Martha’s Vineyard, MA – August 25, 1944

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts – August 25, 1944 

     On August 25, 1944, navy pilot, Lieut. (j.g.) Robert Stayman Willaman, 25, of Chicago, received a medal at Martha’s Vineyard Naval Auxiliary Air Field.  The exact medal wasn’t specified in the newspaper, but it was mentioned that Willaman had been serving in the South Pacific.  

     Later that same day, Willaman was killed when his plane crashed on Martha’s Vineyard. 

     Lt. Jg. Willaman was survived by his wife Evelyn who he had married on April 10, 1943.  He left for duty in the Pacific as a torpedo bomber pilot on August 1, 1943.  


Falmouth Enterprise, “Death Follows Decoration”, September 1, 1944

Tidings – Irving Park Lutheran Church , “11 Who Gave Their Lives”, August, 2007, Vol. 34, #8.  

North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #44-67     

Sandwich, MA – July 12, 1951

Sandwich, Massachusetts – July 12, 1951 


F-94 Starfire U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Starfire
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 3:30 p.m. on July 12, 1951, an Air Force F-94B fighter jet (50-873A) was in flight over Cape Cod when the engine flamed out.  The plane crashed near Peters Pond in Sandwich, about a mile south of the Mid-Cape Highway, (Route 6).  Another source put the crash site near Spectacle Pond, “about 1 mile from Quaker Meeting House Road in the direction of West Barnstable, and near Mill Road, between Spectacle Pond and the Mid-Cape Highway.”

    The pilot, 1st Lt. Victor Clapp, 28, of Beverly, Massachusetts, was killed when he ejected but his chute failed to open.   He was survived by his wife, Dorothy, and two children.   

     The radar observer, 2nd Lt. Aaron M. Jones Jr., 27, of Newtonville, MA, ejected safely.  Jones landed in a wooded area south of the Mid-Cape Highway and made his way to the Rof-Mar Lodge.

     The crash ignited several large brush fires.  

     The jet belonged to the 33rd Fighter-Interceptor wing at Otis AFB. 


     Falmouth Enterprise, “Jet Pilot Is Killed As Plane Crashes Near Peters Pond”, July 13, 1951  

     Cape Cod Standard Times, “Otis Base Jet Pilot Is Killed, Companion Safe In Crash”, July 13, 1951, Pg. 1

     Updated March 21, 2016

     On the afternoon of July 12, 1951, Lieutenant’s Clapp and  Aaron took off from Otis Air Force Base for a training flight to practice “ground controlled approach” (GCA) landing procedures.  Their F-94 (#50-873A) carried a full load of fuel, but was not equipped with external wing tanks.

     After making two successful landings, the pilot attempted a third.  As the F-94 approached Otis AFB intending to land on runway 23, it “flamed out” and crashed in a wooded area about 150 yards to the east of Mill Road, and south of Route 6.  This location is gleaned from the official air force crash investigation report, and contradicts the vague locations given to the press, which was likely done for security reasons and to prevent souvenir hunters from converging on the site.  

     Lt. Clapp was a veteran of WWII and earned his pilot’s wings March 2, 1944.  At the time of his death he had recently been re-activated for active duty due to the Korean War.  He’s buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Acton, Massachusetts.


     Air Force Crash Investigation Report #51-7-12-1, Memorial #114039950



Sandwich, MA – August 11, 1951

Sandwich, Massachusetts – August 11, 1951 

     On August 11, 1951, Captain Frank C. Newell, 28, of Linden, N.J., was killed when his F-86 Sabre Jet crashed at Scorton Neck in Sandwich.  Newell was a veteran of WWII and Korea, and flew 182 combat missions during his career.  He was survived by his wife and one child.


Falmouth Enterprise, “Otis Pilot Killed” August 17, 1951

New York Times, “Third Pilot Loses His Life In Massachusetts” , August 12, 1951 

Pocasset, MA – August 13, 1945

Pocasset, Massachusetts – August 13, 1945 

Updated December 23, 2020.


Early U.S. Navy Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

     On August 13, 1945, Ensign William Orlando Young, Jr., (22), was piloting an SBW-4E Helldiver, (Bu. No. 60153), on a night training flight over Cape Cod.  This training was preparatory to his assignment to the navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Midway

      During the flight, weather conditions had deteriorated and the cloud ceiling had dropped, and it was later speculated by navy investigators that this played a role in the accident.         

     When overdue for his return to base, he was reported missing, and a search utilizing aircraft from Otis and Quonset Point, R.I. began.  His body and his wrecked plane were found the following day in Pocasset, Mass. 

     Ensign Young’s body was brought to Quonset Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being sent to Gathersburg, Maryland for burial.  He was survived by his wife Hazel.  


     U. S. Navy accident report dated August 13, 1945 

     Falmouth Enterprise, “Pilot From Otis Killed In Crash” August 17, 1945   

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-77


Otis Air Force Base – April 9, 1952

Otis Air Force Base – April 9, 1952 

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

C-47 Aircraft – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the morning of April 9, 1952, a C-47 transport plane with ten men aboard, took off from Otis Air Force Base in-route to Niagara Falls, New York.  The transport had landed at Otis from Steward AFB in Newburgh, N.Y.  Shortly after take off, while the C-47 was passing over the neighboring Camp Edwards firing range, it was involved in a mid-air collision with an F-94B fighter jet on its way to a gunnery practice mission.  

     The collision occurred in cloud cover between five to seven thousand feet, and officials speculated that poor visibility may have played a role in the crash.  Both planes exploded and flaming debris rained down over a wide area setting several large brush fires.  One parachute was seen but it was found to be empty – likely deployed by the impact.        

F-94 Fighter Jet U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Fighter Jet
U.S. Air Force Photo

     The dead aboard the C-47 were identified as:

     Lt. Col. William C. Bryson, 34, Stewart AFB.

     Major Benjamin Beckham, 34, Cornwall-On-Hudson, N.Y.

     Major L. A. Berg, 36, Goshen, N.Y.

     Capt. William H. Erwin, 31, Herrin, Ill.

     Capt. Lane S. Hendricks, 31, McHenry, Ill.

     Capt. Richard E. Heder, 31, Rock Tavern, N.Y.

     Capt. Clinton C. Foster, 33, Gardner, N.Y.

     Tech. Sgt. Deane B. Cooper, 41, Stewart AFB.

     Airman 1c Harry E. Hardesty, 21, Campbell Hall, N.Y.

     Tech. Sgt. William D. Pollock, 29, Newburgh, N.Y.       

     The crew of the F-94 jet fighter consisted of the pilot, Capt. Charles J. Smoke, 35, of Shenandoah, Iowa,

and the radar observer, 1st Lt. Thaddeus C. Kulpinski.


Chicago Tribune, “Two Air Force Planes Collide In Air; 12 dead”, April 10, 1952

New York Times, “Planes Crash Aloft; 12 In Air Force Die”, April 10, 1952

Falmouth Enterprise, “Twelve Are Killed In Otis Air Crash”, April 11, 1952

Boston, MA – January 23, 1958

Boston, Massachusetts – January 23, 1958 


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

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

     On January 23, 1958, two Air Force jets collided in mid-air 22,000 feet over Boston.  One was an F-94 Starfire out of Otis AFB, the other a T-33 out of Stewart AFB in Newburgh, New York.  Both were on routine training flights.

     The crew of the F-94 consisted of 1st Lt. Joseph G. Izzea, 23, and 1st Lt. John P. Horan, 21.  Both were killed either in the collision, or when their flaming jet crashed behind a home in Arlington, Massachusetts.  Witnesses felt Izzea may have been aiming for the Arlington Reservoir. 




F-94 Starfire U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Starfire
U.S. Air Force Photo

     The crew of the T-33, consisted of Captain William D. Bridges, 33, and Lt. Harold Woldmoe, 30.  Both got out safely, although Woldmoe said his ejection seat failed, and he got out as the plane was falling end-over-end.  Bridges came down in the icy waters of Quincy Bay about 15 miles away and was rescued by a helicopter twenty minutes later.  Woldmoe landed in the railroad freight yards near Boston’s South Station.  Both were treated at area hospitals.     


Falmouth Enterprise, “Two Otis Fliers Die As Jets Crash Above City”, January 24, 1958.

