P-47C Thunderbolt 41-6628 of the 495th Fighter Training Group USAAF crashed at Thorncliffe on the 3rd October 1944
|Quentin J Sella||2nd Lieutenant||Pilot||Killed|
The photograph above shows Quentin J. Sella shortly after receiving his commission in February 1944, this appeared with his obituary in the Grand Rapids Press (one of the newspapers from the city he was from in Michigan) on the 30th October 1944. He had joined the USAAF as an officer cadet in 1942 being commissioned in early 1944. From April to September he served with the 33rd Fighter Squadron in Iceland, in June he was involved in a minor ground accident when the P-47 he was in ground looped when one brake failed. He arrived in England only a month before he was killed.
The aircraft had been flying as part of a 4 ship formation on a formation flying exercise, this aircraft was in the number 4 position. On entering cloud the formation became split up with the number 1 and 3 aircraft staying together and number 2 and 4 becoming separated. They were directed onto diverging courses by the flight leader to avoid the possibility of midair collisions. In the crash report it is assumed that 2nd Lt Sella became disorientated as his instruments may have been giving false reading. Because of this he lost control and the aircraft entered either a dive or spin, the aircraft fell into the ground in a vertical dive hitting very soft ground and deeply burying itself.
Quentin Sella was very inexperienced at flying under instrument conditions. According to the crash report he had accumulated 369 hours 10 minutes of flying time with only 3 hours 40 minutes of instrument flying recorded in the previous 6 months. However comparing the hours recorded in the report for his accident in Iceland and this accident there is a major discrepancy. There were 59 hours 40 minutes recorded in the previous 90 days (the period between the 5th July and 2nd October) but the change in his total hours in the 102 days between the two accidents was 108 hours exactly.
Below are a few photos from the official USAAF accident report.