Husband crashed into ocean in our plane and died

by Julie Tate
(Durham, Maine)

First, I must start by saying that I am slightly intoxicated while writing this. My husband was a pilot, and a doctor, so I have plenty of meds to take and wine to wash it down with. This is an unhealthy "shortcut" which I plan to phase out beginning next week. He died on June 24 of this year.

My dear husband, Louis, was my best friend. It was a second marriage for each of us, and PERFECT. The happiest moments we've had are when we are together, at home, with our pets. We really just enjoyed each other's company more than anything else. I loved him so much, and felt SO VERY LOVED by him, and we were going to grow old together. That was what we both wanted.

He had always wanted to fly. As a child, in Kansas, out working in the fields, he used to stop and stare as a plane flew by overhead, wondering how amazing it would be to fly a plane.

His first marriage to his high school girlfriend lasted 22 years, and he always wanted to take flying lessons, but she "did not allow him." Didn't want to be a widow with two children.

When we met, 12 years ago, he told me about his dream of flying. That Christmas, I gave him flying lessons at a local airport - Twitchell's in Turner, Maine. He finished his training, got his pilot's license, and we eventually bought an airplane - a 1946 Stinson Voyager, a little taildragger that had quite a history. He loved this little airplane and we took many a long-distance trip in it - to Kansas, to the Emerald Coast of Florida, to Virginia, etc.

On the morning of June 24, 2012, we were sitting out our deck, having coffee together, and he told me he wanted to go flying and would I like to come with him? At first, I said yes. But then I realized all I had to do that day - housework, grocery shopping, etc. and said I would take a raincheck and promised I would go with him the next weekend.

He always told me his "itinerary." He planned to "go wash Isabella (the airplane)" first, then planned to fly over our home (which he did), and then would be flying to Scarborough to fly over his daughter's home, and then would be returning to Twitchell's Airport.

When I heard him coming later that morning, I did as I always did, took the dogs and went out on the lawn to blow kisses and wave as he circled our home. When he was done, he waved his wings at me (as he always did) to signal "goodbye" and "I will be home soon." He always called me when he landed back at Twitchell's, so when the phone rang early afternoon, I thought "there he is." I answered the phone and it was not my Louis, but a police officer from the Cape Elizabeth Police Department, phoning to tell me that my husband had had to ditch his plane in the ocean, beside the lighthouse in Cape Elizabeth. I COULD NOT BELIEVE THIS. I JUST WANTED TO KNOW HE WAS ALL RIGHT, but the officer said I should drive to Cape Elizabeth and that my husband was in the ambulance and he did not know the status at that time.

Fortunately, I got my next door neighbor to drive me, and learned from that police officer during the 45 minute ride that my husband "had not made it." We ended up driving directly to the funeral home.

When I saw him, he was all wet and I smelled his shirt, which smelled like ocean. I asked the funeral director if he had crashed in the ocean, but he said he did not know. It was later that evening, on the news, that I learned he had crashed in the ocean, that there had been hundreds of people watching, and that he had actually escaped the sinking plane, swam to the surface, and was on his way to shore.

In the crash, he hit his head very hard, so he had only a couple minutes to swim before he lost consciousness, and never regained it.

A vendor at the park walked down to the rocks and Louis had told him that he did not have anyone with him, and that he was badly hurt.

After that, he lost consciousness, and drowned.

I am lost and heartbroken and empty...

Comments for Husband crashed into ocean in our plane and died

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Dec 29, 2012
I also lost my husband in our plane
by: Susan

I searched the internet for someone else who might have lost their husband in their plane and found your post. I lost my husband Nov 5, 2012. He took off from our little private strip to go fly over to a friends house and come back. Like you before he left he flew over and waved goodbye. I heard him fly back over about an hour later and I went out to meet him. He attempted a landing but for some reason tried to abort and above the tree line stalled the plane and crashed down into the tree tops. He hit limbs and died from blunt trauma. If you read this could you email me? My email is He was the love of my life and I don't think I can go on without him. I mostly live in my bedroom now. I don't feel like anyone understands what I'm going through.
Susan in Texas

Aug 19, 2012
Sending Prayers
by: Lisa Anderson

Dear Julie,

I am so sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you. Please just hang onto your special memories of your husband. Just remember you brought your husband so much joy. He had a wonderful dream of flying. You blessed him with giving him a gift he loved! Hang onto those special times! He would want you to cherish all of your wonderful memories.

My twin sister just lost her husband in a tragic racing accident. She was questioning herself if she should have let her husband race. But, he was absolutely doing what he loved when he passed away!

Just remember you brought your husband so much joy and love. You gave him a special gift. Hanging onto these special memories will carry you through these tough times.

Sending special prayers your way!


Aug 19, 2012
Husband crashed into ocean in our plane
by: Pam

Oh my Oh so sorry about your dear husband. Bless your heart! Your post shows lots of love for him, lots of love. Wishing you gental days.

Aug 19, 2012
Husband crashed into ocean in our plane and died
by: Doreen U.K.

Julie I am sorry for your loss of your beloved husband Louis. It is so sad that he died when you were so very happy and enjoying life together. You gave Louis what he wanted. Flying lessons. He fulfilled his dream. He lived his dream. That was the risk Louis took. Everything in life we do is a risk. Even taking a train or bus. We don't know what is round the corner for each of us. I am just so sad for your grief of lonliness and emptiness you will feel for a long long time. Grief is the worst pain ever. Not seeing your Louis again is what will hurt. Not doing the simple things. Talking, having a meal together, shopping, vacation, just anything that made a difference to both your lives. Gone forever. It will take time for you to adjust to the memories you both shared together. I hope that you have supportive family and friends to help you cope with your loss and get you through this. It does help and make a difference having the right people around you. letting you be yourself, and not expecting you to get over the loss.

Aug 19, 2012
Thinking of you
by: Jillian

Dear Julie,
Please accept my sincere condolences on the sad loss of your husband.

I know the pain is raw and unbearable but medication and alcohol will only numb it. Surrounding yourself with your family (maybe your husbands daughter and your friends) is much better. Are there any local support groups who can assist during this traumatic time ?

Your husband died participating in his dream of flying, a dream you never stood in his way of doing. You should be so proud you loved him so unselfishly, and this very special person chose you as his soul mate.

My mum who I lived with died unexpectantly weeks ago and I keep to a routine for my disabled brother. It is very difficult to, but please try and look after yourself even if it means just having small meals and five minutes of walking every day.

Hoping in time your beautiful memories will bring you some much needed comfort.
Jillian. please feel free to mail me if you wish

Aug 18, 2012
I am so sorry
by: Kathy

I am so sorry for your loss. My best friend died 2 days ago so I know what you are going thru. You were such a strong and brave person to let him fullfill his dreams and get an airplane. You were also very lucky to have found love. We never know what our future holds but at least you got to hold him for awhile. I wish you peace, and hope.

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