Friday, August 5, 2016

Boeing B-17B Flying Fortress Crash ~ North Reading 1942

In July, 1942, during World War II, a United States Army Air Force Boeing B-17B Flying Fortress, registration 39-8 crashed in North Reading and was damaged beyond repair. The Veterans’ Memorial on the town common commemorates the ten crew members who lost their lives in this crash. They were Orville Andrews, Robert Aulsbury, Stephen Bilocur, Archie Jester, Don Johnson, Marion Klyce, Sidney Koltun, William Perkins, James Phillips and Charles Torrence. 

The following was written by Andy Dabilis, and published © in the Boston Globe, November 12, 1995: “NORTH READING, JULY 18, 1942 -- It was about 3:20 p.m. on a foggy Saturday afternoon during the World War II years when 16-year-old Leonard (Gig) Stephens heard through the cold mist the sound of an aircraft in trouble near his home by the Red Hill Country Club, not far from Route 62, and he ran outside to see a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber on a descent to death. He will never forget, he says, the sight of an airman standing in an open hatchway as the plane started to clip the tops of pine trees into a wooded area, too low for a parachute to work. The engines were spitting flames. The plane cut a path 200 feet long and 40 feet wide, leaving behind one of its giant wings in the back yard of J...”     
( I am working to retrieve the entire article and locate more information.)

Details of the incident can be found at the Aviation Safety Network:

 Information can also be found here:

If you are interested in more Massachusetts aviation history, please visit the Massachusetts Aviation Historical Society website. I am currently the archivist for their collection. (2015-2016)