Off Scituate, MA. – February 6, 1940

Off Scituate, Massachusetts – February 6, 1940 

     On February 6, 1940, an army BT-9 trainer aircraft, (Ser. No. 38-251), with two men aboard, took off from Hyannis, Massachusetts, bound for Boston.  As the plane was making its way to Boston ice began to quickly form on the wings.  As the plane was passing off the coast of Scituate, Massachusetts, the pilot was forced to make an emergency water landing about a half-mile from shore.  Both the pilot, Lt. Arthur Tappan, (27), and his mechanic, William Andrews, 23, escaped before the plane sank in 50 feet of water.  Both men swam to a nearby rock and were rescued by a Coast Guard boat.   Neither had suffered any serious injury. 


     Record-Journal, “Army Plane Forced Down In Bay, Occupants Rescued”, February 7, 1940, pg.9.   (Article submitted by Eric Wiberg, author and historian.)   

Leicester, MA. – August 21, 1948

Leicester, Massachusetts – August 21, 1948

     On Friday, August 20, 1948, seven military aircraft left Mitchell Field on Long Island, N. Y., bound for the Worcester Airport in Worcester, Massachusetts to take part in an airshow over the weekend.  As one of the aircraft, (An F-61 “Black Widow”), neared Worcester Airport, the pilot, Lt. Col. Vinton E. Broidy, 33, radioed that he was having engine trouble.  A short while later the aircraft crashed and burned on a hill near the airport killing him instantly.     

     Lt. Col. Broidy had been in the service since 1939, and had served with the Air Transport Command in the China-Burma-India Theater during World War II.  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.


     The Evening Star, (Washington, D. C.) “District-Born Pilot Killed As F-61 Crashes In Massachusetts”, August 22, 1948 

Otis Field, MA. – September 19, 1946

Otis Field, Massachusetts – September 19, 1946


SB2C Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

On September 19, 1946, an navy SBW-5 Helldiver, (Bu. No. 60238), ground looped upon landing at Otis Field, causing severe damage to the aircraft, but the lone pilot was not injured. 

Buzzards Bay, MA. – February 13, 1950

Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts – February 13, 1950


Douglas Skyraider
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the morning of February 13, 1950, a flight of navy AD-3 Skyraider aircraft took off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island for a dive-bombing training flight over Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts, in the area of the Elizabeth Islands.  One of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 122849), was piloted by Midshipman Philip Kuehl. 

     At 10:02 a.m., Midshipman Kuehl was making a high-speed dive-bomb run at a surface target when his aircraft inexplicably crashed into the water  and exploded on impact in the area between Gull Island and Nashawena Island. (41-26N, 70-54W) 

     Neither the aircraft or the pilot were recovered.   The exact cause of the accident could not be determined by the naval investigation board.    

Philip Kuehl
High School graduation, 1946
Courtesy of Paul Kuehl.

 Midshipman Kuehl was assigned to VA-34 at Quonset Point NAS. 

     Source: U. S. Navy Accident Report dated February 13, 1950, courtesy of Paul D. Kuehl, nephew of the pilot.   

Otis Air Field, MA. – September 13, 1946

Otis Air Field, Massachusetts – September 13, 1946


TBM-3E Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On September 13, 1946, a group of several navy TBM Avengers were participating in a practice carrier landing training exercise during which each aircraft was making touch-and-go landings and take offs.  At one point, (Bu. No. 91437), made a perfect approach and landing, but just after take off went into a near vertical climb.  At the top of the climb the aircraft stalled and as it began to fall the pilot bailed out.  The aircraft crashed and exploded.  The pilot’s parachute deployed, but he suffered non-life-threatening injuries upon hitting the ground.  There was nobody else aboard the plane at the time of the accident.    

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-42.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated September 13, 1946. 

