Quincy, MA – June 18, 1915

Quincy, Massachusetts – June 18, 1915

Updated May 16, 2016

     The Harvard Aviation Field was located on the Squantum Peninsula in the town of Quincy, Massachusetts, from 1910 to 1916. 

     On June 18, 1915, William Ely Jr., 19, a student at Brown University, went to the Harvard Aviation Field to meet with well known New England aviator Harry M. Jones.  Jones had been experimenting to see how much weight his airplane could carry in preparation for a non-stop flight to Washington, D.C. 

    At the time of Ely’s arrival, Jones had been preparing to make a test flight and offered to take the youth along.  Besides the pilot and passenger, the airplane carried 125 pounds of iron.   After a short successful flight, the pair returned to the air field.

     Later that day, Jones took off again, this time carrying William Ely and 21-year-old George Hersey as passengers.  (The iron had been removed.)

     The aircraft was described as a “tractor biplane with an 80 horse-power motor.” The seating configuration was such that the passengers sat up front ahead of the pilot.       

    Jones flew the plane out over the water at an altitude of 100 feet, in a long lazy arc back towards shore.  As it passed over Squantum Point, the plane went into a steep dive and crashed into a  hillside about a mile from the airfield.  Both passengers were killed instantly, and Jones was rendered unconscious.

     After being pulled from the wreck Jones briefly regained his senses and asked about Ely and Hersey.

     “Tell me,” he was quoted as saying, “did the boys get hurt?”

     To which he was told that they did not.

     Jones was transported to Quincy Hospital for treatment.  He’d suffered two scalp wounds and a lacerated nostril. 

     It was subsequently learned that at the time of the accident Jones did not have a license to fly an airplane. He was charged with operating an aircraft without a license, to which he pled guilty, and was fined $100.  

     This was not the first aviation accident for Jones.  On August 9, 1914, he crashed his airplane in the Narrow River in Narragansett, Rhode Island.


     Providence Journal, “Aeroplane Falls, Kills 2, Hurts 1”, June 19, 1915, Pg. 1

     New York Times, “Narragansett Flier Hurt”, August 10, 1914

     Wikipedia – Harvard Aviation Field

     The Fulton County News, “Aviator Fined $100”, July 1, 1915


Norfolk, MA – August 9, 1964

Norfolk, Massachusetts – August 9, 1964

     On August 9, 1964, Eugene Levine of Medway, Mass., and Robert Eldridge of Natick, took off from Norfolk Airport in a 1958 piper Tri-Pacer airplane for a routine flight.  While returning to the airport, the plane developed engine trouble and the motor quit. Levine attempted to make an emergency landing in a hay field about a mile short of the runway, but as it neared the ground a gust of wind sent the craft into a row of trees causing it to crash.  Fortunately both men were wearing seatbelts and escaped without injury. 

     Source: Woonsocket Call, “2 Men Escape Injuries In Norfolk Plane Crash”, August 10, 1964, Pg. 1 

Seekonk, MA – November 14, 1993

Seekonk, Massachusetts – November 14, 1993

    On November 14, 1993, a small plane left Pontiac, Michigan, with two men inside, bound for T.F. Green Airport in Warwick, R.I.    At 12:26 a.m., the aircraft crashed and burned in a wooded area of Seekonk, about one mile from Read Street.

     The dead were identified by Massachusetts State Police as Lea A. Sherman, 47, of Warwick, R.I., and Joseph Langlois, 42, of Coventry, R.I. 

Source: Woonsocket Call, “2 R.I. Men Killed As Plane Headed For Green Crashes”, November 15, 1993, Pg.3      

Webster, MA – June 17, 1952

Webster, Massachusetts – June 17, 1952

     On June 17, 1952, Joseph S. Knapik was flying his two-seater aircraft from Troy, New York, to Whitinsville Airport when the engine stalled while he was 1,100 feet over Webster.  He attempted to glide the plane down, but it hit a cable strung across Webster Lake between the mainland and Killdeer Island, and dove into the water.  Knipik was rescued by a couple in a nearby rowboat, and the plane was later towed to shore by a motorboat.

     Webster Lake is also known by another name, Lake Chaubunagungamaug, which has also been spelled different ways.      


Woonsocket Call, “Plane Dives Into Webster Lake, But Uxbridge Flier Is Unhurt”, June 18, 1952, Pg. 2


Braintree, MA – April 4, 1939

Braintree, Massachusetts – April 4, 1939

     Updated January 14, 2023

     On April 4, 1939, a flight of six U.S. Navy biplanes were cruising at 2,000 feet over the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy, Massachusetts, as part of the launching ceremony for the Navy’s new aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Wasp, (CV-7).   (The Wasp was launched April 4, 1939, and commissioned April 25, 1940. )

     The type of aircraft were Vought SBU-2 Corsairs, with serial numbers 0816, and 0817. 