(Troy, N.Y.) Times Record, “Two Airmen Killed As Planes Crash”, January 24, 1958

New York Times, “Jets Collide, Two Die”, January 24, 1958

Lincoln, MA. – July 10, 1945

Lincoln, Massachusetts – July 10, 1945


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

     At about 11:15 a.m. on July 10, 1945, a U.S. Navy B-26 aircraft took off from Bedford Field in Bedford, Massachusetts, with five men aboard.  The B-26 aircraft was generally used by the Army Air Corps, however this particular airplane had been assigned to the navy.  The purpose of the flight was reported in the press to be “experimental”. 

     Shortly after take-off one of the engines caught fire causing the aircraft to rapidly loose altitude.  Witnesses on the ground reported seeing flames and smoke trailing from the plane as it went down.  The aircraft crashed and exploded on the Jensen Farm on Old Sudbury Road in the town of Lincoln.  All aboard perished.

     One witness to the accident was an unidentified Army veteran who’d flown 57 combat missions on a B-26.  He told a reporter, “I heard the plane take off from my home in Concord.  From the sound of the engine I knew immediately that the boys were in trouble.  It is a ‘hot’ ship, and very likely had a runaway prop.  When the engine in one of those babies cuts out you just have time to come down, unless you have plenty of space underneath.” 

     One of the flyers reportedly bailed out prior to the crash and was found, severely injured, by a group of boys who carried him to a nearby home where he died a short time later.     

     The navy flyers were identified as:

     Lt. William E. Ragsdale, of Artesia, New Mexico.

     Lt. James Thomas Hogan, 26, of Birmingham, Alabama.  He’s buried in Elmwood Cemetery in Birmingham.  See, memorial #185466812.

     AMM 1/c Edwin T. Luther, of Bristol, Rhode Island.

     AMM Howard T. Marshall, age 22 or 23.  He’s buried in Oakland Cemetery in Moberly Missouri.  See, memorial #70597092.

     AMM 3/c Charles P. Rogers, of Sudbury, Pennsylvania.    


     Concord Journal, “Plane From Army Air Base Crashes In Woods In South Lincoln Area”, July 12, 1945, page 1.  

Nantucket Sound, MA. – April 2, 1974

Nantucket Sound, Massachusetts – April 2, 1974

     On the evening of April 2, 1974, a Piper Aztec N-23 turbo with four men aboard left Nantucket Island bound for Hyannis, Massachusetts.  While over Nantucket Sound the aircraft abruptly disappeared from radar, and went down between Hyannis and Handkerchief Shoals.   A search and rescue operation was initiated, and one body was later recovered, along with some debris from the aircraft.  The main portion of the plane was not recovered.  The suspected cause of the accident was a faulty altimeter. 


     Providence Evening Bulletin, “4 On Plane Sought Off Hyannis”, April 3, 1974, page A-11

     Providence Journal, “Body Found Near Ocean Air Crash Site”, April 4, 1974, page A-19 

     Westerly Sun, “Suspend Search Off Cape Coast”, April 4, 1974, Page 10.  

Princeton, MA. – April 16, 1973

Princeton, Massachusetts – April 16, 1973

     On April 16, 1973, a 27-year-old pilot from Rutland, Vermont, was piloting a single-engine Cessna at tree-top-level over the town of Princeton when he stalled the aircraft while suddenly pulling up to avoid a rise in the terrain.  He was killed when the plane crashed vertically into the ground.


     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Plane Crash Fatal”, April 17, 1973   

     Providence Journal, “Crash Cause Given In Death Of Pilot”, May 24, 1973

Gardner, MA. – July 29, 1966

Gardner, Massachusetts – July 29, 1966


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

     On July 29, 1966, a Massachusetts Air National Guard F-84 fighter jet left Barnes Air Force Base in Westfield, Massachusetts, for a routine training flight.  The pilot was Captain Daniel Palucca, assigned to the 104th Tactical Fighter Group based at Barnes.  Shortly before noon, while flying over the town of Gardner, the aircraft began experiencing mechanical difficulties to the extent that maintaining control became impossible.  Captain Palucca aimed the aircraft away from the densely populated area of town and ejected. 

     The F-84 crashed into a wooded area where Jackson Hill Road and Kendall Street meet.  It broke into numerous pieces and burned. Captain Palucca landed safely several yards off Route 2A near the Skorko junkyard not far from the Westminster town line with only minor injuries.    


    The Gardner News, (Gardner, Mass.), “Plane Crashes, Explodes On Jackson Hill Rd. – Pilot Parachutes To Safety Shortly Before Impact, Avoids Homes In Area”, July 29, 1966  

Hull, MA. – August 5, 1919

Hull, Massachusetts – August 5, 1919

     On August 5, 1919, two aircraft were performing a mock air battle over Nantasket Beach before a crowd of spectators.  (Nantasket Beach is in the town of Hull, Massachusetts.) 

     One aircraft was piloted by Wesley L. Smith, the other by Mark C. Hogue.  Both men had served as pilots in the U.S. Army Air Service during World War I. 

     At one point during the “battle”, Smith’s plane went into an uncontrolled spin and crashed into the water not far from shore.  The plane received considerable damage, but Smith was only slightly hurt, and was rescued by several beach goers.     


     The Oklahoma City Times, “Aerial Battle Ends In Fall Of Plane”, August 5, 1919


Pittsfield, MA. – July 4, 1911

Pittsfield, Massachusetts – July 4, 1911

     On July 4, 1911, aviator Charles C. Witmer was piloting a Curtiss biplane over Pittsfield when he encountered a sudden thunder and lightning storm that was producing severe winds.  A sudden gust of wind caught his airplane and capsized it in mid-air while he was at an altitude of 400 feet.  This caused Witmer to lose control, and the aircraft plunged to the ground.  Witmer was taken to House of Mercy Hospital with internal injuries, but it was reported that he was expected to recover.

     As a point of fact, Witmer did recover, and lived until 1929.  To find out more about Charles Witmer, see


     Hartford Courant, (Conn.), “Biplane Capsized; Aviator Badly Hurt”, July 5, 1911    

Billerica, MA – June 27, 1940

Billerica, Massachusetts – June 27, 1940

     At about 7 p.m. on the night of June 27, 1940, a four passenger biplane was passing over the town of Billerica when, according to a witness, something fell from the aircraft.  Just afterwards, the plane went into a sideslip before falling from an altitude of approximately 500 feet and crashing into a wooded area of town known as Garden City.   The pilot and two passengers aboard were killed.

     The pilot was identified as Elliot Underhill, 43, of, Spotswood, New Jersey.  The two passengers were identified as Walter Abrams, 32, of Lowell, Massachusetts, and Edwin Martin, 22, of Billerica. 

     Mr. Underhill was an experienced pilot.  He served as a pilot with the U.S. Marine Corps in the 1st Aero Squadron from 1917 to 1920.


     The Lowell Sun, “Federal Probe Of Plane Crash – Three Killed In No. Billerica”, June, 28, 1940, page 1., Elliot Underhill, Memorial #43985518

Windsor, MA – December 10, 1986

Windsor, Massachusetts – December 10, 1986

Updated May 17, 2018

     On December 10, 1986, a Beech King Air 100 Turboprop, (N65TD), was en-route from Pal-Waukee Airport in Des Planes, Ill., to Pittsfield Airport in Pittsfield, Mass., when it encountered heavy overcast conditions over the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts.  At approximately 9:30 a.m. the aircraft crashed in a wooded area in the town of Windsor, and exploded on impact.  All six men aboard were killed.

     An eyewitness to the event was a 21-year-old deer hunter who’d seen the plane circling overhead, but didn’t think it was in trouble until it crashed a quarter of a mile away from his position. 

     The location of the crash was between Bates Road and Savoy Hollow Road. 

    The aircraft was registered to the Teledyne Corporation of Los Angeles.  It carried a crew of two, and four passengers.  The passengers were all employees of Teledyne Post Inc.   

     This incident was reported to be the second worst aviation accident in the history of Berkshire County.   The worst occurred in the town of Peru, Mass., on August 16, 1942, when 16 army servicemen were killed when their transport plane crashed into Garnet Peak in heavy fog.       


