Tuesday, October 08, 2019

Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress, N93012: Fatal accident occurred October 02, 2019 at Bradley International Airport (KBDL), Windsor Locks, Hartford County, Connecticut

This is preliminary information, subject to change, and may contain errors. Any errors in this report will be corrected when the final report has been completed.

The National Transportation Safety Board traveled to the scene of this accident.

Additional Participating Entity: 
Federal Aviation Administration Accident Investigation and Prevention-100; Washington, DC

Investigation Docket - National Transportation Safety Board:

Location: Windsor Locks, CT
Accident Number: ERA20MA001
Date & Time: 10/02/2019, 0953 EDT
Registration: N93012 
Aircraft: Boeing B17
Injuries: 7 Fatal, 5 Serious, 2 Minor
Flight Conducted Under: Part 91: General Aviation - Other Work Use - Sightseeing 

On October 2, 2019, at 0953 eastern daylight time, a Boeing B-17G, N93012, owned and operated by the Collings Foundation, was destroyed during a precautionary landing and subsequent runway excursion at Bradley International Airport (BDL), Windsor Locks, Connecticut. The commercial pilot, airline transport pilot, and five passengers were fatally injured. The flight mechanic/loadmaster and four passengers were seriously injured, while one passenger and one person on the ground incurred minor injuries. The local commercial sightseeing flight was conducted under the provisions of Title 14 Code of Federal Regulations Part 91, in accordance with a Living History Flight Experience exemption granted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Visual meteorological conditions prevailed in the area and no flight plan was filed for the flight, which departed BDL at 0947.

On the morning of the accident flight, an airport lineman at BDL assisted the loadmaster as he added 160 gallons of 100LL aviation fuel to the accident airplane. The lineman stated that the accident airplane was the first to be fueled with 100LL fuel that day.

According to preliminary air traffic control (ATC) data provided by the FAA, shortly after takeoff, at 0950, one of the pilots reported to ATC that he wanted to return to the airport. At that time, the airplane was about 500 ft above ground level (agl) on the right crosswind leg of the airport traffic pattern for runway 6. The approach controller verified the request and asked if the pilot required any assistance, to which he replied no. The controller then asked for the reason for the return to the airport, and the pilot replied that the airplane had a "rough mag" on the No. 4 engine. The controller then instructed the pilot to fly a right downwind leg for runway 6 and confirmed that the flight needed an immediate landing. He subsequently cancelled the approach of another airplane and advised the pilot to proceed however necessary to runway 6. The approach controller instructed the pilot to contact the tower controller, which he did.

The tower controller reported that the wind was calm and cleared the flight to land on runway 6. The pilot acknowledged the landing clearance; at that time, the airplane was about 300 ft agl on a midfield right downwind leg for runway 6. The tower controller asked about the airplane's progress to the runway and the pilot replied that they were "getting there" and on the right downwind leg. No further communications were received from the accident airplane. Witness statements and airport surveillance video confirmed that the airplane struck approach lights about 1,000 ft prior to the runway, then contacted the ground about 500 ft prior to the runway before reaching runway 6. It then veered right off the runway before colliding with vehicles and a deicing fluid tank about 1,100 ft right of the center of the runway threshold.

The wreckage came to rest upright and the majority of the cabin, cockpit, and right wing were consumed by postimpact fire. The landing gear was extended and measurement of the left and right wing flap jackscrews corresponded to a flaps retracted setting. The flap remained attached to the right wing and the aileron was consumed by fire. The flap and aileron remained attached to the left wing and a section of flap was consumed by fire. The empennage, elevator, and rudder remained intact. Control continuity was confirmed from the elevator, rudder, elevator trim, and rudder trim from each respective control surface to the area in the cabin consumed by fire, and then forward to the cockpit controls. Elevator trim and rudder trim cables were pulled during impact and their preimpact position on their respective drum at the control surfaces could not be determined. The left wing aileron trim tab remained intact and its pushrod was connected but bent. The left aileron bellcrank separated from the wing, but the aileron cables remained attached to it and the aileron cable remained attached in cockpit.

The Nos. 1 and 2 engines remained partially attached to the left wing and all three propeller blades remained attached to each engine. One propeller blade attached to engine No. 1 exhibited an 8-inch tip separation; the separated section traveled about 700 ft before coming to rest near an airport building. Another propeller blade on the No. 1 engine exhibited chordwise scratching and leading edge gouging. The third propeller blade was bent aft. The No. 2 engine propeller blades exhibited leading edge gouges and chordwise scratches.

