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MishapsMISHAPs: 25 SEP 41 A/C: PBY-5 pby Location: St.Evstatius, Dutch West Indies Strike: Yes BUNO: 2402 Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [14JUN2001]

Mail trip to NAS Trinidad, British West Indies. Pilot ENS Ernest G. Cooper (1st pilot)/No inj. Crew: ENS Cordie Weart (#2 pilot)/No inj, AMM2 H. P. Brown (NAP)/No inj, AMM1 A. S. Creider (Plane Captain)/No inj, RM1 Joseph Amodeo (Radioman)/No inj, RM3 E. W. Michalski (Radioman)/No inj, AMM3 William K. Smith (Mechanic)/Killed, and AMM3 Walter L. Kuhlmann (Mechanic)/No inj. Passengers: ENS W. H. Van Dohlan/No inj, Cox. Jesse J. Howard (Mail Clerk)/No inj, D. F.Arture (Civilian)/Killed, Antonio Grillasca (Civilian)/Killed, Juan Jose Otero (Civilian)/No in, and Robert H. Rich (Civilian)/No inj.

Plane was flying over low scattered clouds and descending at 400-ft per minute. The altitude at the time of the accident was 9000-ft. The plane entered a cumulus cloud of not much thickness. At this moment the plane struck a bump of "Incredible" force. The plane began descending at approx.1800-ft per min. The initial shock tore both ailerons off. Upon coming out of cloud, Ens.Cooper (#1 pilot) ordered all hands to jump. This order was executed promptly, all but two of the jumpers landed in the water. Of these, three were lost, only one body was recovered (Smith). Ens.Weart (#2 pilot) elected to stay with the plane and land it.

ENS Cooper lowered the floats and put the carburetors in the automatic rich position before jumping. The landing was executed with no difficulty although it was necessity a fast landing.


Both ailerons destroyed. One aileron bell crank in each wing bent. Three ribs in starboard aileron but-out section bent.

Major damage to aircraft, but repairable at local station.

MishapsMISHAPs: 13 DEC 41 A/C: PBY-5 pby LOCATION: NAAF/NAF Port of Spain, Trinidad, British West Indies Strike: No BUNO: 2402 CAUSE: Plane took off in a cross-wind and choppy seas. Hull damage was noticed as soon as plane was in the air. The plane was flown to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Damage major. Airplane requiers major over-haul. tempory repairs well be effected in six days by this command for fly away to designated over-haul base. Crew Ok. Pilot Ens. H. Cordie Weart, AV-N USNR, Ens K. M. Erskine (2nd pilot), AV-N USNR, AMM2c T. Oelberg (NAP), AMM2c M. D. Dye (FO), AMM3c T. Duda (FO), AMM3c L. A. West (FO), RM2c M. E. Ryland (FO), and RM2c L. S. Tippet (FO). Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [23NOV2002]

MishapsMISHAPs: 12 JAN 42 A/C: PBY-5 pby Location: San Juan Harbor, Puerto Rico Strike: Yes BUNO: 2395 Cause: Air raid alert - The pilot, anxious to take-off in the shortest possible time during an air raid alarm, chose a downwind take-off rather than a long taxi to upwind take-off position. Just before take-off plane hit swells, bounced and the water hard once or twice. The excessive ground speed caused by the downwind run, together with the heavy load carried, evidently applied excessive forces to bottom resulting in the listed damage. Repairable damage: Two large holes in bottom. Bottom and bottom stringers buckled and warped in. All belt frames between stations 5 and 6 warped in. Skin wrinkled on top. Crew Ok: Pilot Lt(jg) Clarence A. Melvin, USN, Ens J. Hartlein, AV-N USNR, AMM1c A. D. Rusk (NAP), USN, AMM1c A. S. Creider, USN, AMM3c W. E. Kelly, USN, AMM3c R. J. Pace, USN, RM3c W. E. McChurry, USN. Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [25NOV2002]

