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B-17 Destroyed in Accident in Oswego, Illinois

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Just saw this on CNN...

B-17 Bomber Crashes in Suburbs

A World War II era B-17 made an emergency landing in a field in Oswego, Illinois shortly after taking off from the Aurora airport.

One person was slightly injured after the plane hit the ground and burst into flames, but six others escaped without injury.

The vintage plane, buitl in 1944 referred to as the "Flying Fortress,"crashed and burned at Route 71 and Minkler road in Oswego, just four miles from its takeoff. The bomber was headed toward Indianapolis.

The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.

Video at the link.

More details...

World War II plane goes down near Oswego

Emergency crews are at the scene of a plane crash near Oswego Monday morning.

A B-17 bomber crashed near Route 71 and Minkler Road just outside Oswego city limits around 10 a.m. The crash was about a quarter mile off Route 71.

The Kendall County Coroner’s Office has not been called to the scene because there are no fatalities, only one person with minor injuries. Seven people were on board at the time.

The B17 plane, built in 1944, took off from Aurora Airport in Sugar Grove at 9:30 a.m. Monday and landed in a field about 5 miles from the airport just a few minutes later, according to FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory. Isham Cory said it was about three miles southeast of the airport.

There were seven people aboard the plane when it went down, and all seven escaped without injury, Isham Cory said.

Sugar Grove Fire Chief Marty Kunkel said shortly after takeoff, the pilot reported a fire on board.

“He attempted to make a return to the airport, but couldn’t make it so he put it down in a cornfield,” Kunkel said.

The plane was on fire and fire crews from Oswego, Sugar Grove and other departments were on the scene, but were having difficulty getting to the crash because of “extremely wet fields,” Kunkel said.

Several residents reported seeing the plane flying low with flames coming out of it.

By 10:30 a.m., most of the black smoke from the crash had dissipated, but flames were still visible. Firefighters were shooting water on the plane.

The plane was part of the Liberty Foundation’s 2011 Salute to Veterans at the Aurora Municipal Airport.

Residents had the chance to see “Liberty Belle,” a Boeing B-17, and a rare Curtiss P-40E “Warhawk” fighter aircraft Saturday and Sunday.

The aircraft were modified to allow the public the opportunity to ride in the classic planes. Rides were scheduled to be about 20 minutes long are available in the P-40 for $1,150 for non-Liberty Foundation members and $950 for members. B-17 flights were $430 for non-members and $390 for foundation members.

The Aurora Municipal Airport on Route 30 in Sugar Grove.

According to the Liberty Foundation’s website, on Sept. 9, 1944, a bomb group attacked Dusseldorf, Germany, and suffered its single largest mission loss of World War II. Six of the nine planes went down. One flew two hours on a single engine. Another plane landed in Belgium. Only one plane made it back to home base: the Liberty Belle, the site says.

After the war, the site says the plane was sold as scrap, then was used a test plane for turboprop engines. In the 1960s, the plane was donated to the Connecticut Aeronautical Historic Association in East Hartford, according to the Liberty Foundation. The plane was heavily damaged in 1979, when a tornado threw another plane into the fuselage.

At one time one of the most heavily produced planes in the United States, according to the Liberty Foundation, today there are fewer than 100 B-17 airframes in existence. Of those, only about 15 could still fly. The Liberty Foundation has traditionally stopped at the Aurora Airport to allow paid flights to people interested in vintage planes, as well as giving some World War II veterans free nostalgic rides.

The B-17 got the nickname “The Flying Fortress” because they had so much defensive firepower.

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All seven on board survive

Yet another testament of her ability to bring her crew home! :beer:

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Yet another testament of her ability to bring her crew home! :beer:

I hate to see this as "Liberty Belle" really was a beautiful bird that represented so much Air Force heritage and one of only a handful of the "Flying Forts" to still fly. Looks like a total loss. You're right though, the old warrior brought the crew down safely, just like so many times back during WWII.

I can remember this bird back during the mid-70's, before she was heavily damaged by a tornado while a static display at a museum in Connecticut.

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I hate to see this as "Liberty Belle" really was a beautiful bird...

Agreed.

b17-liberty-belle-photo1jpg-d632a78dc1682892.jpg

A tragic loss indeed!

Cheers! M2

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Absolutely gorgeous aircraft. I have a poster of her waiting to get framed before it goes up in my garage. Horrible loss for the warbird community.

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The loss of the Fort is tragic, I hate to see it go. Unfortunately, just like the -17, the Greatest Generation keeps passing as well.