The No. 3 engine was recovered from the top of the deicing tank. One blade was impact damaged and near the feather position. The other two blades appeared in a position between low pitch and feather. One propeller blade exhibited a 5-inch tip separation and the separated tip sections were recovered from 100 ft and 700 ft from the main wreckage. The No. 4 engine was recovered from the deice building. All three propeller blades on the No. 4 engine appeared in the feather position.

The wreckage was retained for further examination.

A fuel sample was able to be recovered from one of the No 3. engine's two fuel tanks. The recovered sample had a visual appearance and smell consistent with 100LL aviation fuel and was absent of debris or water contamination. Following the accident, the fuel truck used to service the airplane was quarantined and subsequent testing revealed no anomalies of the truck's equipment or fuel supply. Additionally, none of the airplanes serviced with fuel from the truck before or after the accident airplane, including another airplane operated by the Collings Foundation, reported any anomalies.

The pilot held a commercial pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land, instrument airplane, and held a type rating for the B-17. In addition, he held a mechanic certificate with airframe and powerplant ratings. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on January 9, 2019. At that time, he reported a total flight experience of 14,500 hours.

The co-pilot held an airline transport pilot certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine land, airplane multiengine land, and instrument airplane, with type ratings for B-737, B-757, B-767, DC-10, and LR-Jet. In addition, he held a flight engineer certificate as well as a flight instructor certificate with ratings for airplane single-engine and instrument airplane. His most recent FAA second-class medical certificate was issued on January 8, 2019. At that time, he reported a total flight experience of 22,000 hours.

The airplane was manufactured in 1944, issued a limited airworthiness certificate in 1994, and equipped with passenger seats in 1995. It was powered by four Wright R-1820-97, 1,200-horsepower engines, each equipped with a three-blade, constant-speed Hamilton Standard propeller. The airplane was maintained under an airworthiness inspection program, which incorporated an annual inspection, and 25-hour, 50-hour, 75-hour, and 100-hour progressive inspections. Review of maintenance records revealed that the airplane's most recent annual inspection was completed on January 16, 2019. At that time, the airframe had accumulated about 11,120 total hours of operation. Engine Nos. 1, 2, and 3 had 0 hours since major overhaul at that time. Engine No. 4 had 838.2 hours since major overhaul at that time. The airplane's most recent progressive inspection, which was the 100-hour inspection, was completed on September 23, 2019. At that time, the airplane had been operated about 268 hours since the annual inspection.

The recorded weather at BDL at 0951 included calm wind; 10 statute miles visibility; few clouds at 11,000 ft; few clouds at 14,000 ft; broken clouds at 18,000 ft; temperature 23°C; dew point 19°C, and an altimeter setting of 29.81 inches of mercury.

Aircraft and Owner/Operator Information

Aircraft Make: Boeing
Registration: N93012
Model/Series: B17 G
Aircraft Category: Airplane
Amateur Built: No 
Operator: Collings Foundation
Operating Certificate(s) Held: None
Operator Does Business As: Collings Foundation
Operator Designator Code: 

Meteorological Information and Flight Plan

Conditions at Accident Site: Visual Conditions
Condition of Light: Day
Observation Facility, Elevation: BDL, 175 ft msl
Observation Time: 0951 EDT
Distance from Accident Site: 1 Nautical Miles
Temperature/Dew Point: 23°C / 19°C
Lowest Cloud Condition: Few / 11000 ft agl
Wind Speed/Gusts, Direction: Calm / ,
Lowest Ceiling: Broken / 18000 ft agl
Visibility:  10 Miles
Altimeter Setting: 29.81 inches Hg
Type of Flight Plan Filed: None
Departure Point: Windsor Locks, CT (BDL)
Destination: Windsor Locks, CT (BDL)

Wreckage and Impact Information

Crew Injuries: 2 Fatal, 1 Serious
Aircraft Damage: Destroyed
Passenger Injuries: 5 Fatal, 4 Serious, 1 Minor
Aircraft Fire: On-Ground
Ground Injuries: 1 Minor
Aircraft Explosion: None
Total Injuries:7 Fatal, 5 Serious, 2 Minor 
Latitude, Longitude: 41.931667, -72.692222

Those who may have information that might be relevant to the National Transportation Safety Board investigation may contact them by email eyewitnessreport@ntsb.gov, and any friends and family who want to contact investigators about the accident should email assistance@ntsb.gov. 