Atlantic Ocean – September 15, 1948

Atlantic Ocean – September 15, 1948

     On September 15, 1948, a navy FG-1D Corsair, (Bu. No. 66072), from the Squantum Naval Air Station in Massachusetts, was on a gunnery practice flight over the ocean about twelve miles east of Cape Cod. During the exercise the aircraft engine began running rough and the pilot,  Commander Willard T. Grove, was cleared to return to Squantum.  While at 7,000 feet the engine suddenly stopped and the pilot put the plane into a glide as he tried to restart the engine, but he was unsuccessful.  The pilot made an emergency landing in the water about four-and-a-half miles east of Cape Cod, and suffered serious injuries upon impact because the safety-harness lock failed.  He was rescued, but the aircraft was lost at sea.        The pilot was rescued while floating in a yellow life raft by Coastguardsmen using a DUCK vehicle under the command of Boatswain Mate 1c Arthur Silva and seaman 1c Joseph Sheahan.  Then a Coast Guard rescue plane arrived and the pilot was transferred to the aircraft and flown to Squantum NAS.  


     U. S. Navy accident report dated September 15, 1948. 

     The Provincetown Advocate, “Coast Guard Saves Pilot After Crash”, September 16, 1948

     The Provincetown Advocate, “Crash Pilot Identified”, September 23, 1948

Squantum, NAS – January 24, 1944

Squantum Naval Air Station – January 24, 1944


U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     On January 24, 1944, a SBD-5 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 28952), was returning to the Squantum Naval Air Station after a training flight.  As the aircraft approached the runway the pilot noted that the right landing gear had failed to come down.  The pilot began to circle the field and attempted to fix the problem but was unable to do so.  When his fuel ran low he was advised to make an emergency landing on one wheel, which he did.  The aircraft was damaged in the landing, but the crew was not injured.


     U. S. Navy accident report #44-11150, dated January 24,1944.    

Cape Cod Bay – May 8, 1944

Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts – May 8, 1944


TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of May 8, 1944, a TBM-1C Avenger, (Bu. No. 25500), was participating in a bomb-depth charge training flight over Cape Cod Bay.  The aircraft was carrying some 100 lb. bombs equipped with instantaneous fuses, and some depth charges equipped with 5-second delay fuses.  At 4:10 p.m., the pilot began a bomb run during which one of the bombs caused a fire in the bomb-bay.  As flames gushed forth from the open bomb-bay doors, the rest of the ordinance was jettisoned.  The aircraft was then seen to enter a steady glide and crash into the water.  The aircraft sank taking all aboard with it. 

     The navy identified the crew as follows:

     Pilot: Lt.(Jg.) Norwood H. Dobson, (27).  To see a photo of him, go to, view memorial #53923003.

     Gunner: AOM3/c John William Dahlstrom

     Radio Operator: ARM3/c Arthur N. Levesque 

     The crew was assigned to VT-7. 

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report #44-13855, dated May 8, 1944. 

Wilmington, MA. – May 23, 1946

Wilmington, Massachusetts – May 23, 1946


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

     On the morning of May 23, 1946, two U. S. Navy F6F-5N Hellcat aircraft took off from the Squantum Naval Air Station for a tactical training flight.  One of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 70927), was piloted by Ensign Stephen J. Pilcher, (22).  The other was piloted by his long-time friend, Ensign J. Thomas Holmes, (22).  Both men were from Wilmington, Massachusetts.  On this particular morning Ensign Pilcher hadn’t been scheduled to fly, and was filling in for another pilot. 

     The pilots proceeded to the area of their home town of Wilmington where they engaged in mock combat flight tactics over the town.  While doing so, hundreds of town residents stopped what they were doing to watch the aircraft go through their maneuvers.  

     At about noon, according to the U. S. Navy accident report, Ensign Pilcher’s aircraft was seen to enter a dive from approximately 1,800 feet and pull out while near the ground.  He then attempted to regain altitude and the plane went into a slow roll to the right before it nosed over and dove to the ground.  The aircraft exploded on impact killing Ensign Pilcher instantly. 

     Ensign Pilcher’s plane came down in a wooded area in Wilmington’s Nee Park section, between Cedar and Harris Streets. 

     Ensign Pilcher is buried in Wildwood Cemetery in Wilmington.  To see a photo of his grave go to and see memorial #174623672.   

     There had been no mid-air collision between the two aircraft.   

     After the accident Ensign Holmes returned to Squantum.    

