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B-17 Crash by Flamberge
Started on: 06-13-2011 08:40 PM
Replies: 18
Last post by: Flamberge on 06-15-2011 08:24 PM
Flamberge
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Report this Post06-13-2011 08:40 PM Click Here to See the Profile for FlambergeSend a Private Message to FlambergeDirect Link to This Post
A B-17 Flying Fortress crashed outside of Chicago. Everyone on board survived, but the aircraft is a total loss.

The B-17 is one of the most iconic aircraft from WWII, and when you say "bomber" it is what I picture in my head. I had the pleasure of seeing one fly into Elmendorf AFB while I was working the flightline. It rumbled overhead with a handful of T-6 Texans, which were tiny by comparison. It circled the airfield and then landed smoothly and taxied to the opposite side of the runway, so I couldn't get a closer look.

Things like this make me wonder if it is better to use a cherished thing or to protect a cherished thing. There are very few WWII aircraft left. Fewer still that are airworthy. Is it better to turn them into hanger queens and static displays or keep flying them literally into the ground? I'm torn on what is the right answer.

There was nothing cooler than seeing the B-17 fly overhead that day in Alaska, and I never forgot it. And I could see the argument this forum's members could have (Fieros are meant to be *driven*.) I understand. But the B-17 is meant to flatten German cities during a war that ended before most of us here were even born.

Because eventually - sadly - all flying aircraft will land for the final time. It might take 50 years or 100 years, and it might end with a solemn taxi to a waiting hanger or an airframe crushing impact, but it will happen.

Some aircraft, like the ME-262, have only four or five examples (not counting the Stormbird Project) in the world. None of them are airworthy last I checked. And they shouldn't be. But P-51s are more numerous, so keeping a few in the sky is a good idea.

I guess my point is I'm saddened by the loss of the Fortress that crashed in Chicago. I wonder which one it is. I bet everyone in the vintage aircraft community feels like they lost a dear honored warrior friend.
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Report this Post06-13-2011 08:59 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Tony KaniaSend a Private Message to Tony KaniaDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Flamberge:

I guess my point is I'm saddened by the loss of the Fortress that crashed in Chicago. I wonder which one it is. I bet everyone in the vintage aircraft community feels like they lost a dear honored warrior friend.


I too wonder it's name. Last week, here in Spokane, they had a Flying fortress that you could go up in for around $400. It was pretty cool to see flying directly over my house all week.

Tony
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Report this Post06-13-2011 09:03 PM Click Here to See the Profile for MidEngineManiacSend a Private Message to MidEngineManiacDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Tony Kania:


I too wonder it's name.

Tony


Looks like "Liberty Belle" based on who the crashed plane was registered to.

http://www.fsmex.com/foros/showthread.php?p=483087

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Xanth
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Report this Post06-13-2011 09:06 PM Click Here to See the Profile for XanthClick Here to visit Xanth's HomePageSend a Private Message to XanthDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by MidEngineManiac:


Looks like "Liberty Belle" based on who the crashed plane was registered to.

http://www.fsmex.com/foros/showthread.php?p=483087


That page now has a video of the plane wreckage.

[This message has been edited by Xanth (edited 06-13-2011).]

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Tony Kania
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Report this Post06-13-2011 09:12 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Tony KaniaSend a Private Message to Tony KaniaDirect Link to This Post
Edit: Xanth beat me to the video.

It appears to be the one that was here last week. It travels the country working weekends.

Tony

[This message has been edited by Tony Kania (edited 06-13-2011).]

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Report this Post06-13-2011 09:24 PM Click Here to See the Profile for hammerSend a Private Message to hammerDirect Link to This Post
Sad....... I DID ride on one about two years ago!! This has been on my "bucket list" since reading all about them and their actions in WW2. The Yankee Lady was at an airshow near here and, yep as someone else says it was $400 bucks to go up in her. I was one of the first ones to sign up so I got the radio op. seat, right behind the bomb bay. Very cool, as they did a mock bomb run and opened the doors!! I got to look right out through them at the ground as it went by at around 190 or so... After the plane was flying straight again they would let one or two passengers wander around to the different positions in the plane. I think the tail gunner spot and of course the ball turret were off limits however...I wonder why? My favorite spot (and most others as well) was the bombardier position right in the glass nose. Awesome views! This is something I will do again someday it was that good!
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Report this Post06-13-2011 09:57 PM Click Here to See the Profile for FlambergeSend a Private Message to FlambergeDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by hammer:

Sad....... I DID ride on one about two years ago!! This has been on my "bucket list" since reading all about them and their actions in WW2. The Yankee Lady was at an airshow near here and, yep as someone else says it was $400 bucks to go up in her. I was one of the first ones to sign up so I got the radio op. seat, right behind the bomb bay. Very cool, as they did a mock bomb run and opened the doors!! I got to look right out through them at the ground as it went by at around 190 or so... After the plane was flying straight again they would let one or two passengers wander around to the different positions in the plane. I think the tail gunner spot and of course the ball turret were off limits however...I wonder why? My favorite spot (and most others as well) was the bombardier position right in the glass nose. Awesome views! This is something I will do again someday it was that good!


Pictures?
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Report this Post06-13-2011 10:43 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Gokart MozartClick Here to visit Gokart Mozart's HomePageSend a Private Message to Gokart MozartDirect Link to This Post


http://www.yankeeairmuseum....ir_show_schedule.php
Flight experiences on our aircraft are available on the dates and times shown below. Reservations are not required for flight experiences on either the B-17, Yankee Lady and the B-25, Yankee Warrior at these locations. We take everyone on a first come, first served basis. However, we must have a minimum of six passengers on the B-17 or 5 passengers on the B-25 before the flight is dispatched. Maximums are 12 and 7 respectively.
Donations for a flights vary from $400. per seat to $450. per seat depending on the aircraft and location.

http://www.yankeeairmuseum....light_experience.php

You are part of an aircrew of ten joining with the flight crew of three, as you get your first glimpse of a World War II Boeing B-17G Heavy Bomber that you have longed to fly in. Shortly you'll be boarding the "Yankee Lady" and take your assigned crew position.

The engines have roared to life and you've taxxied out to the run-up area so the flight crew can complete the pre takeoff checklist. Your heart begins to beat a little faster as the flight crew performs the engine run-ups, magneto and propeller feathering checks.

The tower has cleared the flight for take-off. As the pilots advance the throttles, 4,800 horsepower roars to life and you begin moving down the runway. At around 90 knots the aircraft begins to lift off and suddenly you are airborne.

Today's flight will last about 30 minutes and will be at an altitude from 3,000 to 5,000 feet. This will allow for a comfortable ride and a clear view of the ground. The typical mission is to fly up the Detroit River with Detroit off our port wing (left) and Windsor, Ontario off our starboard (right).

Once you are airborne, you begin to move around the aircraft, checking out the various crew positions. You have made your way up to the nose and you're seated in the navigator's seat. Looking forward you see the Norden Bomb sight. In defense of the aircraft, the chin turret was operated by the Bombardier and the Navigator would operate cheek guns on the left and right side of the nose. Your next stop is in the cockpit. You look over the shoulders their shoulders as the pilot and co-pilot are constantly busy keeping the aircraft in level flight. Directly above your head is the top turret which was operated by the flight engineer.

You cross the walk way through the bomb bay, which could carry up to 4,000 pounds of bombs, to the radio room. The radio operator maintained contact with the other aircraft and flight crews. If required he would operate a waist gun if one of the crew members became injured. Leaving the radio room, you pass around the right side of the ball turret and take a glance inside. There was one crew member for each waist gun. How quick and how far away can you spot another aircraft? The windows are staggered so that they did not bump into each other while operating the guns. There were only 400 rounds of ammunition for each .50 caliber gun.

You have checked out all of the crew positions from the nose to the waist guns. All too soon, the flight engineer announces that you are to return to your crew position seats and prepare for landing. You know the runway is close because you hear the flaps and landing gear being lowered. Soon you see the ground getting closer and the familiar chirp as the tires touch down on the runway and you begin to slow down. Turning off the runway, the Yankee Lady begins taxiing to the hangar. Soon she comes to a stop, the engines are shut down and suddenly it's quiet. Your flight experience is over and you exit the aircraft.

http://www.yankeeairmuseum....light_experience.php

B-25 Flight Experience

The Yankee Warrior is the only B-25D, documented combat medium bomber still flying. From the Mediterranean to the Pacific the B-25 Mitchell lived up to its namesake during World War 2, helping to prove the true value of air power. The B-25 was already a famed medium bomber by the time it started arriving at bases throughout the Mediterranean and Pacific, for on 18 April 1942, Lt. Col. James H. Doolittle had led 16 B-25’s from the carrier deck of the USS Hornet on the now legendary attack on Japan.