National Transportation Safety Board

The owner of the World War II B17-G Flying Fortress bomber that crashed at Bradley International Airport Oct. 2, killing seven and injuring five, said Thursday it is evaluating its options after the Federal Aviation Administration revoked its permission to carry passengers for pay aboard its fleet of historic aircraft.

The FAA, according to a decision released Wednesday, found that the Stow, Massachusetts-based Collings Foundation failed to properly maintain two of the four engines on the aircraft that crashed, did not follow the requirements of its permission to operate the aircraft with paying passengers and “lacked a safety culture when operating the B17-G.”

The FAA decision revoked the permission it had previously granted Collings to carry paying passengers and rejected an application to the FAA to renew that permission to carry paying passengers.

FAA says owner of World War II bomber involved in deadly Bradley crash did not take safety seriously and can no longer carry passengers »

The National Transportation Safety Board, which works closely with the FAA, is likely months away from issuing its report on the Oct. 2 crash of the B17-G “Nine O Nine," which developed engine trouble after takeoff and crashed while trying to return to the airport.

Not being able to collect the fees passengers pay to fly aboard the foundation’s World War II bombers, about $450 a ride, could effectively ground the organization’s “Wings of Freedom” tour, which has traveled the nation for about 30 years. The Collings Foundation has brought its aircraft to Connecticut dozens of times during that 30-year period.

“The Collings Foundation currently is reviewing the FAA’s decision and evaluating our options,” Hunter Chaney, a Collings spokesman, said, in a written statement. “As a party to the NTSB investigation into the tragic B-17 accident in Connecticut on October 2 of last year, we are not permitted comment on issues pertaining to the accident investigation or findings to date. We look forward to discussing with the FAA its decision findings that were not addressed with the Foundation before the issuance of the FAA decision.”

NTSB releases preliminary report about crash of B-17 at Bradley International Airport »

Chaney said the Collings Foundation has a solid safety record.

“Through 30 years of passenger carrying operations, and until the October 2, 2019 accident, the Wings of Freedom tour had never had an accident, injury or fatality,” he said. "This record reflects a commitment to safety that has proudly set a standard among the warbird community for generations. The Foundation has always held safety as its top priority."

The Collings Foundation can challenge the FAA decision if it can show that it has a significant additional fact it did not already present to the FAA, that the FAA made an important factual error or that the FAA misinterpreted the law, a regulation or precedent.


PORTLAND (WGME) – The Portland Jetport is helping out an airport in Connecticut, following a deadly plane crash that damaged one of its buildings. 

Last month, seven people died when a World War II-era bomber plane hit the de-icing building and maintenance facility at Bradley Airport in Hartford.

With the de-icing facility out of service, the Portland Jetport is now stepping up.

The Jetport is the only airport in the nation to have a de-icing fluid recycling plant, and has agreed to take Bradley's used fluid.

"So, we will be handling more of their fluid here in Portland while they get that operation back online, which will not likely be until next de-icing season or next winter season, so we're very pleased we can help out," Portland International Jetport Director Paul Bradbury said.

Inland Technologies runs the Portland recycling facility.

The fluid from Bradley is not pre-treated or filtered, Portland will be handling the entire process.

Story and video ➤ https://wgme.com

A week after its B-17 Flying Fortress crashed killing seven in Connecticut, the Collings Foundation sent an impassioned plea to aviation groups to contact the Federal Aviation Administration in support of the exemption that allows the warbirds to fly passengers for a fee.

Aviation websites and FAA documents indicate it wasn’t the first time the foundation has asked supporters to inundate the agency with positive letters about their Wings of Freedom program flying under a Living History Flight Experience exemption.

In 2012, foundation members were blunt about what they wanted supporters to tell the FAA, which had implemented a moratorium the previous year on any new exemptions.

“End the unnecessary moratorium immediately and process the Collings Foundations’ requests as expeditiously as possible,” a letter read sent by the foundation to aviation groups around the country instructing supporters on what to say to the FAA.

In 2009 and 2010, the foundation sought a change to the exemption that would allow the non-profit to also charge passengers to fly in planes conducting aerial maneuvers and allow passengers to “manipulate the controls” of the vintage warbirds. The suggested activities sparked a third FAA review of the program since its inception in 1996 and a four-year moratorium on any new exemptions, according to FAA documents.

