Long Island Sound – August 28, 1935

Long Island Sound – August 28, 1935

     On the morning of August 28, 1935, Donald K. Phillips, 23, of Providence, Rhode Island, took off from Roosevelt Field on Long Island, New York, bound for Providence.  From there he planned to fly to Ohio for the Cleveland air races. 

      The aircraft he was piloting was a Stimson monoplane, and he was alone on board.  When he never arrived in Providence a large scale search was initiated.   

     Coast Guard vessels patrolled along the New England Coast from Connecticut to Salem, Massachusetts, but found nothing. 

     One man reported to the Danielson barracks of the Connecticut State Police that on the 28th he’d seen a low flying plane that appeared to be in trouble flying over the area of East Putnam.  The report was verified by several others, but descriptions of the airplane varied.  Police and volunteers searched the area, even searching from the air in a private airplane, but nothing was found. 

     The search was called off after a week as it was surmised by authorities that Phillips’ plane had most likely gone down in Long Island Sound.

     To date, no trace of him or his airplane was ever found. 


     Waterbury Democrat, “No Clue About Missing Flyer”, August 30, 1935. 

     Evening Star, (Washington, D.C.), “End Search For Flyer”, September 2, 1935

     Windham County Observer, “Missing Aviator Reported Seen In Area Near City”, September  4, 1935.


Missing Aircraft – July 19, 1984

Missing Aircraft – July 19, 1984

     On July 19, 1984, a single-engine Cessna 172N, (#N4950G), with two men aboard, left Martha’s Vineyard bound for New Jersey and disappeared in-route.  Part of the search and rescue response included six airplanes from the Massachusetts Civil Air Patrol, and three from the Connecticut CAP.   The search was hindered by thunderstorms and low cloud ceilings.  The search was called off after five days, with no trace of the missing aircraft being found.   


     Providence Journal Bulletin, “Search To Resume For Missing Plane”, July 21, 1984, page A-8

     Providence Sunday Journal, “Thunderstorms Halt Search For Missing Plane”, July 22, 1984, page C-6 

     Providence Journal, “CAP Calls OFF Search For N.J. – Bound Plane”, July 26, 1984, page C-3

     Aviation Safety Network, Wikibase #41951

Missing Aircraft – July 12, 1982

Missing Aircraft – July 12, 1982 

     At about 12:30 p.m. on July 12, 1982, a single-engine Grumman American, (N5637L), left Suffolk County Airport on Long Island, New York, bound for Fall River, Massachusetts.  There were two men aboard: the pilot, Stephen A. Weiss, (31), of East Providence, R.I., and a passenger, Raymond Mooney, (30), of Lindenhurst, N.Y.       

     The weather was poor, with low clouds and 400 foot ceilings.  Shortly after take off the pilot made a routine radio call to air traffic controllers, and this was the last transmission received by the aircraft. 

     The aircraft never arrived at Fall River, however, it wasn’t reported as missing until July 14th.  The following day an intensive air-sea search mission was implemented.   At times, foul weather hampered search efforts. 

     The aircraft had enough fuel for four hours of flight.

     An oil slick was spotted off Montauk, Long Island, but there are no reports that it was connected to the missing aircraft.

     One Long Island woman reported hearing a low flying plane on the 12th. 

     The search involved the Civil Air Patrol, U.S. Coast Guard, local and state authorities, as well as hundreds of civilian volunteers, but no trace of the missing plane or its occupants was found. 

     The search was called off on July 21st.


     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Air, Sea Search Fails To Find trace Of Missing R.I. Pilot And Friend”, July 16, 1982, page C-3    

     The Sun, (Westerly, RI), “Light Plane Missing Off Coast, July 16, 1982, page 1

     Providence Journal, “Searchers Scour Sea, Coast For Plane Flown By R.I. Man”, July 17, 1982, page A-5

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “100 Searchers Fail To Find Missing Plane”, July 19, 1982, page A-2

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “FAA Hit For delay In reporting Plane Missing”, July 20, 1982, page A-8

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Search For Missing Plane May End Today”, July 21, 1982, page A-8

     Providence Evening Bulletin, “Search For Missing Plane Ends”, July 22, 1982

     Providence Journal Bulletin, “FAA Workers Face Sanctions For Missing Plane”, August 7, 1982, page A-5



Missing Army Bomber – December 13, 1943

Missing Army Bomber – December 13, 1943


B-24 Liberator
U.S. Air Force Photo

     In the early morning hours of Sunday, December 13, 1943, a B-24 Liberator bomber took off from Westover Air Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts, for a training flight in preparation for overseas duty.  It was never seen again, and was presumed to have gone down in the waters off the New England coast.

     There were eight men aboard the missing aircraft, two officers and six enlisted men.  They were identified as:

     2nd Lt. William P. Masters of Klamath Falls, Oregon.

     2nd Lt. Robert Rollin Hansen, age 25, of Corcoran, California.

     Sgt. Dean G. McAffery, age 19, of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

     Sgt. Stanley E. Zagae, of Detroit, Michigan.

