Skip to comments.Vintage World War II Plane Crashes Outside Chicago (B-17)
Posted on 06/13/2011 9:35:42 AM PDT by TSgt
A WWII bomber plane crashed and caught fire near Chicago Monday morning. No one was injured.
Seven people were onboard the plane. Officials say they all walked away from the crash.
The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress was at airport in Oswego, Illinois, to mark the 67th anniversary of D-Day. The bomber was grounded over the weekend due to mechanical problems and took off from Sugar Grove Airport at 9:30 a.m. The Daily Herald profiled the plane and D-Day event over the weekend.
The restored B-17, called "Liberty Belle," is owned by Liberty Foundation. The plane was at Lunken Airport on June 19, 2010 where the public was invited to fly on it for a fee of $430.
I’ve been inside “Liberty Belle”. Sadness.
This was a PRICELESS piece of history.
Oh no! There’s not that many of those beauties in flying condition anymore.
I had heard that at the upcoming Arlington (WA) Fly-in, the B-17 ‘Sentimental Journey’ will be there. I saw her once about 20 years ago at Felts Field in Spokane. Gorgeous aircraft.
Breaks my heart to have another beautiful warbird lost, but she took care of all aboard. The Fortress did her job of sacrificing herself for the crew. Sucks, but a happy ending nonetheless.
I still grieve when I see picutures of hundreds upon hundreds of B-17s and other aircraft disassembled for scrap after the war, with no thought of saving a few score for museums and posterity. I completely understand that people wanted nothing to do with the war or war machinery at the time, except practical things like jeeps to us on the farm. Still and all, such a shame we couldn’t have saved more for history’s sake.
It's one heck a lot closer to Aurora, or Naperville, than it is to Chicago, but I suppose one can't fault someone from Cincinnati for not knowing there's something other than Chicago that makes up Illinois...
What a loss. B-( IIRC, the Liberty Belle was at the Pittsburgh Air Show too.
Oh my...what a loss.
Bringing her crew home safe, one last time :-(
Dumb me. In my zeal I forgot to say HUGE KUDOS to the pilot for bringing the pland down with no casualties. Great job. Likely, he had hundreds of hours giving tours and taking that plane around the country. Still, those huge wings couldn’t have hurt, but the praise really goes all out to the pilot who did a fantastic job of bringing the pland down safely.
Yeah, it’s sad to watch a piece of history be lost to this generation and the generations to come. I’m 62 and read and saw footage about B-17’s all my life but I never actually laid eyes on one until 2002 at a local air show. And at that show, a Navy F4U Corsair crashed and burned, and the pilot was killed.
Then there was the “Kee Bird” B-29 that sat on the Greenland ice pack since 1947 and somebody completely restored it on site in 1995 and then it caught fire and burned while taxiing for takeoff.
It’s a crying shame. But the effort to remember has to go on. I guess they’ll salvage the engines off that B-17.
Me, too. What a tragedy (the crash, not the fact that I was in it, too!).
RIP Liberty Belle. Long live liberty!
So have I. sad
The Liberty Belle in happier times.
What a bummer....my girlfriend and I saw it at Boeing Field in April. It was gorgeous.
Glad no one was hurt.
“Queens Die Proudly” William L. White, 1943. This is one of the best books ever published on the history of the 5th Air Force in the early days of WWII in the Pacific. An absolute MUST READ for any historian . .
My late father used to tell stories of flying airplanes from the factory to the scrap yard after the end of the war. He said they would give the planes a real workout since they were headed for destruction.
The only thing better would have been to not fly an aircraft that is not airworthy.
I think that is the one I saw fly over my home 2 weeks ago when it was here.
B17 E with the chin turret. Made late in the war. Makes her even more rare.
I’ve seen this particular plan “in action”, too.
Sadly, I don’t think there will be many WWII airplanes operational within the next 20 years - most remaining will be hanging from the ceilings of museums. Let’s face it, they aren’t making any more, and there will be accidents no matter how well maintained the remainder are. So, see them while you can.
Any word on the cause?
It was a shame the so many other models from the war were not sold to the public for appreciation. One case, they buried over 1500 P-38’s fresh off the assembly line, drover over them first with D-8’s and burried them, new engines and all. They made no attempt to salvage a thing from these priceless war birds.
