Attleboro, MA. – July 31, 1907

Attleboro, Massachusetts – July 31, 1907

    The last week of July was Old Home Week in the town of Attleboro, Massachusetts, and part of the celebration included balloon ascensions. 

     On July 31, aeronaut William Canfield was scheduled to make a balloon ascension and parachute drop from Capron Park.  When he tried to lift off, the balloon didn’t rise due to a malfunction with the  hand flap to which the parachute was attached.  Its probable that there was also a strong wind blowing for instead of rising, the balloon tilted and was dragged along the ground until it crashed into three small trees.  Canfield was thrown from the balloon, reportedly “with great force”, and knocked unconscious.  He was carried to a nearby home on County Street where he received medical attention.

     Canfield responded to the treatment, and an hour later announced that he still wanted to make the ascension, but this idea was overruled by the committee sponsoring the event.     


     The News-Democrat, (Providence, R.I.), August 1, 1907.

Barnes Airport – Westfield, MA.

Barnes Airport – Westfield, Massachusetts

Click on image to enlarge.

Vintage postcard view of Barnes Airport, Westfield, Massachusetts

Vintage Postcard View of Barnes Airport.

Hyannis, MA. – August 9, 1946

Hyannis, Massachusetts – August 9, 1946


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

On August 9, 1946, a navy Lieutenant (Jg.) was taking off from Hyannis Airport in a Grumman F6F Hellcat fighter plane when the aircraft suddenly went into a roll and crashed just after leaving the ground.  The unidentified pilot was badly burned in the accident, and the aircraft was destroyed.  The pilot was found about forty feet from the burning plane, and was transported to the hospital via ambulance. 

     Source: Cape Cod Standard Times, “Navy Pilot Badly Hurt As Plane Crashes, Burns Near Hyannis.”, August 9, 1946, page 1. 


Northampton, Mass. C-54 Crash Memorial

Northampton, Mass. C-54 Crash Memorial

Located at Florence Road and Old Wilson Road, Northampton, Mass.  

To learn more about this accident, click here: Northampton, MA. – 1948

Photos taken May 3, 2018.

Click on images to enlarge.

Memorial at the crash site.
Established 1999.

Granby, MA. – February 1, 1965

Granby, Massachusetts – February 1, 1965


F-86 Sabre – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On February 1, 1965, a flight of three Massachusetts Air National Guard F-86 Sabre jets left Tampa, Florida, to return to Barnes Airport  in Westfield, Massachusetts, after completing aerial gunnery training.  As the aircraft entered the New England area they encountered a snowstorm and were diverted to Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts.  There, the three planes circled the Westover Field area for about fifteen minutes, according to a husband and wife who lived Granby, Massachusetts, a town to the northeast of Chicopee.  As they watched the planes, one was seen to crash and explode in a gravel pit located in a wooded area, about 1,000 feet from the nearest home.  The witnesses said it was still snowing heavily at the time of the accident.  

     The downed aircraft, (Ser. No. 0-22019), had been piloted by Major James Romanowicz, age 45, of the 104th Tactical Fighter Group of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.   

     Major Romanowicz was a veteran aviator, having served as an army pilot during World War II with the 10th Tactical Fighter Group.  He’d been serving with the Massachusetts Air National Guard since 1948, and had been rated a command pilot since 1959.   He’s buried in Gethsemane Cemetery in Athol, Massachusetts.  He left behind a wife and six children.

     The other two aircraft landed safely.


     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Pilot Killed By Jet Crash In Mass. Town”, Date unknown., memorial #89990193

     Springfield Union, “Athol Pilot Loses Life In F-86 Crash In Granby”, February 2, 1965

Southampton, MA – July 18, 1964

Southampton, Massachusetts – July 18, 1964


F-86 Sabre – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 18, 1964, a flight of four Massachusetts Air National Guard F-86 Sabre jets were returning to Barnes Airport after a gunnery training mission.  One of the Sabre’s was piloted by Captain John H. Paris, 33, of Newburgh, New York. 