     Sgt. Bernard G. Stoeckley, of Fort Wayne, Indiana.

     Sgt. Cicel H. Conklin, of Kansas City, Mo.

     Sgt. Anson G. Wiseman, of Spruce Pine, North Carolina.

     Sgt. Anthony L. Greco, of Pittsburgh, Pa.

     It is believed that the aircraft was assigned to the 759th Bombardment Squadron, which was stationed at Westover at the time before leaving for overseas duty in January of 1944. 


     Unknown Newspaper, “Westover Bomber Missing; Air, Land Search Under Way”, December 13, 1943

     The Fresno Bee Republican, (Fresno, CA.), “Corcoran Flier’s Plane Is Missing”, December 14, 1943, page 15.      


Mystery Aircraft Pieces Recovered – 1945

Mystery Aircraft Pieces Recovered – 1945

     On July 30, 1945, it was reported in the Cape Cod Standard Times that the fishing boat “Wallace and Roy” had recovered pieces to an unidentified military airplane.  The artifacts included a portion of “what looked like a gun turret”, and an airplane life raft.  The articles were reportedly found about noon the previous day off Martha’s Vineyard, with no specified location given.  

     The raft was in good condition, indicating it hadn’t been in the water for very long, but there was no way to identify the aircraft the items came from.   

     Source: Cape Cod Standard Times, “Boat Brings In Plane Life Raft”, July 30, 1943.

Professor Hogan And His Lost Airship – 1889

Professor Hogan And His Lost Airship

July 18, 1889      

Updated May 5, 2017

Updated October 21, 2018

Updated January 3, 2022

    Some aeronautical mysteries actually pre-date the airplane.  A case in point involves the disappearance of Professor Edward D. Hogan and the airship, America, in 1889.  

     The America was an 18,000 cubic-foot gas-balloon shaped like a breakfast sausage with a gondola slung underneath.  It was 60 feet long and 42 feet wide, with hinged wings on either side. What made the airship different from traditional balloons of the era was a motor driven eight-foot-long propeller and a read rudder to give the ship steering capabilities.    

     The airship was designed and built by Peter Carmont Campbell, a Jeweler in Brooklyn, New York.  Campbell had contracted with Mr. Hogan to pilot his invention on its inaugural flight, which took place at the Nassau Gas Company yard at Kent Avenue and Clymer Street in Brooklyn.  Hundreds of people had come to witness the event.           

Professor Hogan and his airship – 1889

     On the morning of July 18, 1889, Professor Hogan climbed aboard the airship, and after giving a prearranged signal, the mooring lines were released.  To everyone’s surprise, the balloon shot up one-thousand feet in less than a minute where the wind began to push it in the opposite direction that the professor had intended.  Hogan started the engine hoping to gain control, but as he did, the propeller suddenly broke free and fell to earth, leaving the airship at the mercy of the wind. 

     The America quickly drifted eastward out over Long Island Sound and out of sight.  Being blown out to sea was an aeronaut’s worst nightmare for it almost always meant certain death for airships and balloons didn’t carry lifeboats or provisions.  Why the professor didn’t release some of the gas and make an emergency landing is open to speculation.  Perhaps he was unable to do so. 

    One report which appeared in The Evening Bulletin, (Maysville, Kentucky), on July 19, 1889, indicates a possible explanation.  According to the airship’s inventor, the craft was not built according to his specifications in that the release valve to allow gas to escape from the balloon was placed at the bottom of the passenger car, and not well above the pilot’s head.  The article sated in part, “All experienced aeronauts agree that the neck of the balloon should be at least fifteen feet above the car so that there would be abundant opportunity for the escape of gas without imperiling the life of the man manipulating the air ship.”  Therefore it was theorized that if Hogan had tried to vent gas from the balloon that he may have been overcome and rendered unconscious.  

      At about 5:30 that evening, the America was reportedly sighted by a schooner ten miles off Sandy Hook, New Jersey.  The crew later reported that the balloon was dragging a rope beneath it through the water.  The schooner gave chase, but when it began to get close, the rope suddenly released and the craft abruptly ascended into the air and out distanced the boat.  

     Messages were relayed up and down the northeast coast to be on watch for the disabled airship.  One report sent from Providence, Rhode Island, stated that a balloon believed to the America had passed over the city about 7 p.m., but some in New York discounted this claim. 

     The following day the captain of the pilot boat Caprice reported seeing a balloon dragging its basket along the surface of the ocean at a point about 130 miles east of Atlantic City, New Jersey, and gave the coordinates as 39.40 Latitude, 71.40 Longitude.  The captain said his boat gave chase, but lost sight of the craft near sunset when the balloon collapsed.  This report was also viewed with skepticism as the winds had reportedly been blowing in a northeast direction when Hogan was last seen, which should have carried him towards New England.        

     A few months later there was some speculation that Hogan might still be alive and living in seclusion in another country, but neither he nor the America were never seen again.  (See newspaper article below.)

