Monday, 11 May 2015

The Mysterious Outer Cove Plane Crash of 1956

Col. Carl Payne in the cockpit of his P-47 fighter plane on the island of Ie Shime in 1945.
Photograph courtesy of The Telegram. 

January 9, 1956 was a day that many residence of Outer Cove were unlikely to soon forget. A small military plane, piloted by Col. Carle Payne, came crashing down onto the house of Richard and Kitty Stack. The house quickly caught fire, and members of the community rushed out with buckets of water to douse the flame. Luckily, those who were inside the house at the time of the crash were able to emerge unharmed, although assuredly quite shaken-up. 

Payne, unfortunately, was not as lucky. His body was recovered from the Outer Cove waters, as parts of the plane continued on and crashed into the ocean. Payne was said to have passed a complete physical only a few days prior to the crash, and the plane was relatively new with no mechanical problems. This begs the question, what went wrong on that faithful day of '56?

Inclement weather may have played a role in the crash, as it was an extremely foggy January day, with temperatures hovering just above zero. Payne petitioned his superior officer to grant him permission to take off, and although conditions were atrocious, he was eventually given the green light, fearful that he would be late for a conference in St-Hubert, Quebec.

The majority of the plane was never recovered, so it is impossible to rule out mechanical failures as the cause of the crash. Payne also never tried to eject himself from the plane, which suggests that he may have been incapacitated at the time of the crash, or if it all happened so quickly he was unable to properly react. 

The tragedy of '56 will not soon be forgetten, and here at the Logy Bay-Middle Cove-Outer Cove Museum we would like to respectfully preserve this story. That's why we will be curating a small exhibit over the summer on this event, so that hopefully it will be remembered by generations to come.

If you have any photographs, stories or memories of this day please contact Katie at lbmcocmuseum(at) or 726-5272.

                                                                                     -Katie Harvey 

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