     As the jets approached the airfield, Paris’s aircraft suddenly lost power and dropped out of formation.  Captain Paris ejected, but his parachute failed to open.  He fell into Pequot Pond and was killed.

     Meanwhile, his F-86 came regained level flight and belly land on its own in an open field about 2 miles northeast of the north end of Runway 20 at Barnes Airport; about 700 feet east of Ross Road.   The aircraft sustained major damage but there was no fire.

     Captain Paris was part of the 131st Fighter Squadron.   


     Providence Journal, (R.I.), “Flier Killed In Crash As Thousands Watch”, July 19, 1964

     Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I. 

Atlantic Ocean – May 1, 1958

Atlantic Ocean – May 1, 1958


Douglas AD-4N Skyraider
Naval History And Heritage Command

    On May 1, 1958, U.S. Navy Lieutenant(jg.) Willaim C. Cox, 25, of Wickford, Rhode Island, was piloting a Douglas AD-5 Skyraider on a training flight off Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts.  At 11:30 a.m. he reported that he had an emergency and was bailing out from an altitude of 2,000 feet.  No position was given. 

     Two witnesses reported seeing the plane go down in Vineyard Sound about 8 miles west of Martha’s Vineyard, about half way between Noman’s Land and Cuttyhunk Islands, but did not see a parachute.  A search was instituted, but neither Lt. Cox or his aircraft were recovered.     


     Cape Cod Standard Times, “Navy Plane, Body Found Off Vineyard”, July 10, 1958.   This headline refers to a WWII navy Hellcat that was found in the waters off Martha’s Vineyard with the pilot’s remains still inside.  The last part of the article mentions Lieutenant (jg.) Cox’s accident.   The two incidents were not related.

Plymouth, MA. – October 5, 1943

Plymouth, Massachusetts – October 5, 1943


F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On October 5, 1943, navy Lieutenant John H. Sandor was descending from a high altitude flight over Cape Cod in an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 26127), when he noticed that the oil pressure for his engine had dropped to 50 pounds.  Normal oil pressure readings should have been between 80 to 95 pounds.  Sandor began preparations for an emergency landing, and steered for an auxiliary air field in Plymouth.  As he was making his approach the oil pressure continued to drop even further and then the propeller suddenly froze as the engine seized.   The aircraft came down and struck some small trees before flipping over onto its back.  Although the aircraft was severely damaged, Lieutenant Sandor escaped with minor injuries.    


     U.S. Navy Accident Report #44-8941

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    

Boston, MA. – October 6, 1915

Boston, Massachusetts – October 6, 1915


     As of the is posting, very little information is available about this accident.

     On October 6, 1915, Elmer Olsen, a parachute jumper from Boston, was scheduled to perform at a fair somewhere in Boston.  His act included ascending in a hot air balloon to a considerable height before jumping with seven parachutes, each to be used in succession until he reached the ground.  As he was discarding one chute in preparation of opening the next, something went wrong, and he fell to his death.


     Hartford Courant, (Conn.), “Parachute Jumper Killed”, October 7, 1915  

Chelsea, MA – June 17, 1839

Chelsea, Massachusetts – June 17, 1839 

     Louis Anselm Lauriat, (c. 1786 – c. 1857), was a Boston aeronaut who reportedly made 48 balloon ascensions during his lifetime.  He was born in Marseilles, France, and came to America in the early 1800s, where he settled in Boston and established a business at the corner of Washington and Springfield Streets in Boston producing gold leaf.  He also developed an interest in science and balloons, and began making ascensions of his own. 

     The following article appeared in the Vermont Phoenix on June 28, 1839, referring to an ill fated balloon ascension made by Lauriat on June 17, 1839.   The article had first appeared in the Boston Transcript.