     The F6F Hellcat piloted by Ensign Pilcher (Bu. No. 70927) had been involved in another accident on September 6, 1944.  To learn more, click here:  Quonset Point, R. I. – September 6, 1944


     U. S. Navy accident report dated May 23, 1946

     The Boston Globe, “2d Wilmington Man Companion Of crash Victim”, May 24, 1946

     Town Crier, (Wilmington, Mass.), “An American Patriot And Our Local Heroes”, November 14, 2001., memorial #174623672


Rockland, MA. – August 24, 1978

     Rockland, Massachusetts – August 24, 1978

     At 11:05 a.m., on August 23, 1978, a twin-engine, U.S. Navy, US-2B aircraft, was beginning its landing approach to the South Weymouth Naval Air Station when it crashed in  a wooded area off Spring Street in Rockland.  The accident took place within 200 yards of a shopping plaza and large apartment complex.  There were no injuries to anyone on the ground.

     Both men aboard the plane were killed.  They were identified as:

     Commander Albert Bailey, Jr., 39, of Weymouth, Massachusetts.

     Lieutenant Commander Kenneth Marriott, Jr., 35, of Hanson, Massachusetts.  


     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “Navy Plane Crashes In Hub Suburb”, August 24, 1978, page 2.

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Navy Fliers Are Killed”, August 25, 1978, Page C-1.


Rockland, MA. – December 6, 1969

Rockland, Massachusetts – December 6, 1969

Updated April, 2021


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

     On December 6, 1969, a T-33 trainer jet took off from the South Weymouth Naval Air Station for a routine training flight.  While over  Rockland, the jet was seen to go into a tailspin and crash in a wooded area.  Both men aboard were killed instantly. They were identified as Lieutenant Colonel George G. Cusack, and Captain Alan B. Holbrook.  

     Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel George G. Cusack, 38, was the executive officer of the Marine Air Reserve Attack Squadron 322.  He was a veteran of the Korean War, the recipient of the Korean Service Medal with three stars, a Presidential Unit Citation, the National Defense Service Medal, the United Nations Service Medal, and the Organized Marine Corps Medal with two bronze stars.  He was survived by his wife and five children.  At the time of the crash his wife was pregnant with their sixth child who was named after his father.  

     There is also a street named for him in the town of Hampton, New Hampshire.  (Cusack Road)

     On April 27, 2021, the son of Lt. Col. Cusack contacted New England Aviation History with new information of this accident.  Because the aircraft was over a populated area, Lt. Col. Cusack and Captain Holbrook chose to stay with the aircraft rather than eject, and aimed it towards a wooded area away from homes and businesses, thereby saving many lives.   

     Marine Corps Captain Alan B. Holbrook was from Wellesly Hills, Massachusetts.  We have no further information about him at this time. 


     Hampton Union, Obituary for George G. Cusack, December 10, 1969

     Lane Memorial Library, Hampton, N. H. – local history

Chicopee, MA. – June 27, 1958

Chicopee, Massachusetts – June 27, 1958

     Shortly after midnight on June 27, 1958, four U.S. Air Force KC-135 jet tankers were scheduled to make a transatlantic flight from Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee to London, England.  The purpose of the flight was to try to establish a new overseas speed record for the aircraft.   

     The first two aircraft took off without incident however, the third aircraft, (Ser. No. 56-3599), stalled just after takeoff and crashed about 1.25 miles off the end of the runway.  The tanker came down across the Massachusetts Turnpike and impacted on a farm located on Fuller Road where it exploded in a massive fireball that was seen for miles.  All fifteen men aboard were killed instantly. 

     The fourth aircraft was then ordered not to take off.

    The Turnpike was covered with debris and had to be closed to all traffic.  Electrical power was knocked out throughout the area as the aircraft had struck some power lines prior to impact.

     Of the fifteen men aboard, eight were civilian journalists.

     The dead were identified as:

     Brig. Gen. Donald W. Saunders, 45, of Athens, New York.  He was Commander of the 57th Air Division at Westover AFB.  To see a photo of Gen. Saunders, go to   

     Lt. Col. George Broutsas, 39, of Brattleboro, Vermont.  He was the aircraft commander. He’s buried in Meeting House Hill Cemetery in Brattleboro.