     New York Times, “6 Die In Plane Crash In Berkshires”, December 11, 1986

     Chicago Tribune, “Exec’s Deaths Probed”, December 12, 1986 

     Aviation Safety Network

     Berkshire Eagle, “Plane Crash Claims 6 Lives In Windsor”, December 11, 1986

     Berkshire Eagle, “It was a Typical Day, Until…”, December 11, 1986

     Berkshire Eagle, “Berkshire Plane Crashes Have Taken 54 Lives Since 1942”, December 11, 1986

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, 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

Longmeadow, MA – October 1, 1927

Longmeadow, Massachusetts – October 1, 1927

     On October 1, 1927, a plane carrying two men, William P. Thomas, and William B. Van Buren, took off from Dunn Field, in Longmeadow, Massachusetts for an instructional flight.   Thomas was an experienced pilot with the 43rd Aero Squadron of the Connecticut National Guard, and Van Buren was a student pilot.  For reasons not stated in the press, the aircraft crashed at the field, and Thomas was killed.  Van Buren received possible fatal injuries.

     No further details were given.

     Dunn Field was a civil airport located along the banks of the Connecticut River in an area known as Longmeadow Flats. It was named for the original property owner.


      New York Times, “Plane Crash Kills Pilot”, October 2, 1927

     The Yankee Flyer, Journal of the Massachusetts Aviation Historical Society, #35, Sept./Oct. 2003


Revere, MA – January 1, 1912

Revere, Massachusetts – January 1, 1912


Aviator Harry Atwood

     On January 1, 1912, well known early aviator, Harry N. Atwood, was attempting to fly his Burgess-Wright hydro-aeroplane from Point of Pines in Revere, Massachusetts, to Portland, Maine, when the aircraft developed engine trouble just after take-off.  The engine quit just after Atwood was over Lynn Bay, but Atwood managed to re-start it in short order.  Atwood had taken off into a strong wind in order to gain lift, but when his engine stopped the wind  turned the plane about.  When he got the engine started again the wind was now behind him, which hindered his attempts to gain altitude.  When the engine quit a second time he was forced down into the water. 

     The plane landed upright on its two pontoons, but somehow one of the pontoons developed a leak, possibly due to the hard landing, and the plane began to list to one side.  Atwood was wearing two sets of clothes to keep warm during his flight to Maine, one of which he managed to strip away in anticipation of going into the water.  He then climbed out onto the one good pontoon, but his weight forced it beneath the surface drenching him in the icy water.  He would likely have drowned had it not been for two men in a boat who saw his plight and raced to his rescue.   

     He was taken ashore to the home of Hiram Carter where he was treated for exposure and hypothermia.

     Source: New York Times, “Atwood Near Death By Fall In Water”, January 2, 1912  


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


Mashpee, MA – August 28, 1927

     Mashpee, Massachusetts – August 28, 1927 


     On August 28, 1927, Henry J. Larkin, 23, of Brookline, Massachusetts, was flying his Curtis Seaplane (No. 2918) eastward along the coast of the towns of Falmouth and Mashpee when he encountered a fog bank and was forced to turn back.  It was then that he happened to meet up with another seaplane being piloted by Harold G. Crowley, 33, of Winthrop, Mass. going in the same direction.  The two men knew each other, and Larkin fell in with Crowley’s plane as they made their way westward along the coast.  As they neared Succannesset Point close to the Falmouth/Mashpee town lines, a sudden wind gust pushed Larkin’s plane into Crowley’s.  The impact sent Larkin down in a spinning dive into the water.  Crowley was able to land safely on the water. 

     It was later determined that Larkin came down in Mashpee waters.

     Larkin received internal injuries and a compound fracture to his nose, and was admitted to Hyannis Hospital for treatment.  

     Falmouth Enterprise, “Seaplanes Collide Over Sound”, September 1, 1927

     Update: May 16, 2018

     Harold Crowley’s aircraft was known as “Barbara” and had a red/green cockpit with aluminum painted wings.

     Henry Larkin’s aircraft was known as “The Seagull”. 

     Source: Vineyard Gazette, (Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.), “Airplanes Collide, Pilot Is Injured”, September 2, 1927.



Lowell, MA – October 3, 1895

Lowell, Massachusetts – October 3, 1895


     balloonOn October 3, 1895, “Professor” James Allen of Providence, R.I. took off in his balloon from the North Common in Lowell as part of the Merchant’s Week celebration.  The ascent was witnessed by 10,000 people.  Besides Allen, there were two passengers aboard, D.A. Sullivan, and W. I. Rombough. 

     Shortly after take off, Allen became unconscious, presumably from poisonous gas escaping from the balloon, and Sullivan and Rombough had to grab hold of him to keep him from falling out of the gondola.    

     Neither passenger knew how to operate the balloon, so they were forced to sit back and go wherever the craft carried them.  For the next hour, the winds carried the balloon over the towns of Tewkesbury, Andover, and Bedford, before the balloon came down on its own in the northern part of Lexington.  Neither of the men could explain why the balloon landed of its own accord.

     Allen didn’t regain consciousness for quite some time.

     Source: New York Times, “Unpleasant Balloon Ascension”, October 5, 1895


Cape Cod Bay – March 25, 1954

Cape Cod Bay – March 25, 1954


F-94 Starfire U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Starfire
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 12:45 p.m., on March 25, 1954, 2nd Lt. Boyd L. Erickson, 24, was killed when the F-94 Starfire jet he was piloting crashed in Cape Cod Bay near Orient during a routine training flight.

     The newspaper account mentioned that there was a radar observer aboard who was “missing”.  He was not identified.  

     Lieutenant Erickson was from Grand Forks, North Dakota, and he’s buried there in Memorial Park Cemetery.  He was survived by his wife Dona Mae Erickson.

     Lieutenant Erickson entered the U.S. Air Force in early 1951, and began his pilot training in August of 1952.  He received his wings and officer’s commission August 1, 1953, and had been assigned to Otis Air Force Base at the time of the accident.


     Falmouth Enterprise, “Pocasset Pilot Dies In Crash Of Aircraft”, March 26, 1954       Memorial # 24523991

Atlantic Ocean – March 1, 1945

Atlantic Ocean – March 1, 1945

Updated April 29, 2016

     On March 29, 1945, the body of Richard Parr Harper, 19, (United States Navy) was found floating in the Atlantic Ocean eight miles north of Race Point Lighthouse located in Provincetown, Massachusetts.   He had been aboard a navy airplane that was lost at sea on March 1, 1945.  No further details of the accident are known. 

     Harper was born in Lincoln Park, Michigan.  His body was brought to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being sent to Detroit for burial.    

     Source: North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-27 

     Updated Information   

U.S. Navy Grumman Avenger National Archives Photo

U.S. Navy Grumman Avenger

National Archives Photo

     The United States destroyer U.S.S. Schenck (DD-159) was launched in 1919, and served various duties during its career including service in World War II.  In September of 1944 she was re-designated AG-82, and served the remainder of the war as a surface vessel that provided target practice for student pilots.  

     On the night of March 1, 1945, the Schenck was ten miles off Provincetown, Massachusetts, serving in her role as a target vessel, when a navy TBM-3D, (Bu. No. 22955), crashed into her superstructure and plunged into the ocean taking both crewmen to the bottom with her.

     Those aboard the Avenger included the pilot, Ensign Chapman W. Lucas, Jr., (20), and ADM 3/c Richard P. Harper, (19).  The body of Ensign Lucas was recovered on August 17, and the body of ADM 3/c Harper was recovered on March 29. 

     To see a photo of ADM 3/c Harper click here:    

     A crewman aboard the Schenck was also killed in this incident, but he was not identified in the newspaper articles.

    Updated Information, January 26, 2022

     The Crewman aboard the Schenck who was killed in this accident was Seaman 2d Class Richard A. Hewat, 24, of North Adams, Massachusetts.  To learn more info about Seaman Hewat click here:


     Lewiston Evening Journal, (ME.) “Navy Plane Collides With Surface Craft; Two Fliers Missing And Seaman Dead”, March 2, 1945  

     Norwalk Hour,(CT.) “2 navy Filers Lost In target Practice”, March 2, 1945

     The Provincetown Advocate, “Three Lose Lives In Harbor Crash”, March 8, 1945

     Wikipedia – U.S.S. Schenck

Martha’s Vineyard – May 8, 1945

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts – May 8, 1945 

Updated January 12, 2018


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

     On the morning of May 8, 1945, Lieutenant Joseph F. Koll, Jr., 29, of Boise, Idaho, was taking off from Martha’s Vineyard Naval Auxiliary Air Field in an F6F-5N Hellcat, (Ser. No. 70448), for a scheduled training flight.  When the aircraft had reached an altitude of about 50 feet it suddenly rolled over and dove into the ground and exploded, killing Lt. Koll.   The cause of the accident was undetermined.

