Billerica, MA – February 16, 1980

Billerica, Massachusetts – February 16, 1980

     At 2:10 p.m., on February 16, 1980, a Bristol Britannia 253-F, four-engine turbo-prop cargo plane (Registration # G-BRAC)  with eight people aboard left Logan International Airport in Boston bound for Shannon Airport in Ireland.  The plane was carrying computer equipment, and its tanks were topped off with 6,650 pounds of fuel.  (Some news accounts indicate there was 10,000 pounds of fuel, but the UK crash report states 6,650.)  

     It was foggy and snowing at the time the plane left Logan, with a 400 foot overcast, and 1/2 mile visibility.  Icing conditions as well as air turbulence had been reported by other pilots.   

     Shortly after becoming airborne the pilot reported he was having trouble climbing.  As the flight was passing over the town of Billerica, Massachusetts, a community just northwest of Boston, it suddenly lost altitude and crashed in a thickly wooded area behind a business on Route 3A.   The plane cut a huge swath through the trees and exploded.  

     Seven of those aboard were killed.  The sole survivor, Richard Creer, 59, of Dorset, England, was found by first responders, and transported in critical condition to St. John’s Hospital in Lowell, Massachusetts. (Today known as Saints Memorial Medical Center.)  He eventually recovered from his injuries.

     The cause of the crash was attributed to ice and snow buildup on the wings.

     The dead, all British citizens, were identified as:

     (Pilot) Capt. William Coburn, of Lechlade-on-Thames.

     (1st Officer) Jack Jones, of Malmesbury, Wilts.

     (Navigator) Anthony Beckett, of Hove, Sussex.

     (Load Master) David White, of Milton Keynes, Bucks.

     (Ground Engineer) William Brady, of Luton Beds.

     (Load Agent) Lionel Heady, of Charlwood, Surrey.

     (Passenger) Mrs. Sharon Parker, of Lyneham, Wilts.

     Mr. Creer, the sole survivor, was the Flight Engineer.

     The aircraft was owned by Redcoat Air Cargo Ltd. which ceased operations in 1982.  


     The Providence Sunday Journal, “Cargo Plane Crashes Near Boston; 7 Killed”, February 17, 1980, Page A-1

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Doctors For Crash Survivor Call It Miracle”, February 18, 1980, Page A-12 (With photo of crash scene.)

     UK Government- Air Accident Investigation Branch – Report # 3/1981

     Ocala Star-Banner, “Six Die In Plane Crash At Boston”, February 17, 1980 

     Glasgo Herald, “Crash Plane Took Off In Snow Storm”, February 18, 1980

     Boston Globe, “30 Years Later, Fatal Plane Crash Still A Vivid Memory”, February 11, 2010. 

     Lowell Sun, “Remembering The Billerica Plane Crash of 1980”, February 16, 2010

     Aviation Safety Network

     Wikipedia- Redcoat Air Cargo Ltd.


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



Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