     Captain James Shipman, 34, of Kansas City, Kansas.  He was the aircraft’s navigator. He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  

     Captain John B. Gordon, 29, of Raleigh, North Carolina.  He’s buried in Mountain Memorial Park in Raleigh.  

     Lieutenant Joseph C. Sweet, 26, of Chandler, Arizona.  He’s buried in Resthaven Park East Cemetery in Phoenix, Arizona.  

     Master Sergeant Donald H. Gabbard, 37, of Los Gatos, California.  He’s buried in Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California.

     Technical Sergeant Joseph G. Hutter, 26, of Miami, Florida.  He’s buried in Arlington, National Cemetery.

     Civilians aboard included:

     Daniel J. Coughlin, 31, of Boston – Associated Press 

     Norman Montellier, 37, of New York City – United Press International

     Glenn A. Williams, 41, of Bethesda, Maryland – U.S. News & World Report

     Robert A. Ginsburgh, (Also spelled Ginsburg in some accounts), 63, of the U.S. News & World Report. He was also a retired brigadier general from the U.S. Air Force.

     James L. McConaughy, Jr., Time and Life Magazine.

     Robert Sibley, 57, of Belmont, Massachusetts – Aviation editor of the Boston Traveler.

     William Cochran – National Aeronautical Association

     William Enyart – National Aeronautical Association

     The aircraft involved in this accident was part of the 99th Air refueling Squadron based at Westover.   

     This was the second accident for a Westover aerial tanker since aerial tankers had been assigned to the base in the spring of 1955.  The first accident occurred on January 22, 1957, when a KC-97 tanker crashed in Rome, New York, killing all seven crewmen aboard.     


     Unknown newspaper, “KC135 Falls In Flames Near Base At Start Of London Record Flight”, June 27, 1958

     Springfield Union, “Residents Terrified As Disaster Strikes”, June 27, 1958

     Fitchburg Sentinel, “Air Force Jet Plane Explodes After Westover Takeoff”, June 27, 1958


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


Westover Air Force Base – October 9, 1953

Westover Air Force Base – October 9, 1953


F-86 Sabre – U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 3:15 a.m. on the morning of October 9, 1953, Captain Joseph Vitale, 35, was preparing to take off on Runway 06 at Westover AFB in an F-86D Sabre, (Ser. No. 51-5948), for a routine training flight.  After receiving instruction from the tower, Capt. Vitale began his start down the runway, but for some unknown reason was unable to become airborne.  The jet left the end of the runway and struck a mound of dirt recently excavated from a trench, and went airborne for a distance of about 200 feet before slamming into the ground.  Captain Vitale was ejected from the aircraft, but it was unclear if it was due to a malfunction, or if he had done so intentionally.   

     When rescue personnel reached his side he was found to be unconscious due to a head injury.  He was admitted to the hospital, but never regained consciousness before succumbing to his injuries on October 16th. 

     Captain Vitale was an experienced aviator who’d flown 100 combat missions during his military career.  He’d earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Purple Heart, Air Medal with four Oak Leaf Clusters, and three battle stars while serving in Korea.  He was survived by his wife and four children.

     At the time of his accident Captain Vitale was assigned to the 60th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Westover AFB. 


     Unknown Newspaper, “Capt. Joseph Vitale and Lt. J.T. Rebo Die In Hospital”, October 10, 1053. (Lt. Rebo dies from injuries in a separate and unrelated accident.), 60th F.S. – USAF Orders Of Battle    


Belchetown, MA. – May 3, 1962

Belchertown, Massachusetts – May 3, 1962

Near Quabbin Reservoir    

F-102A Delta Dart – U.S. Air Force Photo

      At 9:00 p.m. on the night of May 3, 1962, Lt. Col. William B. Howell, 39, took off from Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a routine training flight in an F-102 Delta Dart fighter aircraft.  At 10:32 p.m., as he was passing over the area of the Quabbin Reservoir, the aircraft abruptly disappeared from radar.  The weather at the time was rainy with flashes of lightning.