     While passing overhead, the aircraft began to execute a maneuver where each in turn would roll over and dive downward.  As they were doing so, the second and third planes in the formation collided in mid-air, and both crashed as a result.     

     The incident was witnessed by West Williams, a flight instructor who was flying another airplane nearby at the time.  West told reporters, “The second plane was just torn to pieces and plunged downward and crashed into a house, setting the house afire.  There were just pieces of fabric left floating down.  The pilot of the (other) plane may have been stunned for a moment and then tried to regain control.  The ship staggered and partially righted itself and then shot down in a power dive.  It seemed to hit a house about half a mile away from the first, and went up in flames.”        

     Both planes came down in the neighboring town of Braintree.  The first slammed into the home at 26 Edgemond Road, which was occupied by 74-year-old William Madden.  Madden escaped the burning house with only minor injuries, but died of a heart attack later in the day.   

     The second plane hit the roof of 30-32 Shepherd Avenue.   J. C. Kirkbride of the Cities Service Company’s refinery saw the second plane glance off the roof of the house where it then “bounced the length of two city blocks, and plowed into the living room of another house.” 

     John Tower, a World War I veteran, suffered sudden death as he tried to assist at the site of the second crash.  

     Another employee of the refinery told reporters he saw the body of one aviator lying on the ground with his parachute partially opened.  

     Each plane carried a pilot and an observer.  The dead were identified as:

     Lieutenant Commander Waldo H. Brown, 43, of Milton, Mass. (Naval Reserve)  (There is a memorial to Brown at Wychmere Beach in in the town of Harwich, Massachusetts.) https://threeharbors.com/waldobrown.html

     Aviation Cadet Ellsworth Benson, 26, of Newton, Mass.  (Naval Reserve) Buried in Arlington, National Cemetery, Section 6, Site 9183.    https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/43679281/ellsworth-benson

     Aviation Chief Carpenters Mate Walter Kirk, 40, of Quincy, Mass. (Naval Reserve) https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/189381723/walter-kirk

     Aviation Chief Machinists Mate John Ausiello, 35, of Revere, Mass. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/189359245/john-ausiello


Woonsocket Call, “Navy Biplanes Fall On Houses At Braintree”, April 4, 1939, Pg. 1

The Evening Star, (Wash. D. C. ) “Four Die As Planes Collide And Crash, Firing Two Houses”, April 4, 1939, pg 1. 

The Palm Beach Post, “Fatal Air Crash Mars Launching”, April 5, 1939

(Book) NAS Squantum: The First Naval Air Reserve Base by Marc J. Frattasio, C. 2009

Cape Cod Chronicle, “Waldo Brown: The Man Behind The Wychmere Jetty Memorial” November 6, 2003    


New York Times, “Wing-Crash Kills Four Navy Fliers”, April 5, 1939


Lynn, MA – October 14, 1921


Lynn, MA – October 14, 1921

     On the morning of October 14, 1921, two men took off from Lynn in a home-made monoplane and crashed from an altitude of 1,000 feet.  Both were killed.  

     The dead were identified as Everett Foster of Winchester, Mass., and Fletcher Anderson of West Lynn.     

    The aircraft was to be flown in the American Legion Aerial Regatta being held in Providence, Rhode Island.  It was reported that the aircraft weighed 700 pounds and could fly 80 mph. 


     Woonsocket Call, “Two Aviators Dead By Fall Of Plane In Lynn Marshes”, October 15, 1921, Pg. 3


Dorchester Bay, MA – September 2, 1911

  Dorchester Bay, Massachusetts – September 2, 1911   

     On the morning of September 2, 1911, Joseph S. Cummings took off from Squantum Field in Quincy, Mass., for a flight in his Bleriot monoplane.  As he was flying over Dorchester Bay, he crashed into the water from an altitude of 500 feet.  (Another source puts the altitude at 300 feet.) Fortunately he was quickly recued with only minor injuries by the crew of the Coast Guard cutter Gresham.  

     One source blamed the cause of the accident as being sun glare off the water that temporarily blinded him, while another source blamed engine failure when a cylinder head “blew out”. 

      The New York Times termed it “the first accident in the two years of aviation at Squantum.” 


     The Tacoma Times, (Washington), “Falls Into Sea; Lives”, September 2, 1911 

     New York Times “Airman Falls In Bay”, September 3, 1911

     Evening Star, (Washington D.C.) “Revenue Cutter Service”, September 11, 1911

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