     A footnote to this tragedy involves Professor Hogan’s brother, George, of Ann Arbor, Michigan.  On August 29, 1891, George Hogan was performing on a trapeze suspended beneath a balloon, 1,000 feet in the air over a fairground, when lost his grip and fell to his death.  He was survived by a wife and child.   

Click on newspaper articles to enlarge. 

The Griggs Courier, (N.D.)
July 26, 1889

The Griggs Courier (N.D.)
July 26, 1889

Waterbury Evening Democrat (Ct.)
January 8, 1891

Other Sources:

The Silver State, (UT.), “An Airship Completed, April 19, 1989

The Evening World, (NY), Adrift At Sea, July 18, 1889

New York Times, “Plunged Into The Ocean” July 19, 1889

New York Times, “Aeronaut Hogan’s Fate”, July 20, 1889

(Woonsocket) Evening Reporter, “Aerial Navigation”, July 20, 1889, pg. 4

The Evening Bulletin, (Maysville, KY.) “Hogan’s Lost Airship”, July 19, 1889 

The Evening Bulletin, (Maysville, Kentucky), “George Hogan Loses Hold On A Trapeze Bar And Is dashed To death”, August 31, 1891


Missing Aircraft – April 19, 1980

MISSING AIRCRAFT – April 19, 1980

Aircraft: Cessna 150, Registration N19593

      At 9:00 a.m., on April 19, 1980, a Cessna 150 left Bayport Airdrome on Long Island, New York, for a three-leg navigational training flight to Newport, Rhode Island, then to Oxford, Connecticut, and back to Bayport.  The pilot was 55-year-old Rose Heinlen, a student pilot from Lake Ronkonkoma, N.Y. with less than 60 hours of flight time.  Somewhere between Long Island and Newport she and the Cessna disappeared and have not been seen since.  No distress calls were received.

     Civil Air Patrol wings from New York, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, as well as the U.S. Coast Guard participated in the search.  25 aircraft of all types searched the waters from Montauk, Long Island, to Martha’s Vineyard, including waters along the coasts of three states.  

     One area of focus was Narragansett Bay north of the Mount Hope Bridge, where it was reported that an oil slick had been sighted on the water.  A Coast Guard vessel sent to investigate found only a wooden raft that was not connected to the missing plane.

     One woman reported that she had seen an airplane resembling a Cessna flying only ten feet off the water of Narragansett Bay on the day of the disappearance. Three fishermen later corroborated this, but nothing was found. 

     Part of the investigation revealed that a steady 20 to 30 knot wind had been blowing at the time of the flight which could have pushed the aircraft as much as 300 degrees off course towards Cape Cod and the islands, and Mrs. Heinlen may not have been aware of this.

     On April 23rd it was reported that Mrs. Heinlin may have communicated with another pilot via radio between 10:30 and 11:00 a.m. stating she was lost.  The revelation came about after a Rhode Island pilot reported hearing a radio conversation between a woman and another pilot.  The woman stated she was lost, and the pilot was attempting to give her directions.  Unfortunately, the pilot giving directions was never identified. 

     As of this time the case remains open. 


Providence Journal, “4-state Search For Small Plane Centers Briefly In Touisset Area”, April 22, 1980, Pg. A-3

Providence Journal, “Lost Pilot May Have Sought Directions”, April 23, 1980, Pg. B-13

Providence Evening Bulletin, “CAP Widens Search For Lost Cessna”, April 22, 1980, page A-6    





The Disappearance Of Captain Mansell R. James

The Disappearance of Captain Mansell R. James

By Jim Ignasher


Captain Mansell James

     One of New England’s most intriguing aviation mysteries relates to the unexplained disappearance of 25-year-old Royal Air Force Captain Mansell R. James, who vanished without a trace in the spring of 1919. James was a native of Ontario, Canada, who’d served overseas with the R.A. F. during World War I downing eleven enemy aircraft. He’d come to the United States to enter a contest sponsored by the Boston Globe newspaper for the fastest flight-time between Atlantic City, New Jersey, and Boston, Massachusetts. To the winner would go a trophy and cash prize of one-thousand dollars.

     On May 28, 1919, James made a flight from Atlantic City to Boston in a Sopwith Camel biplane, the same type of aircraft he’d flown in combat during the war. He landed in Boston having flown at an average speed of 115 miles per hour, successfully eclipsing the fastest speed to date of 90 miles per hour. To this, the Boston Globe reported in part, “This is one of the fastest flights ever made in this country and will in all probability capture the Globe Trophy and cash prize of $1,000.” 

     When it came time to leave Boston, James reportedly flew to nearby Saugus, Massachusetts, to have the air ballast tank on his airplane refilled.  Prior to leaving Saugus it was discovered that the compass of his aircraft wasn’t working properly, but James was an experienced airman, and intended to navigate by following the railroad tracks of the New York, New Haven & Hartford Railroad towards Atlantic City.      