     A search was instituted, and the aircraft was located the following day in a thickly wooded area of Belchertown near the Pelham town line, to the west of Rt. 202, about a half mile from the nearest home.  The fuselage was demolished and it was apparent that Lt. Col. Howell had been killed instantly.  The cause to the accident wasn’t stated.  

     Lt. Col. Howell was assigned to the 76th Fighter Interceptor Squadron based at Westover AFB.


     Springfield Union, “100 Men Searching For Westover F-102 In Quabbin District”, May 4, 1962, page 1

     Springfield Union, “Board Set Up To Investigate Plunge Fatal To Maj. W. B. Howell”, May 5, 1962, page 1 




Otis AFB – June 5, 1947

Otis Air Force Base – June 5, 1947

     On June 5, 1947, Ensign Orin William Ross, (24), was piloting a navy dive bomber making practice landings and take offs at Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  While making a practice landing, the aircraft suddenly stalled and crashed onto the runway and exploded, killing Ensign Ross.  Ensign Ross was assigned to Carrier Squadron VA-17A stationed at Quonset Naval Air station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. 

     The exact type of aircraft was not stated.

     Ensign Ross is buried in Bristow cemetery in Bristow, Oklahoma.  To see a photo of his grave go to, #25974219.

     Source: Cape Cod Standard Times, “Flyer Killed At Otis Field”, June 6, 1947, 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.

Somerset, MA. – July 17, 1943

Somerset, Massachusetts – July 17, 1943

Taunton River – Fall River, MA.


P-47C Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     Shortly before 4 p.m. on July 17, 1943, two P-47 aircraft were on a high-altitude training flight over the Fall River, Massachusetts, area.  Numerous people on the ground watched for roughly ten minutes as the aircraft conducted a series of maneuvers overhead, when it suddenly appeared that the planes had been involved in a mid-air collision.     

     One of the aircraft was a P-47C, (Ser. No. 41-6151) piloted by 1st Lt. Thomas J. Harding, 22, of Gypsum, Kansas.  The other was a P-47D, (Ser. No. 42-8210), piloted by 1st Lt. Benjamin Norris, Jr., 21, of Denver, Colorado.  Both men were assigned to the 310th Fighter Squadron based at Hillsgrove Army Air Field in Warwick, Rhode Island.  

     Lt. Harding’s aircraft was observed to fall to earth trailing smoke and flames.  He managed to bail out and his parachute was seen to open, and prevailing winds carried him eastward over Fall River until he came down on Main Street in the village of Assonet.  Meanwhile his airplane continued downward and crashed into a wooded area on the farm of Preston Hood in the town of Somerset.  Two youths working in a nearby field ran to the scene and being the first to arrive ascertained that the cockpit was empty before the flames consumed the plane.  

     While this was taking place, Lt. Norris’s P-47 was seen to go into a high-speed nose-dive and strike the Taunton River about 250 feet from shore across from an area known as “Harrington’s Switch”.   Lt. Norris was killed instantly. 

      Numerous bathers were along the river’s shoreline at the time.  The Taunton River lies between the municipalities of Somerset and Fall River. 

     One of the newspapers that covered the story was the Fall River Herald News, which described how debris from both aircraft rained down upon the area.  “The tail of the burned plane” it was reported, “as though sheared off with a knife, crashed to earth in the rear of Casey Filling Station on County St.” 

     It was also stated that a piece of aircraft tail section was also recovered on the farm of Chester Simcock in Swansea, Mass.  And smaller parts belonging to both aircraft were found in Somerset.

     Lt. Norris was the son of Army Colonel Benjamin Norris of the Medical Corps, and was survived by his wife whom he’d married barely three weeks earlier on June 28.  Lt. Norris was also a graduate of West Point Military Academy, class of January, 1943.  He’s buried in the military academy cemetery.  To see a photo of Lt. Norris in his cadet uniform, see, Memorial #12388987.


     Fall River Herald News, “Crash Of Two Army Planes Over City Being Probed; One Pilot Killed”, July 19, 1943, page 16.

