Cape Cod Bay – June 24, 1956

Cape Cod Bay, Massachusetts – June 24, 1956   

(And Boston Harbor)

U.S. Air Force F-94 Starfire
U.S. Air Force Photo

      On June 24, 1956, a flight of three Massachusetts National Guard F-94 Starfire fighter jets left Langley Air Force Base in Virginia bound for Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.  As the planes neared the New England coast they encountered thick fog and began to circle the area. One of the jets ran low on fuel and the crew was forced to eject while over Cape Cod Bay.  The pilot, Captain Kenneth B. McKay, and the radar observer 1st Lieutenant Harry Crook landed safely.  The aircraft went down in the water. 

     A short time later, a second Starfire in the formation disappeared and was reported as “missing”, and a search was instituted.   The pilot was 1st Lieutenant Robert H. Springer, 28, of Needham, Massachusetts. It was unknown if the pilot bailed out or went down with his aircraft, and as of this writing no further information is known.  

    The third Starfire in the formation landed safely at Otis AFB.

     As part of the search for the missing Starfire, a Coast Guard helicopter with three crewmen aboard was dispatched from the Salem Coast Guard Station.  Search aircraft had to deal with foggy conditions and on coming darkness.  As darkness came on, the helicopter was ordered to land at Logan Airport.  As the helicopter was approaching Logan, it went down in the waters of Boston Harbor a short distance from the end of the airport runway.    

     Two of the crewmen escaped the sinking helicopter and were rescued a short time later, but HM1 John J. Kohan, remained trapped inside and drowned.

     Another accident occurred when a crash-rescue boat from Otis AFB struck a submerged object and began taking on water.  It had to be towed two miles to shore by the Coast Guard. 


     The Woonsocket Call, “Missing Flier In Jet Crash Sought On Cape”, June 25, 1956 


Atlantic Ocean – October 23, 1957

Atlantic Ocean – October 23, 1957


F-89 Scorpion
U. S. Air Force Photo

     At 7:45 P. M. 0n October 23, 1957, an F-89 Scorpion with a crew of two aboard took off from Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts, for was was described as a “routine air defense mission”.  The aircraft was scheduled to return to base at 9:15 P.M., and when it failed to so it was declared “missing”.  The last contact with the F-89 put its location approximately east of Plymouth and north of Provincetown.  No distress message had been received. 

     It was presumed that the aircraft went down in the ocean.  

     The crew were identified as :

     Pilot: 1st Lt. Cletus L. Corn, age 25, of High Point, North Carolina.  He was married, and had recently bee living at the Bellows Trailer Court in Falmouth.  He enlisted in the Air Force in March of 1955.     

     Radar Observer: 1st Lt. Michael W. Clemmons, age 22, of Kansas City, Kansas.  He enlisted in the Air Force in January of 1954.

     Both men were assigned to the 58th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. 


     Falmouth Enterprise, “Two Airmen Lost On Routine Flight From Otis Base”, October 25, 1957 


Otis Air Field – September 19, 1945

Otis Air Field – September 19, 1945


SB2C Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

     On September 19, 1945, a pilot was making practice carrier landings at Otis Field when the Curtiss Helldiver aircraft he was piloting crash-landed during one of the landings.  The aircraft, (Bu. No. 60177), was damaged, but the pilot was not injured. 

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated September 19, 1945.   

Otis Field – September 18, 1945

Otis Field – September 18, 1945


SB2C Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

     On September 18, 1945, a mechanic was working on a U. S. Navy Curtiss Helldiver, (Bu. No. 60110), which was parked near another Helldiver, (Bu. No. 60182).  The mechanic started the engine and turned it up to full power, which caused the aircraft to jump its wheel chocks and drive itself into the other Helldiver.  The airplane that the mechanic was working on was damaged beyond repair, while the second plane suffered heavy damage.  There were no injuries.  

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated September 18, 1945


Otis Air Field – July 23, 1945

Otis Air Field – July 23, 1945


Early U.S. Navy Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

     On July 23, 1945, a navy SBW-4E Helldiver, (Bu. No. 60120), was participating an a flight-carrier-landing-practice exercise at Otis Field,  Upon touchdown on the runway the landing gear collapsed and the aircraft skidded to a stop on its belly.  The aircraft sustained substantial damage, but the pilot was not hurt. 