     He left Saugus about 6:00 p.m., but while passing over Boston he inadvertently began following tracks belonging to the Boston & Albany Railroad.  These tracks led him in the wrong direction, leading him across central and western Massachusetts.  At about 7:30 p.m.  he landed in the small town of Tyringham, Massachusetts.  There he spent the night with the intention of resuming his trip in the morning.

     Newspaper accounts of what happened next vary slightly, but the basic facts are this; on the morning of May 29, 1919, Captain James took off from Tyringham, Massachusetts, bound for Mitchell Field on Long Island, New York, where he intended to refuel.  (Some news reports state he left from the town of Lee, Massachusetts, a town that borders Tyringham.) From Mitchell Field James was expected to continue on to Atlantic City.

    In leaving Tyringham, James reportedly stated he intended to follow the Housatonic River, which flows southward through Massachusetts and Connecticut all the way to Long Island Sound.  From there he intended to cross the Sound to Long Island. (Other reports say he intended to follow railroad tracks.) When he failed to appear at Mitchell Filed it was initially assumed that he’d changed his plans and flew to Toronto, Canada, instead.  However, inquiries from Mitchell Field officials proved this not to be the case.

     A search was begun, but it was like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. It was almost June, and the trees were in full foliage thus making it difficult if not impossible to spot a downed airplane. Furthermore, the New England countryside in 1919 was very rural, with literally thousands of square miles of forests, rivers, and lakes, capable of easily swallowing a small airplane.

     At least five military aircraft from Mitchell Field were brought in for the search, and in some areas ground volunteers probed the woodlands, but it was all mostly guesswork, for there were many possibilities. Captain James could have gotten lost or disoriented in low level clouds, and with an inoperable compass flown miles off his intended course. He could have gone down in the Housatonic River, flown into a thickly wooded hillside, or even fallen into Long Island Sound.    

     With no immediate leads, authorities appealed to the public for information, and possible sightings of James’s plane began to trickle in. One early report had James over the town of Winchester, Connecticut.  Another report held that an airplane, possibly in distress, had been heard over West Cornwall, Connecticut. Still others came forth with sightings that ranged from the Mt. Riga area of Salisbury, to Windham, to Stratford, as well as the town of Millerton, in upstate New York. Unfortunately the reports lacked confirmation that it was actually James’s airplane that had been sighted, and investigators had to keep in mind that Captain James’s airplane wasn’t the only one in the sky at the time of his disappearance.

   On June 7th it was reported that one of the military aircraft taking part in the search suffered engine failure and crash-landed in the town of Newburgh, New York. By this point James had been missing six days and since he wasn’t known to have taken any food or water with him, hopes that he may still be alive, but injured, began to fade. It was assumed that if or when James was found, it would likely be by accident.        

     There were no significant developments in the case until two months later when a hiker from Lakeville, Connecticut, reported that he may have discovered the wreck of James’s airplane in a valley between Mt. Riga and Bear and Monument mountains. The man reported that on July 31st he’d been berry picking on Mt. Riga about three miles in from the nearest road, when he came upon a foul odor wafting in the air. From a rocky ledge, he looked down and saw what may or may not have been the remains of an airplane; he couldn’t be sure due to the distance involved.  

     The man returned to the area the following day with his nephew, but they were unable to locate the place from which he’d made his observation. Further expeditions were carried out, and in one instance a reporter from the Hartford Courant newspaper went along, but no sign of the missing aircraft was found.

     On October 2, 1919, a small but intriguing news item appeared in the Norwich Bulletin, a now defunct Connecticut newspaper that read as follows: “A badly mutilated body was washed ashore in Hempstead Bay, L.I. A wrist watch thought to be that of Capt. Mansell R. James, a lost British aviator, was the only clew to identification.” (The word “clew” was their spelling.)

Norwich Bulletin, October 2, 1919

     Could this have been the body of Mansell James four months after his disappearance, or that of some other unfortunate person who happened to wear a similar watch?  Unfortunately contemporary research revealed that there doesn’t appear to be any further information available concerning this incident.

     Several Long Island libraries with historic newspaper microfilm collections were contacted via telephone, but none were able to locate any articles in local papers about this incident.  However, it should be noted that some collections were incomplete.

    Furthermore, the Norwich Bulletin didn’t name the town where the body allegedly washed ashore.  Hempstead Bay is a large body of water located on the north shore of Long Island and faces out to Long Island Sound.  It’s bordered by four separate municipalities along its shoreline: Sands Point, North Hempstead, Glen Cove, and Oyster Bay.  Contacting town halls revealed that none of these municipalities seem to have any vital statistic record of an unidentified body being recovered from the water during the time frame of late September to early October of 1919.  However, it should be noted that one stated their death records only go back as far as 1920.

    Therefore, as of this writing, the mention of the body adds yet another page to this unsolved mystery. 

