Quonset Point, R. I. – July 30, 1987

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – July 30, 1987

     On July 30, 1987, a pilot and his passenger were practicing take-offs and landings in a single-engine Rockwell aircraft on Runway 16 at the former Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  At about 2:30 p.m. the aircraft came in for a landing and just after touchdown suddenly veered to the left, went over a sea wall, and flipped upside down before crashing into the water of Narragansett Bay about twenty feet from shore.  The aircraft lost a portion of its tail section.  Both men were rescued and transported to medical facilities for treatment of non-life-threatening injuries. 

     Source: Providence Journal, “Two Men Injured In Plane crash At Quonset”, July 31, 1987, page A-3   


Quonset Point, R. I. – August 10, 1948

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – August 10, 1948


F8F Bearcat
U. S. Navy Photo

     On August 10, 1948, a pilot took off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in an F8F-1 Bearcat, (Bu. No. 121657), to test the performance of the aircraft after a new carburetor had been installed.   Shortly after takeoff the engine stopped and the pilot was unable to restart it.  He brought the plane in for an emergency landing, but upon touchdown a tire blew out, causing the aircraft to careen into another Bearcat,( Bu. No. 121667) that was parked along the side of the runway.   After the collision, the landing Bearcat rolled over and came to rest in an inverted position.  The pilot wasn’t injured, but the aircraft was damaged beyond all repair.


     U. S. Navy accident report dated August 10, 1948    

Quonset Point, R. I. – July 17, 1946

Quonset Point, Rhode Island – July 17, 1946


TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On the morning of July 17, 1946, a navy TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 06381), experienced a landing gear collapse after a hard landing at the Quonset Point Naval Air Station.  The aircraft was irreparably damaged, but none of the crew aboard were injured.

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-97.   

     Source: U.S. Navy accident report dated July 17, 1946.

Quonset Point NAS – January 31, 1944

Quonset Point Naval Air Station – January 31, 1944


Douglas SBD-6 Dauntless
U.S. Navy Photo

     On January 31, 1944, Ensign A. G. King was piloting an SBD-5 Dauntless, (Bu. No. 29030), while practicing field carrier landings at Quonset Point.  As he was making a landing approach, he lowered the landing gear, but due to a mechanical failure with the aircraft, only one of the wheels came down.  The aircraft suffered heavy damage, but Ensign King was not hurt.

     Source; U.S. Navy Accident Report #44-11373 


Atlantic Ocean – April 23, 1948

Atlantic Ocean – April 23, 1948


P2V Neptune
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On April 23, 1948, a U.S. Navy P2V Neptune, (Bu. No. 39325), took off from Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island for what was to be a long-range navigational training flight from Quonset to Bermuda and back. 

     There were five men aboard the aircraft:

     Pilot – Lieutenant Harvey H. Rouzer

     Co-pilot – Ensign Philip J. Fagan

     Navigator – Sherman P. Dudley

     Plane Captain – Thomas T. Thurston

     Radioman – William Delligatti 

     All were assigned to VPML – 7 At Quonset.

     At 6:25 p.m., while the aircraft was still over the Atlantic on the last leg of the return trip, about 100 miles south of Rhode Island, the right engine suddenly developed a vibration followed by a drop in oil pressure.  Then the same problem developed in the left engine, followed by the right engine catching fire.  

     Power was cut to both engines and the plane began a glide to the water from 12,000 feet, while a distress call was sent.  The pilot managed a smooth water landing in a relatively calm seas, and the crew scrambled out as the aircraft sank.  Before entering the water they successfully deployed one of the aircraft’s two life rafts.  Fortunately the second raft bobbed to the surface shortly afterwards.  With three men in one raft and two in the other they waited for rescue as darkness closed in.

     Approximately two hours later they saw a ship on the horizon and fired a signal flare, but the ship continued on without stopping.   Not long afterwards a navy search plane circled above, its crew having seen the flair from a distance.  The search plane dropped a series of flairs for other aircraft and ships to home in on.

     The men were rescued about 10;20 p.m. by the passenger liner S. S. Washington which was on its way to New York from overseas.  


