Accident Connecticut Aircraft Company Observation Balloon A-5597, Wednesday 23 March 1921
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Date:Wednesday 23 March 1921
Type:Silhouette image of generic BALL model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Connecticut Aircraft Company Observation Balloon
Owner/operator:United States Navy (USN)
Registration: A-5597
Fatalities:Fatalities: 5 / Occupants: 5
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Gulf of Mexico, 20 miles off St. Andrews Bay, Florida -   United States of America
Phase: En route
Departure airport:NAS Pensacola, Florida
Destination airport:
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
In an all-night training flight, a U.S. Navy free balloon, Connecticut Aircraft Company Observation Balloon A-5597, launched from NAS Pensacola, Florida, with five crew, and drifted over the Gulf of Mexico. Two messages received by pigeon indicate it first is 20 miles from St. Andrews Bay, then that all ballast had been dropped and that it was at 100 feet and descending. On 8 April 1921, a fishing vessel finds the balloon floating on the sea, with the gondola three and a half fathoms under water. Nothing was ever found of the five crew:

Chief Quartermaster E. W. Wilkinson,
enlisted men
R. V. Wyland,
E. L. Kershaw, and
J. P. Elder, and
Marine Corps member W. H. Tressey.

A-5597 was struck of charge on May 16, 1921


1. Vaeth, J. Gordon, "They Sailed the Skies: U.S. Navy Balloons and the Airship Program", Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 2005, ISBN 1-59114-914-2, page 13.
6. Vernon Record (Newspaper) - April 15, 1921, Vernon, Texas at

Revision history:

16-Nov-2018 00:13 Dr.John Smith Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Registration, Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
16-Nov-2018 02:46 Dr.John Smith Updated [Date]
10-Apr-2024 10:54 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]

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