Off Block Island – May 10, 1956

Off Block Island – May 10, 1956


T-33 Trainer Jet
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On May 10, 1956, a U. S. Air Force T-33 jet trainer took off from Suffolk County Air Force Base in Westhampton, Long Island, New York, for an instrument check flight.  The pilot was Captain Howard M. Blanton, 32, of Baltimore, Maryland, and the observer was First Lieutenant William J. Reichard, 26, of Berwyn, Illinois.   

     The aircraft headed eastward out over the Atlantic Ocean.  At some point the crew discovered that the radar compass wasn’t working properly, and that they were lost.  They flew for a period of time until picked up by radar at Montauk Point, New York, and Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island.   By now the jet was running low on fuel, and being closer to Rhode Island, was given emergency clearance to land at Quonset. 

     At about 12:30 p.m. the T-33 ran out of fuel as it approached Block Island/New Shoreham, which is located three miles off the Rhode Island Coast.  The crew ejected and the jet went into the water about a half-mile east of Block Island.

     Both crewmen landed safely in the water several miles apart from each other and rescue craft were immediately dispatched to the area.  Navy and Air Force helicopters found the men quickly due to the yellow dye markers each had carried, and directed surface vessels to their locations.  Both men were still alive at this point, but the cold temperature of the water was sapping their strength. 

     A sling was lowered form the Quonset helicopter to Lt. Reichard who managed to grip on to it, but moments later he fell back into the water and became entangled in the cords of his parachute.  He was retrieved by the crew of a Coast Guard boat, but wasn’t breathing when hauled aboard.  The crew attempted to revive him with artificial respiration without success.    

     Meanwhile, another Coast Guard boat recovered Captain Blanton, and he too was not breathing.  Attempts to revive him also failed.        


     Unknown newspaper, “Two Jet Pilots Die Off Block Island”, May 11, 1956


Worcester, MA – July 18, 1957

Worcester, Massachusetts – July 18, 1957


T-33 Trainer Jet U.S. Air Force Photo

T-33 Trainer Jet
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On July 18, 1957, a flight of three National Guard T-33 trainer jets left Grenier Air Force Base in Manchester, New Hampshire, for a routine training flight.   While over the city of Worcester, Massachusetts, one T-33 exploded over a residential neighborhood spewing flaming fuel and debris over a wide area setting six homes on fire.  The main fuselage came down in front of a home on Forest Street.  The home was destroyed by fire.    

     Both crewmen aboard the aircraft were killed.  They were identified as:

     Captain John F. Murphy Jr., 32, of Worcester, Massachusetts.

     1st Lieutenant Lawrence C. Guild, 26, of Quincy, Massachusetts.

     The crash occurred about a half mile from Captain Murphy’s home.

     There were no reported injuries to civilians on the ground.


     The Toldeo Blade, “Pilots Killed As Jet Crash Fires Homes”, July 19, 1957

     Desert Sun, “Resident(s) Escape From Death Called Miracle”, July 19, 1957

     Nashua Telegraph, “6 Sue For Jet Crash Damage In Worcester”, July 16, 1959

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