     The wind was West North West, with a strong breeze, when Mr. Lauriat ascended in his balloon from Chelsea yesterday afternoon; and as he rose from the garden of the Chelsea House, where the balloon was inflated, he was driven by the force of the wind against branches of a tree, and five of the cords by which the cars were attached to the aerostat were severed, and Mr. Lauriat was in imminent danger of being thrown out, – the balloon, however, was wafted on, at a low elevation, towards Shirley Point, where Mr. L endeavored to effect a landing, and letting off a portion of the gas, descended to the ground.  The balloon was dragged some distance and came in contact with another tree, by which two more cords were severed, and left it retained only by a part of the netting.

     There was no assistance at hand, and the balloon, after being disengaged from the tree, was dragged, in despite of all Mr. L’s efforts to stop its progress, into the water, and continued skipping over the surface, sometimes completely immersing the aeronaut in the water, and again elevating him a hundred (feet) in the air.  There were several vessels in the bay which endeavored to assist him, but were unable to reach him.  The balloon was driven some eight or ten miles from land, and Mr. L became faint, discouraged at the moment by anticipation of a watery grave.  In this perilous condition he continued until Capt. Paine of the schooner Fame, which was coming up the bay, discovered his situation, and launched a boat, which was rowed to his assistance, and happily, the progress of the balloon was intercepted, and the aeronaut rescued, just as the balloon rolled from the netting, and soared “free and unconfined,” away, and was soon lost to view.

     Mr. Lauriat was kindly received on board the schooner and carried to Gloucester, where he arrived about 9 o’clock.  As he was very anxious to return home immediately, Mr. Mason, of the Stage House, generously conveyed him to Lynn, where he arrived at 1 o’clock this morning, pretty well satisfied, we hope, that ballooning is not the best mode of making gold leaf.


     Another source (see below) lists the captain of the schooner as being a Captain John Pierce, not Paine, of Welfleet, Massachusetts. Lauriat was reportedly dragged through the sea for one hour and fifteen minutes over a distance of thirty miles in the direction of Cape Ann, Massachusetts, which is located north of Boston.   

     The balloon was not recovered, and was said to have cost $1,000, which was a huge sum of money in 1839. 


        Two years before the above incident, Mr. Lauriat may have been the first to use a balloon to drop leaflets.  The following news brief appeared in the (New York) Morning Herald, July 17, 1837,

     “Temperance Shower – Lauriat, at his last balloon ascension, distributed a shower of temperance tracts on the country around Boston.  This cold water shower had a very reviving effect upon the friends of the cause.  The utility of aerial navigation can no longer be questioned.”   


     On June 17th, 1840, Lauriat made his 34th balloon ascension from Boston, and was in the air for nearly two hours.  

     Click here for more articles about Louis Lauriat.


     Vermont Phoenix, “The Balloon – Perilous Voyage”, June 28, 1839 

     Lauriat’s – 1872 to 1922, “Being a Sketch of Early Boston Booksellers With Some Account of Charles E. Lauriat Company and its Founder, Charles E. Lauriat.”, Written for the Boston Evening Transcript by George H. Sargent, 1922.    

     Morning Herald, (New York) July 17, 1837     

     The Pilot And Transcript, June 22, 1840

Quincy, MA – August 30, 1910

Quincy, Massachusetts – August 30, 1910 

     On August 30, 1910, well known Kansas City aviator, Horace Kearney, was taking part in the Boston-Harvard Aero Meet being held at the Atlantic Aviation Field in Quincy, when he was involved in an airplane crash.  

     Shortly before the accident, Mr. Kearney had made a successful test flight with his Pfitzner monoplane and reached an altitude of 70 feet over the field before landing safely.

     On his second flight he rose to 25 feet, and began practicing some dips and rises to see how the aircraft would handle.  As he was doing so a strong gust of wind caught the aircraft and sent it into a spin.  The front of the airplane smashed into the ground and splintered, and the wheels were broken.  The rest of the plane was thought to be salvageable, but it would take time to make repairs. 

     Mr. Kearney survived with bumps and bruises. 

     Mr. Kearney later lost his life in another aviation accident in 1912 in the water off California. 