“The clear market orientation of these requests undermines arguments of a public-interest goal in preserving unique historical aircraft,” the FAA wrote in a 2012 notice of a public meeting seeking comment on the exemptions as the moratorium continued.

The exemptions are under fire again with U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal calling for an inquiry into the program.

The B-17, one of 10 vintage aircraft approved by the FAA for the foundation to fly passengers for a donation or fee, had just taken off from Bradley Internal Airport the morning of Oct. 2 when pilot Ernest “Mac” McCauley reported that he needed to land as soon as possible due to an engine problem, reports said.

Minutes later, the B-17 crashed about 1,000 yards short of the runway, struck stanchions, which guide airplanes in, and veered off to the right, eventually striking a de-icing building before bursting into flames.

McCauley, 75, was believed by aviation enthusiasts to be the country’s most experienced B-17 pilot with more than 7,000 hours of flight time behind the controls of the vintage warbird. He was killed in the crash along with his co-pilot and five passengers, including a retired Vernon police officer. The plane’s technician, five passengers and an airport employee suffered varying degrees of injuries.

The National Transportation Safety Board is expected to release a preliminary report on the crash in the coming days. As part of the year-long final investigation, the LHFE exemptions will be examined by the NTSB and the FAA, officials said.

The plane was flying as part of Collings’ Wings of Freedom tour, which brings vintage aircraft to about 100 commercial airports nationwide each year. Visitors are allowed to check out the planes and can take a short ride on certain models such as the B-17 for $450.

The Connecticut Airport Authority facilitated “security coordination” for the tour, which was arranged through airport “tenant” TAC Air, a national fuel wholesaler and aviation services provider.

This was the first time the Wings of Freedom tour was at Bradley since 2014. The tours had come to Bradley in 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, according to Alisa Sisic, CAA manager of marketing. There are no future tour dates scheduled, she said.

Aside from the FAA approval, there are no other clearance steps or approval authority to allow the warbirds to fly in and out of Bradley because the event was held on "leased" property, Sisic said.

"Also, we can not discriminate against a particular type of aircraft," she added.

Turbulent relationship

Collings approached the FAA with the idea for the special exemption in 1996 after restoring the B-17 Flying Fortress to match the Nine-0-Nine, which flew 140 combat missions during World War II. Collings was granted the first exemption in the country allowing a foundation or museum to fly passengers for a fee or donation under specific restrictions that don’t require the same regulations as commercial aircraft.

Since then, FAA documents and Collings Foundation letters to supporters show the organization and the agency have tendered a tense but cordial relationship. Foundation Executive Director Rob Collings has questioned the need for certain restrictions and has sought public support when their amendments are stalled or denied.

In 2010, Rob Collings repeatedly sent the agency letters highlighting what he perceived to be misinterpretations of its own exemption policy and said the stipulations never prohibited the activities he was now seeking to include.

“Passengers are prohibited from manipulating the aircraft controls when the aircraft is operated under the LHFE exemption and no aerobatics may be performed in the aircraft while operating under the LHFE exemption,” the FAA told Rob Collings in a July 29, 2011 letter announcing that no further action would be taken on the foundation’s amendment to add the activities until a new agency policy on the program was drafted.

Less than a year later, Rob Collings sent a letter to national aviation groups asking their members to deluge the FAA with letters of support for his amendments and the entire LHFE exemption program.

“We are certain changes in the LHFE program are just another way to limit warbird operation,” Rob Collings wrote in the letter. He also pointed to the moratorium and an attempt to prohibit the transfer of any government aircraft or parts for any purpose other than static display, as “examples of FAA and Department of Defense hostility” toward the program.

Rob Collings did not respond to a request for an interview.

A 2011 DOD study on the feasibility of transferring military aircraft to “non-federal entities” for the purposes of restoring and preserving warbirds questioned the FAA’s ability to monitor the LHFE exemption participants if the exemptions included aerial maneuvers and allowing the public to manipulate the controls. DOD officials also pointed out that once an aircraft has been destroyed in a crash, it has not been “preserved.”

“Some of these petitioners (in the LHFE program) are now creating business models that, if authorized by the FAA, would offer civilians an opportunity to conduct simulated aerial combat flights with hands-on flight experience in these aircraft,” the DOD study said. “They argue that the economics of preserving aircraft for public access and historical purposes require the income such flights would generate. The financial challenges faced by NFEs should not be basis for allowing activities, which are significantly more hazardous to passenger, the public to occur.”