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Coincidentally, a B-29 flew over a machine shop I was visiting about 11am today at around 5-7,000 feet. I began thinking how I regretted not taking a ride in the Liberty Belle when she was at my hometown airport last year. Then I came home to find out she crashed. What a shame.

FIFI

1399841421_f82e0085b3.jpg

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It looks like a wing fire starting at the #1 boost pump area.post-339-0-81450900-1308020682_thumb.jpg

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Gonna need a lot of JB Weld.

What a tragedy to lose a plane like that.

article-2003134-0C8C4C5700000578-663_634x375.jpg

A little bondo and it'll be good as new...the rest will buff right out...

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It looks like a wing fire starting at the #1 boost pump area.post-339-0-81450900-1308020682_thumb.jpg

I'm thinking a #2 engine problem - the prop appears feathered on #2, while the other 3 are in fine pitch.

In any case, it's a sad loss to the warbird community, but she brought her crew "home" safely. In the end, that's what matters.

Tired of reading the word "crash" associated with this mishap, too...

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Tired of reading the word "crash" associated with this mishap, too...

No joke; for a plane that size, that's prob the best off-field landing I've ever seen.

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Guest fin

Reminds me of this... The Kee Bird:

Kee_bird_final_destruction.png

That was a real shame. Would've been a great tribute to Rick Kriege if they'd got her home and fully restored.

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Tired of reading the word "crash" associated with this mishap, too...

Fair enough, I've corrected the title (but obviously the article titles remain as reported).

Cheers! M2

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Wasn't a belly landing. And here's a pic clearly showing number two [failed mount(s)?] and the propeller state:

article-2003134-0C8C938100000578-813_964x629.jpg

Story and further pics

FM

That makes me feel ill.

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This comment was just posted on the Liberty Foundation's Facebook page...

Quote:

First, let me start off by sincerely thanking everyone for the outpouring of support that we are receiving. I am sorry that I have not yet had the opportunity to return the many phone calls, text or e-mails that I am receiving offering to help. Again, thank you for all of the kind words that we are receiving and for incredible offers to help emotionally, financially and/or with the recovery process. I hope this statement will help fill in a few details that everyone is wondering about that led to the loss of our “Liberty Belle”.

Yesterday morning, both our P-40 and B-17 were scheduled to fly from Aurora, Illinois to Indianapolis, Indiana. We were in Aurora for the weekend as a part of our scheduled tour. Over the course of the previous week, we completed a scheduled 25-hour inspection on the B-17 which was completed by Saturday. On Saturday, the weather stayed below the required ceiling to give any passenger flights, however the B-17 flew in the morning on a routine training proficiency flight, performing several patterns. Following the flight, other maintenance issues arose that required us to cancel our Sunday flying schedule for repairs. The maintenance performed has not been, in any way, associated to the chain of events that led to Monday’s fateful flight, but is being considered in the preliminary investigation. However, due to the media’s sensational (mis)reporting, there is a large amount of misinformation that continues to lead the news.

Here is what we do know… Flying in the left seat of the B-17 was Capt. John Hess. John has been flying our Liberty Belle since 2005 and one of our most experienced B-17 pilots. He is an active Delta Air Lines Captain with over 14,000 hours of flying experience and flys a variety of vintage WWII aircraft. In the right seat was Bud Sittig. While Bud is new to the Liberty Foundation this year, he is also incredibly experienced with over 14,000 hours of flying time in vintage and hi-performance aircraft. He is a retired Captain with Delta Air Lines.

The news misidentified the P-40 as flying chase during the accident. I was flying our P-40, however I had departed 20 minutes prior to the B-17’s takeoff on the short flight to Indianapolis to setup for the B-17’s arrival. The aircraft flying chase was a T-6 Texan flown by owner Cullen Underwood. Cullen is one of our rated B-17 Captains and an experienced aviator tagging along as a support ship.

The takeoff of both aircraft was uneventful and proceeded on-course southeast. Prior to exiting Aurora’s airport traffic area, the B-17 crew and passengers began investigating an acrid smell and started a turn back to the airport. Almost immediately thereafter, Cullen spotted flames coming from the left wing and reported over the radio that they were on fire.

As all pilots know, there are few emergency situations that are more critical than having an in-flight fire. While it is extremely rare, it can (and sometimes does) indiscriminately affect aircraft of any age or type. In-flight fires have led to the loss of not only aircraft, but often can result in catastrophic loss of life. It requires an immediate action on the flight crew, as the integrity of aircraft structure, systems and critical components are in question.

