Sandwich, Massachusetts – December, 22, 1987

Sandwich, Massachusetts – December 22, 1987

     At about 12:30 p.m. on December 22, 1987, a single engine Cessna 170A, (Reg. No. N5571C), crashed and burned in a wooded area of North Sandwich.  The lone pilot aboard, a 70-year-old man from Chatham, Mass., perished in the accident. 


     The Providence Journal, “Cape Cod Loses Gifted Friend In Small Plane Crash”, December 23, 1987

Fall River, MA. – July 21, 1985

Fall River, Massachusetts – July 21, 1985

     On July 21, 1985, a single-engine Bellanca Decathlon, (N5504B), with a lone pilot aboard, took off from the Fall River Airport for the purpose of picking up an advertising banner and flying over the Fall River area with it.  The banner was lying to the side of the runway, with the front end of it suspended about 20 feet off the ground between two poles.  The Bellanca circled the field and came in low to catch the front end of the banner.  This was done successfully, and immediately afterward the aircraft began a steep climb so the banner would clear the trees at the end of the runway.  According to witnesses, the plane suddenly stalled and fell into a thickly wooded area about 90 feet west of the main runway where it exploded into flames. 

     Two men immediately got into a truck and drove to the edge of the woods, and then made their way to the crash site, but there was nothing they could do.  The pilot had been killed instantly.  


     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Pilot Dies In crash In Fall River – Plane Stalls While Picking Up Advertising Banner”, July 22, 1985, page A-4.

     Aviation Safety Network

Martha’s Vineyard – November 13, 1983

Martha’s Vineyard – November 13, 1983

    On November 13, 1983, a 59-year-old pilot left Martha’s Vineyard Airport bound for Rhode Island in a 31-year-old Beechcraft Bonanza.  Shortly after takeoff, while the aircraft was at about 850 feet, the engine suddenly quit.  Attempts to restart it were unsuccessful, and the pilot made an emergency landing in the water of the Vinyard’s Lagoon Pond about 100 yards from shore.  The pilot escaped without injury and was rescued shortly afterwards by a man fishing nearby in his boat.  The aircraft was later removed from the water.


     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Barrington Pilot Escapes Injury”, November 15, 1983    

Barnstable, MA. – May 23, 1981

Barnstable, MA. – May 23, 1981

     At about 6:00 a.m. on the morning of May 23, 1981, a twin-engine Beechcraft with a pilot and a freight handler aboard took off from Barnstable Airport with a cargo of produce and newspapers bound for Martha’s Vineyard.  Just after becoming airborne, the engines lost all power and the plane crashed within 75 feet of a private home on Yarmouth Road and exploded on impact killing both crewmen.  Nobody in the home was injured.


     Providence Sunday Journal, “Pilot And Passenger Die In Cape Cod Plane Crash”, May 24, 1981, page A-3  

Hopedale, MA. – July 26, 1980

Hopedale, Massachusetts – July 26, 1980

     On July 26, 1980, a single-engine Beechcraft with two men aboard left Quonset State Airport in Rhode Island bound for Hopedale Airport in Massachusetts to practice some takeoffs and landings.  After the third takeoff at Hopedale, the aircraft rose to an altitude of 500 feet when the engine suddenly lost all power.  The pilot attempted a forced landing but was unsuccessful, and the plane came down in a wooded area off Mellen Street near Rt. 140.   One wing was sheared off, but the fuselage remained intact, and there was no fire.  Both men were able to extricate themselves and walk back to the airport.


     Providence Sunday Journal, “Off-Duty R.I. Policemen Escape Injury In Mass. Airplane Crash”, July 27, 1980, Page A-10 (With photo of crash scene.) 

Off Provincetown, MA. – June 14, 1980

Off Provincetown, Massachusetts – June 14, 1980

     Shortly before 3:00 p.m. on June 14, 1980, a Cessna Centurion with four people aboard left Provincetown Airport for an unknown destination.   At the time of its departure, bad weather was closing in fast, and low cloud cover blanketed the area.  Not log after leaving the airport, the Cessna was seen to come out of the low clouds in an upside-down position, and crash into the water about 800 yards off Race Point Beach, which is a short distance from the airport.  All four people aboard perished. 


     Providence Evening Bulletin, “4 New York Residents Killed In Airplane Crash Off Cape Cod”, June 16, 1980, page A-6


Barnstable, MA. – June 6, 1976

Barnstable, MA. – June 6, 1976

     On the morning of June 6, 1976, two off-duty Massachusetts police officers left Tewksbury in a single-engine Beechcraft Bonanza bound for Hyannis to attend a breakfast for the Massachusetts Association of Police Pilots.  One officer was a member of the Wilmington Police, and the other the Malden Police.  At about 12:30 p.m., the pair took off from Hyannis to return to Tewksbury.  Just after takeoff the plane was seen diving to the ground where it crashed off Marston’s Lane in the Cummiquid section of Barnstable.  Both men were killed.  The cause of the accident was not stated.


     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Two Pilot Policemen Killed In Plane Crash”, June 7, 1976, page B-10

Martha’s Vineyard – October 14, 1929

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts – October 14, 1929

     On October 14, 1929, a student pilot from Brookline, Massachusetts, was piloting a Curtiss Robin practicing take offs and landings on Martha’s Vineyard.  As he was gliding in for a landing, the tail skid of the aircraft struck the windshield of Ford roadster that was parked at the field.  The lone occupant of the vehicle was badly cut by the flying glass.  (Automobiles of this era did not have safety glass.) After being given first aid by some at the airfield, he was taken to see Doctor Roswell H. Smith of Edgartown for treatment of his wounds.

     The student pilot later stated he hadn’t seen the parked Ford, and didn’t realize he’d hit anything until he felt a bump in the rear of the aircraft while landing.    

     This was reported to be the first case of an automobile being struck by an airplane on Martha’s Vineyard.

     Source: Vineyard Gazette, “Airplane Crashes Into Amidon Car”, October 18, 1929, page 1.

Martha’s Vineyard, MA – August 25, 1944

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts – August 25, 1944 

     On August 25, 1944, navy pilot, Lieut. (j.g.) Robert Stayman Willaman, 25, of Chicago, received a medal at Martha’s Vineyard Naval Auxiliary Air Field.  The exact medal wasn’t specified in the newspaper, but it was mentioned that Willaman had been serving in the South Pacific.  

     Later that same day, Willaman was killed when his plane crashed on Martha’s Vineyard. 

     Lt. Jg. Willaman was survived by his wife Evelyn who he had married on April 10, 1943.  He left for duty in the Pacific as a torpedo bomber pilot on August 1, 1943.  


Falmouth Enterprise, “Death Follows Decoration”, September 1, 1944

Tidings – Irving Park Lutheran Church , “11 Who Gave Their Lives”, August, 2007, Vol. 34, #8.  

North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #44-67     

Sandwich, MA – July 12, 1951

Sandwich, Massachusetts – July 12, 1951 


F-94 Starfire U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Starfire
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 3:30 p.m. on July 12, 1951, an Air Force F-94B fighter jet (50-873A) was in flight over Cape Cod when the engine flamed out.  The plane crashed near Peters Pond in Sandwich, about a mile south of the Mid-Cape Highway, (Route 6).  Another source put the crash site near Spectacle Pond, “about 1 mile from Quaker Meeting House Road in the direction of West Barnstable, and near Mill Road, between Spectacle Pond and the Mid-Cape Highway.”

    The pilot, 1st Lt. Victor Clapp, 28, of Beverly, Massachusetts, was killed when he ejected but his chute failed to open.   He was survived by his wife, Dorothy, and two children.   

     The radar observer, 2nd Lt. Aaron M. Jones Jr., 27, of Newtonville, MA, ejected safely.  Jones landed in a wooded area south of the Mid-Cape Highway and made his way to the Rof-Mar Lodge.