     Lieutenant Koll’s body was brought to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being transported to Idaho for burial.  He’s buried in Morris Hill Cemetery in Boise, Section N 68-2.  To see a photo of Lt. Koll, see Memorial #53030333.


     U.S. Navy crash investigation report

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records.


Hyannis, MA – November 20, 1944

Hyannis, Massachusetts – November 20, 1944

     Very little information about this accident.

     On November 20, 1944, Ensign Andrew Charles Butko, 24, was killed in an aircraft crash at what was listed as “Cape Cod Airport” in Hyannis.  (This was likely present-day Barnstable Municipal Airport in Hyannis, Mass.)   

     Ensign Butko was assigned to Quonset Point Naval Air Station at the time of his accident.  He’s buried in McKeesport, Penn.

     Source: Rhode Island Department Of Health death certificate

Northfield, MA – September 15, 1920

Northfield, Massachusetts – September 15, 1920

     On September 15, 1920, army aviator, 2nd Lt. Haven H. Spencer, 27, flew a de Havilland, DH-4B, biplane (AS-63454) from Mineola, Long Island, N.Y. to Northfield, Massachusetts, and crashed into a tree on landing.  Lt. Spencer was killed, but his passenger, Herbert McMillian, a student at Dartmouth College escaped with minor injuries. 

     In recent weeks, Lt. Spencer had accompanied the body of Lt. Irving C. Stenson, a fellow aviator from Chelsea, Massachusetts, who was killed in a plane crash at Kelly Field in Texas where both had been stationed, home for burial. 

     Lt. Spencer entered the Aviation Corps in August of 1917.  He was assigned to the 166th Aero Squadron. He was a native of Northfield, Massachusetts, born February 22, 1894, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Rev. George Spencer.  He’s buried in Center Cemetery in Northfield.


     Oklahoma Leader, “Aviator Killed When Plane Drops”, September 17, 1920  

     The Butte (Montana) Daily Bulletin, “Aviation Chief Killed”, August 21, 1920

     The (Washington DC) Evening Star, “Army Aviator Killed”, September 17, 1920, page 15.  memorial #127956908   

Off Provincetown, MA – May 8, 1944

Off Provincetown, Massachusetts – May 8, 1944

41 52.1N/70 16.4W

     Few details are available about this accident. 

     Updated March 2, 2016

     On May 8, 1944, a navy plane out of Quonset Point Naval Air Station crashed in the ocean off Provincetown, Massachusetts, resulting in three fatalities.  The coordinates of the crash are listed above.  They were obtained from the Rhode Island Department of Health Death Certificates.

     The dead were identified as:

     Lt. Jg. Norwood Harris Dobson, 27, of Ellenboro, North Carolina.  He’s buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Ellenboro.

     ARM 3c Arthur Normand Levesque, 18, of Lonsdale (Lincoln) Rhode Island. He’s buried Notre Dame Cemetery in Pawtucket, R.I.   

     (Missing) Aviation Ordinance man 3c John Werner Dahlstrom, 19, believed to be from Michigan.  Information about him was not listed among the death certificates.      


     Rhode Island Department of Health Death Certificates (N.K. GOV. 77) and (N.K. Gov. 78)

     Lewiston Evening Sun, “Identifies Fliers Killed In Cape Cod navy Plane crash”, May 10, 1944

Mansfield, MA – September 13, 1945

Mansfield, Massachusetts – September 13, 1945

Updated July 15, 2019


SB2C Helldiver U.S. Navy Photo

SB2C Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

     On April 19, 1945, a flight of two navy SB2C Helldiver aircraft left Groton Field in Connecticut for a familiarization training flight.  One of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 83654), was piloted by Ensign Thomas Daniel Murphy, 21, of Chicago.  While at about 2,800 feet over the town of Mansfield, Massachusetts, Ensign Murphy’s aircraft entered a partial wingover and stalled, and then went into a progressive spin.  Murphy pulled out of the spin at about 500 feet, but then went into another and crashed.  The aircraft exploded on impact and Ensign Murphy did not get out. 

     Ensign Murphy was assigned to Bombing Squadron 4 (VB-4) based at Groton Field in Groton, Connecticut.  His body was brought to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being sent to Chicago for burial.  


     U. S. Navy accident report dated September 13, 1945.

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-87

     Naval History & Heritage Command – U.S. Navy,


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 

Martha’s Vineyard – June 22, 1971

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts – June 22, 1971

    On the morning of June 22, 1971, Northeast Airlines, Flight 938, left Kennedy International Airport in New York bound for New Bedford, Massachusetts.  From New Bedford, it was to travel to Martha’s Vineyard.  The aircraft, a McDonnell Douglas DC-9-31, (N982NE) arrived at New Bedford without incident, and departed at 8:22 a.m., and proceeded to Martha’s Vineyard.    

     While on final approach to Martha’s Vineyard Airport under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) the airplane struck the water about three miles from the end of Runway 24.  The impact caused minor damage, and the airplane was able to remain airborne.  Fortunately,  none of the five crewmembers and thee passengers aboard were injured, but the incident still needed to be reported as an aviation accident.     

     Source: National Transportation Safety Board Aircraft Accident report # NTSB-AAR 72-4, File # 4-0001, adopted December 29, 1971.

Atlantic Ocean – June 21, 1945

Atlantic Ocean – June 21, 1945

Updated June 8, 2018

     On the night of June 21, 1945, navy pilot John Huddleston Heath, 27, was killed when his aircraft crashed in the Atlantic Ocean off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.   His body was not recovered until September 13, 1945, about two miles off Hyannis Port, Massachusetts.

     The type of plane, Heath’s rank, and details of the accident are unknown.

     Heath’s body was brought to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before burial.  The location of his burial is unknown.  He was originally from New Orleans, La.  He died just three days before his 28th birthday.  

     Source: North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-86  


     Source: Cape Cod Standard Times, “Navy Searches For Two Bodies”, June 22, 1945, page 1.

     According to an article found in the Cape Cod Standard Times, there were two men aboard the aircraft at the time of this accident.  The article reported how search vessels were operating south of Hyannisport, Massachusetts, searching for two navy men believed lost when their airplane was observed to crash into the water approximately three miles south of Hyannisport around 10:00 a.m. on June 21st.   

     The aircraft was described as an advanced trainer with two officers aboard.  Their names were being withheld.   

Hyannis, MA – April 20, 1945

Hyannis, Massachusetts – April 20, 1945

     On the night of April 20, 1945, Ensign Roger Lee Thornton, 22, was killed when the navy aircraft he was piloting crashed about 1.5 miles N.N.E. of the Hyannis Naval Auxiliary Air Field.  The type of plane and cause of the crash are unknown.

     Ensign Thornton’s body was brought to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being sent to Columbus, Ohio, for burial. He was survived by his wife Laura Katherine Thornton.  

     To see a photo of Ensign Thornton’s grave go to and see memorial #51907830.


     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-39 

     Cape Cod Standard Times, “Navy Pilot Killed In Crash”, April 21, 1945


Rochester, MA – May 13, 1946

Rochester, Massachusetts – May 13, 1946

Updated October 15, 2023

Updated October 18, 2023

     On May 13, 1946, two U. S. Navy aircraft with lone pilots aboard were practicing aerial maneuvers over the town of Rochester, Massachusetts, when they collided in mid-air.  One aircraft had its tail sheared off, while the other lost a wing.  The tailless plane went down in Mary’s Pond, while the other crashed and exploded in a cranberry bog about 100 feet from the pond.  Both pilots perished in the accident. 

     Thee aircraft were SB2C Helldivers.   Both pilots had taken off from the Quonset Point Naval Air station in Rhode Island.  One newspaper account which appeared in the Waterbury Democrat stated that the planes were part of a six plane training flight. 

     One pilot was identified as Ensign Ralph Raymond Reid, 23, from Casper, Wyoming.  A photo of him can be found at:

     Ensign Reid was survived by his wife Margaret.

     His body was brought to Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being sent to Wyoming.

     The other pilot was identified as Ensign James C. Nichols, of Kings Mountain, North Carolina.   


     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #46-33

     Waterbury Democrat, (Ct.), “Quonset Pilots Die In Plunge”, May 15, 1946. 

     Winston-Salem Journal, (N.C.), “Tar Heel Is Killed In Plane Collision”, May 16, 1946, pg. 8

     First hand written account of Connie Eshbach, from the files of the Rochester Historical Society, forwarded to New England Aviation History by Eric Wiberg, author and historian. 