Directly below the B-17 was a farmer’s field and the decision was made to land immediately. Approximately 1 minute and 40 seconds from the radio report of the fire, the B-17 was down safely on the field. Within that 1:40 time frame, the crew shutdown and feathered the number 2 engine, activated the engine’s fire suppression system, lowered the landing gear and performed an on-speed landing. Bringing the B-17 to a quick stop, the crew and passengers quickly and safely exited the aircraft. Overhead in the T-6, Cullen professionally coordinated and directed the firefighting equipment which was dispatched by Aurora Tower to the landing location.

Unlike the sensational photos that you have all seen of the completely burned B-17 on the news, you will see from photos taken by our crew that our Liberty Belle was undamaged by the forced landing and at the time of landing, the wing fire damage was relatively small. The crew actually unloaded bags, then had the horrible task of watching the aircraft slowly burn while waiting for the fire trucks to arrive. There were high hopes that the fire would be extinguished quickly and the damage would be repairable. Those hopes were diminished as the fire trucks deemed the field too soft to cross due to the area’s recent rainfall. So while standing by our burning B-17 and watching the fire trucks parked at the field’s edge, they sadly watched the wing fire spread to the aircraft’s fuel cells and of course, you all have seen the end result. There is no doubt that had the fire equipment been able to reach our aircraft, the fire would have been quickly extinguished and our Liberty Belle would have been repaired to continue her worthwhile mission.

Let me go on the record by thanking the flight crew for their professionalism. Their actions were nothing short of heroic and their quick thinking, actions and experience led to a “successful” outcome to this serious in-flight emergency. John and Bud (and Cullen) did a remarkable job under extreme circumstances and performed spectacularly. While the leading news stories have repeatedly reported the “crash” of our B-17, fact is they made a successful forced landing and the aircraft was ultimately consumed by fire. Airplanes are replaceable but people are not and while the aircraft’s loss is tragic, it was a successful result.

This leads me into discussing the exceptional safety record of the Boeing B-17 and to hopefully squash the naysayers who preach we should not be flying these types of aircraft. Since we first flew the “Liberty Belle” in December of 2004, we have flown over 20,000 passengers throughout the country and if you count our historic trip to Europe in 2008, worldwide. Of the other touring B-17s, some of which that have been touring for over 20 years, they have safely flown hundreds of thousands of people. The aircraft’s safety record is spectacular and I am certain the overall cause of our issue, which is under investigation, will not tarnish that safety record. In fact, as many of you know, other B-17 have suffered significant damage (although not as bad as ours!), only to be re-built to fly again. From a passenger carrying standpoint, I can think of few aircraft that offer the same level of safety as the 4-engine “Flying Fortress”. As mentioned earlier, in-flight fires are extremely rare and certainly could affect any powered aircraft under certain circumstances. I would put my children today in any of the other touring B-17s to go fly. I suggest to anyone that was thinking of doing so when a B-17 visits your area to do so without giving our loss any thought.

There is wild speculation going on as to the cause of our fire and the affect to other operators. Please let the investigation run its course and report the findings. The NTSB and FAA were quickly on the scene and we are working closely with them to aid in the investigation. As soon as we receive some additional information, we will release it via the website http://www.libertyfoundation.org/.

The ultimate question remains, where does the Liberty Foundation go from here? After the investigation and recovery, we will determine our options. We are still committed to the restoration and flying of World War II aircraft. Again, we appreciate the support and people offering to help get us back flying.

Please check back for updates. I will close by thanking everyone that made our tour so successful. From the first day of the B-17’s restoration, thank you for all of you who labored to get her flying over the initial restoration years and to everyone that has worked on her out on tour since. Thank you to the crewmembers, tour coordinators and volunteers who gave up weekends and countless hours to support her on the road. And finally, thank you to the passengers, donors and media patrons that flew aboard and everyone who supported our cause. Hopefully, this will not be the end of the story, but a new beginning.

Regards,

Ray Fowler

The Liberty Foundation, Chief Pilot

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It is good to be a Delta Captain. Except when your warbird is on fire.

Damn shame about the airplane. Grew up going to Oshkosh watching the warbirds. Hope my kids and eventually my grandkids still get a chance to see/hear them.

Edited by Bergman

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From the AFA reporting on this...

Built in 1944, Liberty Belle flew 64 combat missions over Europe during World War II while assigned to the 390th Bomb Group. It returned to flight in 2004, following 15 years of restoration

The 390 BG (H) "Square-J" flew out of Parham (a.k.a. RAF Framlingham) during the war, and I used to visit the museum in the old control tower when I was stationed at Bentwaters in the early 80s...

Sadly enough, there is a section of the museum's website dedicated to the return of the Liberty Belle to the UK back in 2008 here.

Even sadder to read that had emergency equipment been able to reach the aircraft, she could have been saved.

God bless her! :salut:

Cheers! M2

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