attack Bomber - U.S. Air Force Photo

U.S. Army A-29 Attack Bomber – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On December 30, 1941, an A-29 bomber aircraft, (Ser. No. 41-23302) crashed and burned on take off from Bangor Air Base.  The seven man crew escaped, but the pilot and copilot were injured.   

     The crew were identified as:

     (Pilot) 2nd Lt. James J. Hayes

     (Copilot) 1st Lt. Jonathan H. Knox

     (Engineer) Pfc. Richard A. Turner

     (Radio Operator) Cpl. James L. Wilson

     Pfc. Homer W. Read

     Pfc. George F. Nichols

     Pvt. Walter E. Taylor

     The men were assigned to the 65th Bomb Squadron (H)

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-12-30-1

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