Vineyard Haven, MA. – July 31, 1926

Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts – July 31, 1926

     At 2:15 p.m. on Friday, July 30, 1926, a U.S. Navy, Loeing OL-4,  (Bu. No. A7061), a three seat amphibian bi-plane, left Washington, D.C., bound for Chatham, Massachusetts.  There were three men aboard: The pilot, Lieutenant H. F. Councell, of Hickory, North Carolina, the mechanic, C. T. Gibbens, of Norman Park, Georgia, and Captain E. S. Land, who was to make a survey of some vacant buildings at the naval base in Chatham.

     The plane landed twice on Friday.  The second time was at far Rockaway, New York, to make repairs to the radiator.  There the men spent the night, and after the repairs were made, resumed their trip on Saturday, July 31st, at about 1 p.m.   As they neared the New England coast they encountered fog, and were forced to land near an island called Noman’s Land, which is off the southwest coast of Martha’s Vineyard.  After conferring with each other, it was decided to head for Vineyard Haven; a village in the town of Tisbury on Martha’s Vineyard.  After landing safely at Vineyard Haven, the men went to the Havenside Inn. 

     After a meal, it was decided that Lieutenant Councell and Mechanic Gibbens should fly to Newport, Rhode Island, and obtain more fuel.  Meanwhile, Captain Land would remain behind and be picked up the following morning.

     The plane took off about 4:30 that afternoon with the two men aboard, and began to circle while at the same time climbing steeply.  Those watching on the ground stated that as it entered a cloud the engine suddenly stopped, and the airplane came diving out of the sky and crashed into the harbor with such force that the tail snapped off.  Both men were killed instantly.

     The aircraft was recovered and brought to shore, but it was well beyond any repair.

     The bodies of Lieutenant Councell and Mechanic Gibbens were placed aboard the navy tug, Triton to be taken to Newport, Rhode Island, but the tug developed engine trouble in-route so the destroyer Preston was sent to continue with the task.   

     Source: Vineyard Gazette, “Two Dive To death At Vineyard Haven”, August 6, 1926, page 1.  (photo of aircraft.)

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