Douglas, MA – September 12, 1944

Douglas, Massachusetts – September 12, 1944 

Updated February 15, 2018


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

      At 1:50 p.m. on the afternoon of September, 12, 1944, a flight of F6F Hellcat aircraft took off from the naval auxiliary air field at Westerly, Rhode Island, for a high-altitude oxygen training flight.   One of those assigned to the flight was Ensign Arthur Joseph Stockus, 23, piloting an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42800).

     When the planes had reached an altitude of about 13,000 feet, the flight leader lead the squadron in a northerly direction towards Massachusetts, all the while continuing to gain altitude.  The goal was to reach 30,000 feet.      

     At approximately 2:50 p.m. while the flight was at 28,000 feet, Ensign Stockus’s aircraft was seen to suddenly break away from formation, go into a slow roll, and then disappear into an alto cumulus cloud.  Efforts to contact him via radio were unsuccessful.

     Ensign Stockus was killed when his Hellcat crashed and exploded in a wooded area about two miles west of the center of Douglas, Massachusetts.    

     Navy investigators later speculated that his oxygen system had failed, which could lead to disorientation or unconsciousness.  

     Ensign Stockus was from Monessen, Penn., and had been assigned to CASU-27.  He entered the navy on October 15, 1942, at Washington, D.C.  He died just two days after his 23rd birthday.

     Ensign Stockus had a brother Robert who was also serving as a naval officer.

     To see a photo of Ensign Stockus’s grave, click here:


     U.S. Navy Investigation Report

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #44-72   

     The Daily Republican, (Penn.), “Plane Crash Kills Monessen Ensign”, September 18, 1944

     Newport Mercury, (R.I.), “Dead Flyer Identified”, September 22, 1944, page 6.

     Copy – Application for World War II Compensation Form – Commonwealth of Pennsylvania

Atlantic Ocean – June 20, 1947

Atlantic Ocean – June 20, 1947

15 Miles South of Nantucket, Mass.

     On June 20, 1947, Ensign Malcolm Sillars was on an operational flight over the Atlantic Ocean, 15 miles south of Nantucket Island, when the Hellcat fighter he was piloting developed engine trouble.  He was forced to make a water landing, and when his plane sank he inflated his life vest.  There he floated in the water as fellow Hellcat pilots circled above.

     A crash-rescue flying boat was dispatched, but when it arrived on the scene the water was too choppy for a safe landing.  The pilot was ordered not to attempt the rescue, but disregarded the command, and landed anyway, successfully plucking Sillars from the water.

     During take-off, a large wave reportedly tossed the rescue-craft 30 feet in the air, but the pilot successfully made it into the air. 

     Source: New York Times, “Pilot Rescued At Sea” , June 21, 1947      

Ayer, MA – September 30, 1944

Ayer, Massachusetts – September 30, 1944

Naval Auxiliary Air Facility

     On September 20, 1944, Seaman 1st Class John Harding Bell, 19, was working at the Ayer, Massachusetts, Naval Auxiliary Air Facility  when he accidentally backed into a spinning aircraft propeller and was killed.

     He was born in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, and is buried in Fort Leavenworth National Cemetery , Section A, Site 254-A.

     The Ayer NAAF was built for the army in 1929, but was turned over to the navy during WWII to support the Squantum Naval Air Station.  After the war it reverted back to the army as part of Fort Devens. 


     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #44-77 memorial # 350676

     Wikipedia – Moore Army Airfield 


Dorchester Bay – July 16, 1944

Dorchester Bay – July 16, 1944


F6F Hellcat U.S. Navy Photo

F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On July 16, 1944, Ensign William Oran Seymour Jr., 23, was piloting an F6F-5 Hellcat,(Bu. No. 58882), with other aircraft based at the Squantum Naval Air Station, on an air-to-air target practice mission over Dorchester Bay.  (Seymour’s aircraft was assigned to tow a cloth target sleeve behind it while other aircraft took turns making attack runs.)

     Afterwards, as the planes returned to Squantum in preparation for landing,  the engine of  Seymour’s Hellcat began misfiring.  Being over a heavily populated area, the pilot opted to stay with the aircraft rather than bail out.  The plane rapidly lost altitude as it passed over Dorchester’s Savin Hill neighborhood, heading towards Malibu Beach where the pilot hoped to make an emergency landing.  Unfortunately, it being a hot summer day, the beach was crowded with roughly 3,000 people.  As Seymour approached the beach at barely 100 feet off the ground, his vision of the crowd was blocked by a sea wall.  It wasn’t until the last second that he saw all the people and quickly yanked the Hellcat towards the water.  He crashed about 200 yards from shore in about 15 feet of water.   

     One lifeguard who witnessed the accident later told reporters, “It hit first on the left wing, because he swung away from the beach sharply to avoid striking the crowd.  It snapped over so fast that it went end over end, and then the fuselage seemed to crumple up and the plane sank.”

     Several men swam out to the spot where the Hellcat went down in an attempt to rescue the airman, but they were unsuccessful.  Seymour’s body was later recovered by men from the crash-rescue boat sent form Squantum.  

     Ensign Seymour was born in Monroe, North Carolina, and graduated Valedictorian of his high school class in 1938.  He volunteered for the navy in July of 1942, and received his pilot’s wings and Ensign’s commission on October 9, 1943.  He is buried in Monroe Cemetery. 

     For his actions and quick thinking in sacrificing himself in order to save others, he was posthumously awarded a Presidential Citation and the Navy & Marine Corps medal for bravery.

     He was assigned to Fighter Squadron 45, (VF-45)


     NAS Squantum: The First Naval Air Reserve Base, by Marc Frattasio (Pgs. 218-219)

     The Boston Post, (No headline available) Monday, July 17, 1944

     The Gold Star Mothers Homepage – William O. Seymour, Jr.

     U.S. Navy Accident Report dated July 16, 1944






Revere Beach, MA – July 9, 1912

Revere Beach, Massachusetts – July 9, 1912  

     On July 9, 1912, Farnum T. Fish, was piloting a bi-plane over Revere Beach, flying from one end to the other, with his passenger, famous Pawtucket, R.I. aviator, John F. McGee.  At one point a wing dipped and touched the waves, causing the plane to plunge into the water and  tossing the occupants forty feet.  The plane suffered damage to the tail and propeller, but Fish and McGee were generally unhurt. 

Source: Boston Evening Transcript,”Aviator Fish Gets Wet”, July 10, 1912, Pg. 24 




Sandwich, MA – August 29, 1961

Sandwich, Massachusetts – August 29, 1961 


RB-57F.  The U.S. Version of the English Electric Canberra.  U.S. Air Force Photo.

RB-57F. The U.S. Version of the English Electric Canberra. U.S. Air Force Photo.

     On August 29, 1961, Major Harold D. LaRoche, 27, took off from Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, in a Martin B-57 Canberra en-route to Andrews Air Force base in Virginia.  (He was the only person aboard.)

     Shortly after take off  LaRoche radioed Otis tower that he had an emergency and turned back towards the base.  On his approach he crashed in the Forestdale section in the town of Sandwich, Massachusetts.  The plane exploded and the major was killed. 

     Major LaRoche was assigned to Ent Air Force base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and had been on a cross-country flight.     



Falmouth Enterprise, (Photo) “Wreckage Of Bomber Which Crashed In Forrestdale”, September 1, 1961

Off Nantucket – April 25, 1967

Off Nantucket – April 25, 1967

     At 6:30 p.m. on April 25, 1967, a “radar picket plane” with sixteen men aboard took off from Otis Air Force Base for patrol duty over the Atlantic.  “A half hour later,” it was reported, “eye witnesses heard the plane roaring over their homes at Madaket on the western end of Nantucket.”   

     The plane crashed into the sea off the western end of the island.  A commercial pilot flying in the area saw the plane go down, and said the Air Force pilot had made a deliberate effort to avoid crashing in the center of town.      

     The plane was piloted by Col. James P. Lyle Jr., 47, commander of the 551st Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing based at Otis.

     Of the sixteen men aboard, there was only one survivor: the navigator, Lieut. Joseph H. Guenet, 29, of Montreal.

     To learn more about this accident click here:

     This was the second radar plane out of Otis to be lost within two years.  The other went down in July, 1965, with sixteen lives lost.   