MishapsMISHAPs: 10 FEB 42 A/C: PBY-5 pby LOCATION: NAS Trinidad, British West Indies Strike: No BUNO: 2400 CAUSE: Pilot executed an unusually hard full stall landing from about 10-ft altitude under no wind conditions. Repairable damage. All stringers and gussets bent. Diagonal braces bent. Bottom pushed in. Bulk rib and stiffness plate buckled, keel bent. Bottom plating bowed outward. Crew Ok. Pilot Ens. Walter W. Winika, AV-N USNR, Ens Sterling Cottrell, AV-N USNR, AMM1c H. F. Brown (NAP), AMM2c L. A. West (FO), AMM3c J. F. McDaniel (FO), RM3c J. H. Kaylor (FO), and Sea1c T. H. Bond,Jr. (FO). Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [26NOV2002]

MishapsMISHAPs: 30 APR 42 A/C: PBY-5A pby Location: Gros Inlet, St. Lucia, British West Indies Strike: Yes BUNO: 2400 Cause: Accident was result of poor landing. Plane landed in a skid with right wing down. A violent waterloop to the left resulted. Both wing tip floats were torn off by crash and a large hole torn in bottom of hull. Plane sank. Damage:"Strike" No injuries to crew: Pilot: Ens. Andrew B. Letson, Ens. James C. Milmoe, Aom2c. W. T. Chaffin, AP1c. A. R. Sawyer, Amm2c. J. A. ilcisko, Amm2c. M. Angeliccio, Sea2c. C. L. Bonnett, Arm2c. A. B. Donalson, and Arm2c. W. R. Loroey, Jr.. Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [21JUN2001]

MishapsMISHAPs: 08 JUN 42 A/C: PBY-5A pby Location: Nastrin Strike: No BUNO: 2396 Cause: Hard landing: Major overhaul. Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [29NOV2002]

MishapsMISHAPs: 08 JUN 42 A/C: PBY-5A pby Location: Martinique Strike: No BUNO: 2402 Cause: Hard landing: Major overhaul. Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [29NOV2002]

MishapsMISHAPs: 13 JUL 42 A/C: PBY-5A pby Location: NAS Trinidad, British West Indies Strike: Yes BUNO: 02399 Cause: Plane came in for night landing, landing was evidently made at to great an airspeed. Plane lit, bounced and dove into sea. During this dive the right wing was stripped from plane and the plane came to rest at a 40deg angle, slightly on her back with about 5-ft of tail surface above the water. damage:"Total Loss" Crew & pass. Pilot Lt(jg). Walter W.Winika/Killed, AP3c. Rue Snider/Killed, Ens. Richard P. King/Seriously inj, Ens. John T. Thompson/Killed, Ens. Joe S. Boren/Killed, AP1c. Thomas Oelberg/Killed, Amm2c. Donald B. Craig/Killed, Amm3c. George J. Pinely/Killed, Amm3c. Edward T. Giles/Killed, Rm2c. Alfred G. Swanda/Seriously inj, Sea2c. John Edward Lee/Killed, and Sea2c. D. F. O'Connell ( NAS Trinidad, British West Indies)/Killed. Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [21JUN2001]

MishapsMISHAPs: 03 JAN 43 A/C: PBY-5A pby Location: VA Strike: Yes BUNO: O8097 Cause: MIA Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [13MAR98]

UPDATE "...Flying and landing conditions: Scattered rain squalls-lowering visibility-extremely turbulent wind force 40-50 knots at patrol altitude, below 1000-ft sea was extremely rough. Adm Report: This PBY-5A operating from Quonset point, failed to return from a routine patrol mission. No information as to the whereabouts of the crew or plane has been received up to this time. A detailed search for several days was carried out by both US Army and US Navy aircraft but no evidence was discovered. Plane and crew missing: Pilot Machinist.Will R. Bueche (PPC), CAP. Arthur W. Quick (1st pilot), Ens. Emil Cortemiglia (navigator), Amm2c. Edward S. Cay (Plane Captain), Amm3c. Herbert O. Wiecher (1st mech), Amm3c. Harry H. Shaw (2nd mech), Rm2c. Clinton R. Cook (1st radioman), and Rm3c. Albert M. Davidson (2nd radioman)..." Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [09JUL2001]