     (A Somerset, Mass. newspaper – unknown name.) “Somerset Gets Slight Touch Of The Realism Of War As Two Planes Crash; Civilian Agencies Put To The Test”, July 22, 1943  

Cheshire, MA. – March 9, 1943

Cheshire, Massachusetts – March 9, 1943


P-47B Thunderbolt
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 4:15 p.m. on March 9, 1943, a P-47B aircraft piloted by 2nd Lt. Sommers D. Levermore, 22, crashed on the farm of Adolph Geoffron, located on Windsor Road, in Cheshire, Massachusetts. 

     Two children on their way home from school witnessed the accident and ran to a nearby home to alert the homeowner, who then called the state police barracks in Pittsfield. 

     Several nearby residents made their way through the snow to reach the plane, which had come to rest in two pieces at a tree line at the edge of a field.  The pilot was still alive, and first aid was given, but he died a short time later before an ambulance could arrive. 

     The cause of the crash was not stated.

     Lt. Levermore was assigned to the 321st Fighter Squadron at Westover Field in Chicopee, Mass.

     Lt. Levermore was from Rockville Center, New York.  To see a photograph of him, go to, memorial #156413374.  


     Unknown Newspaper, “Cheshire Plane Crash Fatal To Army Pilot”, March 10, 1943.  (Article found on

     Springfield Republican, “Cheshire Crash fatal To Young Army Flier; Plane Breaks In Two”, March 10, 1943, page 1



Atlantic Ocean – March 23, 1949

     Atlantic Ocean – March 23, 1949

Updated October 7, 2023

Lt. Cmdr. Albert D. Foster

       On the evening of March 23, 1949, Lt. Cmdr. Albert D. Foster and Lt. Cmdr. S. Larch Miller, took off from Quantico, Virginia, in a pair of F4U Corsairs on what was to be a ferry mission to the Squantum Naval Air Station in Quincy, Massachusetts.   Shortly after 7:00 p.m. the two men found themselves in thick fog conditions over the Providence, Rhode Island, area and began circling in hopes of gaining a visual reference to pinpoint their exact location during which time the two became separated.   At 7:20 p.m. Lt. Cmdr. Foster reported he was low on fuel and would have to bail out.  

     Lt. Cmdr. Miller found his way to Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, and safely landed there.     

     Meanwhile a search was begun for Foster.  As word spread through the media, authorities were contacted by numerous well-meaning citizens anxious to report what they thought they might have seen or heard the night before, yet there had been no reports of a plane crash, or any sign of the missing airman. 

     Initially the search centered on Rhode Island, but was widened to include Massachusetts and Connecticut.  Numerous military and civilian searchers took part both on the ground and in the air. 

      It was speculated that Foster might have been injured when he bailed out and was lying injured in a remote wooded area.  One area of Rhode Island that was searched was the Buck Hill Management Area because a civilian had reported hearing a plane flying in that direction with its engine sputtering. 

     Another civilian pilot reported seeing what he thought was a parachute in the Massachusetts woods between North Grafton and Westboro. 

     Yet another search concentrated on a wooded area of Northbridge, Massachusetts, after two credible witnesses reported hearing cries for help near the Rice City Dam.  Despite an extensive search of the area nothing was found.   

F4U Corsair
US Navy Photo

     Then on March 26, the fishing vessel Calista D. Morrill was dragging its nets off Thatcher’s Island (Massachusetts) when it snagged portions of an aircraft that were later identified as being part of the one flown by Lt. Cmdr. Foster.  The recovered pieces, which included the engine, a wheel, and parts of the wings and fuselage, were brought to the Dolliver’s Neck Coast Guard Station.  The condition of the artifacts suggested the aircraft had crashed into the water, and had not made an emergency water landing.  The question relating to initial reports about Lt. Cmdr. Foster bailing out over the Providence metro area were never answered. 

     Lt. Cmdr. Foster’s body was later recovered and it was announced in his obituary that his remans would be cremated and interred later.

     Lieutenant Commander Foster was an experienced pilot who’d flown combat missions in the Pacific during World War II.  He served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Lunga Point, and participated in attacks at Leyete, Lingayen Gulf, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross with one gold star, and the Air Medal with five gold stars.

     He was survived by his wife and child.

     A related story to this incident involved two civilian volunteer searchers who were seriously injured when their light plane crashed in Norfolk, Massachusetts, when it ran out of fuel. 