New York Times, “Plane with 16 Crashes Off Coast”, April 26, 1967

New York Times, “Air Force Seeks Survivors Of Crash Off Nantucket”, April 27, 1967

New York Times, “Hope Gone For 13 On Plane”, April 28, 1967

Atlantic Ocean – February 13, 1943

Atlantic Ocean – February 13, 1943

 Rhode Island

     There isn’t much information available about this accident as news reports were vague.     

     On February 13, 1943, two navy planes collided in mid-air while on a training flight over the Atlantic Ocean somewhere off the coast of Rhode Island.  The type of planes was not stated, but there were four crewmen between the two planes, three of whom were lost.   Their names were not stated.

     The sole survivor was identified as Aviation Mechinist’s Mate Joseph Leo Wallace, who was thrown clear by the impact, and saved by his parachute.  Wallace was rescued by a “fast Navy motor boat” which then developed engine trouble off Newport and drifted onto some rocks.  Wallace and the boat crew were rescued by the Coast Guard.  (The boat could not be saved.)


     Providence Journal: “4 Lost, 2 Rescued In Plane Mishaps”, February 14, 1943, Pg. 5 (It should be noted that the headline does not match up to this particular story because two crashes were reported ion the same article.  The other crash occurred in Maine where one man was lost and another saved.)

The Milwaukee Journal, “Tossed Into Space As Planes Collide, Chute Saves Him”, February 14, 1943, Pg. 1



Missing Aircraft – April 27, 1966

Missing Aircraft – April 27, 1966


B-57 Reconnaissance Bomber U.S. Air Force Photo

B-57 Reconnaissance Bomber
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On April 27, 1966, an Air Force B-57 reconnaissance bomber was on a training flight from Newburgh, New York, to Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, when it disappeared after radioing a distress signal, presumably  somewhere near the Falmouth area. 

     There were two men aboard the aircraft: (Pilot) Major Malcolm T. Kalser, 42, of Biggs, California, and (Navigator) Major Frank N. Guzzetta, 40, of Darby, Penn.    

     After a widespread search nothing was found, and the Air Force called off the search after eight days.

     Then, on Sunday, May 9, 1966, two fishermen from Cuttyhunk Island reported finding what they though might be pieces of the missing aircraft on a nearby beach.  “The wreckage”, it was reported, “included one part about five feet long and a rubber de-icing boot.” 

     The pieces were turned over to the Air Force.


    Woonsocket Call, “Plane Search May Resume; Parts Found”, May 9, 1966, Pg. 6       

Atlantic Ocean – July 12, 1965

Atlantic Ocean – July 12, 1965

Approx. 100 miles northeast of Nantucket, Massachusetts


EC-121 Super Constellation U.S. Air Force Photo

EC-121 Super Constellation
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the night of July 12, 1965, an Air Force EC-121H Super Constellation radar aircraft with a crew of 19 aboard, was flying over the Atlantic when a fire in one engine forced the pilot to ditch in the water. 

     The last radio transmission received from the pilot was , “Altitude 200 feet, I am ditching.”   

     The Constellation broke up when it hit the water. 

     The aircraft carrier U.S.S. Wasp and several other ships were in the area on naval exercises, and immediately launched a search and rescue operation.  Of the 19 men aboard, only three were rescued.  Nine bodies were recovered.  The other seven were listed as “missing, presumed dead”.

     Those rescued were :

     1st Lt. Bruce E. Witcher, navigator, of Redding, CA.

     Airman 1c John N. Puopolo, of Roslindale, Mass.

     Airman 2c David A. Surles, of Raleigh, N.C.

     The dead and missing were identified as:

     Capt. Murray J. Brody, pilot, of New York City. 

     2nd Lt. Fred Ambrosio, pilot, of Otis AFB.

     1st Lt. Thomas Fiedler, pilot, of Davenport, Iowa.

     2nd Lt. Ira J. Husik, navigator, of Philadelphia.

     Capt. Edward N. Anaka of Akron, N.Y.

     Capt. Michael R. Barbolla, of the Bronx, N.Y.

     T. Sgt. Gilbert T. Armstrong, flight engineer, of Newport, VT.

     T. Sgt. Eugene J. Schreivogel, of Springfield, Colorado.

     S. Sgt. Raymond M. Washam, of Wilmington, Del.

     S. Sgt. Francis J. Griffin, of Toronto, Canada.

     S. Sgt. John L. Howard, of Sanford, PA.

     Airman 1c George R. West, of Wyoming, Mich.

     Airman 1c Charles K. Sawyer, of Anderson, S.C.

     Airman 2c William E. Howe Jr., of North Augusta, S.C.

     Airman 2c Charles H. Williams, of Worcester, Mass.

     Airman 3c Charles J. Podjaski, of Evergreen Park, Ill.

     The aircraft was assigned to Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

     There is much more information available relating to this accident.  To find out more, go to  to read numerous articles from the Cape Cod Standard Times about this incident.    


New York Times, “9 Airmen Perish In Plane Ditching”, July 13, 1965

New York Times, “Crash Survivors Describe Ordeal”, July 14, 1965

Chicago Tribune, “Buddies Tell How Airmen Died In Crash”, July 14, 1965, Pg. 2

New York Times, “Coast Guard Halts Search For Airmen In Plane Crash”, July 18, 1965



Otis Air Force Base – May 25, 1958

Otis Air Force Base – May 25, 1958


EC-121 Super Constellation U.S. Air Force Photo

EC-121 Super Constellation
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On May 25, 1958, an Air Force RC121 Super Constellation radar aircraft was destroyed by a series of explosions while sitting at Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  The crew of fourteen managed to escape with only minor injuries. 

     The plane was valued at $2,225,000. 

     The cause of the explosions was not apparent. 

     Source: New York Times, “Plane Explodes At Base”, May 26, 1958  


Off Sandwich, MA – June 24, 1956

Off Sandwich, Massachusetts – June 24, 1956


F-94 Fighter Jet U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Fighter Jet
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the evening of June 24, 1956, a flight of three F-94 Starifre jets left Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, en-route to Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  When they arrived at Otis they encountered poor weather conditions, and Otis tower held off their landing.  As the F-94’s circled in a three-jet formation, two of the jets ran out of fuel and crashed into the sea. 

     The pilot and radar observer of one jet were rescued after they bailed out over the ocean.  The pilot of the second plane was not recovered.  (His aircraft did not have a radar observer aboard.)      

     A Coast Guard helicopter out of Boston taking part in the search and rescue operations crashed in Boston Harbor where it encountered thick fog upon its return.  Two crewmen were rescued, a third was lost.

     No names were listed in the source article.

     Source: New York Times, “Two Jet Planes Crash”, June 25, 1956  

Boston, MA – June 26, 1987

Boston, Massachusetts – June 26, 1987

     On June 26, 1987, a twin-engine Piper Senica was approaching Logan Airport in heavy fog conditions when it crashed three miles short of the runway in a Boston residential neighborhood.  Although the pilot never radioed he was having a problem with the aircraft, one witness told reporters that he heard the engine sputtering before the crash.

     The aircraft struck a three-story home on Lonsdale Street in the city’s Dorchester section and exploded.  The resulting fire spread to three homes, and burned several cars.  The 21-year-old pilot was killed, and three people on the ground suffered burns, one critically.


     New York Times, “Airplane Plunges Into Boston Home”, June 27, 1987

Vineyard Sound – August 10, 1952

Vineyard Sound – August 10, 1952

Between Martha’s Vineyard and Falmouth, Massachusetts


F-94 Fighter Jet U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Fighter Jet
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On August 10, 1952, a U. S. Air Force F-94 fighter jet piloted by Captain Hobart R. Gay, 28, took off from Otis Air Force base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, for a training flight.  As he was returning to base, Gay radioed for landing instructions.  Just afterwards, a Coast Guard watchman reported seeing his aircraft suddenly plunge into the water of Vineyard Sound and disappear. 

     The crash was also witnessed by a Falmouth auxiliary policeman who reported he saw a “streak of light” drop from the sky.

     A search and rescue mission was immediately launched, but all that was found was an oil slick, and fragments of Captain Gay’s aircraft.  His body was never recovered.  

     Captain Gay was a 1946 graduate of West Point.  He flew 105 combat missions in Korea, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross, and Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters.

     He was survived by his wife Jane, and his son, Hobart R. Gay III. 