They did the same with most new P-51’s etc,.....Pure shame!
Liberty Belle had a fascinating history too. After WWII she was used by Pratt&Whitney to test turboprops. Involved removal of her nose and replacement with a large rig to mount the engines she was testing.
After being retired from that role, she went to the New England Air Museum. Where she was seriously damaged during the 1979 tornado, when another plane in the museum’s collection was thrown into her and cut her in half.
After a couple decades in storage, she was obtained and restored to flying condition in her B-17G bomber configuration. A few years back she was flown over to Europe where she was joined by the then-two flying European B-17s (”Pink Lady” from France and “Sally B” from the UK).
Really, really sad day. Glad everyone got out ok, obviously, but she was such a precious piece of irreplaceable history.
“Breaks my heart to have another beautiful warbird lost, but she took care of all aboard. The Fortress did her job of sacrificing herself for the crew. Sucks, but a happy ending nonetheless.”
You are right. Faithful to the end.
I’m glad all survived, but what a sad loss of our history. I took my parents and sons to see the Liberty Belle some years ago when she was visiting my parents’ home town. It was quite an experience for us. My parents remembered hearing the Americans overhead in the latter stages of the war when they were still under Nazi occupation. They knew at that point that it was only a matter of time until the war was over.
It's a bit ironic that Aurora is home to a huge FAA facility (Chicago Air Route Traffic Center).
Yes, and how heartbroken the pilot must be!
I knew an old fella who flew on those during the war. He used to regale me with stories of how much flak one of them could take and keep on flying. Sad to see one meet its end on a sightseeing cruise then.
Since we have just passed another D-Day anniversary, a little perspective is in order.
The 8th USAAF ( for which the B-17 was the main bomber) lost 26,000 men over Europe. That number is GREATER than the total USMC KIA in all of WW II. Of the Marine deaths, almost 8,000 occured taking Iwo Jima.
The chief reason for the Iwo Jima campaign was to use the island's airstrips as an emergency landing site for the B-29's that were bombing Japan. Indeed, the first B-29 ditched in the water along side the landing beaches on day 3 of the invasion. USAAF studies done just after the war suggest that having Iwo available for emergencies may have saved 20-25,000 USAAF lives.
Also, we must never forget that the main reason for the constant bombing of Germany from 43-44 was to destroy the Luftwaffe. The D-Day invasion could not have succeeded ( or at best been much more costly) without total air supremacy over the invasion beaches.
Off topic, but of interest.
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What a sad loss!
I believe that same bomber was kept in one of the maintenance hangars on the Reserve (East) side of Andrews AFB several years ago prior to its annual air show.
Climbed inside and was astounded at how cramped and crowded the interior was behind the flight deck. Yet, it was fun to touch some honest to God history.
The pilot reported an inflight fire shortly after take off. He put it in a field shortly after that as the fire worsened. Great airmanship! Many folks would wait too long in that situation and cost lives.
She was so very beautiful. Thanks for posting that pic.
When I told my daughter she said, “OH NO, I have pictures of Daddy and me when we went to see her.”
It was a beautiful aircraft representing tens or hundreds of thousands of hours of restoration work. Thankfully no one was injured in this terrible accident. However, it would have been the ultimate WWII reenactment to get to see it go down in flames over that European-looking Illinois countryside!
My late uncle flew a B-17 in Europe during the war. His plane was all shot up over Germany, but he limped the aircraft back to his base in England a made a survivable crash landing. My uncle injured his back in the crash landing, and a military doctor told him he would have serious back problems in 20 years. Twenty years later, in the 1960’s, my uncle DID have a lot of back problems, which ended after he had a steel rod placed inside his back.
I saw one of these B-17’s at an air show at the Maine Air National Guard base, part of Bangor International Airport in Maine, in late May of 2000. I stood next to the spot where the plane taxied after it landed, and watched the whole crew disembark.....they were all wearing vintage World War II uniforms and/or flight gear. It was a thrill.
The only upside to this sad crash is the spare parts that will help to keep other B-17’s flying.
She will be missed.