Westfield – Barnes Airport – May 30, 1947

Westfield – Barnes Airport – May 30, 1947

     On May 30, 1947, an airshow was in progress at the Westfield-Barnes Airport in Westfield, Massachusetts.  One of the performers was piloting a Vaultee BT-13; a former military trainer aircraft.   At one point during the show the Vaultee went into a steep dive from which the aircraft did not recover.  The airplane hit some trees and then broke apart as it tumbled for 200 yards.   The 23-year-old pilot did not survive. 

     Source: The Nashua Telegraph, “Air Hero Is Dead In Crash”, May 31, 1947.  

Westfield-Barnes Airport – June 3, 1983

Westfield-Barnes Regional Airport – June 3, 1983 

     Shortly before 11:00 a.m. on the morning of June 3, 1983, a 44-year-old pilot was flying a restored single-engine AT-6 former U.S. Navy training plane over the airport as part of a proficiency test to obtain an FAA aerobatics rating.  As part of the test, he was to complete a four-point roll, during which he was to begin by flying the aircraft on a horizontal level, then tip sideways with the wings perpendicular to the ground, then roll upside down while maintaining horizontal flight, and then roll back over to level upright flight.  It was during this maneuver that the aircraft dove into the ground and the pilot was killed.


     The Sun, (Westerly, R.I.), “Feds Investigate Crash Killing Conn. Stunt Pilot”, June 6, 1983, page 7 

Westfield, MA. – October 3, 1986

Westfield, Massachusetts, October 3, 1986  

     On the evening of October 3, 1986, a single-engine Piper PA-28 Cherokee, (N3688),  with a lone pilot aboard left Barnes Airport in Westfield bound for LeFleur Airport in nearby Northampton.   

     After arriving safely at Le Fleur, the pilot took a husband and wife aboard as passengers.  The husband and the pilot were long-time friends.  The aircraft then took off from LeFluer headed back to Barnes, a distance of about ten miles, but bad weather had settled in and visibility dropped to near zero. 

     At 7:05 p.m. the pilot contacted the tower at Barnes and requested a “special VFR landing”, but was advised that another incoming aircraft had priority.  A few minutes later, after being granted clearance to land, the aircraft flew into a vertical cliff on the Westfield side of East Mountain.  The resulting fireball was observed by the air traffic controller at Barnes.

     All three persons aboard the aircraft were killed instantly.

     The crash site was in a remote section of the mountain, and rescue workers had a difficult time reaching it.   


     Springfield Republican, “Three Bodies Recovered At remote Plane Crash Site”, October 5, 1986, page 1.  (Photo of crash site.) 

     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “Pilot Ignored Weather; Three Killed In Crash”, October 5, 1986, page 12.

Westfield, MA. – November 30, 1942

Westfield, Massachusetts – November 30, 1942 


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

     On November 30, 1942, 2nd Lt. Daniel B. Austin of Dorchester, Massachusetts, took off from Westover Air Field in Chicopee, Mass., for a routine training flight.  He was piloting a P-47B Thunderbolt, (Ser. No. 41-6024).  At 3:30 p.m. he was killed when his aircraft crashed into Higgins Swamp, a marshy area to the east of Barnes Airport in Westfield.  Although numerous persons witnessed the accident, the cause was not immediately known.

     Lt. Austin was assigned to the 321st Fighter Squadron.


     The Springfield Republican, (Springfield, Mass.), “Army Flier Dies In Westfield Crash”, December 1, 1942.  


Westfield, MA. – October 4, 1974

Westfield, Massachusetts – October 4, 1974

     On October 4, 1974, a Massachusetts Air National Guard F-100D fighter jet was landing at Barnes Airport in Westfield when the drogue parachute failed to deploy properly.  (The parachute is designed to help slow and stop the aircraft during landings.)  

     The fighter jet then overshot the runway after touchdown, and continued at approximately 175 mph through 1,000 feet of brush and two fences before reaching the Massachusetts Turnpike, (aka Rt. 90), where it crashed into a passing car killing the lone 22-year-old woman driver.  The jet then flipped over and came to rest upright on the opposite side of the highway.  There was no fire as a result of the crash, and the 26-year-old pilot wasn’t seriously injured.    

     The aircraft was attached to the 104th Tactical Fighter Group of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.


     Westerly Sun, (R.I.), “Woman Killed As Airplane Hits Her Car”, October 8, 1974, page 8.

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