Narragansett Bay – February 3, 1949

Narragansett Bay – February 3, 1949


F8F Bearcat
U. S. Navy Photo

     At 4:15 p.m., on the evening of February 3, 1949, a pilot took off from the Quonset Point Naval Air Station in an F8F-1B Bearcat, (Bu. No. 121506), as part of a seven aircraft night tactical training flight.  Shortly after taking off, the pilot heard a loud whirring noise followed by grey smoke coming from under the instrument panel which began to fill the cockpit.  The pilot turned back toward the air station and requested clearance for an emergency landing.  As this was taking place another pilot in the flight reported seeing flames coming from the underside of the smoking aircraft.  The flight leader advised the pilot to bail out, which he did, and landed safely in the icy waters of Narragansett Bay.   His aircraft also crashed into the water not far from where he’d landed, and sank immediately without exploding.  The pilot was rescued by a crash boat thirteen minutes later suffering from shock and exposure but otherwise unhurt.

     The aircraft was assigned to VF-31.


     U.S. Navy accident report dated February 3, 1949.    



Off Point Judith, R.I. – July 16, 1943

15 Miles Off Point Judith, Rhode Island – July 16, 1943

    Updated March 9, 2018         


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

     On July 16, 1943, a division of navy F6F-3 Hellcats were engaged in a “Fighter Director Practice” off southern Rhode Island when an army P-47 Thunderbolt made two passes at the group.  Both passes were made from out of the sun, and each time the P-47 came within 50 to 200 yards of the division of Hellcats. 

     According to the U.S. Navy accident report, (#44-7667), “Immediately following the second pass, Ensign Staab entered a high speed stall from an abrupt climbing turn, resulting in a vertical dive and progressive stall.”  Ensign Staab, age 23, was killed when his Hellcat, (Bu. No. 25848), then dove into the Atlantic Ocean 15 miles off Point Judith, R.I.

     Ensign Staab was assigned to Fighting Squadron 31, (VF0-31).

     His hometown is listed as Burlington, Vermont.  He’s buried in Kingston, New York.

     The army P-47 was from the 326th Fighter Group at Westover Field.  There is a notation in the report that the pilot was disciplined however, he is not identified.  


     Rhode Island Department Of Health, death certificate.

     U.S. Navy Accident Report, #44-7667, dated July 16, 1943

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