     Pawtuxet Valley Times, (RI), “Navy And Police Puzzled At Plane’s Disappearance”, March 24, 1949, page 1

     Pawtuxet Valley Times, (RI), “50 Planes search For Missing Flyer”, March 25, 1949, page 1

     Pawtuxet Valley Times, (RI), “Navy Experts Examine Plane Wreckage Found”, March 26, 1949, page 1

     Woonsocket Call, (RI), “Planes Fly Grim Hunt For navy Flier Who Bailed Out Last Night”, March 24, 1949, page 1

     Woonsocket Call, (RI), “Planes Search Mid-Bay State For Lost Flyer”, March 25, 1949, Page 4

     Woonsocket Call, (RI), “Woods Scoured – Navy Pilot Missing 3 Days; Wreckage Spotted In Ocean”, March 26, 1949

     Woonsocket Call, (RI), “Navy Calls Off Uxbridge Area hunt For Pilot”, March 26, 1949

     Quincy Patriot Ledger, (Mass.), “60 Planes Continue Search For Missing Weymouth Flier”, March 25, 1949

     Quincy Patriot Ledger, (Mass.), “Plane Wreckage Found At Sea”, March 26, 1949, page 1 

     Quincy Patriot Ledger, (Mass.), “Navy Planes Scan Coastline For Trace Of Missing Flier”, March 28, 1949, page 1

     Quincy Patriot Ledger, (Mass.) “Leak In dragger Forces Postponement Of Plane Salvage”, March 30, 1949

Quabbin Reservoir Land – April 3, 1955

Quabbin Reservoir Land – April 3, 1955

Town of Petersham, Massachusetts

F-94 Starfire
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On April 3, 1955, 1st lt. Dewey B. Durrett, 25, of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, took off from Barnes ANG base in Westfield, Massachusetts, for a navigational training flight.  He was piloting an F-94A Starfire jet, (#49-2552), assigned to the 131st Fighter Interceptor Squadron based at Barnes.  The weather was poor, requiring IFR (Instrument Flight Rules). 

     Lt. Durrett left Barnes at 12:02 p.m.  By 1:25 p.m. he was on his way back to Barnes when he was instructed to land at Westover Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, because it was snowing at Barnes.  Lt. Durrett acknowledged, but not long afterwards radar contact with his aircraft was lost due to weather conditions.  

     The tower at Westover tried to reestablish contact through standard means and was unsuccessful.  At about 2:15 p.m., being unsure of his position, and the fact that the aircraft was now very low on fuel, Lt. Durret was advised to bail out.   

     When his chute deployed and he came out of the clouds, Lt. Durret saw that he was over the Quabbin Reservoir.  The F-94 crashed in a wooded area on reservoir land within the town limits of Petersham.     

     Lt. Durrett landed safely in a thickly wooded area. After accessing his situation, he carried his parachute to an open area where he spread it on the ground so it would be visible from the air.  He then placed a rescue dingy on top of it to hold it in place, and began to hike his way out of the woods.    

     Lt. Durrett had a successful military career, and eventually retired from military service a Lieutenant Colonel.   (To read a biography of Lt. Col. Durrett, see, Memorial #72272325.)   

     Source: U.S. Air Force crash investigation report, #55-4-3-3

     The crash site of the F-94 can still be seen today.  It is against federal and state law to remove any portions of the wreckage from the crash site.        

Click on images to enlarge.   

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir
The marks on the stick are 12 inches apart on center.

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir.
The marks on the stick are 12 inches on center for scale.

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

A portion of the F-94 Starfire that Crashed at the Quabbin Reservoir in 1955.

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site, Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site, Quabbin Reservoir

F-94 Crash Site, Quabbin Reservoir.

F-94 Crash Site, Quabbin Reservoir



Bedford, MA – August 17, 1946

Bedford, Massachusetts – August 17, 1946


P-51 Mustang U.S. Air Force Photo

P-51 Mustang
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On August 17, 1946, a flight of two P-51 aircraft took off from Bedford Army Air Field in Bedford, Massachusetts, to participate in an air show.  They were scheduled to take part in a escort formation flight with a B-29 that was also participating in the show. 

