United States Navy. TBM-3S. Construction number 2689.
Royal Canadian Navy. Avenger AS Mk 3. Flew as #372 for Squadron VS 880. BOC: 19 Oct 1950, SOC: 17 Jan 1958.
Skyway Air Services, Langley, BC
#600 CF-IMJ 1958
Aerial Spray Program – NB
1958 – Converted to tanker, Victoria, BC, 1958. Part of a fleet of 6 Wheeler and 6 Skyway TBMs.
Crashed 21 km (13 mi) east of Hartland, 12 June 1958, while spraying out of Juniper Airstrip. The pilot had failed to maintain sufficient speed during a turn. The aircraft burned and was buried on site. Pilot Tommy Marston was killed; he was the first casualty in the FPL TBM spray program.
2011 – Jamie Dyer visited the crash site on 26 November 2011 and provided several images. The tail shot clearly shows that FIMJ was #600, not #601 as earlier reported here. The image of the BuNo as 85870 confirms this.
The Memorial Plaque
On November 16th, 2013, a memorial plaque was installed at the crash site by Daniel Goguen and … Norm Sheppard, with the help of 8 local residents, in honour of the pilot who perished in this crash, and hopefully to help protect the area. This is part of an ongoing program to mark, commemorate, and protect the sites of fatal aircraft crashes in the Maritimes. The Turnbull NB Chapter of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society has provided funding for the plaques. Other private corporations are also helping with the program. [Norm Sheppard, from the comment below]
Don Henry’s account (13 June 2004)
Pilot Tommy Marston, of Skyways Aviation of Langley, BC, was #2 man in a team of a aircraft flying out of Juniper, NB, for the spruce budworm spray project of 1958. This was the first year that TBMs were used in NB for forest spraying. There were 6 TBMs from Skyway and 6 from Wheeler Airlines, St. Jovite, Quebec. Official reports state the cause of the accident to be the slipstream from the lead aircraft on a turn (180°) at the end of spraying. From the condition of the forest adjacent to the burned aircraft in photos, it seems that the aircraft hit the ground in a near vertical attitude. This is not uncommon when there is complete lack of control when succeeding aircraft get into the slipstream of the preceding aircraft on turning, with the low altitude associated with forest spraying. This condition of low flying and aircraft attitude does not give the pilot enough time or altitude to recover. This particular accident resulted in the first fatality of the TBM forest spraying period of some 35 years in New Brunswick.
Stuart Murray Cougle, a student at the Maritime Forest Ranger School in Fredericton, writes in his diary, 12, 13, 14 June 1958 (from photocopy in possession of Don Henry). Cougle and associates apparently had trouble finding the site on foot.
12 June, Thursday: I drove to the Juniper Cache in the morning and met Ranger Boyce Arnold. … we returned to the Juniper Cache at 6 P.M., Ranger Welch was there. Soon after we arrived Forest Protection advised us that a spray plane had crashed on the South Br. of Becaguimac [River] at Richardson’s Gulch. They supplied a map with the crash pin-pointed and I left for Cloverdale, there I met wardens Currie and Seeley and with five other men we went by jeep and on foot to an old camp near the crash. We searched until 12 midnight but failed to find anything. We stayed at the old camp until 4 A.M. Friday.
13 June, Friday: We started to search for the crash at daylight but failed to find it where they said it was on the map. Returned to Cloverdale at 11 A.M. and met Warden Darrah & three other men who had a new map and a new location for the crash. We returned to Richardson’s Gulch and searched till 4 P.M. but still failed to find anything. Ranger Welch & Cpl. Rippon R.C.M.P. arrived with still another location pin-pointed so the three of us drove to Juniper and a pilot flew Cpl. Rippon and I over the scene of the crash and we found it to be on the Little Forks Brook about three miles from where it was supposed to be. I returned to Bristol about 9 P.M. and tried to get some sleep.
14 June, Saturday, Heavy rain all morning, clearing in the afternoon. I left Bristol at 5 A.M. with ranger Welch. We picked up Cpl. Rippon and went to the mouth of the Little Forks Brook where we met about twelve more men, most of which had just come out from Richardson’s Gulch. We went to the head of the Little Forks Brook and after many false starts and considerable difficulty we found the crashed plane. We put what was left of the pilot in a plastic bag which we carried to the jeep on a stretcher and turned it over to Mortician Lorne Britton at Hartland. Arrived home at 5:15 P.M. Hard day.
The Accident Report (Library and Archives Canada)
The following four images of the FIMJ crash site are from the accident report.