Sandwich, MA – February 14, 1951

Sandwich, Massachusetts – February 14, 1951 


F-86 Sabre – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On February 14, 1951, Major Raymond S. Wetmore was completing the last leg of a cross-country flight in an F-86 Sabre jet when at 8:23 p.m. his aircraft suddenly went down in some woods in South Sandwich and exploded on impact.  The plane was destroyed and the pilot killed. 

     Major Wetmore was the commanding officer of the 59th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron based at Otis Air Force Base. 

     Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Squadron Leader Killed in Crash; Made Home Here”, February 16, 1951      


Otis Air Force Base – May 14, 1950

Otis Air Force Base – May 14, 1950 


U.S.A.F. F-86 Fighter Jet

      On Sunday morning, May 14, 1950, Major William C. Routt had just completed a training flight in a F-86 Sabre jet, (#49-1104), and was approaching runway five at Otis AFB in Falmouth, Massachusetts, when his plane suddenly dove into the ground and exploded near the end of the runway.  The crash occurred close to the southeast gate leading to Sandwich Road. 

     Major Routt was the operations officer of the 60th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron.  He began his Air Force career in 1941, and served in Alaska and England during World War II earning the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Croix de Guerre, and the Air Force Medal with eight oak leaf clusters. 


     Woonsocket Call, (R.I.), “Squadron Officer Killed In Jet’s Bay State Crash”, May 15, 1950  

     Falmouth Enterprise, “Major Routt Dies In Crash Of F-86”, May 19, 1950    

     Aviation Safety Network

Otis Air Force Base – June 16, 1954

Otis Air Force Base – June 16, 1954 

     On June 16, 1954, an F-86A Sabre jet piloted by Captain Clifton M. Eisele was approaching Otis AFB when the aircraft flamed out at 1,200 feet.  Eisele aimed the craft towards open space between the runways before bailing out.  He wasn’t injured. 

     The F-86 involved with this accident was the same one used by American fighter ace Major James Jabarra in the Korean War. 

Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Air Guard F-86 Crashes At Otis”, June 18, 1954

F-86 Sabre - U.S. Air Force Photo

F-86 Sabre – U.S. Air Force Photo

Otis Air Force Base – July 4, 1962

Otis Air Force Base – July 4, 1962 

     On July 4, 1962, Captain Morgan G. Childs Jr., was at the helm of an air force  Super Constellation of the 551st AEW&C wing when the plane suffered an unspecified malfunction.  He was advised to circle Otis AFB to burn off fuel before preparing for an emergency landing. 

    At 5:46 p.m., after six hours of circling, he brought the plane in to land, but as it touched down on the runway the nose wheel collapsed.  The aircraft skidded several hundred yards before coming to a stop. 

    As Otis fire and rescue headed for the plane, Captain Childs and four other crewmen climbed out on their own – uninjured. 

Source: Falmouth Enterprise, “Captain Childs Hero of Tense Episode At Otis”, July 6, 1962.


Otis Air Force Base – April 9, 1952

Otis Air Force Base – April 9, 1952 

C-47 Aircraft - U.S. Air Force Photo

C-47 Aircraft – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On the morning of April 9, 1952, a C-47 transport plane with ten men aboard, took off from Otis Air Force Base in-route to Niagara Falls, New York.  The transport had landed at Otis from Steward AFB in Newburgh, N.Y.  Shortly after take off, while the C-47 was passing over the neighboring Camp Edwards firing range, it was involved in a mid-air collision with an F-94B fighter jet on its way to a gunnery practice mission.  

     The collision occurred in cloud cover between five to seven thousand feet, and officials speculated that poor visibility may have played a role in the crash.  Both planes exploded and flaming debris rained down over a wide area setting several large brush fires.  One parachute was seen but it was found to be empty – likely deployed by the impact.        

F-94 Fighter Jet U.S. Air Force Photo

F-94 Fighter Jet
U.S. Air Force Photo

     The dead aboard the C-47 were identified as:

     Lt. Col. William C. Bryson, 34, Stewart AFB.

     Major Benjamin Beckham, 34, Cornwall-On-Hudson, N.Y.

     Major L. A. Berg, 36, Goshen, N.Y.

     Capt. William H. Erwin, 31, Herrin, Ill.

     Capt. Lane S. Hendricks, 31, McHenry, Ill.

     Capt. Richard E. Heder, 31, Rock Tavern, N.Y.

     Capt. Clinton C. Foster, 33, Gardner, N.Y.

     Tech. Sgt. Deane B. Cooper, 41, Stewart AFB.

     Airman 1c Harry E. Hardesty, 21, Campbell Hall, N.Y.

     Tech. Sgt. William D. Pollock, 29, Newburgh, N.Y.       

     The crew of the F-94 jet fighter consisted of the pilot, Capt. Charles J. Smoke, 35, of Shenandoah, Iowa,

and the radar observer, 1st Lt. Thaddeus C. Kulpinski.


Chicago Tribune, “Two Air Force Planes Collide In Air; 12 dead”, April 10, 1952

New York Times, “Planes Crash Aloft; 12 In Air Force Die”, April 10, 1952

Falmouth Enterprise, “Twelve Are Killed In Otis Air Crash”, April 11, 1952

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