Sept. 22, 1942: Two Army B-25C Mitchell medium bombers crash in separate incidents in Aroostook County, killing a total of 14 crew members.

Visibility was poor for both planes, according to air base headquarters in Presque Isle. One plane crashes in Perham, about 15 miles west of Caribou; the other, about six miles northeast of downtown Presque Isle, off Fort Fairfield Road.

The Perham crash occurs on a remote tree-covered hillside. Residents who report the crash say it caused an explosion that could be heard miles away. Soldiers from the air base in Presque Isle, 20 miles to the southeast, hike six miles, escorted by local guides through difficult forested terrain, to find the wreckage.

The flight crew consists of two officers and five enlisted soldiers, all of whom are dead. The Perham guides help recover the bodies.

The plane’s impact creates a crater about 25 feet in diameter, and the wreckage is scattered over an area about 75 yards across.

Meanwhile, in Presque Isle, civilian witnesses on the ground say they saw the other plane burst into flames before it crashed into woods next to a potato field.

The victims are, again, two officers and five enlisted crew members. Other soldiers go to the crash site and recover the bodies.

The Army appoints a board of inquiry to find out why the planes went down.

A report on the Perham crash later concludes that the pilot probably became disoriented and flew downward too steeply to recover when the plane emerged from the clouds.

Joseph Owen is an author, retired newspaper editor and board member of the Kennebec Historical Society. Owen’s book, “This Day in Maine,” can be ordered at islandportpress.com. To get a signed copy use promo code signedbyjoe at checkout. Joe can be contacted at: [email protected]

 

 

 


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