Two Civil Air Patrol Officers Die After Ditching Plane in Ocean

Civil Air Patrol

By Coastie

[Editor’s Note: We received information regarding this crash. Thank you for your contribution. This CAP plane crash in Maine was attributed to mechanical failure of the engine.]

On the morning of February 2, 1943, a Civil Air Patrol airplane with two men aboard took off from Trenton, Maine, for a routine coastal patrol flight off the Maine coast. Shortly after 9:00 a.m. the aircraft developed engine trouble and the pilot was forced to ditch in the sea about 45 miles off Brunswick.

The pilot, 1Lt William B. Hites, 30, of Jamestown, New York, and the flight officer/observer, 1Lt Welles L. Bishop, 34, of Meriden, Connecticut, were able to escape from the plane before it sank. Another aircraft radioed their position to a shore control station, but rough seas made rescue operations difficult. Although both men wore life-vests and waterproof coveralls, they perished before help could reach them. Both men were survived by their wives.

Update July 15, 2016:

In 1970, twenty-seven years after the crash, Lt. Welles L. Bishop was posthumously honored by the town of Meridian and the Connecticut Civil Air Patrol during ceremonies marking the 29th anniversary of the establishment of the national Civil Air Patrol, (Dec. 1, 1941).

Sources:
• Bangor Daily News, “2 CAP Officers Killed On Duty Off Maine Coast”, February 3, 1943
• Lewiston Daily Sun, “Two Fliers Killed Off Maine Coast”, February 3, 1943
• The Morning Record, “Meridian Pilot Lost In War To Be Honored”, November 13, 1970.