UPDATE "...Test flight; crew-missing Pilot Machinist.Will R.Buechi (PPC), Cap(AA) Quick (1st.Pilot), Ens E.Cortemiglia (navigator), Amm2c E.S.Key (Plane Captain), Amm3c H.O.Wilcher (1st.mech), Amm3c H.R.Shaw (2nd.mech), Arm2c C.R.Cook (1st.radioman), and Arm3c A.M.Davidson (2nd.radioman)..." Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [06JAN2001]

UPDATE "...Crew Missing: Pilot;Machinist Will R.Bueche ...Captain A. W. Quick <1st. Pilot>...Ensign E. Cortemiglia ...AMM2c E. S. Key ...AMM3c H. O'Wilcher <1st Mechanic>...AMM3c H. R.Shaw <2nd Mechanic>...ARM2c C. R. Cook <1st Radioman>...RM3c A. M. Davidosn <2nd Radioman>..." Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [21DEC99]

MishapsMISHAPs: 17 JAN 43 A/C: PBY-5A pby Location: Elizabeth City, NC; Strike: Yes BUNO: 08043 Cause: Plane made an apparently normal take-off and cleared trees at end of runway at altitude of 150-ft. Shortly after take-off the right wing dropped slightly and continued to drop to an angle of almost 30deg. Nine-tenths of a mile from end of runway, plane struck pine trees and fell to ground. Right wing was sheared off by trees and remainder of plane broke up upon hitting ground and caught fire. In view of the fact that the field flood lights were turned off as plane was approximately over the field; Com FAW-5 1st end. of Adm Report., stated that he believed the pilot inadvertently stalled the airplane as the result of his confusion in shifting to instrument flying as the flood lights were turned off. Surviving members of crew testified that they had not been wearing safety belts at time of crash. Damage:Plane burned. Crew: Pilot Lt(jg). William Baxter Waldrop/Killed, Ens. Edgar Penford Arnold/Killed, Amm2c. William J. Casey/Killed, Ens. Richard N. Vest/Seriuosly inj, Amm1c. James A. Owens/Seriously inj, Amm2c. James D. Ballard/Seriously inj, and Rm3c. Chester R. Sims/Seriously inj. Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [10JUL2001]

MishapsMISHAPs: 09 MAR 43 A/C: PBY-5 pby Location: Narsarssuak, Greenland - Return from force-landing Strike: Yes BUNO: 08054 Cause: The damage to the aircraft occurred when the plane taxied into a iceberg and further damage was done while plane was secured to dock and while being hoisted onto dock. Ice on windshield prevented pilots from seeing the iceberg. Inadequate hoisting and dock facilities caused the subsequent damage. 1st endorsement: Subsequent to completion of the trouble report the pilot stated that a "Strike" was recommended due to the inaccessibly location of the aircraft and the need for spare parts on simular aircraft can be repaired of made available to A&R shop. Damage: Longers and stringers bent throughout plane. Rivets loose and missing, plane torque tube broken. Starboard float dented and out of line. Port wing leading edge dented. Wheels doors bent. Starboard side of hull dented, tunnel hatch bent, tail dented, underside, etc:DBR Crew OK: Pilot. Lt.H. C. Weart, Lt(jg). R. K. Buchanan, Rm2c. W. Finch, Amm1c. W. Bittorf, and Amm1c. R. J. Page. Contributed by Terry pb4y-2@sbcglobal.net [12JUL2001]