As you approach the nose of the “Yankee Warrior” you see the twin .50 Cal. Machine Guns, one fixed and one flexible. Upon closer inspection the Nordon Bomb Sight is visible from the front. As you move around to the right you take notice of the twin .50 cal gun packs on the pilot’s side, the other twin .50 is on the co-pilots side. Standing next to the propeller you look thru the cowling and marvel at the 1,700 horsepower Wright R-2600 radial engine. At the tail are the waist gun windows and the glass tail cone where another .50 Cal machine gun was mounted. The top turret, with its twin .50’s, looks menacing. Each gun had 400 rounds of ammunition. Completing your pre-flight walk around, you stop to check the main landing gear. The large tires made it possible for landings on grassy fields. You enter the bomb bay that could carry between 3,000 and 4,500 pounds of ordinance. The crew has arrived and described where you will be flying on today’s mission and that you will be assigned to the front or the rear for your flight.

The pilots have completed their checklist and are ready to start the engines. You watch as the starter turns the propeller and the engine comes to life with a thunderous roar. With both engines running, you hear the pops and bangs of the short exhaust stacks. The aircraft taxis out to the turn up area and the pilots perform their final engine checklist. Engine power, propeller feather and magneto checks are completed. The tower clears you for take-off.

Suddenly, you are thrown back in your seat as 3400 horsepower comes to life as you roar down the runway. At about 90 knots the nose begins to rise, just as quickly, you are airborne and the landing gear and flaps are coming up. Our altitude for today will be about 4500 feet, this will provide you with an excellent view of the surrounding countryside. Although movement around the inside of the aircraft is limited, whether assigned to the front or rear, the view is spectacular. You may have the opportunity to go up in the nose and sit in the bombardier’s seat. You can observe the pilots as they maintain level flight or bank the aircraft to left or right to change course. If you’re in the back of the aircraft you can look out the waist gun windows, to see if you can spot any aircraft. The rear observer seat provides an unobstructed view of the ground and sky. For a real thrill you can get up into the top turret and look out over the top of the aircraft, what a view.

All too soon it’s time to return to the airport. As the landing procedures are being performed, you feel and hear the changes in prop pitch, the flaps and landing gear being lowered. The concrete ribbon of the runway is approaching quickly and suddenly you feel the tires chirp as they touch down. The nose slowly begins to settle down and soon you’re taxing to the hanger. The aircraft comes to stop and the engines are shut down. The deafening noise is gone but your ears are still ringing, your smile has become a little wider and you heart is still pounding and somewhere inside you hear a voice saying, “Let’s do that again”.
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aceman
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Report this Post06-14-2011 12:50 AM Click Here to See the Profile for acemanSend a Private Message to acemanDirect Link to This Post
Offutt AFB has a B-17 that sits by one of the gates as you enter the base. Named the "Homesick Angel" after the original Homesick Angel that crashed in WW II. She never left the U.S. She serves a welcome to my wife and me as we enter the base. She was there when I was station nearby in Sioux City on the 80s. She welcomed my wife and me as we returned to Offutt AFB in the 90s and she welcomed me back when I was transferred back in 2007. I hope she is still there when my wife and I plan to retire in Omaha after my kids leave the nest.
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Report this Post06-14-2011 05:49 AM Click Here to See the Profile for FieroRumorClick Here to visit FieroRumor's HomePageClick Here to Email FieroRumorSend a Private Message to FieroRumorDirect Link to This Post
The plane in better times:


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Report this Post06-14-2011 07:04 AM Click Here to See the Profile for tutnkmnClick Here to Email tutnkmnSend a Private Message to tutnkmnDirect Link to This Post
Very sad. My grandfather flew a B-17 during the war. I say they should keep flying the survivors that are able to be flown though. There are numerous static display examples of this plane around the country. If the plane is rare though (like the Me 262) then it should be made a museum piece only and preserved for future generations.

