Cheshire, MA – September 17, 1988

Cheshire, Massachusetts – September 17, 1988

Mt. Graylock

     On the evening of September 17, 1988, a single-engine Cessna 172, (Reg. no. N6586J), containing a pilot and two passengers, took off from Westerly, Rhode Island, bound for Bennington, Vermont.   As the aircraft was passing over western Massachusetts it encountered heavy fog and clouds and the pilot became disoriented. 

     At 6:30 p.m. the pilot radioed radar controllers that he was lost.  The controllers, seeing the aircraft blip on their screens, attempted to guide the pilot through the cloud cover to the nearest airport before the blip abruptly disappeared and all radio contact was lost.  A search was instituted shortly afterwards. 

     The wreckage of the plane was spotted by a helicopter crew the following afternoon on the east side of Mount Greylock in the town of Cheshire. When rescuers reached the scene, they found the two passengers deceased inside the aircraft.  The pilot was found one-tenth of a mile from the wreck, injured, but alive.  He had tried to make his way down the mountain to get help.

     The two passengers were from Vermont, and had gone to Rhode Island for a fishing trip.    

    At least two other plane crashes have occurred on Mt. Greylock; one on August 12, 1948, and another on April 2, 1958.     


     The Providence Journal, “Bodies To Be Pulled From Plane That Crashed on Mt. Greylock”, September 19, 1988, pg. A-2. 

    The Providence Journal, “2 Bodies Recovered From Mount Greylock Plane”, September 20, 1988, pg. A-16


Mt. Greylock, MA – April 2, 1958

Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts – April 2, 1958

Observation Tower on Mt. Greylock.

     On April 2, 1958, a U.S. Navy twin-engine Beech SNB-5 left Grosse Ile Naval Air Station in Michigan bound for South Weymouth Naval Air Station in Massachusetts, on a scheduled navigational training flight.   The plane carried a crew of two: the pilot, Commander Robert D. Vanderberg, 38, of Trenton, Michigan, and the co-pilot, Lieutenant Eugene B. Ganley, 24, of Grosse Ile.

     At about 1:30 p.m. the aircraft was in the vicinity of Albany, New York, where Commander Vanderberg communicated with the tower at Albany Airport.  The weather was snowy, with low clouds and poor visibility.  Just minutes after Vanderberg’s last transmission the Beech plowed into the cloud covered peak of Mt. Greylock.  The impact occurred on the southwest ridge just 50 feet below the 3,491 foot summit.     

     Lt. Ganley initially survived the crash, but succumbed to his injuries about an hour later.  Commander Vanderberg was seriously injured, and had to wait twenty-one hours in the frigid temperatures before help arrived. 

     A search and rescue helicopter circled twice overhead, but failed to see the wreckage due to the weather.  On the third pass the clouds lifted and the downed aircraft was seen.  Medical corpsmen T/Sgt. Charles Kansaku, and S/Sgt. Eugene Slabinski, were lowered from the hovering copter to treat Commander Vanderberg’s injuries.  Vanderberg was then airlifted off the mountain and brought to North Adams Hospital.   Kansaku and Slabinski were ordered to remain behind at the crash site until navy personnel arrived to take over.    

     Heavy snowfall hindered recovery and salvage operations.

     This is the only military aircraft accident known to have occurred on Mt. Greylock.   

     There are have been at least two civilian airplanes that have crashed on the mountain. One on August 12, 1948, and the other on September 17, 1988.  Both resulted in fatalities. 


     North Adams Transcript, (Ma.), “Injured Pilot Improving; Body Of Second held Here”, April 4, 1958  

     Naval Air Station Grosse Ile Virtual Museum – Crash On Mt. Greylock Page – NASGI SNB Crash on Mount Greylock

     Boston Globe, “Pilot Found Alive, 2 Presumed Dead After Plane Crash On Mt. Greylock”, September 19, 1988

     The Recorder – Greenfield, Mass.,, “Recorder Columnist Hikes Mount Greylock To Plane Wreckage”, by Chip Ainsworth, June 3, 2016  

Mt. Greylock, MA – August 3, 1912

Mt. Greylock, Massachusetts – August 3, 1912


    Early balloon with net On August 3, 1912, the balloon Boston, piloted by J. J. Van Valkenburg, president of the Aero Club of New England, ascended from Pittsfield, Massachusetts.  Also aboard was William C. Hill, treasurer of the club.  The balloon sailed northeastward towards Mt. Greylock, in the town of Adams.  While over the mountain, it hit what was described in the press as an “air hole” and abruptly dropped 1,500 feet and smashed into the tops of some trees.  It then inexplicably rose again, soaring to an altitude of 6,000 feet.  It then continued on a northeasterly course until landing in Rowe, Massachusetts.  Nether man was reported to be hurt. 

     Research has found another balloon flight over Mt. Greylock that almost ended in disaster.   On September 19, 1884, Mr. J. A. Rogers of Boston ascended in a balloon from North Adams, Massachusetts, to an altitude of 10,000 feet where he began to suffer from hypothermia.  As the balloon passed over Mt. Greylock it began to fall at a rapid rate, and it was with great effort that Rogers was able to throw out enough ballast to prevent the craft from crashing into the rocky summit.  With disaster averted, the balloon sailed off to the southwest and landed in Williamstown, Mass.            


     The Democratic Advocate, (Westminster, MD.), “Balloonist Drop 1500 Feet, Then Bounce Mile”, August 16, 1912 

     Daily Evening Bulletin, (Maysville, KY.) “Balloon Ascension”, September 22, 1884



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