Westerly, R.I. – July 9, 1978

Westerly, Rhode Island – July 9, 1978

     Shortly before 8:30 p.m. on the evening of July 9, 1978, a Piper Cherokee, (#N-5254S), took off from Westerly Airport with four people aboard, bound for Red Hook, New York.  Heavy fog and low cloud cover blanketed the area making for hazardous flying, but the experienced pilot was certified in instrument flight.  As the aircraft took off, it began a long slow turn to the right. 

     Meanwhile, a man was hitting soft balls to a group of boys in a field off East Avenue, not far from the airport.  He later told reporters that he’d heard the low flying aircraft before he saw it come out of the 100 foot cloud cover and crash.  He related how the aircraft came out of the clouds so low that he yelled for the boys to duck as it passed overhead.  The plane then banked to the right as the pilot tried to avoid some trees, and the right wing dropped and dug into the soil, causing the nose to slam into the ground.  The aircraft then cartwheeled for about 100 feet before coming to rest.  All four occupants perished, but nobody on the ground was injured.  


     Westerly Sun, “Westerly Crackup: The Pilot Had Lost His Bearings In Life”, July 23, 1978, page 1, (With diagram of crash scene.) 



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