     The crash ignited several large brush fires.  

     The jet belonged to the 33rd Fighter-Interceptor wing at Otis AFB. 


     Falmouth Enterprise, “Jet Pilot Is Killed As Plane Crashes Near Peters Pond”, July 13, 1951  

     Cape Cod Standard Times, “Otis Base Jet Pilot Is Killed, Companion Safe In Crash”, July 13, 1951, Pg. 1

     Updated March 21, 2016

     On the afternoon of July 12, 1951, Lieutenant’s Clapp and  Aaron took off from Otis Air Force Base for a training flight to practice “ground controlled approach” (GCA) landing procedures.  Their F-94 (#50-873A) carried a full load of fuel, but was not equipped with external wing tanks.

     After making two successful landings, the pilot attempted a third.  As the F-94 approached Otis AFB intending to land on runway 23, it “flamed out” and crashed in a wooded area about 150 yards to the east of Mill Road, and south of Route 6.  This location is gleaned from the official air force crash investigation report, and contradicts the vague locations given to the press, which was likely done for security reasons and to prevent souvenir hunters from converging on the site.  

     Lt. Clapp was a veteran of WWII and earned his pilot’s wings March 2, 1944.  At the time of his death he had recently been re-activated for active duty due to the Korean War.  He’s buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Acton, Massachusetts.


     Air Force Crash Investigation Report #51-7-12-1, Memorial #114039950



Sandwich, MA – August 11, 1951

Sandwich, Massachusetts – August 11, 1951 

     On August 11, 1951, Captain Frank C. Newell, 28, of Linden, N.J., was killed when his F-86 Sabre Jet crashed at Scorton Neck in Sandwich.  Newell was a veteran of WWII and Korea, and flew 182 combat missions during his career.  He was survived by his wife and one child.


Falmouth Enterprise, “Otis Pilot Killed” August 17, 1951

New York Times, “Third Pilot Loses His Life In Massachusetts” , August 12, 1951 

Pocasset, MA – August 13, 1945

Pocasset, Massachusetts – August 13, 1945 

Updated December 23, 2020.


Early U.S. Navy Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

     On August 13, 1945, Ensign William Orlando Young, Jr., (22), was piloting an SBW-4E Helldiver, (Bu. No. 60153), on a night training flight over Cape Cod.  This training was preparatory to his assignment to the navy’s newest aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Midway

      During the flight, weather conditions had deteriorated and the cloud ceiling had dropped, and it was later speculated by navy investigators that this played a role in the accident.         

     When overdue for his return to base, he was reported missing, and a search utilizing aircraft from Otis and Quonset Point, R.I. began.  His body and his wrecked plane were found the following day in Pocasset, Mass. 

     Ensign Young’s body was brought to Quonset Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being sent to Gathersburg, Maryland for burial.  He was survived by his wife Hazel.  


     U. S. Navy accident report dated August 13, 1945 

     Falmouth Enterprise, “Pilot From Otis Killed In Crash” August 17, 1945   

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-77


Otis Air Force Base – April 9, 1952

Otis Air Force Base – April 9, 1952 

C-47 Aircraft - U.S. Air Force Photo

C-47 Aircraft – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the morning of April 9, 1952, a C-47 transport plane with ten men aboard, took off from Otis Air Force Base in-route to Niagara Falls, New York.  The transport had landed at Otis from Steward AFB in Newburgh, N.Y.  Shortly after take off, while the C-47 was passing over the neighboring Camp Edwards firing range, it was involved in a mid-air collision with an F-94B fighter jet on its way to a gunnery practice mission.  

     The collision occurred in cloud cover between five to seven thousand feet, and officials speculated that poor visibility may have played a role in the crash.  Both planes exploded and flaming debris rained down over a wide area setting several large brush fires.  One parachute was seen but it was found to be empty – likely deployed by the impact.        

F-94 Fighter Jet U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Fighter Jet
U.S. Air Force Photo

     The dead aboard the C-47 were identified as:

     Lt. Col. William C. Bryson, 34, Stewart AFB.

     Major Benjamin Beckham, 34, Cornwall-On-Hudson, N.Y.

     Major L. A. Berg, 36, Goshen, N.Y.

     Capt. William H. Erwin, 31, Herrin, Ill.

     Capt. Lane S. Hendricks, 31, McHenry, Ill.

     Capt. Richard E. Heder, 31, Rock Tavern, N.Y.

     Capt. Clinton C. Foster, 33, Gardner, N.Y.

     Tech. Sgt. Deane B. Cooper, 41, Stewart AFB.

     Airman 1c Harry E. Hardesty, 21, Campbell Hall, N.Y.

     Tech. Sgt. William D. Pollock, 29, Newburgh, N.Y.       

     The crew of the F-94 jet fighter consisted of the pilot, Capt. Charles J. Smoke, 35, of Shenandoah, Iowa,

and the radar observer, 1st Lt. Thaddeus C. Kulpinski.


Chicago Tribune, “Two Air Force Planes Collide In Air; 12 dead”, April 10, 1952

New York Times, “Planes Crash Aloft; 12 In Air Force Die”, April 10, 1952

Falmouth Enterprise, “Twelve Are Killed In Otis Air Crash”, April 11, 1952

Falmouth, MA – August 17, 1945

Falmouth, Massachusetts – August 17, 1945 

     On August 17, 1945, Ensign Daniel Ware Goldman, 24, took off from Otis Field in Falmouth in a navy fighter aircraft.  He had no sooner had he taken off when he radioed that he needed to make an emergency landing.  His altitude at the time was about 200 feet, and when he turned to approach the runway his aircraft went into a dive and crashed into a wooded area about a mile from the field.  Ensign Goldman had no chance to bail out and was killed in the wreck.

    Ensign Goldman had been at Otis since May of 1945 training for carrier duty on the new aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Midway. His body was brought to Quonset Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island before being sent to Arlington National cemetery for burial.

     Update: May 17, 2018

     According to a Cape Cod Standard Times article, this accident occurred in the neighboring town of Mashpee.   


Falmouth Enterprise, ”Otis Field Flyer Dies In Crash”, August 24,1945

North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-78

Cape Cod Standard Times, “Otis Field Pilot Dies In Mashpee Crackup”, August 18, 1945, page 1.

Falmouth, MA – May 31, 1949


Falmouth, Massachusetts – May 31, 1949

     On May 31, 1949, a group of U.S. Navy F-8F Bearcats left Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island, bound for Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, to take part in a rocket firing training exercise.  As the planes approached Otis, one of them suddenly dropped out of formation and crashed in a rotary traffic circle near the 33rd Fighter Wing Headquarters. 
     The pilot was identified as Lieut. (j.g.) Ronald J. Whitting of Bergenfield, New Jersey. 


New York Times, “Crash Kills Navy Pilot”, June 1, 1949 

Falmouth Enterprise, “Navy Pilot Dies In Crash At Otis”, June 3, 1949 

Spencer, MA. – October 10, 1973

Spencer, Massachusetts – October 10, 1973

     On October 10, 1973, a Piper Aztec airplane, piloted by a 63-year-old pilot, and carrying two relatives as passengers, was making a west to east ILS approach to Worcester Airport when it disappeared from radar.  The plane crashed in a heavily wooded section of Spencer, Massachusetts, a town about five miles to the west of Worcester.  All aboard perished in the accident.  

     Source: Providence Evening Bulletin, “Plane Crash Fatal To Three In Bay State”, October 11, 1973, page 52. 


Princeton, MA. – April 16, 1973

Princeton, Massachusetts – April 16, 1973

     On April 16, 1973, a 27-year-old pilot from Rutland, Vermont, was piloting a single-engine Cessna at tree-top-level over the town of Princeton when he stalled the aircraft while suddenly pulling up to avoid a rise in the terrain.  He was killed when the plane crashed vertically into the ground.


