Connecticut River – August 26, 1980

Connecticut River – August 26, 1980

     At about 3:00 p.m. on August 26, 1980, a single-engine Beech Mustang with a family of four from Long Island, New York, aboard, took off from Goodspeed Airport in East Haddam.  Just after becoming airborne, the aircraft was caught in a down draft and crashed into the Connecticut River.  All four occupants escaped without injury before the plane sank, and were rescued by nearby pleasure boaters.


     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “None Hurt As Plane Ends Up In River”, August 27, 1980, page 2.  

Groton, CT – September 18, 1948

Groton, CT – September 18, 1948 

Updated January 21, 2016

     On September 18, 1948, two men, Edward S. Brown, 29, of Dansville, N.Y., and Stephen E. Hyde, 40, of Wayland, N.Y., took off from Hornell, New York, in a trainer airplane on what was to be a navigational flight from Hornell, to Providence, Rhode Island, and back.   After arriving at Providence, they were heading back to New York when they encountered heavy thunderstorms over the Groton, Connecticut, area. 

     Witnesses reported that the aircraft circled the area at an altitude of about 500 feet before suddenly loosing power and crashing into the front yard of 37 Grand Street in the city’s Groton (Navy) Heights section.   Brown and Hyde were killed instantly when the plane exploded on impact. 

     Playing in the yard at the time were 4-year-old Gerald D’Aquilla, and 13-year-old Valerie Maltby.  Just before the crash, Gerald’s mother Emily D’Aquilla, 27, hearing the plane circling overhead, came outside the house fearing for the children.  Just as she did so the plane exploded, dousing her with flaming gasoline.  The force of the explosion blew Gerald into the next yard, but fortunately he only suffered minor injuries.  Valerie Maltby was relatively unhurt, but Mrs. D’Aquilla suffered severe burns and was rushed to a nearby hospital.  Her husband, Nicholas, D’Aquilla, a navy serviceman assigned to the submarine base in Groton, was also burned when he came to the aid of his wife and put out the flames.      

     The aircraft involved was reported to be a BT-13, a former U.S. Army trainer plane.   

     The accident was investigated by the Connecticut State Police.


     New York Times, “Two Fliers Die In Crash” , September 19, 1948 

     (New London, CT.) The Day, “Two Die In Groton Plane Crash; Navy Wife Is Critically Burned.” September 20, 1948 



Stratford, CT – July 23, 1933

Stratford, Connecticut – July 23, 1933

     James A. Mollison and his wife Amy Johnson were two famous aviators, each in their own right.  In July of 1933 they decided to fly their private aircraft, Seafarer, (British registration G-ACCV) across the Atlantic Ocean from Pendine Sands, Wales, to Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, New York.   After flying 3, 190 miles in 39 hours, they found themselves over Bridgeport Airport in Stratford, Connecticut.  (Today the airport is known as Sikorsky Memorial Airport.)

     By this time fatigue had set in for both flyers, and the aircraft was also dangerously low on fuel, so landing at the airport seemed their only option as it was clear they’d never make it to Brooklyn.  The Seafarer made several aborted landing attempts before flying out over the marshlands where the Housatonic River empties into Long Island Sound.  It was there the plane made a crash landing in the weeds and flipped over in the muck.   Fortunately both husband and wife weren’t seriously injured, and only required a brief hospital stay.

     The Seafarer was custom built by de Havilland for the couple. 

     Videos of this aircraft and the crash site can be found on Youtube.      


     New York Times, “Mollisons Crash At Bridgeport: Both Are Injured, Plane Wrecked; Had Flown From Wales in 39 Hours”, July 24, 1933, pg. 1    

Middletown, CT – July 29, 1911

Middletown, Connecticut – July 29, 1911 

     On the afternoon of July 29, 1911, well known Connecticut aviator Nels J. Nelson of New Britain, Conn., was giving a flying exhibition at what was called by the press at the time the “State Insane Hospital” in Middletown.  Roughly 2,000 spectators sat on the lawn of the grounds to watch the show. 

     At one point Nelson came in for a landing and struck a telephone wire which caused the plane to turn sideways and crash.  The aircraft was wrecked, and although Nelson was pitched to the ground, he was not seriously injured.  

     It was noted by the press that this “flight was the first one ever held in this county”,  meaning Middlesex County, Connecticut. 

     At the time of this accident Nelson was just beginning his career, but he went on to become famous as one of Connecticut’s early aviators.  For more information about Nels Nelson, see

     Mr. Nelson would also survive another aircraft accident at Rocky Point, Rhode Island, on July 4, 1913, when a hydro-plane he was flying crashed in the water.    For further details, look under “Civil Aviation Accidents” – “Rhode Island” on this website.  

     Mr. Nelson died in 1964.

     Source: New York Tribune, “Flies For The Insane”, July 30, 1911   

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