A WWII era B-17 Bomber made a successful off-field landing near Oswego Il yesterday, then was destroyed when consumed by fire. The seven people aboard the vintage aircraft escaped without serious injury. Photos published by WGN Radio.com show that the aircraft landed successfully in a cornfield before succumbing to the flames.
The Chicago Tribune is reporting that the four engine bomber had departed Aurora, IL. and was headed to Indianapolis, IN when the pilot declared an emergency due to an engine fire.
The aircraft was reportedly owned by the Liberty Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of vintage warbirds. The web-site for the Liberty Foundation appears to have been taken off-line.
A history of the Liberty Belle is available on Wikipedia.
There are different numbers regarding the number of flyable B-17s still around. Some sources say 14, some 12. As there were a total of 12,700 were built, the remaining number is very, very small. Now, that small number is reduced by one.
This will raise again the ethical question about restoring and flying vintage aircraft. As time goes on, the number of surviving airframes will dwindle until only one or two or left. What then. Will the need to preserve a significant piece of history prevail over our desire to see them fly? Time will tell.
Although the Liberty Belle was only an airplane, I still mourn her loss. The aircraft that my father and I both dreamed of flying is becoming rarer and rarer. Thank god no one was seriously hurt, in that we can be grateful.
Thanks for reading,