Narragansett Bay, R. I. – July 16, 1943

Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island – July 16, 1943


F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the morning of July 16, 1943, Ensign Joseph Paul Staar was piloting an F6F-3 Hellcat, (Bu. No. 25848), over southern Narragansett Bay as part of a training flight.  The purpose of the flight was “Fighter Director Practice”, and Staar’s aircraft was part of a large group of aircraft.  

     As the flight of Hellcats was in the vicinity of Newport, Rhode Island, another aircraft made two diving passes at them from out of the sun.  On the second pass Ensign Staar’s aircraft entered a “high speed stall” due to “an abrupt climbing turn”, which led to his crashing into the water about 500 yards off Brenton Point in Newport.  He did not survive. 


     U. S. Navy Accident Report #44-7667 


Newport, R.I. – November 4, 1951

Newport, Rhode Island – November 4, 1951 


U.S. Navy  Grumman F9F Panther U.S. Navy Photo - National Archives

U.S. Navy
Grumman F9F Panther
U.S. Navy Photo – National Archives

     On Sunday, November 4, 1951, a flight of several U.S. Navy, Grumman F9F-5 Panther jets took off from Quonset Point for a routine training mission.  While over the Newport metropolitan area, one of the aircraft (Bu. No. 125269) suddenly began trailing “yellowish smoke” and loosing altitude.   

     The pilot, Ensign Ralph Anthony Lennon, 23, of Flushing, New York, elected to stay with the aircraft to maneuver it away from a populated area and aimed the plane towards the water near Easton’s Beach. 

     Witnesses on the ground reported that after trailing smoke, the plane suddenly burst into flame and began to break apart.  The tail section came down on top of a home at 77 Cottage Street while the main body of the plane came down on property at 396 and 428 Gibbs Avenue.  Cottage Street intersects with Gibbs Avenue, and the three locations are close to each other, and close to Easton Pond behind Easton’s Beach.

     Ensign Lennon was killed in the crash.  Had he not stayed with his aircraft it would have crashed in downtown Newport where the streets were crowded with people and traffic.  As it was, pieces of his jet rained down over an area a 1/2 mile from the crash site, with one piece reportedly narrowly missed a baby sleeping in its carriage.

     There were no reports of anyone on the ground being injured, and the debris that landed on homes didn’t start any fires. 

     Thousands of onlookers descended on the area, sifting through debris, trampling the scene, and hampering fire and rescue efforts. 

     The cause of the accident wasn’t immediately apparent.        

     Ensign Lennon was born October 9, 1928.  He graduated from Cardinal Hayes High School in The Bronx, N.Y., and the University of Iowa, before joining the navy in 1946.  He was a veteran of the Korean War, and at the time of his death was attached to VF-71, then stationed at Quonset Point.  He’s buried in Long Island National Cemetery in Farmingdale, New York. 


     Newport Daily News, “Navy To Probe Crash Of Quonset Jet Plane In City” November 5, 1951, Page 1

     Newport Daily News, “Navy Jet Plane Crash Spectators Give harrowing Stories Of Incident”, November 5, 1951, page 1.

     Newport Daily News, “Navy Salvage Crew Clears Scene Of Jet Crash”, November 6, 1951, page 3. – Ralph Anthony Lennon



Newport, R.I. – July 20, 1923

Newport, R.I. – July 20, 1923

Updated January 9, 2016

     On July 20, 1923, a plane belonging to the New York – Newport Air Line (Service) was making a flight from New York City to Newport, Rhode Island, with a pilot and two passengers aboard, when it crashed at Newport.  The aircraft, named Fleet Wing, suddenly fell from an altitude of 75 feet while making a sharp turn in preparation for a water landing.  The plane plunged into the water and flipped over, and all three men were ejected by the impact. 

     The most seriously injured was H. Cary Morgan, who suffered a compound fracture to his leg.  He was transported to Newport Naval Hospital where it was determined that his leg was too badly mangled to be saved, and amputation was necessary.  A pint-and-a-half of blood was donated by Pharmacists Mate 3C William J. Majeski of Meriden, Connecticut.  Unfortunately, complications set in, and Mr. Morgan passed away.

     The pilot, H.H. Thorburn, and the other passenger, Henry Fowler, survived the crash with minor injuries.

     The terminal for the airline was close to the Newport Naval Station.  When the accident occurred, help from the station arrived quickly.  The heavily damaged plane was towed to shore by two navy boats.   

     The airline also had another plane in its fleet, the Gray Lark, which had arrived a few minutes before the accident.   


Woonsocket Call, “Newport Line Plane Upsets As It Lands”, July 21, 1923, Pg. 9

Woonsocket Call, “H. Cary Morgan Dead Following Accident”, July 24, 1923, Pg. 1

Meriden Morning Record, “Meriden Boy Gives His Blood In Vain”, July 30, 1923       

New York Times, “Air Liner Crashes In Newport Landing”, July 21, 1923  


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