MishapsMISHAPs: Mid 1966 A/C: P2V P Neptune LOCATION: NAF El Centro, California. A P2 driven by a LCDR Bandaraga (sp?) put in wheels up at NAF El Centro, California. I remember the incident well, a photo would be priceless as the props looked like swastikas and the radome was ground off. It looked forlorn sitting there in the grass with foam dripping off everywhere. No one was injured. They patched it up and drove it to O&R. There was a lottery to decide who would have to crew it. Mr Bandaraga (a decent chap who we nicknamed Barracuda) was made "Squadron Safety Officer" by the skipper. As I recall this happened around midyear of 1964. Contributed by TRIMBLE, ATN3 Dennis dennist4@garlic.com [05MAY2019]

MishapsMISHAPs: Mid 1966 A/C: P2V P Neptune LOCATION: NAS North Island, San Diego, California. A/C lost a nose wheel during a night takeoff from NAS North Island, San Diego, California. Witnesses said that the shower of sparks from the strut was spectacular. The crew thought the craft was on fire as they could see the intense light from the ports but not the strut, the craft exploded fleeing crewmen as soon as it slid to a stop. The next day I saw the craft and the strut was ground flat up to halfway through the axle tube. Apparently the strut is made of a magnesium alloy which would account. Contributed by TRIMBLE, ATN3 Dennis dennist4@garlic.com [05MAY2019]

MishapsMISHAPs: 20 MAY 66 A/C: P2V-7S P Neptune LOCATION: Off of NAS North Island, San Diego, California Contributed by BOGGESS, Ronald rboggess@fbnet.net [07JAN2002]

VP-31 ThumbnailCameraPR-07 crew awaiting ride home after landing short of the runway at NAS North Island, San Diego, California.

VP-31 ThumbnailCameraCoast Guard Cutter Newagen to the rescue.

VP-31 ThumbnailCameraMishap Report 1 of 3

VP-31 ThumbnailCameraMishap Report 2 of 3

VP-31 ThumbnailCameraMishap Report 3 of 3

VP-31 ThumbnailCameraNewspaper Article

VP-31 ThumbnailCameraSalvage operation under way.

VP-31 ThumbnailCameraMore than minor maintenance needed.

MishapsMISHAPs: 06 MAR 69 A/C: P3P3 Orion LOCATION: Lemoore TYPE: Hard Landing/Fire STRIKE: Yes DEATHS: 06 BUNO: 152765 CAUSE: Pilot

UPDATE "...I found the information on this mishap while I was doing research for an increase in my VA comp. I witnessed this accident as I was an AE-2 stationed at VA-122. I had been to the compass rose and had gotten back to the flight line and was on a stand working on one of the AC on the flight line. I remember this well as it has haunted me for many years now. I had watched as this was not the first touch and go this AC had made that day. The approach might have been a little steep but I never felt the AC had stalled. The landing did not seem that hard to me and I would have to disagree with the findings of Pilot Error. There were several of us working on the line that day and we tried to get to the AC for the crew but the heat was very intense and we were driven back and it was soon that the fire crash crew arrived, It was not just a min as stated as they had to come from the other runway. There was no fire crews on the runway behind the VA-122 hangers. It was very quick but I have always felt that the crash was due to air frame failure of some type. I would love to talk to the family of any of the crew members. It might help to put some of there emotions to rest. To talk with someone that actually saw this tragic event. Gary Walton gwalton@san.rr.com..." [23SEP2009]

UPDATE "...I was also scheduled to be on that flight. As I recall, I reported to the duty office to pick up my box lunch about 0430 and was told that instead of a "RADIO/OBSERVER" FAM, the flight was rescheduled for a "Pilot Trainer". We, about 7 or 8 of us (can't remember the number for sure), had been bumped from that flight to attend a GSE class. Upon returning to the classroom (about 10:00 a.m.) from a smoke break, the instrutor said "you all were supposed to be on RP7, weren't you? It just crashed - every one was killed". I believe, again not really sure, that Dwane Yoder (went to VP-40 "Radio Operator") was also origianlly schedule to be on that FAM flight. REEVES, George R. uhu@whidbey.net..." [18OCT2001]

UPDATE "...Accident of P-3B 152765 of VP-31..." Contributed by Jaap Dubbeldam cobaguijt@nl.packardbell.org..." [15SEP2001]

An accident which involved a P-3B Orion of VP-31 on 6th March 1969 has had little attention so far. After enquiries on the VPNAVY site some details have become known, but the official Incident Report provides more information.

