Off Block Island – April 30, 1942

Off Block Island, R. I. – April 30, 1942


Vought SB2U Vindicator
U.S. Navy Photo

     On the afternoon of April 30, 1942, a flight of Vought SB2U Vindicator navy aircraft were participating in a coordinated group bomb-attack training flight off Sandy Point, Block Island.  At 2:30 p.m., two of the aircraft, (Bu. No. 1365), and (Bu. No. 0746), were involved in a mid air collision.  (Bu. No. 1365) had its right wing sheared off in the collision.  (Bu. No. 0746) had part of its right wing and tail section torn away.  Both aircraft had been traveling in opposite directions in different groups at the time of the accident. 

     The pilot of (Bu. No. 1365 ) was Ensign David L. Kauffman, 21.  With him was Lt. (Jg.) Howard Lapsley, 31, serving as an observer.   As the aircraft fell, one man was seen to bail out, but his parachute never opened.  The aircraft crashed into the water north of Sandy Point.    

     The pilot of (Bu. No. 0746) was Ensign Frederick W. Tracey.  With him was his radioman, ARM3/c  J. C. Brown.  Both parachuted safely as their aircraft crashed into the water north of Sandy Point.  Both men were rescued from the water.

     The aircraft were assigned to VS-41. 

     The weather at the time of the accident was fair and hazy.  

     To see a photograph Ensign Kauffman, and to read his obituary go to and see memorial #113970491.

     To learn more about Lt. (Jg.) Lapsley, go to, and see memorial #25898354.


     U. S. Navy accident report #4091, dated April 30, 1942 

Charlestown, R. I. – October 15, 1943

Charlestown, Rhode Island – October 15, 1943


TBF-1 Avenger
U. S. Navy Photo

     On October 15, 1943, a lone pilot flying a TBF-1 Avenger, (Bu. No. 47438), was practicing take offs and landings at Charlestown Navy Auxiliary Air Field when he crashed due to insufficient air speed. The aircraft was a total loss but the pilot was not injured.

     The aircraft was assigned to VT-14


     U. S. Navy accident report #44-5161  

North Stonington, Ct. – June 28, 1944

North Stonington, Ct., (Pawcatuck) June 28, 1944

     Shortly before 6 p.m. on June 28, 1944, a single-seat navy plane from Quonset Naval Air Station was flying over the Westerly – Stonington area at 18,000 feet when the tail developed a “flutter”.  The pilot dropped down to 10,000 feet and the “flutter” got worse.  Since the pilot was near Westerly Air Field, he radioed a distress call, and said he would attempt to land there.  As he attempted to reach the field the “flutter” got even worse, forcing the pilot to bail out.

     The plane began falling from the sky, but as it neared the ground it leveled off of its own accord, and swept across North Stonington Road tearing away power lines and smashing into the home of Earl and Grace Norman.  Both received burns from exploding aviation fuel.     

     Meanwhile the pilot landed safely in a field about three miles away.

Source: Providence Journal, “Plane Hits House; Man, Wife Burned”, June 29, 1944, page 1


Long Island Sound, CT. – May 30, 1943

Long Island Sound, CT. – May 30, 1943


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

  On the morning of May 30, 1943, 2nd Lt. Neil C. Donovan, 23, was piloting an RP-47B, (Ser. No. 41-5939), over southern Connecticut on a routine training flight when for reasons unknown, his aircraft crashed onto the water of Long Island Sound near the town of Branford.  He did not survive.  Lt. Donovan was assigned to the 321st Fighter Squadron at Westover Field in Chicopee, Massachusetts.    


     Hartford Courant, “Two Army Planes Crash, One Killed, Another Hurt”, May 31, 1943, page 1.  (The article also refers to another P-47 crash that occurred in Coventry, Connecticut.)  

     Information supplied by Larry Webster, Aviation Historian, Charlestown, Rhode Island.


Return to Top ▲Return to Top ▲