Windham Airport – June 18, 1946

Windham Airport – June 18, 1946

Town of Windham, Connecticut

     On June 18, 1946, a Pan-American Constellation passenger liner took off from La Guardia Airport in New York City bound for Newfoundland and then on to England.  The four-engine aircraft,  known as the Atlantic Clipper, carried 42 passengers and a crew of 10.  Among the passengers were two well known actors, Laurence Olivier, and Vivian Leigh.  

     Shortly after take off, while the aircraft was over Plainfield, Connecticut, one of the four engines caught fire, then abruptly broke free of the wing and fell away to earth. The pilot, Captain Samuel H. Miller, declared an in-flight emergency and set a course for Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut, but in-route spotted Windham Airport below and made for it.   

    Captain Miller didn’t drop the landing gear as he made his final approach because he didn’t know if the burning engine had set the underside of the plane on fire, and he didn’t want to risk any flames igniting the fuel tanks.  He brought the plane in for a perfect belly landing, and when it skidded to a stop everyone was evacuated safely.       

     There was no mention as to what happened to the flaming engine when it hit the ground.


     New York Times, “Atlantic Clipper Drops Engine, But Lands Safely In Connecticut”, June 19, 1946 

     Evening Star, (Washington, D.C.), “Olivier, Wife Resume Ocean Flight After 52 Escape Plane Crash”. June 19, 1946  

     The Nome Nugget, (Alaska), “Pan Am Clipper Crash-Lands At Tiny Airport”, June 19, 1946

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