Tax documents show that Rob Collings was compensated $17,000 by the foundation in 2008 for his role as executive director. By 2016, his compensation jumped to more than $333,000.

Within days of the B-17 crash, the Collings Foundation released a message of condolence for those who died and said the tour and all flight activities have been canceled for the rest of 2019. The FAA has received hundreds of positive letters about the foundation and the Wings of Freedom tour since Wednesday when Rob Collings issued a letter to aviation groups seeking support.

Only a few of those who sent letters mentioned the risks and concerns for the passengers and the public on the ground.

“In the coming months, federal agencies will be reviewing the LHFE program for not only our organization, but many other organizations nationwide who continue to fly vintage aircraft as a part of their educational mission,” Rob Collins said in the Wednesday letter to supporters. “As these reviews take place, we feel it is important for the voices of those impacted by the Wings of Freedom Tour over the years to be heard. We need to let federal agencies know that the LHFE program is important to you and other American citizens as an educational tool.”

Original article ➤ https://www.middletownpress.com

National Transportation Safety Board board member Jennifer Homendy briefs the media Thursday on the 10/2/19 crash of a B-17 in Connecticut.
Ernest “Mac” McCauley, a veteran pilot who volunteers with the Collings Foundation, works on one of the nine-cylinder radial engines on a B17 Flying Fortress bomber on display July 1st, 2019 at the Spokane International Airport. McCauley was at the controls when the plane crashed Wednesday in Connecticut. He died in the crash. 

Two days after a deadly crash of a World War II-era bomber at Bradley International Airport, the chief of the Connecticut Airport Authority said Friday he had no reason to block the vintage airplane show that would eventually cost seven people their lives.

“In hindsight, would we have done anything different in this event? No, unfortunately,” Kevin Dillon, the authority’s executive director, said, in an interview Friday. “There is no information that I had that the Collings Foundation has done anything wrong, that there was anything wrong with that aircraft.”

“This is a tragic event, an unfortunate event, and that is what the [National Transportation Safety Board] is here for -- to tell us what happened here and put in motion anything they can to prevent it in the future.”

“This is a tragic event, an unfortunate event, and that is what the [National Transportation Safety Board] is here for -- to tell us what happened here and put in motion anything they can to prevent it in the future.”

Collings approached TAC-Air, which leases space at Bradley to park and service private aircraft, in early September. TAC-Air then turned to the authority, which must seek permission from the Transportation Security Administration to allow visitors on airport land that is normally a restricted area.

Dillon said the request from TAC-Air did not raise any red flags, so to block the Collings visit “would have been deemed unreasonable.”

The Federal Aviation Administration certifies the “airworthiness” of aircraft, or the physical requirements for pilots, he said.

The fiery crash took place just before 10 a.m. Wednesday after the B-17G appeared to encounter trouble taking off and had to make an emergency landing. The plane slammed into a de-icing shed.

"These aircraft, up until this accident, have been operating at many, many different locations across the country, and I don’t think there is any airport that I am aware of that would have said, ‘These aircraft can’t come into my airport,' " Dillon said. “There’s no basis for it.”

In the days since the crash, questions have been raised about why the event was sanctioned for a busy airport.

But Dillon said Collings has staged similar events at airports in Boston, Dallas and San Diego, for example, all much larger than Bradley. Dillon also noted that smaller airports are not necessarily a better alternative.

“An airport is an airport,” Dillon said. “What is the difference if it is [an airport] that isn’t anywhere near a busy as Bradley, but the aircraft impacts an office building off that airport, I’m not understanding the distinction there.”

This week, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal took aim at the vintage plane program, noting both the age of the aircraft and a history of 21 crashes since 1982, in which 22 people died. Blumenthal called for a thorough investigation.

“The senator, I think has every right to call for an investigation, but I don’t think the senator is qualified to be making determinations,” Dillon said. “That is what the NTSB is there for, and I’m sure they will accommodate his request.”

Dillon was adamant that Bradley is not responsible, in any way, for the crash. The airport had operated in the best way possible for the show, he said.

“Bradley is certainly not responsible for what occurred, no more than we can be responsible for any other accident from an airline,” Dillon said.