     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Plane Crash Fatal”, April 17, 1973   

     Providence Journal, “Crash Cause Given In Death Of Pilot”, May 24, 1973

Billerica, MA – June 27, 1940

Billerica, Massachusetts – June 27, 1940

     At about 7 p.m. on the night of June 27, 1940, a four passenger biplane was passing over the town of Billerica when, according to a witness, something fell from the aircraft.  Just afterwards, the plane went into a sideslip before falling from an altitude of approximately 500 feet and crashing into a wooded area of town known as Garden City.   The pilot and two passengers aboard were killed.

     The pilot was identified as Elliot Underhill, 43, of, Spotswood, New Jersey.  The two passengers were identified as Walter Abrams, 32, of Lowell, Massachusetts, and Edwin Martin, 22, of Billerica. 

     Mr. Underhill was an experienced pilot.  He served as a pilot with the U.S. Marine Corps in the 1st Aero Squadron from 1917 to 1920.


     The Lowell Sun, “Federal Probe Of Plane Crash – Three Killed In No. Billerica”, June, 28, 1940, page 1., Elliot Underhill, Memorial #43985518

Methuen, MA – January 5, 1999

Methuen, Massachusetts – January 5, 1999


     At about 4:00 p.m. on January 5, 1999, a single-engine Piper Cherokee took off from Lawrence Municipal Airport with three adults and a child aboard.  Shortly after take off the plane lost power and crashed in the parking lot of the Pride’s Crossing apartment complex on Riverview Blvd. in Methuen, coming to rest against the building.  No residents of the building were injured. 

     The occupants of the airplane were transported to area hospitals.  The three adults were critically injured, but the child escaped with relatively minor injuries.      


     Westerly Sun, “Four Injured In Plane Crash”, January 6, 1999, P20.

Windsor, MA – December 10, 1986

Windsor, Massachusetts – December 10, 1986

Updated May 17, 2018

     On December 10, 1986, a Beech King Air 100 Turboprop, (N65TD), was en-route from Pal-Waukee Airport in Des Planes, Ill., to Pittsfield Airport in Pittsfield, Mass., when it encountered heavy overcast conditions over the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts.  At approximately 9:30 a.m. the aircraft crashed in a wooded area in the town of Windsor, and exploded on impact.  All six men aboard were killed.

     An eyewitness to the event was a 21-year-old deer hunter who’d seen the plane circling overhead, but didn’t think it was in trouble until it crashed a quarter of a mile away from his position. 

     The location of the crash was between Bates Road and Savoy Hollow Road. 

    The aircraft was registered to the Teledyne Corporation of Los Angeles.  It carried a crew of two, and four passengers.  The passengers were all employees of Teledyne Post Inc.   

     This incident was reported to be the second worst aviation accident in the history of Berkshire County.   The worst occurred in the town of Peru, Mass., on August 16, 1942, when 16 army servicemen were killed when their transport plane crashed into Garnet Peak in heavy fog.       


     New York Times, “6 Die In Plane Crash In Berkshires”, December 11, 1986

     Chicago Tribune, “Exec’s Deaths Probed”, December 12, 1986 

     Aviation Safety Network

     Berkshire Eagle, “Plane Crash Claims 6 Lives In Windsor”, December 11, 1986

     Berkshire Eagle, “It was a Typical Day, Until…”, December 11, 1986

     Berkshire Eagle, “Berkshire Plane Crashes Have Taken 54 Lives Since 1942”, December 11, 1986

Holyoke, MA – November 4, 1955

Holyoke, Massachusetts – November 4, 1955


C-47 Aircraft - U.S. Air Force Photo

C-47 Aircraft – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the night of November 4, 1955, a U. S. Army C-47 transport plane (#43-48276) en-route from Bolling Air Force Base in Washington D.C to its home base at Westover Air Force Base in Chicopee, Massachusetts, crashed into the Connecticut River during a heavy rainstorm in an area known as Smith’s Ferry, in the town of Holyoke.  There were eight men aboard, and when the plane hit the water four managed to get away before the aircraft sank taking the rest with it.   

     A civilian later told reporters he heard the plane’s engines sputtering and backfiring before the crash.

     The four survivors were identified as :

     U.S. Navy Captain Henry C. Nichols of Salem, Mass.  

     1st Lt. Joseph M. Delaunentis, 40, of South Hadley, Mass.

     S/Sgt. Alex Wermeichik, of Brooklyn, New York.

     T/Sgt. Richard Gearhard, 32, of Rochester, New York.

     The heavy rains caused the level of the river to rise, and the current to flow faster, which hampered recovery efforts.  The water was so muddy that visibility for rescue and recovery divers was zero.   

     The dead were later identified as:

     Capt. Wilmer R. Paulson, 35.  He was survived by his wife Barbara and three children.

     A2C Gerald J. Jolicoeur, of Augusta, Maine.

     A2C John Carrington, of Rutland, Vermont.

     Navy Pharmacist Mate Emanuel Casserly, 19, of Washington, D.C..  He’s buried in Arlington National Cemetery, Section 33, Site 2485.  To see a photo of his grave go to, memorial #49165016.


     New York Times, “4 lost In Air Crash”, November 6, 1955

     Spokane Daily Chronicle, “C-47 Falls Into River; 4 Saved And 4 Missing”, November 5, 1955

     Lowell Sun, “Muddy Water Curbs Search For Missing Men In Holyoke Crash”, November 6, 1955

Longmeadow, MA – October 1, 1927

Longmeadow, Massachusetts – October 1, 1927

     On October 1, 1927, a plane carrying two men, William P. Thomas, and William B. Van Buren, took off from Dunn Field, in Longmeadow, Massachusetts for an instructional flight.   Thomas was an experienced pilot with the 43rd Aero Squadron of the Connecticut National Guard, and Van Buren was a student pilot.  For reasons not stated in the press, the aircraft crashed at the field, and Thomas was killed.  Van Buren received possible fatal injuries.

     No further details were given.

     Dunn Field was a civil airport located along the banks of the Connecticut River in an area known as Longmeadow Flats. It was named for the original property owner.


      New York Times, “Plane Crash Kills Pilot”, October 2, 1927

     The Yankee Flyer, Journal of the Massachusetts Aviation Historical Society, #35, Sept./Oct. 2003


Mashpee, MA – August 28, 1927

     Mashpee, Massachusetts – August 28, 1927 


     On August 28, 1927, Henry J. Larkin, 23, of Brookline, Massachusetts, was flying his Curtis Seaplane (No. 2918) eastward along the coast of the towns of Falmouth and Mashpee when he encountered a fog bank and was forced to turn back.  It was then that he happened to meet up with another seaplane being piloted by Harold G. Crowley, 33, of Winthrop, Mass. going in the same direction.  The two men knew each other, and Larkin fell in with Crowley’s plane as they made their way westward along the coast.  As they neared Succannesset Point close to the Falmouth/Mashpee town lines, a sudden wind gust pushed Larkin’s plane into Crowley’s.  The impact sent Larkin down in a spinning dive into the water.  Crowley was able to land safely on the water. 

     It was later determined that Larkin came down in Mashpee waters.

     Larkin received internal injuries and a compound fracture to his nose, and was admitted to Hyannis Hospital for treatment.  

     Falmouth Enterprise, “Seaplanes Collide Over Sound”, September 1, 1927

     Update: May 16, 2018

     Harold Crowley’s aircraft was known as “Barbara” and had a red/green cockpit with aluminum painted wings.

     Henry Larkin’s aircraft was known as “The Seagull”. 

     Source: Vineyard Gazette, (Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.), “Airplanes Collide, Pilot Is Injured”, September 2, 1927.