     As the B-29 was flying at an altitude between 2,500 and 3,000 feet, the two P-51’s swooped down on it from above and broke away in a roll.   One of the P-51 pilots was 25-year-old 1st Lt. Severino B. Calderon, flying aircraft  #44-64315.   After rolling away from the B-29, Lt. Calderon climbed again and made another pass, this time coming within 50 to 100 yards of the bomber.  As he did so, the P-51 rolled over into a “split-S” and began diving towards the ground.   The plane crashed on the tracks of the Boston & Maine Railroad just ahead of a train bound from Boston to Chicago.  Fortunately the train engineer was alerted to the wreckage and stopped before hitting it.      

B-29 Super Fortress U.S. Air Force Photo

B-29 Super Fortress
U.S. Air Force Photo

     Lt. Calderon was a veteran of WWII.  He earned his pilot’s wings on December 5, 1943, and served with the 8th Air Force in England.  He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters, the American Campaign Medal, the European – African – Mideast Campaign Medal, and the WWII Victory Medal.     

     To see photographs of Lt. Calderon, Google, “Severino B. Calderon American Air Museum Britain”.  www.americanairmuseum/person/203944

     During his time in England, Lt. Calderon flew a P-47 Thunderbolt named “SNAFU”.  There is presently a P-47 that has been restored to the markings of Lt. Calderon’s aircraft in England.  Photos of this airplane can been seen elsewhere on the Internet.    

     Lieutenant Calderon’s accident wasn’t the only incident to occur relating to the air show.  

     On August 15th, a flight of three P-51’s and two P-47’s left Mitchell Filed on Long Island, New York, to take part in the airshow at Bedford.  The aircraft were supposed to arrive two days earlier, but poor weather had kept them grounded at Mitchell Filed. Therefore they didn’t have ample time to rehearse their maneuvers before their first scheduled demonstration. 

     Their first flight was an aerial parade over Boston to advertise the opening of the air show.  A B-29 carrying news reporters was part of the parade, and the reporters requested that the escorting aircraft fly close to the bomber  so they could obtain photographs of the planes flying in formation.  As the planes were maneuvering into different formations, one P-51, (#44-64305), was suddenly caught in the prop-wash of the plane ahead of him, (P-51, #44-64308), and the propeller of 44-64305 caught the right wing of 44-64308 causing damage to the aileron and trailing edge of the wing.  Fortunately both aircraft were able to land safely.   


     Army Air Force Crash Investigation Report, #47-8-17-3 

     Army Air Force Crash Investigation Report, #47-8-15-4

     New York Times, “Plane Misses Train”, August 18, 1946

     American Air Museum In Brittan 

     Daily Mail Article: “Aces High: Re-built P-47 Thunderbolt To Take To The Skies In Recreation Of World War II Dogfights 70 Years Ago”, by Ben Griffiths for the Daily Mail, June 26, 2102. 

Gloucester, MA – November 10, 1929

Gloucester, Massachusetts – November 10, 1929

     On November 10, 1929, a U.S. Coast Guard amphibian aircraft with a crew of three aboard took off from Gloucester Harbor for a routine patrol flight.  No sooner had the plane become airborne when it was struck by a downdraft causing it to loose altitude and strike the forestay and rigging of an outward bound fishing schooner, the Jackie B.   The impact ripped the right wing from the airplane, and caused damage to the schooner’s masts. The plane’s momentum carried it another 100 yards where it crashed into the water and flipped upside down. 

     All three crewmen aboard the aircraft were seriously injured.  The pilot, Lt. L. M. Melka, was rescued from the sinking plane by Herman Mathisen who just happened to be passing by in a small boat when the plane hit the water near him.   The other two coastguardsmen, William Kenley, and Arthur J. Descoteau, were rescued by the crew of the Jackie B.  All three airmen were taken to Addison Gilbert Hospital where they were treated for a variety of injuries including fractures, shock, and hypothermia.  

     The aircraft was assigned to Coast Guard Station 7 in Gloucester.

     Source: Lewiston Daily Sun, “Coast Guardsmen Injured In Crash”, November 11, 1929


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   

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


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