Plainville, CT. – June 6, 1971

Plainville, Connecticut – June 6, 1971

     On Sunday, June 6, 1971, a stunt pilot was performing in an air show at Robertson Airfield in Plainville Connecticut, with his German made Bucker BU-133 Jungmeister bi-plane.  (Reg. No. N4767)     

     According to a witness, at one point the aircraft came in low over the field in and went into an inverted spin from which the pilot was unable to recover.  The plane crashed into the ground killing the pilot near some trees bordering the airport.


     Unknown newspaper, “Stunt Pilot Killed In Crash Of Plane During Air Show”, June 6, 1971.

     National Transportation Safety Board report #NYC71FNE37


Plainville, CT. – March 8, 1919

Plainville, Connecticut – March 8, 1919

     On March 8, 1919, aviator Hugh Rockwell, and John H. Trumbull, left New York in Rockwell’s two-passenger aircraft after attending an airplane show.  Within thirty minutes (Traveling at 100 mph), the pair was 8,000 feet over Plainville where Trumbull lived.  There Rockwell performed a series of stunts before landing.  Rockwell had hoped to land on Trumbull’s property, but as he was about to touch down, a gust of wind forced the tail to drop and hit the ground, then bounce up, and send the front of the plane plowing into the ground approximately 50 feet from Trumbull’s house. 

     The aircraft was wrecked. Both men were shaken up, but neither was seriously hurt. 

     This was reported buy the Hartford Courant newspaper to be the first airplane crash to occur in Plainville.  (Another would occur on June 23, 1919.) 

     This was Trumbull’s second flight in an airplane, and the accident didn’t deter him from future flights.  In fact, John Trumbull later became governor of the State of Connecticut, and at the age of 53 obtained his pilot’s license, the first governor in the country to do so.   He became known as the “Flying Governor”.     


     Hartford Courant, “Airplane Wrecked In Plainville Fall”, March 9, 1919




Plainville, CT. – June 23, 1919

Plainville, Connecticut – June 23, 1919

     On the morning of June 23, 1919, U.S. Army Air Service pilot, Lieutenant French Kirby, and his mechanic, identified only as Sergeant Wharf, flew from Mineola, Long Island, New York, to Plainville, and landed safely.  The purpose of the flight was to take part in a town-wide celebration during which they were to give exhibition flights.  After making approximately 18 flights between the morning and afternoon, the two men took off again to fly over the Marlin-Rockwell Corporation Plant just as the parade would be coming to an end.  As they were doing so the aircraft lost power and fell from an altitude of about 200 feet and crashed near the plant, coming to rest upside down.  Remarkably, neither man was seriously hurt, and both were able to extricate themselves from the wreck.  

     A repair/salvage crew was sent the following day to bring the plane back to Mineola.

     The cause of the accident was blamed on a poor quality gasoline used to refuel the aircraft while it was at Plainville.

     Unfortunately Lieutenant Kirby was killed in another plane crash  about four months later. 

     On October 15, 1919, Lieutenant Kirby and an observer, Lieutenant Stanley C. Miller, were flying in a trans-continental air derby in Army Observation Aircraft #44, when the plane lost power over the Rigby Ranch in castle Rock, Utah, and crashed.  Kirby was killed instantly, and Miller succumbed a few hours later. 

     Lt. Kirby is buried in Arlington National Cemetery and Lt. Miller is buried in Woodlawn cemetery in Toledo, Ohio.    To see photos of their graves and to read a newspaper account about their accident, see, memorials 57195448, and 82156891. 


     The Hartford Courant, “Plainville Gas Poor, U. S. Airplane Plunges 200 Feet”, June 26, 1919 

     The Ogden Standard Examiner, “Lieut. Kirby Meets Instant Death In Utah”, October 16, 1919   


Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