Accident-Report.Com began in 1996 when the USAF aircraft accident reports first became available to the public, but its real story goes back to the early 1970s, when a teenager became fascinated with his hometown airport and its World War Two history.
Young Michael Stowe spent every moment he could exploring the old Millville Army Air Base. The base had been an advanced fighter training center for P-47 pilots from 1943-1945 and many artifacts from those days could be found in the woods around the airport. There were thousands machinegun shells scattered through the woods as well as bombs and rockets. There were many bottles, broken military dining plates, worn toothbrushes, empty tooth paste tubes, dogtags, and airplane parts. He continued his explorations and found many artifacts all through high school. The artifacts that inspired him the most were parts from airplane crash sites. These small fragments marked the spot, in many cases, where pilots had lost their lives. He could not understand how military pilots were killed near his home and no one remembered them.
Mike was featured in several stories in local newspapers when he was a senior in high school in 1980.
In the years that followed, Mike learned much more about his airport. He documented fourteen pilots who had died in aircraft accidents there and dedicated a small museum to their memory. He also joined the US military and served 22 years on active and reserve duty with both the US
Army and the US Air Force.
Mike during a military readiness inspection in the 1990s
During his military career, he continued to research aircraft accidents, but expanded to exploring sites all over New Jersey and anywhere else his travels took him. He was directly or indirectly involved in memorials to nearly a hundred military pilots. He also took every chance he could to tell the story of these men, their bases and their airplanes.
Mike speaks to a group of veterans and their families during the dedication of a memorial at the former NAS Atlantic City, NJ
He started a family and soon realized that he could not continue to invest large amounts on money into his hobby. He quit for a short time until he met Randy Ferris. Randy was a machinist from Illinois who wanted to find and restore a P-47 fighter plane. Mike told him about a wrecked P-47 in a swamp in North Carolina and accompanied him there to retrieve it. It was Randy who first suggested the idea of a research service and Mike has continued the research service since then. He was joined in 2003 by naval aviation historian Guy Robbins, who manages Accident-Report.Com's USN and USMC research.
Michael T Stowe and Michael T Stowe Jr at the dedication of a memorial in Waycross, Georgia in 2007