• October 22, 2019

B-17 in Conn. crash was at local air show - Ocean City Sentinel: News

B-17 in Conn. crash was at local air show

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Posted: Thursday, October 10, 2019 9:59 am

ERMA — A World War II-era B-17 bomber owned by the Collings Foundation that crashed Oct. 2 at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., killing seven persons, was an annual visitor to Airfest at Naval Air Station Wildwood (NASW).

The B-17 known as the “Nine-O-Nine” offered flights to the public here during Labor Day weekend. Joseph Salvatore, founder of Naval Air Station Wildwood, offered condolences on the museum’s Facebook page.

“The staff at NASW loves the Collings Foundation and we were saddened to hear about the crash in Connecticut today. Our thoughts are with the people who were on board, their families, the first responders and the Collings Foundation,” he wrote.

The Collings Foundation issued the following statement: “Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were on that flight and we will be forever grateful to the heroic efforts of the first responders at Bradley. The Collings Foundation flight team is fully cooperating with officials to determine the cause of the crash of the B-17 Flying Fortress and will comment further when details become known.”

On Oct. 4, the Collings Foundation announced it was suspending future flights of its vintage aircraft and for the remainder of the year, its Wings of Freedom Tour. 

According to WFSB Television in Rocky Hill, Conn., authorities said the pilot of the B-17 attempted to make a landing on one of the runways when the aircraft crashed. The pilot had reported a problem shortly after takeoff and tried to swing the plane around. Police said the plane was in the air for about 5 minutes.

During the landing attempt, officials said the plane hit a landing instrument station, veered to the right, crossed the runway and then struck a de-icing facility, according to WFSB.

The B-17 was built in 1945 and served as part of the Air/Sea 1st Rescue Squadron and later in the Military Air Transport Service. It was built too late to engage in combat in World War II, according to the Collings Foundation.

In April 1952, the plane was instrumented and subjected to the effect of three different nuclear explosions. After a 13-year cool down period, the B-17 was sold as part of a scrap pile and Aircraft Specialties Co. began restoration. Damaged skin was fabricated and replaced, and engines and propellers were stripped, cleaned, repaired and tested.

For 20 years, the B-17 served as fire bomber dropping water and borate on forest fires. The plane was sold to the Collings Foundation in 1986 and restored back to its original wartime configuration by Tom Reilly Vintage Aircraft.

According to the Collings Foundation, the B-17 has made more than 2,700 tour stops. The plane has flown as part of the Wings of Freedom Tour, visiting more than 120 cities nationwide annually with the B-24 Liberator and P-51 Mustang. 

The aircraft was caught in a crosswind in Beaver Falls, Pa., in 1987 and ran off a runway and slid down a hill, according to the National Transportation Safety Board.

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