     The Bridgeport Evening Farmer, “Horace Kearney’s Aero Plane Wrecked At Opening Of Boston-Harvard Meet”, August 31, 1910 





Brockton, MA – October 6, 1915

Brockton, Massachusetts – October 6, 1915 


   balloon  On the afternoon of October 6, 1915, two men, Emil Olsen, and Berton Eager, were scheduled to give performances at the Brockton Fair by jumping from a balloon using parachutes.  Eager went first, rising to the appointed altitude and making a successful drop.

     About an hour later it was Olsen’s turn.  As an estimated crowd of 35,000 people looked on, Olsen rose from the fairgrounds after declaring that he was going to do his friend “one better”.   His plan was to jump using four parachutes, only using one at a time. 

     After the balloon had risen to several thousand feet, Olsen made his jump.  The first parachute opened perfectly, which he then dropped away from and opened the second, which also opened as it should.  The third did likewise, but for some reason the fourth failed to open while Olsen was still about 5,000 feet in the air.  At first the crowd though it was all part of the act, but after a few seconds realized something was wrong.  Olsen plummeted to the ground and landed in an open area just outside the fairgrounds.   

     Mr. Olsen was 22-years-old, and lived at 244 Shawmut Avenue, Boston, Mass.

     Source: Vermont Phoenix, “Killed At Brockton Fair”, October 8, 1915

Hyannis Airport – Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Hyannis Airport – Cape Cod, Massachusetts

     The airport opened n 1928.  It was expanded and used by the military during World War II.   Although located in the town of Hyannis, Massachusetts, today it is known as Barnstable Municipal Airport.  

Vintage Post Card View Of Hyannis Airport Hyannis, Massachusetts - Cape Cod

Vintage Post Card View Of Hyannis Airport
Hyannis, Massachusetts – Cape Cod

Postcard view showing a Northeast Airlines plane.

Postcard view showing a Northeast Airlines plane.

Saugus, MA – June 6, 1918

Saugus, Massachusetts – June 6, 1918

     On June 6, 1918, U.S. Army Lieutenant Torrey H. Webb was piloting a Curtis JN-4H “Jenny” airplane, (#39366) from New York to Franklin Field, (a.k.a. Atwood Field) in Saugus, Massachusetts.  The purpose of the flight was to deliver sacks of mail containing 4,400 letters, weighing 228 pounds. 

     It was reported that this flight marked the first New York to Boston aerial mail service.

     Lt. Webb made the historic trip in three hours and twenty-two minutes by following the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad tracks.  While en-route his compass developed a malfunction, so he landed briefly at Shailerville, Connecticut, a village within the town of Haddam, to make repairs.   After adjusting the compass, Webb took off again for Saugus.  Upon landing at Saugus, the wheels of his aircraft sank into soft ground causing the plane to abruptly nose over and toss Webb and his mechanic, Raymond Heck, from their seats.  Neither was injured.  The aircraft was sufficiently damaged to prevent an immediate return to the air.

     The mail was taken to Boston by automobile.

     A photograph of this accident can be seen at Digital Commonwealth. (Click on site below)

1918 Hamilton Watch Advertisement mentioning Torrey Webb as one of the aviators who wore a Hamilton watch.


     (Norwich CT.) Norwich Bulletin, “First New York – Boston Airplane Mail Service”, June 7, 1918

     The Sun, (New York), “Plane With Boston Mail Damaged When It Lands”, June 7, 1918 




Lynn, MA – October 21, 1915

Lynn, Massachusetts – October 21, 1915

     On October 21, 1921, two men took off in a bi-plane for an experimental flight from Lynn and flew out over nearby marshland where one of the wings suddenly folded.  The aircraft plunged from an altitude of  750 feet embedding itself deep into the soft mud of the marshes.   Both men were killed.   

     The dead were identified as J. Chauncey Redding of Melrose, Mass., and Phillip Bulman of Malden, Mass.      


     (Woonsocket) Evening Call, “Biplane Collapses, Two Aviators Dead”, October 22, 1915, Pg. 7

     Hartford Courant, (Conn.) “Two Men Killed By Fall Of Biplane”, October 22, 1915

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