Cape Cod Bay – March 25, 1954

Cape Cod Bay – March 25, 1954


F-94 Starfire U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Starfire
U.S. Air Force Photo

     At 12:45 p.m., on March 25, 1954, 2nd Lt. Boyd L. Erickson, 24, was killed when the F-94 Starfire jet he was piloting crashed in Cape Cod Bay near Orient during a routine training flight.

     The newspaper account mentioned that there was a radar observer aboard who was “missing”.  He was not identified.  

     Lieutenant Erickson was from Grand Forks, North Dakota, and he’s buried there in Memorial Park Cemetery.  He was survived by his wife Dona Mae Erickson.

     Lieutenant Erickson entered the U.S. Air Force in early 1951, and began his pilot training in August of 1952.  He received his wings and officer’s commission August 1, 1953, and had been assigned to Otis Air Force Base at the time of the accident.


     Falmouth Enterprise, “Pocasset Pilot Dies In Crash Of Aircraft”, March 26, 1954       Memorial # 24523991

Martha’s Vineyard – May 8, 1945

Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts – May 8, 1945 

Updated January 12, 2018


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

     On the morning of May 8, 1945, Lieutenant Joseph F. Koll, Jr., 29, of Boise, Idaho, was taking off from Martha’s Vineyard Naval Auxiliary Air Field in an F6F-5N Hellcat, (Ser. No. 70448), for a scheduled training flight.  When the aircraft had reached an altitude of about 50 feet it suddenly rolled over and dove into the ground and exploded, killing Lt. Koll.   The cause of the accident was undetermined.

     Lieutenant Koll’s body was brought to the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being transported to Idaho for burial.  He’s buried in Morris Hill Cemetery in Boise, Section N 68-2.  To see a photo of Lt. Koll, see Memorial #53030333.


     U.S. Navy crash investigation report

     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records.


Hyannis, MA – November 20, 1944

Hyannis, Massachusetts – November 20, 1944

     Very little information about this accident.

     On November 20, 1944, Ensign Andrew Charles Butko, 24, was killed in an aircraft crash at what was listed as “Cape Cod Airport” in Hyannis.  (This was likely present-day Barnstable Municipal Airport in Hyannis, Mass.)   

     Ensign Butko was assigned to Quonset Point Naval Air Station at the time of his accident.  He’s buried in McKeesport, Penn.

     Source: Rhode Island Department Of Health death certificate

Off Provincetown, MA – May 8, 1944

Off Provincetown, Massachusetts – May 8, 1944

41 52.1N/70 16.4W

     Few details are available about this accident. 

     Updated March 2, 2016

     On May 8, 1944, a navy plane out of Quonset Point Naval Air Station crashed in the ocean off Provincetown, Massachusetts, resulting in three fatalities.  The coordinates of the crash are listed above.  They were obtained from the Rhode Island Department of Health Death Certificates.

     The dead were identified as:

     Lt. Jg. Norwood Harris Dobson, 27, of Ellenboro, North Carolina.  He’s buried at Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Ellenboro.

     ARM 3c Arthur Normand Levesque, 18, of Lonsdale (Lincoln) Rhode Island. He’s buried Notre Dame Cemetery in Pawtucket, R.I.   

     (Missing) Aviation Ordinance man 3c John Werner Dahlstrom, 19, believed to be from Michigan.  Information about him was not listed among the death certificates.      


     Rhode Island Department of Health Death Certificates (N.K. GOV. 77) and (N.K. Gov. 78)

     Lewiston Evening Sun, “Identifies Fliers Killed In Cape Cod navy Plane crash”, May 10, 1944

Logan Airport – November 3, 1973

Logan Airport – November 3, 1973

Updated July 28, 2017

     On the morning of November 3, 1973, Pan American World Airways Flight 160 departed J.F. K. International Airport in New York bound for Scotland.

     The aircraft was a Boeing 707-321C (N458PA).  It was a scheduled cargo flight, with a crew of three aboard; the captain, John J. Zammett, 53, the first officer, Gene W. Ritter, 34, and the flight engineer, Davis Melvin, 37.  There were not passengers.

     The aircraft was carrying 16,000 pounds of chemicals including cylinders of nitric acid, and other types of acids.  The manifest also included 5,000 pounds of mail, 16,000 pounds of electrical components, and another 16,000 pounds of “miscellaneous items”.      

     At 9:04 a.m. Flight 160 advised Pan American Operations that they had a smoke condition on board and were diverting to Boston. 

     At 9:10 a.m. Flight 160 advised the smoke was getting thicker. A minute later they requested emergency equipment to be on hand when they landed. 

     As the plane approached Boston it was given “preferential air traffic control treatment” even though no emergency had been declared by the flight crew.

     At 9:31 a.m. Captain Zammett was asked if he was declaring an emergency, to which he replied, “Negative on the emergency, and may we have Runway 33 left?”   The request was granted.

     By 9:38 a.m. the aircraft was about four miles from the airport, but its transponder had evidently stopped working.  One minute later Flight 160 crashed 262 feet from the edge of Runway 33L. 

     Witnesses later reported that just before the crash they saw the left cockpit window open with smoke streaming out, and the plane was doing yaw and roll maneuvers before the left wing and nose slammed into the ground at a nearly vertical angle.  The plane was destroyed and all three men aboard were killed.

     The cause of the crash was determined to be excessive smoke in the cockpit which hampered the crew’s ability to control the aircraft.  As to the cause of the smoke, the NTSB investigation report, in Section 16 of the Technical Report Standard Title Page, stated in part, “Although the source of the smoke could not be established conclusively, the Safety Board believes that the spontaneous chemical reaction between leaking nitric acid , improperly packaged and stowed, and the improper sawdust packing surrounding the acid’s package initiated the accident sequence.”


     National Transportation Safety Board Accident Investigation Report, #NTSB-AAR-74-16, File #1-0026, Adopted December 2, 1974.

     Providence Journal, “Jet Crash At Logan Kills 3”, November 4, 1973 page 1, (photo of accident scene)

     Providence Journal, “Perilous Chemicals Fished From Boston Harbor”, November 5, 1973, page 24

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Boston Cargo Jet Crash Probed; Smoke May Have hampered Crew”, November 5, 1973, page 23


Norfolk, MA – August 9, 1964

Norfolk, Massachusetts – August 9, 1964

     On August 9, 1964, Eugene Levine of Medway, Mass., and Robert Eldridge of Natick, took off from Norfolk Airport in a 1958 piper Tri-Pacer airplane for a routine flight.  While returning to the airport, the plane developed engine trouble and the motor quit. Levine attempted to make an emergency landing in a hay field about a mile short of the runway, but as it neared the ground a gust of wind sent the craft into a row of trees causing it to crash.  Fortunately both men were wearing seatbelts and escaped without injury. 

     Source: Woonsocket Call, “2 Men Escape Injuries In Norfolk Plane Crash”, August 10, 1964, Pg. 1 

Rochester, MA – May 13, 1946

Rochester, Massachusetts – May 13, 1946

Updated October 15, 2023

Updated October 18, 2023

     On May 13, 1946, two U. S. Navy aircraft with lone pilots aboard were practicing aerial maneuvers over the town of Rochester, Massachusetts, when they collided in mid-air.  One aircraft had its tail sheared off, while the other lost a wing.  The tailless plane went down in Mary’s Pond, while the other crashed and exploded in a cranberry bog about 100 feet from the pond.  Both pilots perished in the accident. 

     Thee aircraft were SB2C Helldivers.   Both pilots had taken off from the Quonset Point Naval Air station in Rhode Island.  One newspaper account which appeared in the Waterbury Democrat stated that the planes were part of a six plane training flight. 

     One pilot was identified as Ensign Ralph Raymond Reid, 23, from Casper, Wyoming.  A photo of him can be found at:

     Ensign Reid was survived by his wife Margaret.

     His body was brought to Quonset Point Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, before being sent to Wyoming.

