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 B17 is still saving lives. A great aircraft.
...feel the sadness for all involved. The dedication and skill the people have to restore and maintain aircraft history for us all to enjoy.
Sad to lose a classic old bird like that.
Glad everyone got out safely.
Glad the crew escaped. What a tragic loss of a piece American history. After 25 combat missions over Europe in WWII she has to meet her fate in an Illinois cornfield. Very depressing.
“, but the airplane was a total loss.”
Every salvagable part will be saved and be useful for the remaining airworthy B-17s, looks like the engines are intact for the most part.
But its nice to know we got extra.
Good news, bad news...
She wasn’t the original Memphis Belle but was built in 1944.
I thought I knew the story of the Memphis Belle. Obviously not. Thanks for the info. Do you know what happened to the original?
Guess I need to pay a little closer attention. It wasn’t the Memphis Belle that crashed but the Liberty Belle. Never heard of that one. Still a sad loss.
I don’t know. I’ll be interested in finding out. My Uncle Bob flew 55 missions over Europe in a B-17F and -G.
One less flying B17. This wasn’t the Confederate Air Forces one is it?
This is kind of like that B29 that was stuck in an ice field since WWII. They brought all the parts and a film crew to document its restoration and their plans to fly it. During taxiing runs, apparently the fuel tank near the APU wasn’t bolted down or something and the plane burned to the ground. I don’t know if they were able to rescue the 4 engines they brought with them. A downer ending of the documentary.
Yes, glad the humans are ok. To bad about the machine.
I saw that one flying in Albuquerque a few years ago, but the tickets were all sold-out by the time I found out about it; I was hoping to get a ride in it some day.
Why are they still flying these old treasures? They should be preserved in museums not used to raise money and give people little thrill rides. It’s like pushing an old racehorse out on the fairgrounds to give pony rides. It’s demeaning.
My Uncle Jim piloted them over Europe. Never found out a single detail, however. I was too young to inquire and he just wanted to forget.
I rode on the Liberty Belle about 6 months ago - an incredible experience - will treasure the photos and video I took on the ride. As one of nine passengers, we were allowed to roam the entire AC after it was airborne. Video I took from the nose of the AC is awesome. Breaks my heart to see her in total ruin. So tragic, but so thankful all crew members were safe.
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.
Cole Palen—who created the Old Rhinebeck Aerodrome—said it’s not an airplane if it doesn’t fly.
With that mentality, he restored what is now the second oldest flying airplane in the world: Bleriot XI from 1909. I saw it fly last year.
Sorry to hear about your friend. What struck me is that my grandfather also flew C-47s in CBI theater, then flew heavies for AA out of NY. (Then he moved to Texas, DFW area specifically. He bought a few planes along the way, but nothing as big as a T-6.) He was the senior pilot at AA when forced to retire. His last flight was in a 747 to Honolulu before AA got rid of them. Wonder if he knew your Captain Hank.
I used to be a member of the Confederate Air Force. I stopped when they went politically correct.
We had two B-17 pilots at the local legion..Austell 216. One recently passed. Col Weekly. He flew the Aluminum Overcast. Flew a restored Aluminum Overcast in a show with Jack Rousch.
The other is Stewart Reed. He’s still kickin.
Oh, I’ll bet. That is a pretty small pond.
Yeah, old Capt. Hank was quite a guy. Him and his pals flew airshows all over Texas. They had this tradition of “beating up the town” by doing a Dawn Patrol the day of the airshow. That fateful day, somewhere down east of Houston I forget the name, some guy had won a flight in the second seat in a contest. They were doing a 360 break preparing to land and the guy freaked out and got his feet tangled up in the controls and Hank couldn’t pull out of the descent. Drove it right in, fighting to regain control the whole time, so sayeth the FAA.
Sad day around our gang, but the man died with his boots on and that is about all you can ask for IMHO.
This looks like a place to locate warbirds:
I know Geneseo, NY has some.
I used to go to the Sussex Air Show in Sussex, NJ. Great local show air - Warbirds, Leo Loudenslager, the French Connection, “The Farmer who won a free ride in a Piper Cub” Roger Lehnert.
You can still catch the Sussex County Farm and Horse Show nearby if you want to find out about why they call it the “Garden State”, but the airshow is no more, sad story.
One of those beauts flew over my house a few weeks ago.