Harvard Instructor’s Plane Crashes Into Swamp After 19 Spins on Way Down
May 8, 1935—Unable to pull his plane out of a series of spins, Weld Arnold, 40, instructor at the Harvard Institute of Geographical Exploration, narrowly escaped death late this afternoon when the plane crashed from a height of 3000 feet into the swamp land adjoining Neponset River, two miles from Norwood Airport.
While fellow aviators and mechanics who witnessed the crash were preparing to rush to his assistance, Arnold calmly stepped from his wrecked plane and waved his handkerchief to signify that he was uninjured.
Found Sitting on Plane
Rescuers, including three men who swam across Neponset River and others who walked waist deep through the swamp land, found him sitting on his plane nursing a scratch on his forehead, the only indication of his narrow escape from death.
Arnold, whose work in geographical exploration has resulted in flying many thousands of miles as a passenger and more recently as a pilot, was one of a class of seven students taking tests at Norwood Airport today under the direction of Inspector Robert Hoyt of the Department of Commerce for a limited commercial pilot’s license.
Arnold and John Rizzo, manager of the Norwood Airport, were in separate planes in the air, completing the final parts of their test. Each had previously carried out instructions and had landed twice and were up for the third time under instructions to make two spins.
Rizzo completed his two spins and had trouble with his plane. He glided towards the airport, making a forced landing without injury to himself or damage to the plane.
19 Spins Before Crash
Arnold then commenced his spins. After the second one the plane continued to spin as instructors, aviators and mechanics at the airport watched in horror. The plane made a total of 19 spins and then crashed into the swamp. Arnold later said that he did not bail out because he believed he would be successful in pulling his plane out of the spins.
Other aviators immediately took to the air and flew over the scene. They were amazed to see Arnold leap from his plane and wave his handkerchief to them. Mechanics and other witnesses started across the swamplands to bring Arnold out. They were directed to the scene of the crash by the planes circling above.
The men brought Arnold back to the airport, where the slight cut on his forehead was dressed
When the plane crashed it struck a clump of trees, which ripped off the wings of the plane. The nose of the plane buried itself in the mud and water. The trees broke the fall of the plane to such an extent that the engine was not driven back through the cockpit to crush the pilot.
Veteran aviators at the airport were amazed to see Arnold returning uninjured and stated that they consider it miraculous that anyone could have fallen 3000 feet and escaped without injury.
Arnold was flying a biplane owned by the Ames Skyways. East Boston. Crocker Snow, manager of the Skyways, flew here later and made arrangements to remove the wrecked plane from the swamp and transport it to East Boston.
Arnold uses the Boston Airport as his flying field and came here for the tests today from that port. Snow took Arnold back with him. after the latter had telephoned to his wife at their home at 18 Scott st, Cambridge, and informed her of his escape.
Arnold is a graduate of Harvard College in the class of 1918 and received a diploma from the Royal Geographical Society in 1923. He is the author of a number of books on geographical work and has been on several expeditions—to Brazil in 1924 with the Hamilton Rice Expedition; with Harvard Eclipse Expedition in Sumatra, 1925; and in Malaya, in 1928; United States Naval Observatory Expedition to Ninafo’on in 1930.
(The Boston Globe-May 8, 1935)