From the Files of the Rochester Historical Society

As many of us know, Rochester once had an airport located on Marion Road (now Dogget Brook Farm.) It was closed at the beginning of World War II, and to my knowledge, no plane crashes occurred there. However, Rochester has been the site of airplane crashes on more than one occasion. In an earlier article, I wrote of two military planes crashing on the side of Mary’s Pond killing both pilots.

            In our archives at the museum, I found a report of another less deadly crash that happened on March 20, 1982. A Hyannis couple was heading to Hartford, Connecticut in their six-seater Cherokee single-engine plane when they began to experience engine trouble. They were seven miles east of New Bedford when the pilot sent out a call for help that was picked up by the Otis Air National Guard Base radar.The call was recorded at 9:57 am, and a Coast Guard helicopter flying over Cape Cod was notified one minute later and reached the scene of the crash by 10:11 am.

            The helicopter located the crashed plane helped by its emergency locator transmitter. Rochester Police and Fire were soon on the scene in the woods near the cranberry bog off of Dexter Road and began rendering aid. While both of the plane’s occupants suffered broken bones and other injuries, they were conscious when emergency services arrived.

            A State Trooper from the Bourne barracks who interviewed the pilot later at Tobey Hospital credited the man with, “great presence of mind which probably saved his life”. The pilot, realizing the engine was failing, first thought about landing on Rte. 195, but traffic was too heavy to make that a viable option, so he headed for a cranberry bog that he could see. He almost made it, landing 150 yards short in dense trees.

            Coming in at 80 miles an hour, the plane sheared off the top of a tree before crashing. The plane landed on its side, and as you can see in the picture, was pretty much destroyed. It lost the top of the fuselage and both wings. The pilot’s leg was pinned under the dashboard, and his biggest concern was the possibility of a fire. He was able to push his wife away from the wreckage and to shut off the control panel.

            The couple was treated at the scene by Rochester Police and Fire. It took them more than 15 minutes to free the pilot’s leg from under the plane. They were both taken to Tobey Hospital with non- life- threatening injuries. Thanks to the pilot’s actions, no one on land was injured.

            State Police helped to collect cargo and recover personal items at the scene, and according to the public affairs officer for the Federal Aviation Bureau, inspectors from Norwood began an immediate investigation of the crash.

By Connie Eshbach

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