     The other pilot was identified as Ensign James C. Nichols, of Kings Mountain, North Carolina.   


     North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #46-33

     Waterbury Democrat, (Ct.), “Quonset Pilots Die In Plunge”, May 15, 1946. 

     Winston-Salem Journal, (N.C.), “Tar Heel Is Killed In Plane Collision”, May 16, 1946, pg. 8

     First hand written account of Connie Eshbach, from the files of the Rochester Historical Society, forwarded to New England Aviation History by Eric Wiberg, author and historian. 

Salisbury Beach, MA – July 10, 1920

Salisbury Beach, Massachusetts – July 10, 1920

Town of Salisbury, Mass.

Updated January 18, 2017

     On July 10, 1920, a small aircraft with three people aboard was on a sightseeing flight over Hampton and Salisbury beaches.  The pilot, Lieutenant Gordon L. Groah, of Lynn, Mass., routinely used this route for his sightseeing and exhibition flights.  The two passengers included Mrs. Richard H. Long, of Framingham, the wife of a prominent Massachusetts politician, and an aircraft mechanic from Pittsfield, Mass., who’s first name was Gaston, but there seems to be some confusion as to his last name.  Sources have spelled it Gornet, Cornet, Corrinet, and Gornorinett.  

     As the aircraft was at an altitude of several hundred feet over Salisbury Beach, it suddenly went into a dive and crashed on the beach in view of hundreds of beachgoers.  The mechanic leaped from the plane a second before it hit the ground, thus receiving minor injuries and saving his life.  Mrs. Long and Lieutenant Groah were pulled from the wreckage and rushed to Anna Jacques Hospital in nearby Newburyport, Mass., where they succumbed to their injuries.

     Richard H. Long, had been a Democratic candidate for Governor of Massachusetts, in 1919.   

     The following item was found in February 5, 1920 edition of The Iron Trade Review on page 450.

    “Boston – The Massachusetts Aircraft Corp. has been incorporated to build airplanes with $25,000 capital by Gordon L. Groah, Lynn, Mass.: John J. Hayes, Somerville, Mass., and M. G. McCarthy.”   


     Burlington Weekly Free Press, “Mrs. R.H. Long Killed In Plane Accident”, July 15, 1920, pg. 7

     New York Tribune, “Two Killed When Plane Falls At Salisbury Beach”, July 11, 1920

     Evening Star, (Washington, DC), “Two Die In Air Crash”, July 11, 1920

     Washington Herald, (Wash. DC), “Politicians Wife Killed In Crash”, July 11, 1920 

Newburyport, MA – August 4, 1910

Newburyport, Massachusetts – August 4, 1910

     On August 4, 1910, a man identified as W. A. Bowman took off in an airplane at Newburyport, Massachusetts, and crashed just after becoming airborne.

     The aircraft was a “Flying Fish” model, “Burgess aeroplane”.  The Flying Fish was a pusher-style biplane produced at the Burgess Company aircraft factory in Marblehead, Massachusetts.    

     According to the  Bridgeport Evening Farmer, “Bowman, who had never soared in an aeroplane before, took the machine out of the aerodrome and at once shot up to 60 feet.  There a great wind caught it and plunged it downward.  Its right wing hitting first, crumpled up, the main beam ploughing three feet into the earth, and Bowman was hidden under a mass of wreckage.”

     “The article went on, “The crowd dragged him out of a tangle of wires and wings.  He was dazed.  From his face and body blood poured from a score of cuts.  His right shoulder was bruised and a jagged cut over one eye blinded him in blood.”  It was also stated, (Bowman) was “injured internally and so badly crushed that he may die.”  

      Research has not been able to ascertain if Bowman survived.  

     One interesting item mentioned in the article referred to a Lieutenant Alexander L. Pfitzner, a Hungarian aviator, who had apparently had an accident with the same aircraft about three weeks earlier.  It the article it was stated, “Bowman’s flight was the first the unlucky plane has made since it fell with Lieutenant A. L. Pfitzner…” 

     Lt. Pfitzner’s accident occurred on July 9, 1910, when he crashed in the Plumb Island River during a test flight over Newburyport.  In that instance, the aircraft encountered a strong cross-wind while at a 100 foot altitude, and was forced down into the water.  Lt. Pfitzner was able to extricate himself and make his way to shore.  

      The lieutenant had come to America about 1902, and had been involved with aircraft design at the Herring-Curtis Aeroplane Company at Hammondsport, New York.  He helped to design the engine used in the aircraft Glenn Curtiss flew when he won the James Gordon Bennet Cup at Rheims, France, in 1909.  That same year Lt. Pfitzner came to Marblehead, Massachusetts, to serves as Superintendent overseeing the manufacture of Burgess-Curtis airplanes.  In that capacity, he had made about forty flights from Plum Island  at Newburyport, Mass.     


     The Bridgeport Evening Farmer, “”Hurt In Aeroplane Crash Bowman May Die”, August 4, 1910, Page 4.  

     (Woonsocket R.I.) Evening Call, “Flying Machine Drops Into River”, July 9, 1910, Pg. 1

     New York Tribune, “Aviator Takes His Life”, July 13, 1910.

    The Massachusetts Aviation Historical Society,




Newburyport, MA – July 9, 1910

Newburyport, Massachusetts – July 9, 1910  

     On July 9, 1910, Hungarian aviator, Lieutenant Alexander L. Pfitzner, 30, was test flying a “Flying Fish” model Burgess aircraft over Newburyport when at an altitude of about 100 feet the aircraft was suddenly caught by a strong cross-wind and went down in the Plumb Island River. Fortunately the tide was out and the water relatively shallow, and Pfitzner was able to extricate himself and make his way to shore.   

     A “Flying Fish” was a pusher-type biplane built by Burges Aircraft’s Marbelhead factory.  (See The Massachusetts Aviation Historical Society website for more information about this type of aircraft.)

     Lt. Pfitzner was a graduate of the universities in Charlotttenburg and Budapest, where he majored in engineering.  After graduating, he served in the Hungarian military as an artillery officer before coming to America about 1902.   He immigrated to New York, and became involved with aircraft design at the Herring-Curtis Aeroplane Company at Hammondsport, New York.  He helped design the engine used in the aircraft Glenn Curtis flew when he won the James Gordon Bennet Cup at Rheims, France, in 1909.  That same year Lt. Pfitzner came to Marblehead, Massachusetts, to serve as Superintendent overseeing the manufacture of Burgess-Curtis airplanes.  In that capacity, he made about 40 test flights from Plum Island in Newburyport, Mass.   

     The aircraft flown by Lt. Pfitzner was repaired, and later involved in another accident on August 4, 1910.  On that date, William Bowman crashed just after takeoff at Newburyport from an altitude of 60 feet and was seriously injured.  


     (Woonsocket, R.I.) Evening Call, “Flying Machine Drops Into River”, July 9, 1910, Pg. 1

      New York Tribune, “Aviator Takes His Life”, July 13, 1910

     The Bridgeport Evening Farmer, “Hurt In Aeroplane Crash, Bowman May Die” August 4, 1910, Pg. 4   


Revere Beach, MA – July 9, 1912

Revere Beach, Massachusetts – July 9, 1912  

     On July 9, 1912, Farnum T. Fish, was piloting a bi-plane over Revere Beach, flying from one end to the other, with his passenger, famous Pawtucket, R.I. aviator, John F. McGee.  At one point a wing dipped and touched the waves, causing the plane to plunge into the water and  tossing the occupants forty feet.  The plane suffered damage to the tail and propeller, but Fish and McGee were generally unhurt. 

Source: Boston Evening Transcript,”Aviator Fish Gets Wet”, July 10, 1912, Pg. 24 




Sandwich, MA – August 29, 1961

Sandwich, Massachusetts – August 29, 1961 


RB-57F.  The U.S. Version of the English Electric Canberra.  U.S. Air Force Photo.