I was lucky enough to see the Liberty Belle several years ago at the Zanesville Municipal Airport. She will be missed by this aircraft lover.

Edit to add: I am currently building a diorama for the Columbus, Ohio, VA Medical Centre of four B-17 bombers on an Anglo/American airstrip during the war using the Monogram 1/48 scale B-17G.

[This message has been edited by tutnkmn (edited 06-14-2011).]

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Flamberge
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Report this Post06-14-2011 08:00 AM Click Here to See the Profile for FlambergeSend a Private Message to FlambergeDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by tutnkmn:

Edit to add: I am currently building a diorama for the Columbus, Ohio, VA Medical Centre of four B-17 bombers on an Anglo/American airstrip during the war using the Monogram 1/48 scale B-17G.



That's a big diorama if the bombers are 1:48 scale.
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Report this Post06-14-2011 10:30 AM Click Here to See the Profile for ChuckLS1Send a Private Message to ChuckLS1Direct Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Flamberge:

Some aircraft, like the ME-262, have only four or five examples (not counting the Stormbird Project) in the world. None of them are airworthy last I checked. And they shouldn't be. But P-51s are more numerous, so keeping a few in the sky is a good idea.
.


I belive Paul Allen's Flying Heritage Museum is restoring one to flying condition.

------------------
Chuck
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Report this Post06-14-2011 10:39 AM Click Here to See the Profile for BoondawgClick Here to Email BoondawgSend a Private Message to BoondawgDirect Link to This Post
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Report this Post06-14-2011 11:29 AM Click Here to See the Profile for Gokart MozartClick Here to visit Gokart Mozart's HomePageSend a Private Message to Gokart MozartDirect Link to This Post
http://en.wikipedia.org/wik...17_Flying_Fortresses

United StatesAirworthy
B-17F (s/n 42-29782) Boeing Bee is airworthy but stored at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington.[9]
B-17G (s/n 44-8543) Chuckie is airworthy and owned by Training Services Inc. in Virginia Beach, Virginia.[10]
B-17G (s/n 44-83514) Sentimental Journey is airworthy and owned by Commemorative Air Force in Midland, Texas.[11]
B-17G (s/n 44-83546) Memphis Belle is airworthy and owned by the Military Aircraft Restoration Corp. in Anaheim, California.[12]
B-17G (s/n 44-83563) Fuddy Duddy is airworthy and owned by Martin Aviation Inc. in Santa Ana, California.[13]
B-17G (s/n 44-83575) Nine-O-Nine is airworthy and owned by the Collings Foundation in Stow, Massachusetts.[14]
B-17G (s/n 44-83785) Evergreen International is airworthy and owned by Evergreen Vintage Aircraft Inc. in McMinnville, Oregon.[15]
B-17G (s/n 44-83872) Texas Raiders is airworthy and owned by the Commemorative Air Force in Midland, Texas.[16]
B-17G (s/n 44-85718) Thunderbird is airworthy and owned by the Lone Star Flight Museum in Galveston, Texas.[17]
B-17G (s/n 44-85740) Aluminum Overcast is airworthy and owned by the Experimental Aircraft Association in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.[18]
B-17G (s/n 44-85778) Miss Angela is airworthy and owned by the Palm Springs Air Museum in Palm Springs, California.[19]
B-17G (s/n 44-85829) Yankee Lady is airworthy and owned by the Yankee Air Force in Belleville, Michigan.[20]
On display
B-17E (s/n 41-2446) Swamp Ghost is on display unrestored at the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, California.[21]
B-17F (s/n 42-3374) Homesick Angel is on display at Offutt AFB, Nebraska.[22]
B-17G (s/n 42-32076) Shoo Shoo Shoo Baby is on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.[23]
B-17G (s/n 43-38635) Virgin's Delight is on display at Castle AFB in California.[24]
B-17G (s/n 44-6393) Return To Glory is on display at March AFB in California.[25]
B-17G (s/n 44-83512) Heavens Above is on display at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, Texas.[26]
B-17G (s/n 44-83542) Piccadilly Princess is on display at the Fantasy of Flight Museum in Polk City, Florida.[27]
B-17G (s/n 44-83559) King Bee is on display at the Strategic Air & Space Museum, Offutt AFB,
Nebraska.[28]

