New Bedford, MA – September 15, 1957

New Bedford, Massachusetts – September 15, 1957


     On September 15, 1957, Northeast Airlines Flight 285 took off from Boston’s Logan Airport bound for Hyannis, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard, and then on to New Bedford. 

     The aircraft was a Douglas DC-3, (registration N34417).

     When the flight arrived at Martha’s Vineyard it missed it’s first landing approach due to poor weather conditions, but landed safely on the second approach at 8:07 p.m.   It then departed for New Bedford at 8:19 p.m., 50 minutes behind schedule, due to the missed approach and other minor delays.

     The flight headed for New Bedford under instrument flight rules. 

     At 8:38 p.m., Flight 285 began its approach to New Bedford Airport.  According to the Civil Aeronautics Board Accident Investigation Report, weather conditions were as follows: “Indefinite 200, obscuration; visibility one mile; fog; wind southeast 3; altimeter 30-02.”      

     At about 8:46 p.m., Flight 285 radioed New Bedford tower and advised that it had completed the procedure turn, and was inbound over the outer marker approaching runway 5.  The lone air traffic controller on duty acknowledged the transmission.  This was the last communication received from Flight 285.

     The air traffic controller visually waited for the aircraft to appear, and when it did not, realized something was wrong and tried several times to make contact.  It was soon discovered that Flight 285 had crashed in Apponagansett Swamp about 4,000 feet short of the runway. 

     The plane cut a swath 600 feet long through the trees and brush before coming to rest.   Both wings had separated from the fuselage, and the fuselage had broken apart but there was no fire.      

     Rescuers had to wade through thick muck, waist deep water, and undergrowth to reach the survivors.  They used ladders as makeshift bridges to remove the injured.  The last survivor was brought out at 2 a.m.

     One survivor, Mr. Gerald Bland, was credited with saving the life of a stewardess by administering first aid.  He and another survivor, 14-year-old Nancy Blair, also extinguished a small fire which could have ignited the aviation fuel leaking from the fuselage where several other survivors were trapped.  

     Another survivor, a 55-year-old man from New York, told a reporter, “When I came to, believe it or not, I was 30 feet away from the plane.  I was still strapped in my seat with my head down and my feet up looking into a sea of mud. ”   

     Both pilots were killed, as were 10 of the 21 passengers.  The 11 surviving passengers received various injuries.


     Civil Aeronautics Board Accident Investigation Report #1-0102, adopted March 13, 1958, Released, March 19, 1958.

     Woonsocket Call, “New Bedford Plane Crash Kills 10 of 24”, September 16, 1957, pg. 1 (The actual number of fatalities number 12.)  


Boston Airport – September 15, 1941

Boston Airport, Massachusetts – September 15, 1941


P-40 Warhawk  U.S. Air Force Photo

P-40 Warhawk
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On September 15, 1941, a U.S. Army P-40C fighter aircraft (Ser. No. 41-13393) was cleared for take off from Boston Airport.  As the army plane was becoming airborne it was involved in a collision with a Stinson civilian aircraft (NE-87) belonging to Northeast Airlines, Inc.

     The army pilot escaped with minor injuries.  However, the Stinson pilot, and two of the three passengers were seriously injured.

     The P-40 was assigned to the 66th Pursuit Squadron in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

     Source: U.S. Army Air Corps Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-9-15-3, dated September 17, 1941


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