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated July 23, 1945 

Otis Air Field – June 29, 1945

Otis Air Field – June 29, 1945


Early U.S. Navy Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

     On June 29, 1945, a flight of navy Helldivers belonging to VB-74 were participating in a night flight carrier landing practice exercise at Otis Field when one aircraft, (Bu. No. 60105), was hit with a cross-wind causing the port wing to drop and hit the runway.  The aircraft spun 45 degrees and as it did so the landing gear collapsed.  The aircraft continued to skid for another 200 feet before coming to rest.  Although the aircraft sustained major damage, the pilot was not hurt. 

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated June 29, 1945


Otis NAAF – June 30, 1947

Otis Navy Auxiliary Air Field – June 30, 1947

     On June 30, 1947, a navy Culver TD2C-1, target drone, (Bu. No. 120128), was scheduled to take off from Otis Field for a remote radio control test flight.  Aboard was a safety pilot assigned to VU-5.  

     The aircraft was to be controlled by a radio signal originating from a transmitting device on the ground, operated by a radio control officer.  The safety pilot was to take over if something should go wrong with the radio signals. 

     After a pre-flight inspection, the aircraft was cleared for take off, and the radio officer took control of the plane.  The aircraft started down the runway, and after covering about 1,500 feet it lifted from the ground in a slightly nose-high attitude.  When it reached an altitude of about 25 feet it suddenly began to wobble from side to side, and lose altitude.  The left wing struck the runway and the drone cartwheeled across a ravine and came to rest 75 feet from the initial point of impact. 

     Remarkably the safety pilot wasn’t injured, but the aircraft was damaged beyond repair.  

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated June 30, 1947

Otis Field – November 1, 1948

Otis Field – November 1, 1948


TBM-3E Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On November 1, 1948, a navy TBM-3E Avenger, (Bu. No. 85811), was making practice touch-and-go landings when the landing gear collapsed and the aircraft skidded for 225 feet on its belly.  Although the aircraft sustained damage, there were no injuries.   

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated November 1, 1948

Otis Air Field, MA. – April 19, 1946

Otis Air Field, Massachusetts – April 19, 1946


TBM-3E Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On April 19, 1946, a flight of five navy TBM Avengers belonging to VT-82 were taking part in a practice carrier landing and take-off exercise at Otis Air Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  After making several successful landings and take offs, one aircraft, (Bu. No. 85682), had its landing gear collapse upon touchdown.  The aircraft then skidded on its belly for 125 yards before coming to rest.  The pilot was not injured, but the aircraft suffered significant damage. 

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated April 19, 1946


Otis Air Field, MA. – September 13, 1946

Otis Air Field, Massachusetts – September 13, 1946


TBM-3E Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On September 13, 1946, a group of several navy TBM Avengers were participating in a practice carrier landing training exercise during which each aircraft was making touch-and-go landings and take offs.  At one point, (Bu. No. 91437), made a perfect approach and landing, but just after take off went into a near vertical climb.  At the top of the climb the aircraft stalled and as it began to fall the pilot bailed out.  The aircraft crashed and exploded.  The pilot’s parachute deployed, but he suffered non-life-threatening injuries upon hitting the ground.  There was nobody else aboard the plane at the time of the accident.    

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-42.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated September 13, 1946. 

Otis Field – April 23, 1946

Otis Field, Massachusetts – April 23, 1946


SB2C Helldiver
U.S. Navy Photo

     At 4:36 p.m., on the afternoon of April 23, 1946, a navy SB2C Helldiver, (Bu. No. 85265), was coming in to land at Otis Field in Falmouth, Massachusetts, when the aircraft stalled on approach and crashed, ending up on its back and bursting into flames.  The pilot was rescued, but suffered severe burns and a lacerated scalp.   

     The pilot had come from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island and was assigned to Fighter Bomber Squadron 18, (VB-18).

     There was nobody else aboard the aircraft at the time of the accident.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated April 23, 1946.   

Otis Field – September 10, 1944

Otis Field, Falmouth, Massachusetts – September 10, 1944


U.S. Navy SBD Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo.

     Just after 2 p.m. on September 10, 1944, a U. S. Navy SBD-5 Dauntless aircraft, (Bu. No. 54180), with two men aboard, took off from Otis Filed.  The pilot was a navy ensign.  The second man was Army Sergeant James Edwin Senter, (21 or 22). 