The accident, which happened on runway 32R of NAS Lemoore, California, was caused by an excessive sink rate on touch and go landing.

The following six persons were on board, non of whom survived the accident:
LTJG Larry D. Ray, pilot.
LT Eugene L. Bates, Co-pilot
LTJG Edward J. Martin Jr, FRP
ADJ1 Anthony NMN Hutchinson, Flight engineer
AT1 Michael W. Merz, Radio
A1 Thomas P Feichtinger, Forward Obs

The text of the official Aircraft Accident Report reads:

In accordance with Patrol Squadron THIRTY-ONE flight schedule of 6 March 1969, RP-07, a P-3B Bureau Number 152765, was assigned for a local instrument training flight. LT E. L. RATES was the instructor pilot and plane commander, hereafter referred to as the copilot. LTJG L.D. RAY en LTJG E.J. MARTIN, Jr. were the pilots under instruction. The schedule called for an instrument flight #4, which consist primarily of flight planning, filing, airways procedures, approaches and engine emergencies under simulated instrument conditions.

The flight was scheduled to commence at time 0650U, 6 March. LT BATES filed a DD-175, via NAS Moffett Field, California Weathervision and telephone at 0608U. The DD-175 was filled out by a person other than LT BATES, presumably one of the students. The signature of the approving authority is that of LT BATES. The DD-175 proposed a 0700U take-off via a Hillview Three Standard Instrument Departure to Stockton, J-126 to Sacramento, J-7 to Reno, J-5 to Tioga Intersection, direct to San Jose, direct to NAS Moffett Field, California.

The initial cruising altitude was FL190 and the total time en route was given as 4+00. The aircraft departed NAS Moffett Field, California at 0712U and was given radar vectors to Altamount Intersection and instructions to climb to FL190. The aircraft arrived at Reno at 0745U where two practise ILS approaches were executed. At 0836U the aircraft departed Reno, climbed to FL190 and was routed to Fresno via J-5 to Tioga Intersection, direct to Fresno, arriving at 0909. The aircraft descended to 6000', and since Lemoore Approach Control was unable to approve practice approaches to Fresno at that time, the aircraft was vectored (at pilot's request) to NAS Lemoore, California for practice GCA's with the understanding that he would return to Fresno for practice instrument approaches when traffic at Fresno permitted. After being vectored to Lemoore, the aircraft made one GCA to a touch and go landing at 0925U.

The aircraft was cleared for a second GCA approach to terminate in a touch and go landing. The GCA was normal up to PAR minima. On the attempted touch and go an excessive sink rate developed and the aircraft impacted the runway at 0943U. On impact or shortly thereafter the port wing separated from the fuselage and a fire developed in the vicinity of the #2 fuel cell. The fuselage slid down the runway and came to a rest off the left side of the runway engulfed in flames. The port wing with landing gear assembly attached continued down the runway and came to a rest off the left side of the runway near taxiway B engulfed in flames.

One eye-witness gave the following account:

I was there and saw the crash while on a check stand replacing a radar dish on a A7 Corsair II at the time. As I recall it was on a Saturday and I had the duty section. Was a Aviation Fire Control Technician Second Class with VA-122.

I remember it was early in the year (actually though it was February until now) and can still remember watching it come in at a steep glide path.

Remember thinking I'd never seen a "touch and go" coming in at that angle.

As I recall a total of 7 were lost. I think 1 was in the tail section that later died.

