Off Graves Light, MA. – July 17, 1947

Off Graves Light, Massachusetts – July 17, 1947


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

     On July 17, 1947, Lt. Cmdr. Russell F. Craig took off from the Squantum Naval Air Station in Weymouth, Massachusetts, in a F6F-5N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 71995), for a “special night project” in which he was to test an experimental fire control tracking device.  He proceeded to the outer bay of Boston Harbor and began making simulated attack runs on the Graves Lighthouse.   While passing the lighthouse, the engine of his aircraft suddenly began to sputter and loose power.  The pilot attempted to gain altitude, but the engine froze and lost all power.  The oil pressure gage at that moment read zero. 

     With great skill, the pilot was able to make an emergency water landing northeast of the lighthouse.  When the plane hit the water it flipped onto its back trapping the pilot inside, but he managed to free himself and floated in the water until rescued by a passing yacht.   

     The navy did not recover the aircraft, so the cause of the engine failure could not be determined.  

     Lt. Cmdr. Craig was a combat veteran of WWII having served in the Pacific Theatre.  He retired from the navy at the rank of Captain in July of 1972 after serving for 31 years.  


     U. S. Navy accident report, dated July 17, 1947.

     Boston American, “Flier Tells Of Escape From Cockpit Of Sinking Hellcat”, July 18, 1947 

     Seattle Post Intelligencer, “Seattle Navy Flyer Saved After Crash:, July 17, 1947 

Martha’s Vineyard, MA. – February 19, 1946

Martha’s Vineyard – February 19, 1946

Cape Poge – Chappaquiddick


SB2C Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

     At 10:48 a.m. on the morning of February 19, 1946, Ensign Cecil M. Richards, 21, and his gunner, Arm2c William Robert Garrett, 20, were in a U. S. Navy  SB2C-4E Helldiver, (Bu. No. 21083), participating in an aerial bombing exercise over Cape Poge, Chappaquiddick Island, at Martha’s Vineyard.  Ensign Richards began his dive at 6,750 feet.   After releasing the training bombs on a designated target area, the aircraft was seen to continue in its dive, then roll over and crash into the water at high speed.  Both Richards and Garret were killed instantly.  

     The cause of the accident is unknown.

     Both men were assigned to Fighter Bomber Squadron 18, (VB-18), at Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island.  

     In 2016, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers began removing potentially dangerous ordinance from the Cape Poge area and discovered the propeller, one machinegun, and other pieces from Ensign Richards’ aircraft. 


     U. S. Navy accident report dated February 19, 1946.

     (Martha’s) Vineyard Gazette, “Two Fliers Lost – First Fatality Since War, Off Cape Pogue”, February 22, 1946.

     Vineyard Gazette, “World War II Bomber Found Buried At Cape Pogue”, by Noah Asimov, May 2, 2019  

Otis Field – September 10, 1944

Otis Field, Falmouth, Massachusetts – September 10, 1944


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

     Just after 2 p.m. on September 10, 1944, a U. S. Navy SBD-5 Dauntless aircraft, (Bu. No. 54180), with two men aboard, took off from Otis Filed.  The pilot was a navy ensign.  The second man was Army Sergeant James Edwin Senter, (21 or 22). 

     The aircraft was seen to climb several hundred feet before it suddenly went into a downward spin to the left.  The pilot managed to jump clear of from an altitude of 500 feet, and his parachute opened just before he hit the ground.  Although injured, he would survive.

     Meanwhile the aircraft crashed just twenty feet away killing Sergeant Senter.

     Sergeant Senter is buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.  He enlisted in the army in 1940 at the age of 18.  To see a photo of his grave go to, Memorial #173920812.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated September 10, 1944.

Williamstown, MA. – October 10, 1958

Williamstown, Massachusetts – October 10, 1958


Grumman S-2 Tracker
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of October 10, 1958, a U. S. Navy twin-engine Grumman S-2 Tracker aircraft left the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island, bound for Hartford, Connecticut.   The plane carried three navy officers and an enlisted man, all assigned to the 32nd Air Anti-Submarine Squadron based at Quonset.  When the plane landed in Hartford, the enlisted man exited the aircraft.  Then the plane took off bound for Harriman-West Airport in North Adams Massachusetts. 

     The purpose of the flight was to meet with the airport manager, and to examine the field to see if it was suitable for other navy aircraft to participate in an upcoming airshow being sponsored by the Civil Air Patrol.   

     At 3:35 p.m., After conducting their business at the airport, the plane took off to return to Quonset Point.  It went down the runway in a westerly direction towards the town of Williamstown.  According to numerous witnesses, when the aircraft left the ground it began a very step climb.  It continued to climb in an almost vertical position until it reached an altitude of about 2,500 feet, when black smoke suddenly belched from one of the engines.  Then the plane nosed over and began to fall, but then seemed to recover.  It then made a left turn towards the airport as if the pilot was tying to return, and then went down into a wooded area about 500 feet west of the Williamstown-North Adams town line, and about 1,000 feet east of Luce Road.   

     Witnesses rushed to the crash site.  The first to arrive found the aircraft broken in two sections and on fire. When they tried to approach, one of the four auxiliary wing tanks suddenly exploded sending a fiery mushroom cloud 100 feet in the air.   

     The injured pilot was found a few feet away, having been thrown clear on impact.  The pilot was conscious but seriously injured.  After dragging him to safety, there was nothing more they could do.  The other two men aboard did not survive.

     Several clergymen arrived at the scene and gave last rites to the dead.  