Original article can be found here ➤ https://www.courant.com


  1. I'm sad at the loss of life and I'm sad at the loss of another irreplaceable flying piece of history.

  2. A quote from a post on another forum helps to put things in perspective:

    “Since 1982, the 23 deaths before these 7 is an extraordinarily low level of fatalities. [An average of less than one per year]

    Some Elective Activities Risks:
    41 people are killed on average every year in the USA skiing or snowboarding
    30 people a year die in jet ski accidents (approx)
    800 cyclists die every year (approx)
    30 US climbers die every year on average
    70 US scuba divers die every year
    between 300 and 400 US ATC riders die every year
    In an average year, "fewer than 1000" US people are accidentally shot in hunting, and "only 75" die
    9000 injuries occur each year due to golf cart use
    Every 2-3 years someone is killed by a golf ball
    In 2012, 19 US parachutists died, in 2018, 13 died
    Kite surfing deaths from 2000 to mid 2007 averaged 8.3/year.”

    So before we consider banning flights in historic aircraft, should we also consider banning the above activities?

  3. I used to be of the opinion that vintage airplanes should be made flyable and flown as much as practicable; that's why they were created. But the relentless toll year after year of irreplaceable airplanes destroyed has changed my opinion. If one is wealthy enough to afford owning and operating an authentic antique airplane, certainly one would be wealthy enough to build as exact a replica as desired and fly that. No one would encourage flying the original Wright Flyer, the original Spirit of St. Louis, the Spruce Goose - these are icons history whose title belongs to mankind, not the holder of a piece of paper. Before they are lost forever to inevitable destruction by ineptitude or accident, we should put a moratorium on operating the rarest of the antiques and develop a replicas industry.

  4. As horrible as the loss of life and historic machinery is here, the posts above about about fatalities have merit.
    If we compare how many unnecessary fatalities there are each year from fuel shortages and minor mechanical failures we see on all aircraft these warbirds are no where near any extreme.
    As with many of the other aircraft crashes this one is right in there as to why a precautionary shutdown of an engine due to it cross firing from wet spark plug wires lead into this crash really needs to be understood and will take allot of time and energy for the investigators to come up with an honest answer.
    Personally I feel these Living History Tours are very important to keep our history lessons complete since at these tour events I work at we see a near total lack of teens through the late 20s attending.

  5. These airplanes are from a different era. The crash-worthiness of a General Aviation aircraft or an airliner or even an experimental (homebuilt) airplane of current design is going to be much better than anything built before 1950. Everyone on that airplane knew and understood the risks. Many more would have jumped at the chance (if $450.00 weren't a lot of money). As the earlier post said, there are lot's of ways of having fun and most of them have risk. There have been several instances in the past year of homeowners being killed when airplanes slam into their homes. Not even staying at home is safe.

  6. Organizations that are still able to bring a vintage aircraft to a show bear high expenses and are able to do it through dedicated effort by many individuals that keep their aircraft flight-capable. Take a ride if you can or just listen to the loping and rumble of round engines at work before the remaining examples can only be seen in static display at museums.

  7. As usual a couple of old guys flying a vintage plane. They should get out of the way and let a younger generation fly these aircraft, but of course they think they know best and so people die.

  8. I have a theory as to the plane veering off to the right into the de-icing tanks. The pilot radioed ATC and said they had a problem with the #4 engine and needed to return to "blow it out". A witness on the ground stated the plane flew over his head at low altitude with the #3 engine trailing smoke and sputtering. I wonder if in the "heat of battle" they accidentally shut down the wrong engine and ended up having both engines on the right side out which would make the plane hard to maintain directional stability. I just toured that plane in Aug. at KBTP and the pilot "Mac" and a younger mechanic with a bushy beard were doing a compression test on the #2 engine after un-sticking an exhaust valve. We watched them run-up the engine with the cowling removed and it sounded good. I can't believe it's gone now, RIP 909 and crew.

  9. Looking at the B roll one of the props looks feathered or partially feathered ... hard to tell.

    RIP to all lost


  10. Above: "As usual a couple of old guys flying a vintage plane. They should get out of the way and let a younger generation fly these aircraft, but of course they think they know best and so people die."

    You obviously have bought into the stupid argument that "old" people are a liability and don't know what they are doing. The NTSB reports are full of accidents of people of all ages.

    You definitely need to grow up. OTOH, with your attitude, you may not live to get old.

