Jones plane was the Smith plane-- The evidence
View from the crash site
Interactive 360 Panoramic
View of Burgeo, NF
Interactive 360 Panoramic
NY Times coverage
Cause of Crash
Search for the Plane
Search for Pilot
38 Endurance Flight
Smith home in Clarksburg
Smith at 16 years old
Group Flight @ Union
Smith before take-off
The plane in 1939
Hi Res plane photo
The aircraft in 1941
Aircraft in 1941
Tommy's note 05/28/39
Family tree info
Can you help ?
Other Aviators 1929-39
headline "Mystery Cloaks Fate of Flier" captured my imagination while I was researching a story about
the discovery of an abandoned airplane in Newfoundland.
The article, from a 1941 newspaper, described the finding
of a crashed airplane in a remote part of south-western Newfoundland. The plane, an Aeronca 65-C, was traced to a young American pilot who attempted to fly the Atlantic in 1939. The article
went on to say there was no trace of the pilot, only a note. With that, my quest began.
Found in August of 1941 by the crew of a Canadian Digby patrol aircraft of the number 10 Bomber squadron. It
was apparent from the plane's registration that it was of American origin. The RCAF then turned over the investigation
to the USAF 21st Reconnaissance Squadron.. The Americans had to wait two weeks until the weather improved enough
to send in a search party. In the meantime, they traced the aircraft's registration number, NX22456, to a Thomas
Harvey Smith of 1044 Airway Drive in Glendale, California, formerly of Clarksburg, West Virginia. When they finally arrived at the crash site, miles north of Burgeo, NF, they found no trace of Smith. Inside the plane they found his note. It indicated he was
going to walk out and was afraid of freezing while asleep. For an image of the note and transcript, click
here. One of the first local people
to visit the plane remembers the seat belt was cut and there were no signs that would
suggest the pilot was injured from the crash. Veteran pilots who found the plane were absolutely amazed that he
was able survive crashing his plane in such a rugged and rocky area. Smith was attempting to fly his "Baby
Clipper" from Old
Orchard Beach, Maine to the Croydon
Airport just outside London, England. He was on what he referred to as a "research flight" to prove that
small well-equipped aircraft like his could make the ocean crossing. His flight
began on the morning of May 28, 1939, just after low tide, with a crowd of well-wishers cheering him on. His plane roared down the beach for nearly
two miles. It left the hard packed sandy beach at 3:47 EST and rose into the dimly lit morning sky.
No trace of Tommy has ever been found.
One of the reasons for placing this information on the Internet was record an event of history. I felt strongly
that this story was destined to be lost to time and fading memories.
I have found Tommy Smith to be a most interesting character. Even though he did not succeed in completing his flight,
he definitely succeeded in making an impression on the people of his day.
If you have found this page interesting, it is because of all the assistance I have had from others who generously
contributed their material and stories to this endeavor.