B-17G (s/n 44-83624) Sleepy Time Gal is on display at the Air Mobility Command Museum, Dover AFB,
Delaware.[29]

B-17G (s/n 44-83663) Short Bier is on display at Hill AFB, Utah.[30]
B-17G (s/n 44-83690) Miss Liberty Belle was on display at the Grissom Air Museum in Peru, Indiana.[31]
It crashed shortly after take-off on 13/6/2011 and was destroyed by the crash and subsequent fire, although all on board escaped the airframe.[32]

B-17G (s/n 44-83863) Gremlin's Hideout is on display at the Air Force Armament Museum, Eglin AFB,
Florida.[33]

B-17G (s/n 44-83884) Yankee Doodle II is on display at the Eighth Air Force Museum, Barksdale AFB,
Louisiana.[34]

B-17G (s/n 44-85599) Reluctant Dragon is on display at Dyess AFB, Abilene, Texas.[35]
B-17G (s/n 44-85738) Preston's Pride is on display at AMVETS Chapter 56 in Tulare, California.[36]
B-17G (s/n 44-85790) Lacey Lady is on display at The Bomber Foundation in Milwaukee, Oregon.[37]
B-17G (s/n 44-85828) I'll Be Around is on display at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona.[38]
Stored or under restoration
B-17D (s/n 40-3097) The Swoose is under restoration by the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.[39]
B-17E (s/n 41-2595) Desert Rat is under restoration by Michael W. Kellner in Crystal Lake, Illinois.[40]
B-17E (s/n 41-9032) My Gal Sal is under restoration by the Ultimate Sacrifice Memorial Foundation in Cincinnati, Ohio.[41]
B-17E (s/n 41-9210) is under restoration to airworthiness by Vulcan Warbirds Inc. in Seattle, Washington.[42]
B-17F (s/n 41-24485) Memphis Belle is under restoration by the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.[43]
B-17G (s/n 44-83525) Suzy Q is in storage at the Fantasy of Flight Museum in Polk City, Florida.[44]
B-17G (s/n 44-83684) Picadilly Lily II is under restoration to airworthiness by the Planes of Fame in Chino, California.[45]
B-17G (s/n 44-83814) is in storage at the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C..[46]
B-17G (s/n 44-83790) is under restoration by Don Brook in Douglas, Georgia.[47]
B-17G (s/n 44-85813) is under restoration to airworthiness by Tech II in Springfield, Ohio.[48]
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Report this Post06-14-2011 03:36 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Derek_85GTSend a Private Message to Derek_85GTDirect Link to This Post
Such a shame to lose a piece of history like that.

 
quote
Originally posted by Gokart Mozart:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wik...17_Flying_Fortresses

United States Airworthy

B-17G (s/n 44-85829) Yankee Lady is airworthy and owned by the Yankee Air Force in Belleville, Michigan.[20]



I saw her flying two weekends ago at the Reading Airport for their WWII Weekend.

~ Derek
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Report this Post06-15-2011 06:12 AM Click Here to See the Profile for tutnkmnClick Here to Email tutnkmnSend a Private Message to tutnkmnDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Flamberge:


That's a big diorama if the bombers are 1:48 scale.


They have plenty of lobby for display.
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Report this Post06-15-2011 02:18 PM Click Here to See the Profile for Larryh86GTSend a Private Message to Larryh86GTDirect Link to This Post
Statement from Liberty Foundation Chief Pilot:
June 14, 2011 - 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 (June 13, 2011) 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 Sittic. 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 an in-flight fire 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.

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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Report this Post06-15-2011 08:24 PM Click Here to See the Profile for FlambergeSend a Private Message to FlambergeDirect Link to This Post
 
quote
Originally posted by Larryh86GT:

Statement from Liberty Foundation Chief Pilot:
June 14, 2011 - 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 (June 13, 2011) 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 Sittic. 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 an in-flight fire 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.

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


Thank you for posting this. I agree if enough exist, a portion should still be flown.

I bet this version of the story never hits the news.
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