  11. I saw this airplane flying about 6 months ago. Was admiring it as it flew past. Then I read about this accident and looked up the past schedule ... me not know for sure whether this was the same plane without a little research.

    Same plane. It was back in March. Beautiful airplane.

  12. Yea, after 34 years and 25,000 plus hours of boring holes thru the atmosphere, I'd have to agree. I was 10 times the pilot when I was a kid. Just like the thousands of boys that flew these things in battle 70 years ago, they were more on top of it, less complacent than the old well experienced guy, who was more apt to teaching or instructing if you will. No way this lightly loaded over powered bomber went down with 1 or 2 engines out. Unless the experienced crew let Vmc get a hold of them................May have been fueled with Jet A.............

  13. The flight engineer survived the crash. He should have a first hand account of what took place in the cockpit. I strongly doubt it was mis-fueled with Jet A, but the engines will show that upon tear-down. They didn't do a VMC roll, they just didn't have directional control. It will be interesting to see what the NTSB will piece together. I suspect they already have a good idea what happened.

  14. This is the risk you take flying in ANY aircraft. Airlines crash planes look at the 737 max killed over 300 people did the FAA ground all airline planes. DOD complaining about letting people fly these planes like the T6 yet they allow celebrates to fly in fighter jets. They are even letting people fly in the U2 now. Whats next rocket rides up to the space station. Maybe if the DOD properly funded a program for historical aviation we would not have to rely on Collins foundation to generate money so they can restore these with no help from the government. The future of military aviation history is really ending right under our noses with the last flying F-4 sent to be a target. The F-16 and newer aircraft will never be allowed in civilian hands so in 50-100 years we won't ever see a F-16 fly again like the F-14 Tomcat scrapped because of fear of Iran.

  15. They hassled with #4 on the ground for possible wet mags and when they got airborne they had reduced thrust on the starboard wing so they shut it(#4) down and said they had to go back and blow it out...only...it wasn't #4, it was #3.(witness)

  16. The initial report says # 4 was fully feathered and # 3 had one blade in full feather and the other two appeared partially feathered. #1 and #2 were producing power. I would think the flight engineer should be able to give a good account of the events but they were definitely having trouble maintaining altitude and were reported to be at only 300 feet on downwind. Flaps were up and gear was down. Winds were calm. Perhaps declaring a emergency and choosing to land in the opposite direction of their takeoff might have given them a better chance. When things start going bad get it on the ground !

  17. Would like to see these old warbirds flying and sharing the experience with those interested.

  18. Replying to airportkid,

    The aircraft you mentioned were all one of a kind. Nobody is saying fly all remaining B-17s until none remain in museums. Some should be left as (almost flying condition) hanger queens for as long as possible (museums burn down too), but some should stay flying.

    Replica's aren't necessarily a bad idea. Maybe new technologies (CNC, 3-D printers) will make them possible. And I'd probably ride in one. But I'd ride on the real one first, if I could.

    I've paid for rides in two B-17s - Fuddy Duddy and Aluminum Overcast. If there are funds available when the opportunity arises I'd highly like to ride in a B-29, B-24, B-25, P-51, P-40 and even others, but those first. The B-17 was the first to come along, but I really wanted to have even a fraction of the experience of those brave boys that fought for freedom knowing the odds were strongly against them even completing their 25 flights. Yes, my ride wasn't 8-10 hours long, it wasn't over enemy territory, it wasn't in low O2 or flesh freezing cold, it wasn't being shot at, it wasn't a scary agonizing takeoff with full bomb load, or a long flight back or marginal landing with bomb damage. But it was in the air. It was a chance to hear the 4 thunderous radials at takeoff power. It was a chance to hear their harmonic humming at cruise setting while looking out over those broad thick airfoils (which was a comforting site). It was a chance to walk on the narrow catwalk in the bomb bay, look out the bombardier's nose station at the ground passing by below, and watch the pilots adjusting the motors to keep them in sync while flying down a canyon back to the airport. It was living history, maybe just a tiny fraction of what our fly boys experienced, but it was real, and it touched me more than any book, picture, or movie ever has.

    I am in my 50s and lived (a stint on Guam during Vietnam) when WWII was sort of forgotten but not that long ago. When the last vet dies, it will be ancient history. At that point, I hope a B-17 will still be flying, and that people who care about the individual sacrifices, given in mass, and who care about how close the world came to melting down and the lessons we should remember about that, will take a young person for a ride in it.