   In the spring of 1921, some fishing boats began snagging their nets on “something” lying on the bed of the Hudson River about three miles north of Poughkeepsie, New York. In mid-June a group of fishermen got together with their boats and attempted to raise whatever it was and remove if from the river. Unfortunately the attempt was unsuccessful, for the ropes reportedly broke just as the object was coming to the surface. However, those who were able to get a brief glimpse of the object claimed it was an airplane. On June 22ed, the New York Tribune reported in part, “A vain attempt of the fishermen to raise it resulted in a partial view of the object and the report was that it is an airplane.” Some of the ropes that had been attached to the object reportedly had green paint coloring on them, and it was noted that James’s plane had been painted green on its underside.

     On June 25th a second attempt to raise the object was undertaken, and this time it was successfully brought to the surface. Instead of an airplane, the object was positively identified as a huge log. The alleged green paint was attributed to algae on the log.

     Four-and-a-half-years later interest in the disappearance was renewed when in December of 1925 a hunter reported finding a wrecked airplane in the woods of Tyringham, Massachusetts, the area from which Captain James began his ill fated trip. Unfortunately the hunter was from New York, and unfamiliar with the area, and was unable to lead searchers back to his discovery.  

   Then on May 19, 1927, the U.S. Coast Guard boat 290 was involved in a search for the missing French aircraft, White Bird, when the crew recovered an aircraft wing found floating in Fort Pond Bay near Montauk Point on the southern tip of Long Island. The wing bore no markings and had evidently been in the water for a long time. After examination, authorities didn’t believe it to be related to the missing French airplane, but some raised the possibility of it being connected with Capt. James’s disappearance, however this was never established.

     The disappearance of Captain James eventually faded into obscurity, but the mystery of what happened to him still remains.  


Boston Daily Globe, “Capt. James Loses Way Lands In Tryingham”, May 29, 1919, page 1

Boston Daily Globe, “Briton Makes Remarkable Flight For Globe Trophy”, May 29, 1919.

New York Times, “Seek British Ace Missing In Flight”, June 2, 1919

New York Times, “Air Search For James”, June 3, 1919

The Barre Daily Times, (Vermont), “Missing Airman Being Sought”, June 3, 1919

Hartford Courant, (Conn.), “To Search West Cornwall Woods For Lost Airman”, June 3, 1919

Hartford Courant, “Airman Here Seeking Missing Canadian Ace, Believes He Is Dead”, June 4, 1919

Hartford Courant, “No Trace Yet Of Missing Aviator”, June 4, 1919

New York Times, “Five Army Planes Hunt Lost Aviator”, June 4, 1919

Hartford Courant, “Find No Trace Of Missing Ace”, June 5, 1919

The Bennington Evening Banner, (Vermont), “Hope Of Finding Captain James”, June 5, 1919

New York Times, “Seek Missing Airman In Wooded Wilderness”, June 5, 1919

Hartford Courant, “Believe James Fell Into Sound”, June 6, 1919

Harrisburg Telegraph, (Penn.), “Stunt Aviator To Hunt James”, June 6, 1919

The Washington Herald, (Washington D.C.), “Fliers Abandon Hunt For Lost Brisitsh Ace”, June 6, 1919

The Bridgeport Times And Evening Farmer, (Conn.), no headline – news item of W. C. Magune sighting James’s plane over Stratford, Conn.

Hartford Courant, “James Traced Close To Sound”, June 7, 1919

Norwich Bulletin, (Conn.), “Tracing Course Of Missing Aviator James”, June 7, 1919

The Evening World, (N.Y.), “Pulitzer Trophy Draws Crowds”, June 10, 1919

Hartford Courant, “Believe British Ace Gone Two Months Lies Dead In Mt. Riga Gully”, August 6, 1919

The Sun (New York),”Thinks He Saw Aero Of Lost Capt. James”, August 6, 1919

The Bennington Evening Farmer, (Vermont), “Saw Wrecked Airplane”, August 7, 1919

Hartford Courant, (Conn.) “No Hope Held Out Of Finding Aviator’s Body”, August 9, 1919

New York Tribune, “Obstruction In Hudson May Be British Plane”, June 22, 1921

New York Times, “Wreckage In Hudson May Be Lost Plane”, June 22, 1921

New York Tribune, “Captain James’s Plane Believed Found In River”, June 23, 1921

Norwich Bulletin, (Conn.) “Fishermen Unable To Raise Hudson Obstruction”, June 23, 1921

Hartford Courant, (Conn.) “Sunken Object In Hudson River Is Not Airplane”, June 26, 1921

Ottawa Citizen,(Canada), “Search Tyringham Woods For Plane”, December 17, 1925, page 5

Buffalo Courier, (N.Y.), “Find No Trace Of Airplane Reported Wrecked In Woods”, December 18, 1925

The Meriden Daily Journal, (Conn.), “Missing Plane Wing Claimed”, June 7, 1927, page 3

Canadian War Project, www.canadianwarproject.com



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

Missing Aircraft – February 10, 1943

Missing Aircraft – February 10, 1943

Updated June 30, 2017

     On the afternoon of February 10, 1943, a U.S. Army O-47B observation plane, (ser. #39-72) with two men aboard left Bradley Field in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, bound for Mitchel Field on Long Island, New York, and disappeared en-route.  Searchers flying the intended route of the plane failed to locate anything.  It’s possible that the plane went down in Long Island Sound.