RB-57F. The U.S. Version of the English Electric Canberra. U.S. Air Force Photo.

     On August 29, 1961, Major Harold D. LaRoche, 27, took off from Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, in a Martin B-57 Canberra en-route to Andrews Air Force base in Virginia.  (He was the only person aboard.)

     Shortly after take off  LaRoche radioed Otis tower that he had an emergency and turned back towards the base.  On his approach he crashed in the Forestdale section in the town of Sandwich, Massachusetts.  The plane exploded and the major was killed. 

     Major LaRoche was assigned to Ent Air Force base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and had been on a cross-country flight.     



Falmouth Enterprise, (Photo) “Wreckage Of Bomber Which Crashed In Forrestdale”, September 1, 1961

Off Nantucket – April 25, 1967

Off Nantucket – April 25, 1967

     At 6:30 p.m. on April 25, 1967, a “radar picket plane” with sixteen men aboard took off from Otis Air Force Base for patrol duty over the Atlantic.  “A half hour later,” it was reported, “eye witnesses heard the plane roaring over their homes at Madaket on the western end of Nantucket.”   

     The plane crashed into the sea off the western end of the island.  A commercial pilot flying in the area saw the plane go down, and said the Air Force pilot had made a deliberate effort to avoid crashing in the center of town.      

     The plane was piloted by Col. James P. Lyle Jr., 47, commander of the 551st Airborne Early Warning and Control Wing based at Otis.

     Of the sixteen men aboard, there was only one survivor: the navigator, Lieut. Joseph H. Guenet, 29, of Montreal.

     To learn more about this accident click here:

     This was the second radar plane out of Otis to be lost within two years.  The other went down in July, 1965, with sixteen lives lost.   


New York Times, “Plane with 16 Crashes Off Coast”, April 26, 1967

New York Times, “Air Force Seeks Survivors Of Crash Off Nantucket”, April 27, 1967

New York Times, “Hope Gone For 13 On Plane”, April 28, 1967

Missing Aircraft – April 27, 1966

Missing Aircraft – April 27, 1966


B-57 Reconnaissance Bomber U.S. Air Force Photo

B-57 Reconnaissance Bomber
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On April 27, 1966, an Air Force B-57 reconnaissance bomber was on a training flight from Newburgh, New York, to Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, when it disappeared after radioing a distress signal, presumably  somewhere near the Falmouth area. 

     There were two men aboard the aircraft: (Pilot) Major Malcolm T. Kalser, 42, of Biggs, California, and (Navigator) Major Frank N. Guzzetta, 40, of Darby, Penn.    

     After a widespread search nothing was found, and the Air Force called off the search after eight days.

     Then, on Sunday, May 9, 1966, two fishermen from Cuttyhunk Island reported finding what they though might be pieces of the missing aircraft on a nearby beach.  “The wreckage”, it was reported, “included one part about five feet long and a rubber de-icing boot.” 

     The pieces were turned over to the Air Force.


    Woonsocket Call, “Plane Search May Resume; Parts Found”, May 9, 1966, Pg. 6       

Off Sandwich, MA – June 24, 1956

Off Sandwich, Massachusetts – June 24, 1956


F-94 Fighter Jet U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Fighter Jet
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the evening of June 24, 1956, a flight of three F-94 Starifre jets left Langley Air Force Base in Virginia, en-route to Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  When they arrived at Otis they encountered poor weather conditions, and Otis tower held off their landing.  As the F-94’s circled in a three-jet formation, two of the jets ran out of fuel and crashed into the sea. 

     The pilot and radar observer of one jet were rescued after they bailed out over the ocean.  The pilot of the second plane was not recovered.  (His aircraft did not have a radar observer aboard.)      

     A Coast Guard helicopter out of Boston taking part in the search and rescue operations crashed in Boston Harbor where it encountered thick fog upon its return.  Two crewmen were rescued, a third was lost.

     No names were listed in the source article.

     Source: New York Times, “Two Jet Planes Crash”, June 25, 1956  

Boston, MA – June 26, 1987

Boston, Massachusetts – June 26, 1987

     On June 26, 1987, a twin-engine Piper Senica was approaching Logan Airport in heavy fog conditions when it crashed three miles short of the runway in a Boston residential neighborhood.  Although the pilot never radioed he was having a problem with the aircraft, one witness told reporters that he heard the engine sputtering before the crash.

     The aircraft struck a three-story home on Lonsdale Street in the city’s Dorchester section and exploded.  The resulting fire spread to three homes, and burned several cars.  The 21-year-old pilot was killed, and three people on the ground suffered burns, one critically.


     New York Times, “Airplane Plunges Into Boston Home”, June 27, 1987

Vineyard Sound – August 10, 1952

Vineyard Sound – August 10, 1952

Between Martha’s Vineyard and Falmouth, Massachusetts


F-94 Fighter Jet U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Fighter Jet
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On August 10, 1952, a U. S. Air Force F-94 fighter jet piloted by Captain Hobart R. Gay, 28, took off from Otis Air Force base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, for a training flight.  As he was returning to base, Gay radioed for landing instructions.  Just afterwards, a Coast Guard watchman reported seeing his aircraft suddenly plunge into the water of Vineyard Sound and disappear. 

     The crash was also witnessed by a Falmouth auxiliary policeman who reported he saw a “streak of light” drop from the sky.

     A search and rescue mission was immediately launched, but all that was found was an oil slick, and fragments of Captain Gay’s aircraft.  His body was never recovered.  

     Captain Gay was a 1946 graduate of West Point.  He flew 105 combat missions in Korea, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross, and Air Medal with three oak leaf clusters.

     He was survived by his wife Jane, and his son, Hobart R. Gay III. 


     New York Times, “Jet Crash Victim Found To be Hero”, August 12, 1952

     Falmouth Enterprise, “Auxiliary Policeman Sees Jet Plane Fall”, August 15, 1952






Seekonk, MA – August 14, 1932

Seekonk, MA – August 14, 1932

Green Farm – Seekonk

     On August 14, 1932, a Fairchild monoplane took off from Hillsgrove Airport in Warwick, R. I. with two men aboard for a sight seeing flight.  The pilot, Edward Abrams, 35, of Rehoboth, Massachusetts, had rented the airplane and was considering buying it.  Abrams had been giving rides in the airplane, and on this particular flight he was carrying Roland Holmes, 30, also of Rehoboth.

     As the plane passed over Seekonk, Massachusetts, according to the newspaper account, the pilot “attempted to execute a left spiral movement, and in doing so lost flying speed and sent the plane into a left spin at an altitude of less than 300 feet.”  The plane crashed on the Green Farm in Seekonk, about a quarter mile from the “Providence Airport” which is believed to be the What Cheer Airport in Pawtucket, as Providence didn’t have an airport.

     Roland Holmes was killed in the crash, and Edward Abrams suffered a fractured skull, and it was reported that he may not recover.

Source: Woonsocket Call, “Plane Passenger Killed In Crash; Pilot Is Injured”, August 15, 1932



Chatham, MA – July 11, 1949

Chatham, Massachusetts – July 11, 1949


Republic F-84C - U.S. Air Force Photo

Republic F-84C – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 12, 1949, 2nd Lt. William M. King, 25, of Kenmore, N.Y., was piloting an F-84 Thunderjet (Ser. No. 47-1475) on a gunnery practice mission over Cape Cod, Massachusetts, when he crashed on Monomy Point in the town of Chatham and was killed.   

     King was assigned to the 33rd Fighter Wing at Otis Air Force Base.

