Skip to comments.B-17 Down, All Escape
Posted on 06/13/2011 5:27:01 PM PDT by Blood of Tyrants
The "Liberty Belle," a B-17 Flying Fortress operated by the Liberty Foundation of Florida, was destroyed by fire after the crew made an emergency landing in a cornfield in Illinois about 10 a.m. Monday morning. All seven people on board escaped without injury, according to the NTSB, but the airplane was a total loss. The B-17 had taken off from Aurora Municipal Airport near Oswego, Ill., and the pilot reported a fire on board shortly after takeoff. Several residents reported seeing the plane flying low with smoke and flames coming from it. "[The pilot] attempted to make a return to the airport, but couldn't make it so he put it down in a cornfield," local fire chief Marty Kunkel told the Beacon News. The field was about three to four miles southeast of the airport, the NTSB said.
(Excerpt) Read more at avweb.com ...
The ride meant a lot to me as my uncle was a left-waist gunner on a B17 flying fortress in WWII, flying missions over Europe. He died in the war.
Many who rode on the Liberty Belle were veterans, and on the door of the Liberty Belle were the signatures of the veterans who had taken a ride on the AC.
He told us some things about it. Other things we found out from the paper.
He won the DFC with seven Oak Leaf Clusters.
He was the youngest Lieutenant Colonel in the USAAF.
He used to pray before a mission that his bombs would not fall on innocent people. However, he always emptied his relief tube over Germany.
After the war, he was with Virginia Electric Power Company, and there was a trade fair in which a German company was selling ovens. The salesman said, “Yes, we Germans make very good ovens.” My Uncle said, “Yeah. We know,” in a cold cutting voice.
He was a man, a father, a Christian gentleman, and he loved us all as much as his kids.
He built a boat in his backyard - or tried to.
He taught me the hard way what a live circuit was and what wasn’t.
He could have been a general in SAC, but didn’t want to stay in the Air Force.
He was my uncle Bob. I miss you and Aunt Ann and will see you in Heaven.
Thankfully the crew got out safely.
My Dad, now passed, flew 50 missions in a B-24 named Boomarang (because it always came back). Some years ago the Yankee or Confederate Air Force had a B-24 flying and were offering rides out of Willow Run Air Port. I thought sure Dad would like the concept and mentioned it to him.
He looked at me kind of funny and said. "Are you kidding? Do you realize how many times I almost didn't come back in a B-24? No thanks."
It's a reminder to me that glories of victory to those of us who never saw war is very different than those who had to deal with the horrors when victory was only a dream.
Sad indeed - A piece of history gone forever.
On the bright side, the B-17 and the men who flew them have not really vanished. We still enjoy the fruits of those sacrifices made decades ago.
The original Memphis Belle is now residing at the Air Force museum. She left Memphis several years ago after the city of Memphis failed to provide a proper fully enclosed building to display her. It was sad to lose The Old Girl but the AF museum will take care of her.
Very sad to lose the Liberty Belle. There aren’t that many flight worthy B-17’s left. It will be a severe loss when the last 17 no longer flies. If anyone ever knows where one or more will be displayed, go see them. You may not get many more chances to do so.
I think they go by Commemorative Air Force nowdays, Confederate was too non-PC for some, but point taken. I've known a few of their squadron mates around here in DFW. My ex-roomie had a daddy who flew the Hump in C-47s back in WW2 and kept an AT-6 "Texan" in the air with the local wing. Until an unfortunate accident turned him and his aircraft into a pile of debris.
Wow, I have to comment on my own comment.
I haven’t thought about Captain Hank in a while. He flew heavies with AA between Laguardia and Germany for many many years. After he retired he bought that T-6, took me up a time or two. Guy was a John Wayne clone, good man, I miss that ol’ sumbish.
RIP “Red One.”
I seem to recall a statistic (though it seemed a bit extreme/severe) that, essentially, 70% of all men who left England on a B-17 heading out over The Continent were eventually shot down and killed or taken prisoner, or their airplane came back to England, but they were dead, before getting to 25 missions to come home.
A far cry from today’s “video-game” wars.
Perhaps 'first metal clad heavy bomber.
B-18 was ahead of it.
They had a web site; it appears to have been disabled.
The Google cached version is at:
After 25 combat missions over Europe in WWII she has to meet her fate in an Illinois cornfield—66 years later. Overall not a bad run.
The Martin B-10 was the first all-metal monoplane bomber to go into regular use by the United States Army Air Corps, entering service in June 1934.
That statistic could be on the money. WWII Army Air Force had a higher casualty rate than the infantry.
Recently I’ve seen a B-17 flying over my neighborhood here in SoCal. Don’t know the name of the plane.
I was at a air show in Michigan last summer where they had EIGHT B-17’s in the air at one time. This plane that burned today was one of them. Here is a link to a video from that show (I kind of hate the guy talking so much over the loud speakers):
I think it was the Liberty Belle that flew into Springfield, IL last summer for tours and rides. I remember hearing the B-17 (if it was her, not sure) coming a long way off. Went outside and watched it fly over with tears in my eyes. A piece of history and some personal memories also as my late father was a gunner in a B-17 during WWII. Started out in Kansas in the Ferry Command flying planes out east for shipment to Europe and ended up in England. Thank God he survived the war and came home. My mother was one of those ‘smaller’ ladies who were able to fit into the nose of aircraft and rivet. She helped build some B-17’s during the war. I’ve always had a soft spot for them because of the family connection.