     Providence Journal, “Quonset Bomber Crashes In Ocean”, April 24, 1948, page 1 

     Providence Journal, “Quonset Fliers Describe Dramatic Rescue From sea”, April 25, 1948, Page 14

     (Magazine) Naval Aviation News, “Ditching A Neptune”, July 1948, Page 20





Killingly, CT – December 20, 1954

Killingly, Connecticut – December 20, 1954


Grumman AF-2 Guardian, Bu. No. 124785 Killingly, Ct., Dec. 20. 1954  U.S. Navy Photo

Grumman AF-2 Guardian, Bu. No. 124785
Killingly, Ct., Dec. 20. 1954
U.S. Navy Photo

      On the morning of December 20, 1954, navy Lt. (Jg.) George Delafield took off from Quonset Point Naval Air Station in Rhode Island in a Grumman AF-2W Guardian, (Bu. No. 124785), for what was to be an instrument training flight.  Shortly before 10 a.m., while over the town of Killingly, Connecticut, the aircraft’s generator stopped working resulting in an onboard fire.  Lt. Delafield managed to set the plane down in an open field and climbed out as soon as it came to rest.   He was uninjured, but the plane was a total loss.

     The aircraft was assigned to VS-39 at Quonset Point.  

     This accident is sometimes confused with another AF-2 Guardian that crashed in the neighboring town of Putnam, Connecticut, on May 7, 1953.  In that instance four men were killed.  The details of that accident can be found elsewhere on this website.  


Grumman AF-2 Guardian, Bu. No. 124785 Killingly, Ct., Dec. 20. 1954 U.S. Navy Photo

Grumman AF-2 Guardian, Bu. No. 124785
Killingly, Ct., Dec. 20. 1954
U.S. Navy Photo

     Only 398 AF Guardian aircraft were manufactured, making this a rare airplane when speaking in a historical context.  (Only a handful of examples are known to still exist, and not all are airworthy.)

     In 1996, members of the Confederate Air Force Museum, (Today known as the Commemorative Air Force Museum) visited the site in hopes of recovering pieces of Lt. Delafield’s AF-2W to be used in a restoration project of another AF-2W in the museum’s collection.   

     The Guardian aircraft in the museum’s collection was once flown by famous naval aviator Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale in the 1950s. During the Vietnam War, Stockdale flew 116 combat missions before being shot down and captured.  He spent the next seven-and-a-half years as a POW, four of them in solitary confinement for organizing a resistance movement among the prisoners.   For his efforts he was awarded the Medal of Honor.  He was also Ross Perot’s running mate in the United States 1992 presidential campaign.  

     Today the restored Guardian is in the Commemorative Air Force Museum’s collection as static display at their Arizona facility.

     The Norwich Bulletin, “Field May Yield Rare C…” (Rest of headline missing.) September 5, 1996  

     Wikipedia – Vice Admiral James B. Stockdale

     Wikipedia – Commemorative Air Force Museum 

     Newport Daily News, (R.I.), Quonset Navy Flier Survives Conn. Crash”, December 20, 1954, pg.1. (This Newport Daily News article submitted by Eric Wiberg, author and historian)


Quonset Point NAS – March 1, 1942

Quonset Point Naval Air Station – March 1, 1942


P-40 Warhawk  U.S. Air Force Photo

P-40 Warhawk
U.S. Air Force Photo

     On March 1, 1942, a Curtiss P-40E, (41-5547) piloted by 1st Lt. Charles R. Fairlamb, was making a normal landing at Quonset Point Naval Air Station when the aircraft’s right landing gear suddenly struck a small pile of snow about two feet high that was on the runway.  The jolt caused the landing gear to collapse, which caused the right wing to fall and drag along the tarmac causing the plane to rotate 90 degrees.  As this was happening, the left landing gear suddenly collapsed dropping the plan causing damage to the underbelly and propeller blades.  As the plane came to rest Fairlamb cut the switches and quickly climbed out of the plane.

     The accident investigation committee did not fault Lt. Fairlamb for the accident, noting that the pile was not visible from the air, and had been covered with sand. 

     Lt. Fairlamb was assigned to the 66th Pursuit Squadron (I) as Squadron  Operations Officer.  He received his pilot’s rating March 14, 1941.

     Lt. Fairlamb was later promoted to Major, and became the Commanding Officer of the 66th Fighter Squadron while serving in North Africa.  He flew 48 combat missions before being injured in a tent fire while serving in Libya. 


     U.S. Army Technical Report Of Aircraft Accident #42-3-1-6

     Book – 57th Fighter Group, ‘First In The Blue’, by Carl Molesworth, Osprey Press, 2011

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