     The pilot was Flight Officer Talmadge J. Simpson, 23, of Atlanta, Georgia, and his observer was Corporal Louis T. Vogt Jr., 25, of Brooklyn, New York.     

     Update: This aircraft was located in October of 1976 in 50 feet of water near the Long Island Lighting Company loading platform in Northport, Long Island, New York, when a fishing boat snagged it nets on the wreckage.  


      New York Times, (No headline – press release from Westover Field, Massachusetts, from the Eastern Defense Command.), February, 14, 1943  

     Newsday, (long island, N.Y.), “A 33-Year-Old Mystery In The Sound”, October 24, 1976 

Off Nantucket – December 10, 1944

Off Nantucket – December 10, 1944


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

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

     On the night of December 10, 1944, a flight of eleven U.S. Navy planes were engaged in practicing night carrier breakups and rendezvous near Nantucket Island.  One of those aircraft, was an F6F-5 Hellcat, (#58277),piloted by Ensign John Daniel Cassidy, 20, of Fighter Squadron 88, (VF-88).  Ensign Cassidy was second section wingman in Lt. John Ignatius Drew’s squadron.  Lt. Drew was also piloting an F6F-5, (#58164). 

     At some point Cassidy and Drew became separated from the group, but their absence wasn’t noted until Cassidy called the flight leader asking for their position.   The position was given, and no further communications from Cassidy or Drew were received.  Neither of the two pilot’s or their aircraft were ever seen again. 

     The night was very dark, but clear, with scattered clouds at 2,000 feet. The pilots were familiar with the area, and investigators determined that the likelihood of them becoming lost was small, and theorized that they may have been involved in a mid-air collision of suffered the effects of vertigo and crashed into the sea.   

     A memorial marker to Ensign Cassidy was erected in Rose Hill Cemetery in Macon, Georgia.  It states he was “lost at sea”.    


     U.S. Navy Crash Briefs for each aircraft/pilot dated December 10, 1944

     www.findargave.com, Memorial# 30180216

The Mystery of Gerhard Finkenbeiner – 1999

The Mystery of Gerhard Finkenbeiner


     On the afternoon of May 6, 1999, Gerhard Finkenbeiner, 69, took off in a single-engine Piper Arrow, (Reg. N8235Z), from Wiggins Airport in Norwood, Massachusetts, and neither he or his airplane have been seen since.  

     His intended destination was unknown for he didn’t file a flight plan. 

     The weather was relatively clear with 7 to 10 miles good visibility.

     Once he was reported “missing”, authorities began an intensive search. 

     The Massachusetts Wing of the Civil Air Patrol obtained radar data from the Federal Aviation Administration.  This data was included in the National Transportation Safety Board, (NTSB), report narrative, which reads in part: “Air traffic control radar began tracking a target squawking 1200 in the Norwood area, about the same time the missing airplane was suspected of departing.  The target tracked southbound to a point 5 miles south of Taunton Airport, then turned eastward at 1506:02.  At that time, the altitude of the target was 1,100 feet.  At 1506:14, at 41 degrees, 49 minutes, 83 seconds, north latitude, and 70 degrees, 49 minutes, 22 seconds west longitude, radar contact was lost.  At 1518:14, a target was observed at 41 degrees, 50 minutes, 32 seconds, north latitude, 70 degrees, 46 minutes, west longitude, at an altitude of 500 feet.  There were no further contacts.”

     Assuming that the radar contact was Mr. Finkenbeiner’s aircraft, the search was initially centered in the area of Carver, Massachusetts.  However, it was also speculated that Mr. Finkenbeiner may have attempted to fly to Jaffrey, New Hampshire, where he owned another home.   Another area of interest to searchers centered around the Danielson, Connecticut, area where witnesses reported seeing a plane circling that may have been in trouble.   Despite repeated searches, nothing was found.  

     Mr. Finkenbeiner was a well known manufacturer of glass armonica’s; an instrument introduced in the 1700s by Ben Franklin.  The business is still in operation today. See www.finkenbeiner.com  

     What happened to Mr. Finkenbeiner and his aircraft is open to speculation, and to this day there are those still hoping to bring the matter to a close. 

    One website dedicated to solving the mystery can be found at The Search For Gerhard Finkenbeiner – Rick’s Home Page, iroc305.tripod.com/id53.htm 



     National Transportation Safety Board report, #NYC99FAMS3

     Boston Globe, “Glass Armonica Maker vanishes”, May 9, 1999, Pg. B01

     Lewiston Sun Journal, “Authorities Perplexed By Missing Pilot”, May 10, 1999

     Providence Sunday Journal, “Conn. Police To resume Search For Missing Plane”, November 14, 1999

     Providence Journal, “Missing Plane Remains A Mystery”, November 22, 1999









Missing Aircraft – November 28, 1964

Missing Aircraft – November 28, 1964

     On November 28, 1964, a blue and white Cessna with four Rhode Island men aboard left North Philadelphia bound for Hillsgrove Airport, in Warwick, Rhode Island,  and vanished en-route.  (Hillsgrove Airport is today known as T.F. Green Airport.)

