Preston, CT. – August 3, 1954

Preston, Connecticut – August 3, 1954

     On August 3, 1954, an Air France Super Constellation airliner with 37 people aboard was in route from Paris, France, to New York’s Idlewild Airport,  today known as Kennedy International Airport.  As the flight approached the east coast it encountered heavy rain and low cloud cover and was put in a holding pattern for the next ninety minutes.  The flight was then diverted to Boston, but ran low on fuel in route necessitating an emergency landing in an open field on the farm of Valentine Sebastian in Preston, Connecticut. 

     As the plane was making the emergency landing, it barely missed a private home.  When it hit the ground it reportedly crashed through a row of trees, then struck a garage with a car inside.   One witness told reporters that the plane then burst into flame “almost immediately”.     

     The flight crew was later praised for their efforts in getting everyone out of the burning plane.  Remarkably there were no fatalities, but several people requited medical attention for serious injuries. 


     Fall River Herald News, (MA.), “All 37 Aboard Escape Death,; Some Hurt”, August 3, 1954   

     Fall River Herald News, (MA.), “Wrecked Airliner’s Crew Praised For Excellent Life-Saving Work”, August 4, 1954 


Preston, CT. – February 2, 1945

Preston, Connecticut – February 2, 1945


U.S. Navy F6F Hellcat
U.S. Navy photo

     On February 2, 1945, Ensign Nelson L. Hazard was piloting an F6F-3N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 70211), over Connecticut on a routine training flight.  After using up the fuel from the right main tank, he turned on the emergency fuel pump and switched to using the fuel in his droppable fuel tank suspended beneath the aircraft.  The engine ran normally for about five minutes before it abruptly stopped.  Ensign Hazard then switched to his reserve fuel tank but the engine wouldn’t start.  He then tried switching to the left main tank but with no results.  The aircraft was at 6,000 feet at this time, and Hazard decided to remain with the aircraft and attempt an emergency landing. 

     After seeing an open field below, Hazard aimed for it, and came in with the wheels up.  At the edge of the field the plane scraped over the top of a tree which ripped away the droppable fuel tank.  The tank fell against a boulder and exploded.  Meanwhile, the aircraft hit the ground and skidded for 100 yards before coming to rest.  A small fire erupted on one wing, but burned itself out.  The pilot was not injured.

     The location of the crash was in a field off Brickyard Road in the town of Preston.     

     Source: National Archives TD 450202CT, via Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, R.I.

Preston, CT – October 19, 1944

Preston, Connecticut – October 19, 1944

Updated January 14, 2019


Hellcat Fighters
U.S. Navy Photo

 On the night of October 19, 1944, Ensign George Kenneth Krause, 22, and Ensign Merle Henry Longnecker, 20, took off from the Charlestown Navy Auxiliary Air Field in Rhode Island for a night tactics training flight over Connecticut.  Each was piloting an F6F-5N Hellcat.  The Bu. No. for Ensign Krause’s aircraft was 70519, and Ensign Longnecker was piloting Bu. No. 70826. 

     At about 10:30 p.m., both aircraft were over the Norwich State Hospital area conducting mock interceptions when they were involved in a mid-air collision with each other.  Scattered wreckage fell over a large area, some coming down about one mile northeast of the hospital. Neither pilot survived.        

     Both men were assigned to Carrier Air Service Unit (CASU) 25 at Charlestown Naval Auxiliary Air Field in Rhode Island. 

     Ensign Krause is buried in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.   To see a photo of him, click on the link below.

     Ensign Longnecker was survived by his wife Blanche.  He’s buried in New Rockford, North Dakota. To see a photo of him, click on the link below.

     Ensign Longnecker had survived an earlier aircraft accident only a few days earlier on October 12, 1944.  On that date he was practicing night carrier landings at Charlestown NAAF, while piloting another F6F-5N Hellcat, (Bu. No. 42794).  The weather was foggy with a 700 foot cloud ceiling making for poor visibility.  After making four successful landings and take-offs, he crash-landed while making his fifth approach.  The aircraft was damaged, but he was not hurt.  


     U. S. Navy accident report dated October 19, 1944

     U. S. Navy accident report dated October 12, 1944

     Rhode Island Department Of Health death certificates

     The Norwich Bulletin, “Veterans Group Plans 70th Anniversary Tribute To Pilots killed In Preston Crash”, October 17, 2014 


Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