     New York Times, “Jet Crash Victim Found To be Hero”, August 12, 1952

     Falmouth Enterprise, “Auxiliary Policeman Sees Jet Plane Fall”, August 15, 1952






Seekonk, MA – August 14, 1932

Seekonk, MA – August 14, 1932

Green Farm – Seekonk

     On August 14, 1932, a Fairchild monoplane took off from Hillsgrove Airport in Warwick, R. I. with two men aboard for a sight seeing flight.  The pilot, Edward Abrams, 35, of Rehoboth, Massachusetts, had rented the airplane and was considering buying it.  Abrams had been giving rides in the airplane, and on this particular flight he was carrying Roland Holmes, 30, also of Rehoboth.

     As the plane passed over Seekonk, Massachusetts, according to the newspaper account, the pilot “attempted to execute a left spiral movement, and in doing so lost flying speed and sent the plane into a left spin at an altitude of less than 300 feet.”  The plane crashed on the Green Farm in Seekonk, about a quarter mile from the “Providence Airport” which is believed to be the What Cheer Airport in Pawtucket, as Providence didn’t have an airport.

     Roland Holmes was killed in the crash, and Edward Abrams suffered a fractured skull, and it was reported that he may not recover.

Source: Woonsocket Call, “Plane Passenger Killed In Crash; Pilot Is Injured”, August 15, 1932



Chatham, MA – July 11, 1949

Chatham, Massachusetts – July 11, 1949


Republic F-84C - U.S. Air Force Photo

Republic F-84C – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 12, 1949, 2nd Lt. William M. King, 25, of Kenmore, N.Y., was piloting an F-84 Thunderjet (Ser. No. 47-1475) on a gunnery practice mission over Cape Cod, Massachusetts, when he crashed on Monomy Point in the town of Chatham and was killed.   

     King was assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing at Otis Air Force Base.

     Source: New York Times, “Pilot Killed In Jet Crash”, July 12, 1949   

Taunton, MA – October 11, 1920

Taunton, Massachusetts – October 11, 1920

     On October 11, 1920, a plane piloted by Lt. Frederick Smith took off from Fall River, Mass. headed for Taunton.  While en-route, the engine suddenly stopped.  The aircraft fell 1,000 feet before crashing into a tree in Taunton.  Both Smith, and his passenger, Russell H. Leonard, a Fall River mill owner, escaped with minor injuries.    


     Falmouth Enterprise, “Aviator Smith In Accident”, October 16, 1920

     American Wool & Cotton Reporter, October 21, 1920 page(s) (65) 3721

Barnstable, MA – August 31, 1921

Barnstable, Massachusetts – August 31, 1921

     On August 31, 1921, a balloon ascension and parachute jump demonstration was scheduled to be given at the Barnstable fair grounds in celebration of Governor’s Day. 

     As the balloon stood fully inflated before a crowd of 20,000 people, someone erroneously gave the order for it to be released without making sure it was safe to do so.  As it rose from the ground, 22-year-old Edward Wolfe of New Bedford became entangled in one of the ropes and was  pulled upwards by his legs.  Wolf managed to quickly free himself and fell about ten feet to the ground suffering numerous bumps and bruises. 

     Meanwhile the balloon continued upwards with 22-year-old A. Morin, the parachutist, still aboard.  At the proper altitude, Morin jumped and deployed his chute, but when he was barely 100 feet above the ground, the wind tore his parachute, sending him plummeting onto a hillside where he broke his right leg and several ribs. 

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Mishaps Mar Balloon Ascension At Fair”, September 3, 1921   


Atlantic Ocean – June 29, 1948

Atlantic Ocean – June 29, 1948

Near “No Man’s Land” Island, Martha’s Vineyard


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

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

     On June 29, 1948, a Grumman Hellcat which had been converted into a remote control drone was launched from Otis Air Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts, for a test flight.  Once airborne the aircraft was controlled by equipment aboard the U.S.S. Providence sailing in Buzzards Bay off Falmouth.  After flying over portions of Massachusetts and Rhode Island it went out to sea where it failed to respond to further signals from the Providence.  It crashed in the ocean near “No Man’s Land” Island, off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.  The total flight covered nearly 190 miles.    

     Parts of the wrecked aircraft were later recovered by fishing boat in the area and turned over to the Coast Guard.   The aircraft had been painted red as part of the conversion.

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Radio-Controlled Target Plane Crashes Into Bay”, July 2, 1948


Provincetown, MA – February 21, 1961

Provincetown, Massachusetts – February 21, 1961

     On February 21, 1961, Manuel Phillips was piloting a small private plane over the Provincetown area while his passenger, John D. Bell, was taking photographs, when the plane suddenly went down nose first into the water just off Long Point.  Both men were rescued and neither was seriously hurt. 

     Bell had been a staff photographer for the Falmouth Enterprise from November, 1955, until the summer of 1957.     

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Photographer Hurt In Airplane Crash”, February 24, 1961

Falmouth, MA – May 26, 1960

Falmouth, Massachusetts – May 26, 1960

Coonamessett Airport

     On the morning of May 26, 1960, Carl D. Jeschke, was practicing a landing approach at Coonamessett Airport in Falmouth, when the Aeronca Champ he was piloting suddenly lost power and crashed behind “the Knollwood” on Boxberry Hill Road.  Although the plane was heavily damaged, Jeschke was unhurt.

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Pilot Unhurt As Light Plane Crashes”, May 27, 1960



Naushon Island, MA – January 1, 1939

Naushon Island, Massachusetts – January 1, 1939

     On January 1, 1939, an aircraft with two men aboard left New Bedford Airport around 11:00 a.m., en-route to Nantucket.  The plane was piloted by Samuel N. Sweet; his passenger was William G. Barlow.   

     After leaving Nantucket, the engine began to sputter, so Sweet landed at Oak Bluffs Airport on Martha’s Vineyard to have the problem attended to. 

     “Everything seemed in order,” Sweet later told reporters, “so we headed for the mainland. We were flying at 2,000 feet over Naushon Island when the motor froze because an oil line became plugged.  I dropped her to 1,500 feet to regain speed, but couldn’t come out of the stall.  I looked about for a suitable landing place and spotted a golf course at the Moors.  Our glide carried us easily, but train tracks and telephone wires loomed up as I was about to land.  I didn’t dare go under because of the tracks, so when the plane was eight or ten feet from the ground I pulled the nose up and let her drop.” 

     Both men suffered non-life-threatening head injuries in the crash.   

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Plane Crashes At The Moors”, January 6, 1939

Falmouth, MA – July 15, 1951

Falmouth, Massachusetts – July 15, 1951

     On July 15, 1951, a two-passenger Luscombe trainer aircraft took off from Coonamessett Airport, (A small airport in Falmouth), for a sight seeing flight over the area.  As the pilot, Harold A. Fasick Jr. was flying over the home of his passenger, Larry Sands, the engine suddenly quit, and the plane crashed near St. Anthony’s Church in East Falmouth.  Neither of the two men were hurt. 

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Pilot Is Fines After Crack-up In East Falmouth”, August 10, 1951.   


Marlborough, MA – September 20, 1948

Marlborough, Massachusetts – September 20, 1948

     On September 20, 1948, the Democratic candidate for Governor of Massachusetts, Paul A. Dever, and Democratic candidate for treasurer, John E. Hurley, were on an airplane headed from Boston to Great Barrington when they encountered severe thunderstorms and made an emergency landing at Marlboro Airport.  Upon landing, the pilot overshot the runway and crashed into a fence heavily damaging the airplane.  Dever and Hurley were unhurt.

    Dever won the election, and served as Governor from January 6, 1949, to January 8, 1953.


     New York Times, “Dever Safe In Air Crash”, September 21, 1948.


Wachusett Mountain – November 28, 1963

Wachusett Mountain – November 28, 1963

Princeton, Massachusetts

     On the evening of November 28, 1963, four University of St. Louis students were killed when their Cessna 182 crashed into the side of fog shrouded Wachusett Mountain.  The plane took off from Worcester Airport en-route to Boston at 6:01 p.m. and the crash occurred about twenty minutes later.    

     The dead were identified as:

     John Apez, 18, of Orland Park, Ill.

     Alfred Pitt, 19, of Staten Island, N.Y.

     Henry Katz, 18, of Worcester, MA.

     Glenn Bridgman, 18, of Blackstone, VA.

Source: The Lewiston Daily Sun, “Four Die In Mass Airplane Crash” November 29, 1963.    