     And extensive land and sea search was conducted, and included all areas between  Atlantic City, New Jersey, to all across Connecticut, and Rhode Island.  Both military and Civil Air Patrol aircraft took part. Police agencies were notified to be on the alert.

     At one point it was thought the wreckage of the plane had been spotted from the air in a wooded area of Bozrah, Connecticut, however what was thought to be the airplane was actually an old abandoned car.

     On December 6 and 7 heavy snow blanketed the region hindering further search efforts.

     Despite the best efforts to locate the plane, no trace of it was ever found, and it was speculated that the aircraft may have gone down in the ocean.   

    The missing men were identified as:

     Pilot: Eugene Simoneau, 35, of Crasnton, R.I.

     Ralph H. Worrall, 42, of Warwick, R.I.

     Edward M. Balkin, 46, of Warwick, R.I.

     Edward Underhill, 47, of Warwick, R.I.


     Woonsocket Call, “4 RI Men Missing In Small Plane”, November 30, 1964  

     The Morning Record, “Thousands Powerless In Wake Of Blizzards”, December 8, 1964

     The Daily Register, “Small Plane Still Missing”, December 3, 1964, Section 2, page 1

     City of Warwick, Rhode Island, vital records.   

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       

The Disappearance Of Lieutenant Jg. Arthur J. Cassidy Jr. – March 30, 1943

The Disappearance of

Lieutenant (Jg.) Arthur J. Cassidy Jr. – March 30, 1943


U.S.S. Ranger (CV-4)  U.S. Navy Photo

U.S.S. Ranger (CV-4)
U.S. Navy Photo

     On March 30, 1943, a late winter storm blew into New England from across New York.  It was nothing significant in relation to its duration, or the amount of snowfall, but it was underestimated, and left behind a mystery that to this day has never been solved.   

     On that day the USS Ranger (CV-4) was steaming off the coast of Massachusetts heading towards the Boston Navy Yard for some refitting.  As a precaution, the ship’s aircraft were to be sent inland.  Below decks the pilots joked in the ready room as the planes were fueled for takeoff.  Their final destination was to be Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island, but first they were to stop at Squantum Naval Air Station in Quincy, Massachusetts, and obtain an updated weather forecast.  If it was favorable, they were to proceed to Quonset.  If not, they were to wait at Squantum.

     Unfortunately, this information was not relayed properly to the pilots, and as a result, all aircraft headed directly for Quonset and flew head-on into the storm.  There were thirty aircraft in total; twenty-five F4F Wildcat fighters, four SBD Dauntless dive bombers, and one TBF Avenger torpedo bomber.      

Lt. Jg. Arthur J. Cassidy (left) aboard the USS Ranger with "Red Ripper's" insignia on jacket.  National Archived Photo

Lt. Jg. Arthur J. Cassidy (left) aboard the USS Ranger with “Red Ripper’s” insignia on jacket.
National Archived Photo

     As bad weather closed in visibility dropped to zero.  The cloud cover began at 200 feet and extended all the way up to 7000 with icing conditions.  It wasn’t long before the aircraft got separated, and in some cases lost. Radio communications became garbled with intermittent static, leaving each pilot to his own devices.  

     The first aircraft to run into trouble was an SBD Dauntless, (Bu. No. 06826) piloted by Lt. Lukes M. Boykin.  His aircraft developed carburetor icing and was forced down in the water off Swampscott, Massachusetts.  Fortunately he and his radioman H. H. Reed were rescued by the Coast Guard.      

     Meanwhile, Wildcat #12196 piloted by Lt. Theodore A. Grell went down over Fall River, Massachusetts, most likely due to ice buildup.  Fortunately, Grell was able to bail out safely from an altitude of barely 200 feet!     



Red Rippers squadron insignia

Red Rippers squadron insignia

     Other members of the Ranger’s aircraft contingent were also in trouble.  Three Wildcat aircraft, #12143, #12186, and # 12179), got lost and wound up low on fuel over the small town of New Paltz in upstate New York.  After circling for several minutes they made an emergency landing in an open field. 

     Despite the accidents, by the end of the day all of the Ranger’s airmen had been accounted for except for Lieutenant (Jg.) Arthur Cassidy.  A check of all New England airfields revealed that he had not landed at any of them, nor had any municipalities reported any downed aircraft that the military wasn’t aware of. 

     The last possible sighting of Cassidy and his aircraft came from a woman in Attleboro, Massachusetts, who reported that she had seen a navy plane in distress over the North Attleboro area about 4:00 p.m. the day of the storm. It should be noted that there was no proof that the plane the woman saw was actually Cassidy’s aircraft, but with nothing else to go on, the navy took it as such, and began an intensive search.      

