Waterford, CT. – November 19, 1943

Waterford, CT. – November 19, 1943


P-47 Thunderbolt – U.S. Air Force Photo

     On November 19, 1943, a flight of twelve P-47 fighter aircraft took off from Trumbull Field in Groton, Connecticut, for a cross-country formation training flight.  A few minutes after take off, one aircraft, (Ser. No. 42-8172), piloted by 2nd Lt. Willie S. Reed, Jr.,(25), began to have engine trouble.  Reed dropped out of formation to return to Groton, but then his engine caught fire and his plane began losing altitude.   Lt. Reed stayed with the plane, possibly to avoid a crash in a populated area.  His plane crashed and exploded in the town of Waterford.

     Lt. Reed was assigned to the 401st Fighter Squadron.  He’s buried in Utica Cemetery in Utica, Mississippi.  To see a photo of Lt. Reed, click here: https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/44223290/willie-s-reed


     The Waterbury Democrat, “News Of Connecticut” – Waterbury – November 20, 1943, page 5. 

     Book, “Fatal Army Air Forces Aviation Accidents In The Unites States, 1941-1945”, by Anthony J. Mireles, C. 2006. 




Waterford, CT. – March 10, 1976

Waterford, Connecticut – March 10, 1976

     At about 2:55 p.m., on the afternoon of March 10, 1976, a Piper Cherokee 140, (N8752N), with a flight instructor and his student aboard crashed on take off from Waterford Airport when the engine lost power.  The plane came down in a brushy area and there was no fire after the crash. The 53-year-old instructor was admitted to Lawrence Memorial Hospital with broken bones, while the 52-year-old student suffered less severe injuries.   

     Source: New London Day, “Two Hurt As Plane Crashes”, March 11, 1976 

Waterford, CT. – February 11, 1960

Waterford, Connecticut – February 11, 1960

     On the evening of February 11, 1960, a twin-engine Piper aircraft with four men aboard was making its final approach to New London Airport in heavy fog conditions when it struck the tops of some trees.  It then snagged a steel cable that ran across an unused granite quarry and plunged into the icy water in the quarry.  The plane broke apart on impact and one man was able to escape.  The other three did not.

     The survivor, a 25-year-old man from Mystic, Connecticut, made his way to shore, found a foot path, and climbed out of the quarry. He then made his way to a private home where he was given assistance, and transported to a hospital where he was listed in critical condition.

     The accident occurred in Flat Rock Quarry, also known as Ryan’s Quarry Pond, which at the time of the accident hadn’t been worked in 29 years.  This quarry no longer exists, and today a shopping mall stands on the site. 


     The New London Day, “Three Die In Waterford Crash As Plane Plunges Into Quarry; Survivor’s Condition Critical”, February 12, 1960, page 1. (With photos of crash scene.)

     The New London Day, “Just Kept Walking To Seek Assistance”, February 12, 1960, page 1.    


Off Waterford, CT – February 10, 1970

Waterford, Connecticut – February 10, 1970

In Long Island Sound

     At 4:21 p.m., Pilgrim Airlines Flight 203 left Trumbull Airport (Today known as Groton-New London Airport) bound for J.F. K. International Airport in New York.  It had been scheduled to depart at 4:05 p.m., and arrive at 4:55 p.m.  (The sixteen minute delay was due to ground delays, and no fault of the crew.)

     The aircraft was a turbo-prop De Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter, registration N124PM.

     There were five persons on board: the pilot, Alfred Crofts, 44, of North Stonington, Connecticut; the first officer, George B. Fox, 23, of Orient Point, New York, and three passengers; David F. Baker, George T. West Jr., and Willis G. Worchester.  The three passengers had just been visiting the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in Groton, Connecticut.  

     Weather and visibility conditions were poor, and the pilot was flying on Instrument Flight Rules (IFR).  When the flight reached the New York area it was put in a holding pattern for an extended period of time.  

     By 5:00 p.m. conditions at Kennedy had deteriorated.

     At 5:27 p.m. Flight 203 was contacted by Kennedy to establish radar identification, however it was learned that the radar transponder aboard the aircraft wasn’t working.  After several attempts to remedy the problem without success, Flight 203 was diverted to Tweed Airport in New Haven, Connecticut. 

     At 6:13 p.m. Flight 203 was cleared for approach to Tweed.  However, at 6:17 p.m. the pilot reported they’d missed the approach, and the flight was advised to contact the Westchester (NY) Approach Control as part of standard missed-approach procedure.  

     Flight 203 established contact with Westchester and asked for the weather at Groton, Connecticut, and the controller advised he would get the weather and give instructions. 

     The flight responded, “203, roger. We’d appreciate it if you hurry.” 

     Groton weather was then transmitted to 203.

     At 6:18 p.m. Flight 203 again contacted Westchester Approach Control: “Westchester, we’d like to ah get direct Groton right now.”  Westchester advised they were working on getting clearance.

     203 repeated that they had to get Groton, and the Westchester controller replied he had to coordinate with New York, and was in the process of doing so.

     At 6:20 p.m. Flight 203 advised, “Ah, Westchester, 203, ah we got minimum fuel now, we gotta get to Groton.”

     “Pilgrim 203,” the controller responded, “I have advised Kennedy of that, they’re working on your clearance now, and I’ll have something as soon as they give it to me.”  

     Flight 203 was granted clearance shortly afterwards, and made its approach to Groton at 100 feet off the water due to a 200 foot cloud ceiling.  On final approach the pilot was in communication with his company via radio.  As he skimmed over the water hoping to make shore, he reported that one engine had stopped.  Seconds later the other engine quit, and the pilot advised he was going to ditch.  The plane crashed into Long Island Sound in 60 feet of water off Harkness Point.  It had run out of fuel.

     All aboard perished. When the plane was recovered from the bottom, it was discovered that no bodies were inside.  Two of the passengers bodies were recovered at a later date, but the flight crew and the other passenger were never found.  


     NTSB Investigation Report, Report # NTSB-AAR-71-1, File #3-0001, SA-418, Adopted January 27, 1971   

    (Connecticut) The Morning Record, “Evidence Probed In Plane Crash”, April 1, 1970 page 20   



Waterford, CT – February 11, 1960

Waterford, CT – February 11, 1960

     On the night of February 11, 1960, a twin-engine airplane carrying four men en-route from Washington to Connecticut crashed into a water-filled quarry in the town of Waterford, Connecticut.  One of the men, Richard A. Georgetti, 25, managed to escape before the fuselage sank to the bottom carrying the others down with it. 

     The bodies of the other three, (the pilot) Elwin Hendricksen, 24, Richard Edwin Opdyke, 29, and Fred Luecke, 27, were later recovered by divers.  

     Source:, New York Times, “Two Die In Air Crash, Another Is Missing As Craft Falls In Connecticut”, February 12, 1960

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