Atlantic Ocean – June 6, 1983

Atlantic Ocean – June 6, 1983

Updated August 5, 2019.

      At 11:00 a.m. on June 6, 1983, a flight of three F-106 jet fighters took off from Otis Air National Guard Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, for a routine training flight.   All were part of the 101st Fighter Interceptor Squadron.

     Visibility at the time was described as “somewhat limited”.  The flight headed in a southerly direction towards the Atlantic ocean and climbed to an altitude of 12,000 feet.  Forty minutes later, as the flight was passing about 60 to 90 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, one of the aircraft was noticed to be missing from the formation.

     The two other pilots attempted to make radio contact with the missing aircraft but were unsuccessful, and it was assumed that the missing plane had gone down in the water.  A large scale search and rescue operation was immediately put into effect.     

    The missing pilot was Captain Allan John Lavoie, 31, of Barnstable, Mass.  It was reported that if he was able to eject from the airplane, that he could possibly make use of the life raft and other emergency supplies attached to the ejection seat.  It was further reported that in the event a pilot ejected, a special radio was supposed to begin transmitting, but no emergency radio signal was received.      

Captain Allan J. Lavoie

    The search and rescue operation involved aircraft from the Air Force, Navy, and Coast Guard, as well as military surface vessels, yet despite all efforts, no trace of the aircraft or Captain Lavoie was ever found. 

     Captain Lavoie left behind a wife and three children.


     Providence Evening Bulletin, “More Ships, Planes Join Hunt For Guard Flier Off Nantucket”, June 8, 1983, Page A9

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Search Ends For Air Guard Pilot As The Silent Sea Yields No Clue”, June 11, 1983, Page 1


Barnes Airport, MA. – October 19, 1952

Barnes Airport, Westfield, Mass. – October 19, 1952


F-86 Sabre – U.S. Air Force Photo

     Shortly before 4:00 p.m. on October 19, 1952, two F-86 Sabres were taking part in an airshow at Barnes Airport in Westfield, Massachusetts, when they were involved in a high-speed mid-air collision.  The planes disintegrated on impact killing both pilots instantly. 

     The men were identified as Captain Fred H. Stevens, 28, of Salem, Virginia, and 1st Lieutenant Robert H. Danell, 25, of Wakefield, Massachusetts.  

     Both pilots were assigned to the 131st Fighter Interceptor Squadron of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.

     The airshow was part of the airport dedication ceremonies, in which four F-86 jets had been taking part.  The accident occurred just after the four had completed a maneuver known as a “bombshell” in which the four jets would go into a steep climb and then peel away in different directions.  

     In October of 2012, sixty years after the accident, a memorial honoring Capt. Stevens and Lt. Danell was dedicated at Barnes Airport.   

     Source:  Unknown Massachusetts Newspaper, “2 Die As Jets Collide At Westfield”, October 20, 1952  

Westover Air Force Base – October 11, 1977

Westover Air Force Base – October 11, 1977


C-123K Cargo Plane
U. S. Air Force Photo

     On October 11, 1977, a Fairchild C-123 cargo aircraft was passing over central Massachusetts when the left engine caught fire.  There were three crewmen aboard: the pilot, Major Gale French, the co-pilot, Captain Richard Gavin, and crewman Staff Sergeant Gary Miller.     

    While Miller attempted to fight the fire, the aircraft was cleared for an emergency landing at Westover Air Force Base.  As the plane was rapidly descending, Miller lost contact with the cockpit, and bailed out.  He landed safely on a farm in Granby, Massachusetts, where he was picked up by a passing motorist and driven to Westover.     

     Meanwhile, the aircraft crash-landed nose down on the runway at Westover, and skidded for 3,000 feet before coming to rest.  All three men were transported to medical facilities for observation. 

     A firefighter was also hospitalized for smoke inhalation.  

     The crew were members of the 731st Tactical Airlift Squadron.

     Source: Springfield Union, “Four Injured In Flaming Westover Plane”, October 1977.

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