U.S. Navy Wildcat like the one Lt. Jg. Cassidy vanished in March 30, 1943. U.S. Navy Photo

U.S. Navy Wildcat like the one Lt. Jg. Cassidy vanished in March 30, 1943.
U.S. Navy Photo

     Media outlets were notified, and others came forward claiming to have seen a plane in trouble, but despite their eagerness to help, none of the witnesses were able to provide any useful information.  

     A massive air and ground search was conducted involving hundreds of military men, police, fire, and civilian volunteers. The search was widened to include several nearby towns in the Attleboro region as well as northern Rhode Island, but no trace of the plane or Lt. Cassidy was ever found. Some thought the Wildcat might have gone down in a large pond or reservoir, but according to one news account, the Navy discounted this idea with no explanation as to why.  

     On April 2, while the search for Cassidy was continuing, the Ranger left Boston for Argentina.  World War II went on.  Servicemen were transferred.  The military prepared for the invasion of Europe, and new headlines replaced the old.  The storm of March 30th and its aftermath were soon forgotten, and the mystery of what happened to Lt. Cassidy faded from memory.             

     So, what happened to Lt. Cassidy and his Wildcat?  There are several possibilities.

     One is that the plane went down in a remote area and disintegrated on impact.  Most New England towns were fairly rural in 1943.  Any explosion could have been muffled by the weather, and snow cover would have limited the spread of fire.     

Did Lt. Jg. Cassidy crash in western Massachusetts or some other remote area of New England?

Did Lt. Jg. Cassidy crash in western Massachusetts or some other remote area of New England?

     If Cassidy got disoriented like the three pilots who wound up in upstate New York, he might have flown to western Massachusetts where he could have gone down in the remote Berkshire Hills, or New York, or points north, such as Vermont and New Hampshire. 

     Another theory is that Cassidy unknowingly overshot Rhode Island due to the zero-visibility, and flew out over the ocean, not realizing his mistake until it was too late.      

     And despite what the navy said, it’s also possible he crashed in a large body of water such as a lake or a reservoir.  Maps of the search area, including northern Rhode Island, show several bodies of deep water large enough to swallow a Wildcat.  Since few reservoirs allow swimming or boating, it’s unlikely that a plane at the bottom would be discovered.  

     And perhaps the wreckage of Cassidy’s Wildcat has been found, only those who found it, didn’t know what it was, for WWII aviation wreck sites can be hard to distinguish to the untrained eye. Is there a hunter of hiker somewhere who has seen twisted portions of metal lying in the woods and never thought about it because it has always been there?  Maybe some fisherman knows of an aircraft related shape lying at the bottom of a body of water. Reporting such a find could lead to the answer of what happened to Lt. Cassidy.

     The serial number of Lt. Cassidy’s Wildcat is 11740, and his military service ID number is 0-098451.  This information is provided should anything be found.        

Navy Report on  Lt. Jg. Cassidy's disappearance. #43-6393 CLICK TO ENLARGE

Navy Report on
Lt. Jg. Cassidy’s disappearance.

Cassidy report continuation. CLICK TO ENLARGE

Cassidy report continuation.













     Arthur J. Cassidy Jr. was born in New York City, July 5, 1919, to Arthur and Marion (Meehan) Cassidy.    

     He graduated from Fordham University, Rose Hill Campus, Bronx, N.Y. in 1940, and entered the United States Naval reserve as a pilot cadet. 

     He served with Fighting Squadron 41 (VF-41) aboard the USS Ranger, and took part in Operation Torch, flying air support in the invasion of North Africa.

     Cassidy had survived two previous plane accidents. On May 8, 1942, he made a forced landing on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  The second accident occurred May 21, 1942, while landing aboard the USS Charger, an escort carrier anchored in Chesapeake Bay.

     On February 26, 1943, he applied for a marriage license at the Cranston, (R. I.) City Hall, and was married to Marie Magdelaine Marchesseault on March 1st.   Their address was 99 Muran Street, Cranston.

     On March 31, 1944, Lt. Cassidy was officially declared dead by the navy. (Book 13, Pg. 213)


U.S. Navy Report of Cassidy disappearance 43-6393

Attleboro Sun, “Plane Reported Missing In North Attleboro”, April 1, 1943, Pg. 1

Attleboro Sun, “Blimp In Search For Lost Plane”, April, 1943, Pg. 1

Attleboro Sun, “No Word Of Missing Plane”, April 3, 1943, Pg. 1

Providence Journal, “Plane Reported Missing By Navy”, April 1, 1943, Pg. 27

Pawtucket Times, “Navy Plane Sought In North Attleboro”, April 1, 1943, Pg. 1

Fall River Herald News, “Navy Plane Feared Lost”, April 1, 1943, Pg.1

Cranston Herald, “Cranston Flier Reported Missing”, April 8, 1943, Pg. 6

Woonsocket Call, “Navy Plane Lost In Bay State Area”, April 1, 1943

City of Cranston, Rhode Island, vital records



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