     It was speculated that the cause of the accident was due to unresponsive mechanical controls.

     The dead were identified as:

     Lt. (Jg.) Louis M. Bradshaw, 22 or 23, of Austin Texas.  He’s buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Austin.

     Lt. Arthur U. Roberge, 27, of Winooski, Vermont. He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery.  He was a flight surgeon for VS-37.  He left behind a wife and four children. 


     North Adams Transcript, “Two Die, One Saved In Fiery Navy Plane Crash”, October 11, 1958 

     North Adams Transcript, “Witness Stories Agree Plane Climbed Steep, Faltered, Turned, Crashed”, October 11, 1958

     Rhode Island Pendulum, (No Headline), October 16, 1958, memorial #26212486, and 49302817.

Taunton, MA. – April 16, 1949

Taunton, Massachusetts – April 16, 1949


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

     On April 16, 1949, an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 72664), took off from the Squantum Naval Air Station for a training flight.  While over the area of Taunton, Massachusetts, the engine began to run erratically, so the pilot looked for an open area to make an emergency landing.  Sighting one, he headed for it, but as he was making his approach the engine suddenly stopped running and the aircraft crashed into a wooded area.   The aircraft was damaged beyond repair and the pilot was seriously injured. 


     U. S. Navy Hellcat accident report dated April 16, 1949.  

Martha’s Vineyard – March 5, 1946

Martha’s Vineyard – March 5, 1946


F8F Bearcat
U. S. Navy Photo

     On March 5, 1946, a flight of F8F-1 Bearcats left Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island bound for Martha’s Vineyard Naval Air Station in Massachusetts.  The purpose of the flight was to practice mock carrier take-offs and landings.  As one of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 94827), was making a landing, it went off the runway and into soft dirt where it flipped on its back trapping the pilot.  The pilot was extricated with non-life-threatening injuries, and the aircraft suffered substantial damage.

     The aircraft was assigned to VF-18 at Quonset Point.


     U. S. Navy accident report dated March 5, 1946.    

Otis Air Force Base – June 27, 1947

Otis Air Force Base – June 27, 1947


F8F Bearcat
U. S. Navy Photo

     On June 27, 1947, a flight of F8F Bearcats left the Quonset Naval Air Station bound for Otis Air Force base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, to conduct practice carrier landings and takeoffs The aircraft were assigned to VF-8A at Quonset.

     Once at Otis the aircraft commenced the takeoff and landing exercise.  As one aircraft, (Bu. No. 95227), was making its approach for its sixth landing, in came in too close behind the aircraft ahead of it.  After landing, the pilot applied the brakes to avoid a rear-end collision with the plane ahead, but at that moment the left brake failed which caused the aircraft to swerve off the runway and onto a grassy area.  On the grassy area was a parked truck, which the pilot would have struck had he not intentionally ground-looped the aircraft.  After missing the truck, the aircraft went into a small ravine and nosed over onto its back.  The aircraft was substantially damaged, but the pilot was not seriously hurt.   


     U. S. Navy accident report dated June 27, 1947

Otis Air Force Base – October 17, 1947

Otis Air Force Base – October 17, 1947


F8F Bearcat
U. S. Navy Photo

     On October 17, 1947, an F8F-1 Bearcat, (Bu. No. 95331), left the Quonset Naval Air Station in Rhode Island bound for Otis AFB in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  As the pilot was coming into to land at Otis, the engine suddenly lost all power.  Realizing he couldn’t make it to the service runway, the pilot decided to make an emergency wheels-up landing in the grass nearby.  The aircraft received considerable damage as it skidded for about 600 feet before coming to rest.  The pilot was not injured.


     U. S. Navy accident report dated October 17, 1947 

Beverly, MA. – October 29, 1944

Beverly, Massachusetts – October 29, 1944


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

     On October 29, 1944, a F6F-5, Hellcat, (Bu. No. 58128), was taking off from the Beverly Navy Auxiliary Air Field for a training flight.  As the aircraft began to climb the engine began sputtering and then quit.  The plane came down and was damaged beyond all repair, and the pilot received non-life-threatening injuries.  The pilot reported that when the engine failed all instruments were reading normal.  The cause of the crash is unknown.


     U. S. Navy accident report dated October 29, 1944.

Off Harwich, Ma. – May 19, 1946

Off Harwich Massachusetts – May 19, 1946


F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On May 19, 1946, Lt. (Jg.) Richard M. Kimball took off from the Squantum Naval Air Station in an F6F-5 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70556), for a routine training flight.  His flight path took him over the water off the coast of Harwich, Massachusetts.  There he encountered a fog bank lying three to five miles off shore, with a low cloud ceiling of 50 to 100 feet covering the entire area.  As he was approaching the shoreline, he began attempting to drop below the cloud ceiling to obtain a visual reference with the ground and while doing so crashed into the water about one-quarter mile from shore.  The aircraft broke apart on impact and Lt. (Jg.) Kimball was killed.    


     U. S. Navy accident report dated May 19, 1946 

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


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. 


Martha’s Vineyard, MA. – May 8, 1945

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts – May 8, 1945


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

     At 2:00 a.m. on the morning of May 8, 1945, an F6F-5N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70543), was approaching the runway of the Martha’s Vineyard Naval Air Station when one of the wings clipped an unlighted obstruction which caused the aircraft to crash.  The plane suffered considerable damage, but the pilot was not seriously injured.    

     Source: U. S. Navy crash report 4-45


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.

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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