     Source: New York Times, “Pilot Killed In Jet Crash”, July 12, 1949   

Falmouth, MA – November 26, 1936

Falmouth, Massachusetts – November 26, 1936

     On November 26, 1936, Bernarr Macfadden, a well known physical fitness advocate, author, and magazine publisher, left New York in an airplane with three friends to fly to Falmouth, Massachusetts , to celebrate Thanksgiving at the home of Fulton Oursler, an author and magazine editor.    Also aboard the plane was Doctor Dana Coman, Helen Coman, (daughter of the doctor), Fern Matson, and the pilot.

     As the plane was landing at Coonamessett Airport in Falmouth, something caused it to turn over upside-down on the runway.  All aboard were wearing seatbelts which saved them from any injuries. 

     Coonamessett Airport was located in the Hatchville section of Falmouth, and was in operation between 1933 and 1968. 


     New York Times, “Macfadded In Air Crash”, November 27, 1936   

     Wikiedia – Coonamessett Airport

     Wikipedia – Bernarr Macfadden

Otis Air Force Base – July 9, 1954

Otis Air Force Base – July 9, 1954

Falmouth, Massachusetts

     On the afternoon of July 9, 1954, air force captain Robert J. Fox was scheduled to fly a single-engine L-20 airplane on a routine training flight from Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts.   As he was lifting off the runway at 4:05 p.m., the aircraft suddenly lost altitude dipping its wing which caught the ground causing the plane to crash.  Despite heavy damage to the plane, was no fire, and Captain Fox escaped without injury. 

     Fox was assigned to the 4707th Air defense Wing as a communications electronics officer.         


     Falmouth Enterprise, “Capt. Robert Fox Unhurt In Crash”, July 9, 1954

Taunton, MA – October 11, 1920

Taunton, Massachusetts – October 11, 1920

     On October 11, 1920, a plane piloted by Lt. Frederick Smith took off from Fall River, Mass. headed for Taunton.  While en-route, the engine suddenly stopped.  The aircraft fell 1,000 feet before crashing into a tree in Taunton.  Both Smith, and his passenger, Russell H. Leonard, a Fall River mill owner, escaped with minor injuries.    


     Falmouth Enterprise, “Aviator Smith In Accident”, October 16, 1920

     American Wool & Cotton Reporter, October 21, 1920 page(s) (65) 3721

Provincetown, MA – February 21, 1961

Provincetown, Massachusetts – February 21, 1961

     On February 21, 1961, Manuel Phillips was piloting a small private plane over the Provincetown area while his passenger, John D. Bell, was taking photographs, when the plane suddenly went down nose first into the water just off Long Point.  Both men were rescued and neither was seriously hurt. 

     Bell had been a staff photographer for the Falmouth Enterprise from November, 1955, until the summer of 1957.     

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Photographer Hurt In Airplane Crash”, February 24, 1961

Falmouth, MA – May 26, 1960

Falmouth, Massachusetts – May 26, 1960

Coonamessett Airport

     On the morning of May 26, 1960, Carl D. Jeschke, was practicing a landing approach at Coonamessett Airport in Falmouth, when the Aeronca Champ he was piloting suddenly lost power and crashed behind “the Knollwood” on Boxberry Hill Road.  Although the plane was heavily damaged, Jeschke was unhurt.

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Pilot Unhurt As Light Plane Crashes”, May 27, 1960



Naushon Island, MA – January 1, 1939

Naushon Island, Massachusetts – January 1, 1939

     On January 1, 1939, an aircraft with two men aboard left New Bedford Airport around 11:00 a.m., en-route to Nantucket.  The plane was piloted by Samuel N. Sweet; his passenger was William G. Barlow.   

     After leaving Nantucket, the engine began to sputter, so Sweet landed at Oak Bluffs Airport on Martha’s Vineyard to have the problem attended to. 

     “Everything seemed in order,” Sweet later told reporters, “so we headed for the mainland. We were flying at 2,000 feet over Naushon Island when the motor froze because an oil line became plugged.  I dropped her to 1,500 feet to regain speed, but couldn’t come out of the stall.  I looked about for a suitable landing place and spotted a golf course at the Moors.  Our glide carried us easily, but train tracks and telephone wires loomed up as I was about to land.  I didn’t dare go under because of the tracks, so when the plane was eight or ten feet from the ground I pulled the nose up and let her drop.” 

     Both men suffered non-life-threatening head injuries in the crash.   

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Plane Crashes At The Moors”, January 6, 1939

Falmouth, MA – July 15, 1951

Falmouth, Massachusetts – July 15, 1951

     On July 15, 1951, a two-passenger Luscombe trainer aircraft took off from Coonamessett Airport, (A small airport in Falmouth), for a sight seeing flight over the area.  As the pilot, Harold A. Fasick Jr. was flying over the home of his passenger, Larry Sands, the engine suddenly quit, and the plane crashed near St. Anthony’s Church in East Falmouth.  Neither of the two men were hurt. 

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Pilot Is Fines After Crack-up In East Falmouth”, August 10, 1951.   


Mashpee, MA – July 7, 1942

Mashpee, Massachusetts – July 7, 1942

     On July 7, 1942, a Luscombe trainer aircraft took off from Falmouth Airport with an instructor and student aboard.  While over the Popponesett Beach area of the nearby town of Mashpee, the aircraft’s controls became jammed and John Kerrigan, the instructor, and his student, Norman Nickerson, were forced to bail out.  Both men landed safely.  The airplane crashed in a wooded area between Popponesett Beach and the Waquoit section of Mashpee. 

     Kerrigan had been an instructor for over a year, and Nickerson had more than 100 hours of flight time.  Nickerson was making the flight to qualify for his civilian pilot instructors license.

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Plane Crashes”, July 10, 1942.  

Marlborough, MA – September 20, 1948

Marlborough, Massachusetts – September 20, 1948

     On September 20, 1948, the Democratic candidate for Governor of Massachusetts, Paul A. Dever, and Democratic candidate for treasurer, John E. Hurley, were on an airplane headed from Boston to Great Barrington when they encountered severe thunderstorms and made an emergency landing at Marlboro Airport.  Upon landing, the pilot overshot the runway and crashed into a fence heavily damaging the airplane.  Dever and Hurley were unhurt.

    Dever won the election, and served as Governor from January 6, 1949, to January 8, 1953.


     New York Times, “Dever Safe In Air Crash”, September 21, 1948.


Springfield, MA – August 16, 1932

Springfield, Massachusetts – August 16, 1932


Russell Boardman

Russell Boardman

     On August 16, 1932, famous aviator, Russell N. Boardman, 34, took off from Springfield Airport for a test flight of his new Gee-Bee, R-1, Junior Sportster, racing airplane, which he intended to fly in the Thompson Trophy Race in Cleveland, Ohio, later in the month.   According to witnesses, Boardman’s plane developed engine trouble and went into a low roll before spinning into the ground from an altitude of 800 feet.  The plane came down in a thickly wooded area but didn’t burn. 

     The plane was demolished and Boardman was seriously injured.  At first there was some question as to whether of not he’d live, but he rallied and recuperated over the next several months.   

     Unfortunately, Boardman was killed in another plane crash almost a year later on July 3, 1933.  In that incident, he was taking part in a trans-continental air-race and had stopped to refuel in Indianapolis.  After refueling, he crashed on take off when a gust of wind caught the wing of his plane. 

    Early in his flying career, Mr. Boardman had survived one other airplane crash in Cottonwood, Arizona.

     Mr. Boardman was famous for a 5,011.8 mile non-stop trans-Atlantic flight he’d made with John Polando from the United States to Istanbul, Turkey, in July of 1931.  For their accomplishment, both were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross per special order of U.S. President Herbert Hoover.  (The D.F.C. is usually only awarded to military personnel.)       

     For more information about their historic flight, see the book, Wings Over Istanbul – The Life & Flights Of A Pioneer Aviator, by Johnnie Polando.     