    In the meantime, if a WW-II aircraft comes around while I have some extra $, I'll go for a ride, hoping it's safe and uneventful, but realizing the statistics are on my side, the risk is commensurate with reward, and within the range of many other activities people do for fun and pleasure.

  19. I agree with Jim W 100%. I have been a student of military history since middle school and am thankful for just the brief experience of experiencing flight in these legendary aircraft. I flew in FIFI in the first months that it was flying knowing fully well that B-29s are prone to engine fires and that the flight was perhaps 100 time more risky than driving down the 105 after the show. For me, I would accept almost any risk to fly in a b-17, P-51 or with the Blue Angels or Thunderbirds and would sign any waiver because it is that important and special to me. OTOH, anyone who would take their children or significant other on such a flight without understanding the risks involved are going beyond boundaries.

  20. Initial inspection of wreckage indicates flaps up. May have made a difference. Applicable airspeeds I could find:

    "LANDING (47,000 lbs.) (Weight on this flight probably under 40,000)
    Gear and flaps down: 150 mph IAS
    Full flaps below 150 mph IAS (will require retrimming)
    Approach speed: 105-110 mph
    Over airfield boundary: 105 mph IAS
    Touchdown at 90-95 mph IAS

    Top Speed @ SL: 230 mph TAS
    Top Speed @ Alt: 295 mph TAS @ 25,000 feet
    Cruise @ SL: 175 mph TAS @ 30" Hg/2000 rpm
    Cruise @ 25,000 ft: 145 mph IAS/213 mph TAS @ 30" Hg/2000 rpm
    Climb: 41.0 minutes to 25,000 ft @ 150 mph IAS/38" Hg/2300 rpm
    Initial climb: 900 fpm
    1 g stall speed, clean: 102 mph IAS (50,000 pounds)
    1 g stall speed, landing: 90 mph IAS (50,000 pounds)"

  21. In a recent ruling (Posted March 25, 2020), the Federal Aviation Administration revoked the Collings Foundation’s permission to have passengers aboard its aircraft after a deadly crash last October, citing various safety reasons.

    See "Rescission of Exemption 6540" full document at:

    See also interesting related info in docket using link on the same page as above.

    1. And news article:


  22. I had boarded and toured this aircraft, and the B-24 at Bangor, ME about 12 yrs before. McCauley was flying the aircraft that day and I had a brief conversation with him. He obviously loved the B-17 and his life showing it to Americans all over the country. It is very sad that it was lost, and lives were lost with it.

    All that being said, it is clear that there was no real oversight on safety issues regarding this aircraft. McCauley was the PIC and made the ultimate decision to fly the aircraft. He was also the A&P mechanic who did most of the maintenance on it. In addition he was the Foundation's "safety officer" who signed a report a few weeks before this crash certifying there were NO safety defects on Nine O Nine. All the safety issues, plus the decision to fly with known defects, came down to just one man, McCauley. While it is not a good feeling to speak ill of the deceased, I think any reasonable person would easily conclude that to fly an aircraft, carrying passengers for hire, that had been having magneto problems due to moisture infiltration, for at least several weeks, was a simply appalling decision. The foundation's permit to fly passengers was revoked months ago.

    Passengers, and ground witnesses, had mentioned several incidents of McCauley having to deal with faulty mags on several previous flights at other fields. He routinely, it seems, used compressed air, or CO2 to dry up the faulty mags so the engine would run properly. And on more than one engine according to those witnesses. After the crash the NTSB removed spark plugs from all 4 R-1820 engines. Many should have been replaced some time back, many others were incorrectly gapped. During military use checking those plugs was regular maintenance provided often! The NTSB report regarding their safety program, or lack of, was damning.

    These aircraft flew all over the country in a season, being demonstrated and flown many hundreds of times. One would think, that with these engines, that certainly some spare parts would be with them at all times considering they did tons of maintenance on the road. A spare mag does not cost much, they are readily rebuilt to as good as new specs by companies all over the USA. The crew chief was new at his job and had little knowledge of the aircraft and it's systems. #4 was shut down and feathered clearly. They had the problems with #4 prior to the flight. It is quite possible that they may have shut down the wrong engine, which has happened before more than a few times. We will see in the final report. In any case they had very little time to analyze the problem(s) and deal with it. A few hundred feet agl and a few knots above flying speed don't leave much time to think. Many are amazed that they did a 180 turn without stalling it.