Martha’s Vineyard – January 6, 1945

Martha’s Vineyard – January 6, 1945


U.S. Navy TBM Avengers  National Archives Photo

U.S. Navy TBM Avengers
National Archives Photo

     Just after midnight on the morning of January 6, 1945, navy Lieutenant Robert L. deVeer was making a night training flight from Martha’s Vineyard to Otis Air Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts, when his plane, a TBM Avenger, went down in a wooded area near the Mayhew Memorial Chapel in North Tisbury, on Martha’s Vineyard.  Although seriously injured, deVeer was able to extricate himself from the burning wreckage.  He was transported to Chelsea Naval Hospital for treatment.  

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Injured Flyer Has Home Here”, January 12, 1945


Douglas, MA – August 31, 1990

Douglas, Massachusetts – August 31, 1990

     At 2:30 p.m., a single-engine Piper Cub left Danielson Airport in Connecticut for a sight seeing trip over Connecticut and Massachusetts.  The flight went well until the plane developed engine trouble shortly after 4 p.m. while over Douglas, Mass.  The pilot attempted to make an emergency landing in a field, but clipped some tree tops and crashed near the Whitins Reservoir in an area known as Cottage Colony.    

     The plane suffered extensive damage, but the occupants, John Bouchard and Donald Hoeing were not injured. 

     Source: Woonsocket Call, “2 Men Labeled ‘Lucky’ For Walking Away From Douglas Plane Crash”, September 1, 1990, Pg. 1


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


Mystery WWII Aircraft – Martha’s Vineyard – 1958

Mystery WWII Aircraft – Martha’s Vineyard – 1958

Updated July 13, 2017


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

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

     On July 8, 1958, a fishing boat out of New Bedford, Mass. was dragging its nets off the western coast of Martha’s Vineyard when the nets snagged the wreckage of a WWII era navy aircraft.  The boat dragged the wreck to shallow waters about a quarter mile off an area locally known as Menemsha Bight, then placed a marker buoy on it, before proceeding to port at the Vineyard.

     There the captain of the boat encountered three divers at the dock, and asked one of them to check the condition of his boat propeller because he felt the snarled nets may have damaged it.  Afterwards, the divers, Percy Kingsley, of Cranston, R. I., James Cahill, of Danvers, Mass., and Bradford W. Luther Jr., of Fairhaven, Mass., went to explore the wreck.  

     The wreck was in about 15 feet of water, and heavily encrusted with marine life, which obscured any identification numbers, but the paint colors established it as a navy plane.  In the cockpit they found human bones, some of which they collected, along with an oxygen mask, a flying boot, and what may have been a life raft, and turned them over to the Coast Guard.     

     A navy salvage vessel out of Quonset Point, Rhode Island, was dispatched to the scene to attempt to raise the wreck.  Divers from the salvage boat identified the wreck as a Grumman Hellcat of World War II vintage.  However, it was not specifically stated in the newspaper articles whether or not the plane was actually recovered.  If the marine life could be removed, the identification numbers from the tail would identify the aircraft, and who had been flying it. 

     However, recovery of the wreck may have been possible, and it may have been photographed instead, because it was reported that photographs of the plane’s instrument panel had been forwarded to Washington for further identification.  

     The bones recovered from the cockpit were sent to Quonset Point Naval Air Station where it was reported that the senior medical officer, Captain M. H. Goodwin, planned to seek instructions from the Navy Bureau of Medicine.   (This was in a time long before DNA testing was available.)

     The Quonset public information officer told reporters that there had been only one inquiry about the remains found, and it came firm a man whom the navy did not identify, but said a member of his family had been lost during the war on a flight from his air craft carrier to Quonset Point. 

      As of this writing, the name of the pilot is unknown.  


     Providence Journal, “Remains Of Unknown Plane, Pilot Found”, July 9, 1958, Pg. 14

     Providence Journal, “Identification Of Pilot Sought”, July 12, 1958, Pg. 2      

     Vineyard Gazette, “Final Chapter In One Or More Plane Crashes Near”, July 14, 1958



Boston Airport – June 28, 1942

Boston Airport – June 28, 1942

Updated March 7, 2016


P-40 Warhawk  U.S. Air Force Photo

P-40 Warhawk
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On June 28, 1942, 2nd Lt. Albert J. Wiebe was on a formation training flight over the Boston area when his aircraft, a P-40E, (Ser. No. 40-539) developed engine trouble.  He left the formation to return to Boston Airport.  As he was making his approach to land when his plane lost power and crashed.  Lt. Wiebe did not survive.

      Lt. Wiebe was from West New York, New Jersey.  He enlisted in September of 1941, and received his commission on April 23, 1942.  He was survived by his wife.    

     At the time of his death he was assigned to the 64th Fighter Squadron.


     New York Times, “4 Army Fliers Die In Ohio”, June 29, 1942  (The article covered more than one accident.)

     U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident, dated July 12, 1942

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.)

     Aviation Cadet Ellsworth Benson, 26, of Newton, Mass.  (Naval Reserve) Buried in Arlington, National Cemetery, Section 6, Site 9183.

     Aviation Chief Carpenters Mate Walter Kirk, 40, of Quincy, Mass. (Naval Reserve)

     Aviation Chief Machinists Mate John Ausiello, 35, of Revere, Mass.


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


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

Turners Falls, MA – September 20, 1943

Turners Falls, Massachusetts – September 20, 1943

     At about 3:00 p.m., on September 20, 1943, a Pitcairn PCA-3 Autogyro, NC11612 took off from Turners Falls Airport in Montague, Massachusetts, and crashed about a half hour afterwards about one mile west-northwest of the airport.  The pilot, Donald Whitman was seriously injured.

     Whitman was test flying the aircraft for the Department of Agriculture, flying low at tree-top level to simulate aerial spraying which was what the autogyro was to be used for.  At one point the landing gear snagged some electrical wires which caused the accident.    The wires were stretched between poles which were partially hidden by dense foliage. 

     Source: Civil Aeronautics Investigation Report 4066-43, May 19, 1944.



Nantucket Sound – April 3, 1945

Nantucket Sound, Massachusetts – April 3, 1945     

Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz

Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz


The F6F-5 Hellcat flown by Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz undergoing restoration at the Quonset Air Museum in R.I.  Photo taken June, 2008.

The F6F-5 Hellcat flown by Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz undergoing restoration at the Quonset Air Museum in R.I. Photo taken June, 2008.

     On April 3, 1945, a flight of seven U.S. Navy Hellcats were on a training mission off the coast of Nantucket when one suffered a loss of oil pressure; an F6F-5, Bu. No. 70185.   The pilot, Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz, notified the flight leader of his predicament, and was ordered to land at Martha’s Vineyard, and began heading that way.  While en-route, the engine seized, and he was forced to ditch in the water.  Frankwitz scrambled from the plane before it sank, and was seen bobbing in the 42 degree water for the next twenty minutes.  Rescue craft were launched, but Ensign Frankwitz succumbed to hypothermia before help could arrive, and his body sank beneath the waves.  It was never recovered.

     On August 13, 1993, a Massachusetts Army National Guard helicopter was flying over Nantucket Sound when the crew chief saw what he thought was an aircraft wreck on the ocean floor.  The Coast Guard was notified, and investigation revealed that the wreck was an old one, draped with fishing nets.      

A portion of the Hellcat flown by Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz, removed during restoration, with the original blue paint still visible - Quonset Air Museum

A portion of the Hellcat flown by Ensign Vincent A. Frankwitz, removed during restoration, with the original blue paint still visible – Quonset Air Museum

      Later in 1993, the aircraft was identified by Larry Webster, an aviation archeologist and historian with the Quonset Air Museum in Rhode Island, as likely being the one flown by Ensign Frankwitz.   Divers who examined the wreck later confirmed this to be the case.    

     The  Hellcat was in remarkably good condition despite its years in salt water.  On December 4, 1993, the aircraft was raised and brought to Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, where it was carefully dismantled before it was shipped to the Quonset Air Museum for restoration.    

     As of this writing, the Hellcat is still undergoing restoration, and when it’s completed, it will serve as a memorial to Ensign Frankwitz, and all Navy and Marine airmen who lost their lives in WWII.   

     Update: The Quonset Air Museum has permanently closed.  What became of the partially restored aircraft is unknown. 

      The name of Ensign Frankwitz can be found on the Charlestown Auxiliary Landing Field  memorial in Ninigret Park, in Charlestown, Rhode Island.  


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