     The aircraft was seen to climb several hundred feet before it suddenly went into a downward spin to the left.  The pilot managed to jump clear of from an altitude of 500 feet, and his parachute opened just before he hit the ground.  Although injured, he would survive.

     Meanwhile the aircraft crashed just twenty feet away killing Sergeant Senter.

     Sergeant Senter is buried in St. Joseph’s Cemetery in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.  He enlisted in the army in 1940 at the age of 18.  To see a photo of his grave go to, Memorial #173920812.

     Source: U. S. Navy accident report dated September 10, 1944.

Atlantic Ocean – November 11, 1966

Atlantic Ocean – November 11, 1966


EC-121 Super Constellation
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On November 11, 1966, a U.S. Air Force EC-121-H “Warning Star” radar picket Constellation, (Ser. No. 55-5262), was on a mission about 125 miles east of Nantucket, Massachusetts, when it suffered a catastrophic event and crashed into the ocean.  The aircraft contained a crew of 19 men, all assigned to the 551st Airborne Early Warning & Control Wing stationed at Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts.

     The aircraft had departed from Otis at 12:35 a.m., and the last radio contact was made at 1:22 a.m.  The weather was said to be clear with ten miles of visibility.  At 1:30 a.m. the captain of a New Bedford fishing vessel reported seeing a large aircraft with a stream trailing behind it pass over his 70-foot boat, roll onto its back, and crash into the ocean where it exploded on impact.  He couldn’t be certain if the stream was due to an onboard fire or from a jet trail.   The New Bedford vessel as well as several others raced to the scene to look for survivors. 

     No distress call had been received from the aircraft. 

     A large scale search was conducted over the next few days during which debris from the aircraft was recovered, however there were no survivors.

     Wreckage of the aircraft was later recovered off the ocean floor in December of 1966, and serial numbers confirmed it to be the missing airplane.

     The only crew member identified in the press was the aircraft commander, Major Robert A. Baird.  To see a photograph of Major Baird, go to, Memorial #101715135.

     The names of the other 18 crewmen are unknown. 


     Cape Cod Standard Times, “Otis Base Radar Picket Plane Crashes, Explodes; 19 Crewmen Believed Dead”, November 12, 1966

     Cape Cod Standard Times, “Otis Sure Debris From Lost Plane”, November 13, 1966

     Boston Sunday Advertiser, “Piece Of Baggage From Radar Plane Identified”, November 13, 1966

     New London Day, “AF Abandons Search For Radar Plane”, November 14, 1966

     New London Day, “Missing Plane Found In Ocean”, December 22, 1966



Otis AFB – June 5, 1947

Otis Air Force Base – June 5, 1947

     On June 5, 1947, Ensign Orin William Ross, (24), was piloting a navy dive bomber making practice landings and take offs at Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Massachusetts.  While making a practice landing, the aircraft suddenly stalled and crashed onto the runway and exploded, killing Ensign Ross.  Ensign Ross was assigned to Carrier Squadron VA-17A stationed at Quonset Naval Air station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. 

     The exact type of aircraft was not stated.

     Ensign Ross is buried in Bristow cemetery in Bristow, Oklahoma.  To see a photo of his grave go to, #25974219.

     Source: Cape Cod Standard Times, “Flyer Killed At Otis Field”, June 6, 1947, page 1

Falmouth, MA – August 17, 1945

Falmouth, Massachusetts – August 17, 1945 

     On August 17, 1945, Ensign Daniel Ware Goldman, 24, took off from Otis Field in Falmouth in a navy fighter aircraft.  He had no sooner had he taken off when he radioed that he needed to make an emergency landing.  His altitude at the time was about 200 feet, and when he turned to approach the runway his aircraft went into a dive and crashed into a wooded area about a mile from the field.  Ensign Goldman had no chance to bail out and was killed in the wreck.

    Ensign Goldman had been at Otis since May of 1945 training for carrier duty on the new aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Midway. His body was brought to Quonset Naval Air Station in North Kingstown, Rhode Island before being sent to Arlington National cemetery for burial.

     Update: May 17, 2018

     According to a Cape Cod Standard Times article, this accident occurred in the neighboring town of Mashpee.   


Falmouth Enterprise, ”Otis Field Flyer Dies In Crash”, August 24,1945

North Kingstown, Rhode Island, death records #45-78

Cape Cod Standard Times, “Otis Field Pilot Dies In Mashpee Crackup”, August 18, 1945, page 1.

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