World War Two Warplane Propeller Was Pulled From A Lake And Now Graces A Rhode Island Memorial

A propeller from a Grumman F6F-5N Hellcat flown in World War II is now at the Charlestown Auxiliary Naval Airfield Memorial in Ninigret Park, Charlestown, Rhode Island.

The Hellcat was being flown by Lt. Kenneth Bruce McQuady when it crashed into Ninigret Pond on March 2, 1945. McQuady was killed in the accident.

The airfield had been started to train pilots for World War II in September 1943. In 1944, former President George H. W. Bush trained there.

62 airmen, including McQuady, were killed at the airfield during training exercises at the airfield.

McQuady’s engine quit shortly after the takeoff and the plane crashed through the ice at the end of Runway 22 and exploded, according to Lawrence D. Webster, an aircraft archaeologist and historian.

McQuady was 21 at the time of the crash. He was survived by his wife, Guilda, and a daughter Karen, just a few months old when he crashed.

The 600-pound propeller was pulled from the pond on May 12, 2004, by Joe Lavin, owner of Lavin’s Landing marina. The blades were bent, and the paint was dissolved from sitting in salt water for 59 years.

The US Navy claimed the propeller and moved it to the Quonset Air Museum which closed in 2015, The Westerly Sun reported.

Webster, Frank Glista, caretaker of the Charlestown Auxiliary Naval Airfield Memorial, and John Kane, president of the Quonset Air Museum all worked to bring the propeller back to Ninigret Park.