Three accounts of former VP-31 members gave the following additional information:

The crash occurred when the aircraft appeared to stall at a height of thirty to fifty feet above the thresh-hold of the runway. The weather was clear (CAVU) at the time of the crash, which happened about 1000 hours local time. NAS Lemoore, California, located in the San Jaquin Valley 100 or so air miles from NAS Moffett Field, California near San Jose, CA, was one of several fields used by VP-31 instructors for pattern work because of its generally good weather, flat terrain, and relative proximity to the home field. The crew on that flight consisted of an Instructor Pilot, LT Eugene Bates, USN, two junior, but qualified Naval Aviators undergoing "type training" in the P-3 prior to assignment to a "fleet squadron", a flight engineer, radio operator, and one or more other enlisted "after-station" observers, for a total of six to eight SOB. The plane broke up upon impact and caught fire as it slid a short distance down the runway. Although crash equipment reached the scene within minutes, only one crewman, the flight engineer, managed to get clear of the wreckage. He was severely burned, however, and died a day or so after the crash.

On the morning of March 6, 1969 I reported to the duty office to make the flight in question. The duty officer told me that I had TAD orders to NBC school at Moffett. I have been looking for someone who has a copy of that flight schedule for 35 years. I knew Feichtinger and Lt. Edwards pretty well.

I was the line crew member who waved them off the Moffett and it never came back, it did crash at Lemoore.

As far as casualties they all lost their lives that morning. The only thing I recall as I also was a NAS VP-31 trained flight observer was that that plane carried a pilot, co-pilot, radioman, and one flight observer. It was a typical nice day the plane was going out touch and goes at Lemoore.

UPDATE "...I witnessed the crash of VP-31's P-3B BUNO: 152765 at NAS Lemoore, California on 6 March 1969. (Just happened to see this website because another Navy guy from my hometown of Cle Elum, Washington was on the P-3 Orion that had to land in China.) I was changing a radar dish on a A7 Corsair II when I watched the P-3 Orion comining in steep for what I expected was to be a "touch and go" as usual. I was a Aviation Fire Control Technician Second Class with VA-122 at the time. Heard there were no survivors. Have wondered what went wrong all these years...Tom Kermen kermen@att.net..." [13MAY2001]

UPDATE "...We are in the final stage of this book, which will be ready in March 2001. However we are still looking for more information about the crash of VP-31 P-3B 152765 at NAS Lemoore, California on 6th March 1969. Is there anyone out there who can tell us more about this accident. P-3 Orion Research Group Jaap Dubbeldam & Marco Borst...Jaap Dubbeldam cobaguijt@nl.packardbell.org..." [26DEC2000]


MishapsMISHAPs: 26 MAY 72 A/C: P3P3 Orion LOCATION: Calif TYPE: Disappeared SRIKE: Yes DEATHS: 08 BUNO: 152155 CAUSE: Undet See In Memorial for lost friends...VP-31 May 26, 1972

Memorial PictureIn Memorial for lost friends May 26, 1972 [Updated 03APR2023]


MishapsMISHAPs: 25 SEP 90 A/C: P3P3 Orion LOCATION: Crows Landing TYPE: Collision Runway SRIKE: Yes DEATHS: 00 BUNO: 161762 CAUSE: Pilot

UPDATE "...I was the "other" F/E sitting on the radar cabinet. Although the plane was a total loss, we were very lucky that day. It gives a new meaning to the old saying that 'any landing you walk away from is a good landing'..." Contributed by LT Roberto "Bert" Freytes, Retired bertros62@yahoo.com [29AUG2004]

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UPDATE 02MAY98 "...So far, Sgt. Lasko has heard from Ed Lecco elecco@gte.net, LCDR John Kinney, Bob Hole bob@bugorama.com, Scott Olson spice@gfherald.infi.net, Randy Poplin rpoplin001@roadrunner.com, Peter Lindberg plindberg@surfnetusa.com, Dick Porter, and others. Thanks!

"VP-31 Summary Page"