Rockport, ME Commuter Plane Crashes On Coast, May 1979


Owls Head, Maine (AP) -- A Downeast Airlines commuter plane from Boston crashed near the Maine coast, killing 17 of the 18 persons aboard, authorities said.
Seven bodies were found late Wednesday and the rest were discovered early today in or near the wreckage, said WILLIAM REINHARDT, a Knox County deputy sheriff.
One passenger, JOHN M. McCAFFERTY, 16, of Searsmont, was in "serious but stable condition" at a Rockport hospital. The youth, who suffered a broken leg and head injuries, was shouting for help as rescuers arrived.
Police and sheriff's deputies had searched until early today, hoping to find survivors in the muddy, heavily wooded area where the turboprop DeHavilland Twin Otter went down Wednesday en route from Boston to Owls Head.
The airline was withholding the names of the passengers and crew members until the bodies could be identified and the relatives notified.
Flight 46 carried 16 passengers, a pilot and a co-pilot on the 45-minute trip from Boston's Logan Airport.
The Canadian-built aircraft crashed shortly before 9 p.m. after the pilot made a routine request for permission to divert the flight to Augusta because of poor weather conditions at Knox County Airport in Owls Head, said the Federal Aviation Administration.
But the air traffic controller at Brunswick Naval Air Station lost radio contact with the pilot at 8:43 p.m., said FAA spokesman MIKE CICCARELLI, and "the next thing we knew we got word of a crash."
Sheriff CARLTON THURSTON said the plane lost its wing when it hit a tree on Otter Point and crashed about 400 yards from the beach. Witnesses said the plane crashed into a large rock and flipped over on its back.
Broken bodies protruded from the wreckage as medical examiners tried to assess the carnage. Officials at the scene radioed for body bags, saying "we need plenty." A temporary morgue was set up on the grounds of the Rockport hospital.
The Knox County Sheriff's Department said it received the first report of the crash at 9:13 p.m. and found the wreckage 25 minutes later.
An investigator from the National Transportation Safety Board was scheduled to arrive at the scene today with FAA representatives.

Marysville Journal-Tribune Ohio 1979-05-31

Transcriber's Note:
I am finding a manifest of this flight very hard to find, but, I do not give up so easily. So far I have the following as being killed:
JAMES MERRYMAN, 35, the pilot.
THOMAS MASSEY, Ruston, Maryland.
JANET MASSEY, Ruston, Maryland.
DAVID SCOTT, Annapolis, Maryland.
GEORGE HINES, the co-pilot.

Thank all of you very much for your help. Eventually we will have the full list to honor and comemorate this disater's victims.


Down East Flight #46

I flew from Albany, NY on the night of May 30, 1979 with a final destination of Owls Head on Flight #46. Bad weather delayed my departure and though I ran to make the connection, I arrived at the gate to see the backwash of Flight #46 as it departed. I was bussed to Portland to catch a flight the next morning. When I arrived at a motel in Portland there was a call from my Dad.....who had tracked me through Down East Airlines. I called and when he answered there was a long silence......he thought I had been on Flight #46. When I saw the morning paper I became physically sick with the grief for those whom had perished, and for my fate of having just missed that flight. God spared me and now I have children and grandchildren I would not have had. I thank God regularly for having spared me.

The Douchebag Owner of the airline

Does Robert Stenger still own this airline ? Hey Stenger saw the episode of Why Airplanes Crash - where they discussed Downeast Airlines Crash and what a douchebag Robert Stenger is for the way he ran his airline. How does it feel Robert to be reponsible for killing 17 people? Hopefully there is a special hell for worthless douchebags like you !

What a scumbag !

Stephen Baldwin was my father-he was on Downeast flight 46

I would love to get in touch with John. My 2 older sisters and I are very interested in talking to him or learning about his book.
thank you!
paige baldwin sammis

John McCafferty

Hi there,
My father, Stephen L Baldwin was killed on Downeast Flight 46. My 2 older sisters and I have always wondered about the boy who survived. How is his book coming along? Have you set up a website?
Thank you,

John A. Easton

Dear Laurie,

I was a co-worker and friend of your father-in-law John A. Easton at the Singer Company's International Group in the late 1960s and early to mid-1970s. I left The Singer Company in 1976 (to work for the Sunbeam Corporation) so I lost track of John after that. Many years ago I had heard that he had died in a plane crash in Maine, but that is all that I knew, until this evening when I saw a program in which there were films of that crash. Then I find the article that showed his name.

I spent a lot of time with John and had lunch with him most days in NY City HQ when I wasn't traveling. He was such a fine man; I had great admiration for him and we became friends. I just want you to know these many years later how much I cared for him, and how sorry I was - and am - that he is no longer with us. God bless all of your family who surely were deeply saddened by his loss. I will never forget him.

Myron M. Miller


I was at that crash site on that night, was on the Owls Head fire dept. It was a long foggy night. Also Robert Stenger was my cousin.

John McCafferty

I am a close friend to John McCafferty, I just came across this site so I contacted John to tell him that people had inquired about him. He still lives in Maine, I would like to say he is a dear friend who is a very kind hearted and caring man who as we approach the 35th anniversary of that tragic day still struggles with those memories.
He would like to wish everyone the best and is thinking of you. and if you would like to contact him please reply to my email and I will get you in touch.
We are in the process of setting up a web site and would like to hear any feedback you might have.
He is in the process of writing a book right now of his life before, during and after the crash of Downeast Flight 46. Please watch for his book on he wishes everyone the best and may God Bless.

Stephen Baldwin

Thank you for these facts. I have the website re: the crash on my screen, where it has been for years.

Steve "Boomer" Baldwin and I worked together at Baker, Weeks on Wall Street, back when Wall Street was a positive term. "The Boomer" had just gone through a divorce when he decided to hang it up and open a hardware store in Maine, so he went to a town near Owls Head (can't think of it). He was always a positive, smiling and/or laughing guy, and well liked by all. He and our close friend Peter and I all left Wall Street when the Latin motto of "Dictum Mayum Pactum" (my word is my bond) was still honored and adhered to.

The Boomer will always be missed and remembered.


Yes...that was me. I am

Yes...that was me. I am still sad.

Owls Head crash of 1979

In 1979 I was 13 yrs old and had a friend that lived two houses down and I remember when his father was the pilot of a plane that had crashed, and he died. My friends name was Jim Merryman son of James Merryman. Now its chilling to read details about the crash, but as an adult its nice to know that people have not forgotten the victims of that crash.