Newport Harbor, R.I. – December 11, 1986

Newport Harbor, Rhode Island – December 11, 1986

     On the evening of December 11, 1986, a Bell Ranger helicopter took off from Newport, R.I. bound for Cranston, R.I., with a lone pilot aboard.  Heavy wet snow was falling at the time, but the pilot was a veteran aviator.  As the helicopter was passing over Newport Harbor it suddenly fell into the water and turned upside down, but was kept afloat by its two pontoons.  The pilot was able to free himself and climb atop one of the pontoons, but he was now soaking wet and in danger of dying of exposure.    

     As luck would have it, Petty Officer Larry Fletcher was on duty at the Navy’s Stillwater Basin docks a short distance away, and shortly after the crash he stepped outside to get his coat.  It was then he heard faint cries for help coming from across the water, but couldn’t see anything due to the swirling snow and darkness of the night.      

     Fletcher then notified William Myers, a civilian boat engineer working in the area, and the two of them took a navy boat out into the harbor to search for the source of the cries.   A short time later they came upon the helicopter pilot atop one of the pontoons.

     After being taken aboard the navy vessel the pilot was placed next to the heater and given a coat and hat to put on.  Once ashore he was transported to the Newport Naval Hospital to be examined.

     Source: Providence Journal-Evening Bulletin, “Cranston Copter Pilot Plucked From Newport Harbor”, December 12, 1986, page A2           


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