Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Weathersfield Hike-Perkinsville Plane Crash Site #WeathersfieldVT #VT

On a dark and stormy night almost 70 years ago a US Army B-29 plane crashed into the side of Hawk's Mountain in Perkinsville, killing all 12 people on board.


Fast forward to Saturday, September 17, 2016- a beautiful fall day, not at all like that fateful night of June 15, 1947. Twelve Weathersfield Hikers joined landowner Gil Whittemore for a hike up to the debris field that remains from that plane crash. The hike is a strenuous one, up most of the 2000 foot mountain. "You'll be climbing the height of the Empire State Building," Whittemore tells the hikers with a smile in his voice.


From accounts, June 15, 1947 was a regular old night around the village of Perkinsville. There were reports of electrical wires blown down in the storm; a birthday party was breaking up just before midnight; the dance hall near Green Valley Road was being closed up and folks were driving home in the fog and rain.

Suddenly, folks were startled by a horrific roar that shook the dance hall, rattling the windows as huge plane flew low above the building. Seconds later the engines stopped and the sky lit up with a huge orange fireball as the plane crashed into the ledge on the side of Hawk's Mountain.

Andrew Titcomb, a resident in town recorded the sound of the plane at 12:14:30. Delma Pike was working the Perkinsville Telephone Company's switchboard and made the call to Springfield's Police Department.

A couple of residents got into their cars and headed toward the old Foster/Whittemore farm and began a hike up. In the meantime, Titcomb organized a small search party of himself, Richard Butterfield and Phil Woodbury. They began their climb from Quarry Road. They reached the scene at 1:15 a.m. and it became apparent that no one aboard had survived.


They found an engine and a nearly intact tail section of the plane. At this point they still had no idea what type a of plane had crashed, until they found a self-sealing gas tank part labeled "B-29, Boeing, 1945."


The B-29 was the most advanced plane developed during World War II and had a wing span of 141' 3" and was 99' long. It had four Wright engines with the capability of reaching speeds of 350 mph with a range of 2000 miles.

Around 2 a.m. they found a plate on the tail gunner's hatch with the markings "Ship No.1019, Serial 3688."

Titcomb phoned the US Army base at Westover Field in Massachusetts later that morning with all the information he and his friends had collected. At first the Army denied that they had such a plane or that one was in the area but after some serious convincing, Titcomb had the Army believing one of their planes had crashed landed in Perkinsville Vermont.

Some details were later revealed by the Army and reporters research that the plane left Tucson, AZ at 10:05 a.m. EDT on a training mission bound for Bedford, MA with a final destination of Andrews Air Field in Washington, D.C. Bad weather diverted the plane to Pittsburgh, PA where it refueled at 6:07 p.m.. The B-29 left Pittsburgh at 9:06 p.m.. intent on landing in Bedford, MA.

Last radio contact was believed to be at 11:15 p.m. from Boston, MA with clearance to continue on to Hartford, CT.




Months and even years after the crash, folks were hiking up and removing "souvenirs" from the debris field. The current landowners are very protective of this crash site and kindly discourage folks from hiking up by themselves. Gil is more than happy to talk to folks about the famous crash and is willing to give you a guided tour. He just asks that you do not remove anything from the site and to be respectful of the 12 men who lost their lives that night in June , 1947.


The Weathersfield Town Report for 1947 list 12 deaths on June 15, without comment: Robert M. Stewart, Robert G. Fessler, Wilfred E. Gassett, Paul H. Fetterhoff, Harry Humphrey, Sylvester S. Michalac, John J. O'Toole, Ceasare Fontana, Robert H. Clark, Clayton K. Knight, D.D. Jack, and Oliver W. Hartwell.


1947 B-29 Crash Site Hike
Weathersfield Recreation Department
Perkinsville, VT, September 17, 2016
Copyright ©2016 Nancy Nutile-McMenemy
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