I can tell you there was one other airplane crash in Wethersfield sometime in the early part of 1924.
My grandfather, was a Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps and the NY Air National Guard. In an article from a newsletter “Published Weekly by the 27th Division, Air Service Units”, the article mentions that he and (I assume his navigator) in a Curtiss JN-4 Jenny ended up in Wethersfield after running out of fuel on a trip from Miller Field (LI, New York, I believe) to Westfield, MA, for an aerial meet. It also strongly implies that the plane was destroyed in the rather abrupt landing (” . . . except for poor old 31. She is no more, fine”.) It also mentions that, “some people named Spencer telephoned in from Wethersfield, Conn., to say there was one perfectly good JN.4.H all over their front lawn”. Both my grandfather and his navigator, Tom Fleming, survived seemingly unhurt. [The article appears below.]
Also found some related newspaper stories.
The plane landed and rolled tail over nose and ended upside down (there’s a photo) with men standing around the plane and a large building in the background. The newspaper article states that they were “forced to make a bad landing in Edward Issacson’s field on the Ridge road, about a mile south of the Institute for the Blind”. They apparently also narrowly missed “the chimney of Sherman Lougee’s house by three feet, badly scaring he occupants who thought the plane would crash through the roof”. The date of the accident appears to be April 19, 1924. The title of the article is “OUT OF GAS PLANE CRASHES IN FIELD: Machine Tips Over in Field South of Institute for the Blind – One Slightly Injured”. I assume this is from a CT paper as it says the plane was “forced to land here” (not “there”).
Bob Morris, Portland, CT
The Bird’s-eye View
All the news that fits the press
Published Weekly by the 27th, Division, Air Service Units
Vol. 1, No. 2
Miller Field, New Dorp, S.I.N.Y. May 1st, 1924
PRETTY GIRLS IN WEATHERSFIELD [sic]
Did a passing smile from some fair inhabitant of Weathersfield [sic], Connecticut cause the sudden stoppage of old bus 31?
That is the question members of the 27th, Div. Air Service began to ask themselves when they heard about the results of our latest Cross Country trip. Two ships took off early last Saturday morning from Hiller Field on the tail of a balmy south-wester bound for Westfield, Mass., to arrange and aerial meet. Lt. Weatherdon & Jonny Battle made it all right but Lt. Morris & Tom Fleming didn’t .
The first the boys in the hangar knew about it was when some people named Spencer telephoned in from Weathersfield [sic], Conn., to say there was one perfectly good JN.4,H all over their front lawn.
It seems as old 31, went flapping in over Weathersfield [sic] giving the place the once over, something went wrong and Lt. Morris had to land. Anyway they landed with excellent results except for poor old 31. She is no more, fine.
Now what we want to know from Lt. Morris and our worthy operations sergeant, is just what are the girls of Weathersfield [sic] like, and which one waved at the airplane.
Anyway a man can be a hero in Weathersfield [sic] only once, and easter [sic] is a good time to drop in. The moral is if your’e [sic] going to travel cross-county to Westfield, always pick a Pilot who has a girl there. Otherwise the pretty girls of Weathersfield [sic] may be too much for him.
Research by Wethersfield Historical Society member Jim Meehan places the site of the 1924 plane crash within a triangle formed by Nott Street (side a), Ridge Road (side b) and an imaginary line from 35 Fairview Street to the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center (CCMC) School at the corner of Ridge Road and Jordan Lane (side c, the hypotenuse). The length of side a equals approximately .8 miles and side b equals .6 miles, therefore (per the Pythagorean Theorem) the hypotenuse equals about 1 mile.
In 1924 CCMC on 170 Ridge Road was the home of Connecticut School for the Blind. At that time the school also owned between 27 and 35 acres of land south of the building along the east side of Ridge Road. This acreage was sold to and developed by LaCava Builders in the 1960s.
Sherman Lougee and Edward Isaacson were both what could be called “land speculators” in Wethersfield during the first two decades of the 20th century. Lougee owned large tracts of land along Ridge Road, some near the intersection of Nott Street, and Isaacson had considerable property along Nott Street – both in anticipation of the construction of housing developments such as “Ridge Road Heights” and “Ridge Crest”.
Lougee lived on one of these Ridge Road properties at the time of the plane crash but we have not been able to determine exactly which one. Isaacson’s Nott Street – “Isaacson’s Field” property was undeveloped as was virtually all of the land east of Ridge Road to Nott Street. The 1930 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map of Wethersfield doesn’t even show this area indicating a total lack of buildings.)
Albert Spencer lived at 35 Fairview Street, which runs parallel to the middle portion of Nott Street, about ¼ mile south. The majority of Fairview Street and the immediately surrounding area were also undeveloped fields in 1924.
We have not been able to identify the institutional brick building shown in the newspaper photo. It is not the Connecticut institute for the Blind, and no other brick buildings matching the picture currently exist within or near the “triangle”. It might have been an outbuilding of the School for the Blind that is no longer standing.