     Mr. Boardman was born in Westfield, Connecticut, in 1898.  He was survived by his wife and 5-year-old daughter, as well as one brother and three sisters.  He’s buried in Miner Cemetery in Middletown, Connecticut.  (For a photo of his grave see memorial # 71156334 at  

     For more biographical information about Russell Boardman, see


     New York Times, “Boardman Crashes, Condition Serious”, August 17, 1932

    Chicago Daily Tribune, “Flyer Boardman Crashes In Test Of Speed Plane”, August 17, 1932

     Boston Herald, “Russell Boardman Dies In Indianapolis, Crashed Saturday In East-West race”, July 4, 1933.

     History-Salt Boxes On Bass River website.  Article: “A baroness Came, And So Did A Countess, In The Heyday Of Yarmouth’s Salt Boxes”, by Bainbridge Crist, 1978.


Mystery WWII Aircraft – Martha’s Vineyard – 1958

Mystery WWII Aircraft – Martha’s Vineyard – 1958

Updated July 13, 2017


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

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

     On July 8, 1958, a fishing boat out of New Bedford, Mass. was dragging its nets off the western coast of Martha’s Vineyard when the nets snagged the wreckage of a WWII era navy aircraft.  The boat dragged the wreck to shallow waters about a quarter mile off an area locally known as Menemsha Bight, then placed a marker buoy on it, before proceeding to port at the Vineyard.

     There the captain of the boat encountered three divers at the dock, and asked one of them to check the condition of his boat propeller because he felt the snarled nets may have damaged it.  Afterwards, the divers, Percy Kingsley, of Cranston, R. I., James Cahill, of Danvers, Mass., and Bradford W. Luther Jr., of Fairhaven, Mass., went to explore the wreck.  

     The wreck was in about 15 feet of water, and heavily encrusted with marine life, which obscured any identification numbers, but the paint colors established it as a navy plane.  In the cockpit they found human bones, some of which they collected, along with an oxygen mask, a flying boot, and what may have been a life raft, and turned them over to the Coast Guard.     

     A navy salvage vessel out of Quonset Point, Rhode Island, was dispatched to the scene to attempt to raise the wreck.  Divers from the salvage boat identified the wreck as a Grumman Hellcat of World War II vintage.  However, it was not specifically stated in the newspaper articles whether or not the plane was actually recovered.  If the marine life could be removed, the identification numbers from the tail would identify the aircraft, and who had been flying it. 

     However, recovery of the wreck may have been possible, and it may have been photographed instead, because it was reported that photographs of the plane’s instrument panel had been forwarded to Washington for further identification.  

     The bones recovered from the cockpit were sent to Quonset Point Naval Air Station where it was reported that the senior medical officer, Captain M. H. Goodwin, planned to seek instructions from the Navy Bureau of Medicine.   (This was in a time long before DNA testing was available.)

     The Quonset public information officer told reporters that there had been only one inquiry about the remains found, and it came firm a man whom the navy did not identify, but said a member of his family had been lost during the war on a flight from his air craft carrier to Quonset Point. 

      As of this writing, the name of the pilot is unknown.  


     Providence Journal, “Remains Of Unknown Plane, Pilot Found”, July 9, 1958, Pg. 14

     Providence Journal, “Identification Of Pilot Sought”, July 12, 1958, Pg. 2      

     Vineyard Gazette, “Final Chapter In One Or More Plane Crashes Near”, July 14, 1958



Lincoln, MA – December 26, 1953

Lincoln, Massachusetts – December 26, 1953 

     On December 26, 1953, two aircraft, a Cessna 140, and a Stinson, were flying over Lincoln when they collided in mid-air.  Both aircraft made successful crash-landings in a field, but the Stinson caught fire afterwards causing burns to the pilot, Ambrose A. Peterson, of Lexington, Mass.  

     The two people aboard the Cessna, Joseph Yamron, 25, of Ventnor, N.J., and Sonya Garfinkle, 25, of Philadelphia, received non-life-threatening injuries. 

Source: New York Times, “3 Survive Mid-Air Crash”, December 27, 1953 

Franklin, MA – August 2, 1929

Franklin, Massachusetts – August 2, 1929

     In August of 1929, a barnstorming exhibition was to be given at the Indian Rock Race Track in Franklin.  In anticipation of the event, it was reported that the owner had “improved the field”.  

     “A windsock has been erected, and the top of the reviewing stand has been painted with the flying insignia with the lettering of an airfield.  Bushes along the runway have been cut down, and trees at one end cut so that a long glide can be made to the field.  the runway is a hard smooth dirt road which will be ideal for landing.  It is planned to have parachute jumping as a feature when the plane arrives.”

     Unfortunately, the expected aircraft was delayed one day due to stormy weather.     

     On August 2, it was reported that “The Command-Air” bi-plane arrived with Sergeant Julien Buckwalder of Bridgeport, Connecticut, at the helm, and H. Lester Metcalfe of Franklin as a passenger.  As the plane was coming in to land, the huge crowd of spectators suddenly rushed forward onto the landing field, apparently unaware of the danger they were putting themselves in.  To avoid injury to the people, Buckwalder aimed the plane for an un-mowed grassy area, and upon touching down the wheels hit a rut sending the plane into a ground loop before flipping over. 

     Both pilot and passenger climbed out of the wreck with minor injuries.  Upon seeing the crash, the swarm of humanity mobbed the aircraft ignoring the high octane fuel leaking from its tanks.  Fortunately no fire erupted.

     As a point of interest, on November 14, 1940, an unidentified pilot made an emergency landing with his small “flivver” aircraft in the center field of Indian Rock Race Track when he encountered bad weather while on his way from Philadelphia to Norwood (Mass.) Airport.   


Woonsocket Call, “Flyer Forced back By Storms”, August 2, 1929, Pg. 2

Woonsocket Call, “Plane crashes In Landing On franklin Field”, August 3, 1929

Woonsocket Call, “Pilot Makes Emergency Landing In Center Of Indian Rock Race Track”, November 14, 1940, Pg.2


Seekonk, MA – November 25, 1928

Seekonk, Massachusetts – November 25, 1928

     Shortly after 1 p.m. on November 25, 1928, a private plane carrying three young men took off from What Cheer Airport in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, for a sight-seeing flight.  Less than fifteen minutes later the plane crashed on Cole’s Farm in Seekonk. 

     The lone witness to the crash, Edward L. Cole, 17, stated the plane was passing over at an altitude of about 800 feet when the motor suddenly stopped, and the aircraft went into a spin and crashed. 

     The pilot, William Lang, 23, and a passenger, Stanislaus D’Ambra, 20, both of Providence, were killed instantly.  A second passenger, Francis Clancy 18, was still alive but gravely injured.  He died while en-route to Pawtucket Memorial Hospital.     

     Roland Coutu of Providence was supposed to go on the flight, but gave up his place to D’Ambra. 

     As often happened in such accidents, word of the crash spread quickly and thousands of curious onlookers descended on the scene. 


     Woonsocket Call,”3 Providence Men Killed In Seekonk Plane Crash”, November 26, 1928, Pg. 1       

     The Cranston News, “Cranston Boy Killed Instantly In Plane crash Sunday”, November 28, 1928, pg. 1

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

Boston Harbor, MA – May 18, 1930

Boston Harbor, Massachusetts – May 18, 1930

     On May 18, 1930, a 26-year-old man from Winthrop, Massachusetts, was test flying a new Curtiss – cabin monoplane over East Boston Airport when he suddenly developed a problem with the rudder.  He tried to bring the plane down on the airfield but overshot the landing and sailed out over the harbor and hit the water about 200 feet from shore.  

     Richard Cowden, a salesman for Curtiss-Wright, jumped into the water and swam to the pilot’s assistance. Both clung to a wing of the partly submerged aircraft until rescued by a motorboat sent from the air field.    

     The pilot was treated for cuts and immersion.

     Source: New York Times, “Saves Self In Plunge Of Plane Into Water”, May 19, 1930

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