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B-17 bomber crashes near Aurora, IL

A vintage World War II bomber crashed and burned in a field southeast of Aurora Municipal Airport this morning, but the seven people on board escaped without injury, according to aviation officials. ( More...

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John Casebeer 1
People who do this have a passion for avaiation and accept the risk!
Matt Haines 0
Damn, that is so unfortunate. We can't lose these rare birds like this. But I would still rather see all them fly than sit in a museum...
What a shame! Such history. Glad seemingly all OK.
Chris Bryant 0
Glad everyone got out OK, but sad to see such a beautiful machine destroyed.
99NY 0
Sad to see a warrior go down, but at least she went down flying and didnt end up on the other end of a scrappers torch.
Real bummer to see a piece of history like that go down, but a big pat on the back for the pilots for getting everyone out alive.
wdhearrell 0
I saw the ad in the morning paper that the B-17 was coming to KMQJ, not far from my house, and thought about getting my Dad a ride. Plane crashes, and the $430 per ride is more than my Dad is worth. lol
mikef 0
My kids and I watched for months as they worked on N390TH and we watched her take off and do a fly-by for us a few months ago. Very sad and very fortunate nobody was hurt. She was at 47A regularly and will be missed.
ken riggs 0
got a ride on her 2 years ago.
scords13 0
Sad to see this article :( The Liberty Belle was in FSD about 2 years ago.
Ronnie Mc 0
Very unfortunate. saw this bird last year.
RLR01 0
Yet another misrepsentation by the media. This aircraft didn't "crash and burn". It was masterfully landed off field and succumbed to a post landing fire. It came to a stop on all 3 gear. Had it not been for the fire the aircraft would have lived to see another day.
Lloyd Boyette 0
Very unfortunate. Kinda raises a question.... To fly or not to fly? These birds are priceless and a part of not only American history, but history itself! I love seeing these girls fly just as much as you guys do, however, over time we loose them one by one for one reason or another.

I am very glad that crew and volunteers escaped without injury and is a testament to the construction of the old " Flying Fortress ".

What's your thoughts? To fly them or not to fly them?
Lloyd Boyette 0
@Robert.... I agree. Most news stations use the " Anything for ratings " mentality which falsifies actual news for a more dramatic version.
Stu Bryant 0
Nothing like the sound of those radials.... Have one near me at Castle Air Museum on static display, but I say fly them when possible. There will still be some in museums. Used to watch them as borate bombers in the 70's & early 80's. I prefer them restored, naturally. They sure earned their keep in WWII, magnificent birds. The few pilots I knew who flew them sounded affectionate toward them.
Excellent decisive action on the Captain's part clearly saved the lives of the other crew and passengers. A wonderful achievement. Very sad to lose a wonderful piece of history but I am glad that the potential human loss was averted.
I would like to shake the Captain"s hand!
will744 0
Very sad. . .
Thomas Skubal 0
Without saying, glad that everyone is safe. But it pains me to see another one of these rare birds lost. On one hand to play it safe they shouldn't be flown, just put on static display, but these are airplanes, they are meant to in the air. Atleast many were able to hear and see her in her element. Goodbye Liberty Belle!!!
Gary Anderson 0
Glad everyone got out Ok, but accidents do, and will happen. They should be flown and enjoyed by as many people as possible. She is in a better place.
j brown 0
Glad the crew and pass were safe. Good job handling the situation by the crew. Hate to see the loss of the plane and all the man hours and money spent onher upkeep. Still safer than vehicles.
John Casebeer 0
This is very sad. The airplane is such an important piece of history and the people who restored and maintained it are heroes and true patriots. I agree they should fly rather than sit around. RIP Liberty Belle.
Fly72cd 0
What a shame, but thankfully only 1 minor injury. My home airport. Talked to my son who hadn't even seen the news, but was driving on Route 71 and saw the black smoke. He thought it was a house or something but looked like it was in a field. He was so surprised to learn it was a B-17.
Chip Hermes 0
It's a shame, but it kind of seems like an unnecessary risk to be operating 75 year old airplanes for the fun of it.
Kira Andreola 0
That's great the crew got out.
Toby Sharp 0
......leave her in the field
chalet 0
Pilot did a hell of a job by realizing first that the field was tough enogh for accepting the touching down of a landing gear, then peform a flawless landing something that you can see in the pictures. Too bad that the engulfing flames burned "Liberty Bell" down but like the proverbial Phoenex creature, another B-17 will be placed in top flying condition by the same organization.
Thomas Gorton 0
This aircraft flew over my home countless times in East Hartford, Connecticut when she was testing engines for Pratt & Whitney. What a glorious sound! A radial symphony. For me, it's sort of like a death in the family. It would be for my father too were he still alive. He was an engineer at Pratt for 33 years. Wonderful that the crew was unharmed after a masterful landing. Those magnificent airplanes were built to fly. Keep 'em in the air!
nitehawk 0
From the Liberty Foundation's chief pilot:

A sad day to lose such a great piece of history, but masterfully handled and with no injuries. Had the fire crew been able to get out to the plane, she almost certainly would have survived to fly again.
papalimabravo 0
Sad news... We loose the most wonderful bird which fed my dreams since I was a kid.
Casey Sargent 0
The plane landed less than a mile from my house. The bird could have taken out my home, me, and the rest of the neighborhood.
ultralighter 0
I wish that the media would not use the work Crash every time an airplane has trouble. This B-17 did NOT crash. The pilots set it down in a field without a scratch on the airframe.
Robert Seery 0
Here, here, Ultralighter!!!!
Carl Staib 0
The Liberty Belle DID NOT CRASH!! You bet I'm shouting. You bet I'm pissed off because passing shit like this on only perpetuates the idiocy of the media who can't interpret what they write. Number 2 was on fire and the pilot, John Hess, declared an emergency and turned back to Aurora Airport but his wingman could see the extent of the fire (flames were licking the horizontal stabilizer) and told him to put it on the ground now! John did a picture-perfect soft-field landing in a cornfield in Oswego, IL but without firefighters to put it out the fire spread with a total loss of the airframe.
Paul Murphy 0
We fly them as long as we can do so safely and responsibly. The men who went to war in them werent hesitant. We shouldnt be either about remembering them.
Joseph Brown 0
I remember one day in 1990 or 91 being at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford. Their B-17 was doing touch and goes. I stood there watching for what seemed like hours, feeling the ground shake from those four radials. So sad to lose a piece of history.
To David Hearrell:
You apparently don't understand the true value of your father. He is certainly priceless.
It is sad to lose any aircraft. The Liberty Belle Has served well over the years. Good-bye to her. Recycle the remains, if possible, so that another of her kind will fly again.
"The pilot managed to set the plane down in a gap between a relay tower about 60 to 70 feet high and a line of trees 25 to 30 feet high -- around 500 yards from his home. "He did a great job," Barry said."

Okay, maybe I missed something here... What aircraft "crashed?"

I'm sorry, but after a week of watching the media behave like, well, I have no polite comparison for how they behaved (other than mainstream media made the National Enquirer look reputable by comparison), I'm a little touchy about headlines and other statements meant to sensationalize, rather than just tell the truth. A better headline would have included the skillful emergency landing (especially since the aircraft did not crash), not the lie that was actually used. Such sensationalism violates journalism ethics, misleads the readers, and becomes a distraction from the actual story.

We lost a big piece of aviation and warbird history, which is tragic enough. If not for the teamwork of all, and the skill and knowledge of the pilots of both aircraft, it might have been far more tragic. John Hess is obviously a skilled pilot who is calm under extreme pressure (as was his crew).

That should be the story.
weatherman04 0
For the record, everyone keeps commenting on usage of the word “crash.” I posted the link to this story shortly after Liberty Belle went down, and the only images were of a burnt out shell which was once a B-17. After more details came out, it is obvious that the plane landed perfectly, then became engulfed in flames. The media should have reworded their story, but they want more “shock value.” It really is a shame, because the headline should read something like: “Hero pilot sets down burning B-17; saves lives.” I’m glad I got to see her in Kansas City at the end of May.
gaffneyp 0
Would you please change the headline here to get rid of the wrong word "crash?" Like many others here, I am upset over the misuse of the word. He did not "crash." The pilot made a perfect emergency LANDING under trying circumstances. The aircraft was consumed in a post-landing fire. The pilot and crew are to be praised for an excellent response to an emergency situation. Whatever else happened, there was NO "crash."
Greg Miley 0
All the comments reafirm what a great country we live in. Our freedom to write here and post comments are based upon what the Liberty Belle accomplished in a very different time. We must protect what she stood for, what her crews of young men did, and keep her memory in our hearts and at local elections.
weatherman04 0
@gaffneyp, I don't think it's possible to edit the headline once it is posted.
Richard Dugger 0
430 bucks may be out of your budget but I doubt it is more than your dad is worth.
Richard Dugger 0
"The plane landed less than a mile from my house. The bird could have taken out my home, me, and the rest of the neighborhood"

But it didn't. Are you suggesting that they shouldn't be flying these things?
If so you had better start worrying about getting hit by a meteor.
Better buy yourself and old Nike base and build an underground home.
But even then if it is big enough that won;t save you.

Guess like the rest of us, you just take your chances everyday.
Tom Kirchner 0
Glad to hear everyone got out alright. Sorry to see her go. At least she didn't rot out in a field somewhere.
Doug Fradel 0
I had the opportunity to see this beautiful bird when she toured here to Ft. Lauderdale.... Was able to watch her taxi, take off and land... RIP, Liberty Belle
She died a military aircraft's death...
Chuck Maples 0
If you want to read the real story this link has it:
Ron Ableman 0
This is terrible, although greatful everyone got out ok.....My Dad was a waist gunner on the "Near Miss", a B17G, based in Sudbury England...Always go out to Addison Airport when one them comes into Dallas area...
tyson rearden 0
I wish this post had the thumbs up and thumbs down feature. Many of you had great posts of the wonderful airplane that was lost to this incident. Those aircraft are just not built to sit on the ground. Flying majestically or just not able to fly. Wonderful job of the crew to bring the aircraft in with all on board unharmed. I totally agree with everyone with comments on the reporting, the News seems to have moved away from real situation wording and only making comments to exasperate the drama for excitement and ratings.
weatherman04 0
@Chuck Maples- Thank you for posting the link!
Brian Bishop 0
Bottom line, quoting Mr Fowler. "Airplanes are replaceable but people are not and while the aircraft’s loss is tragic, it was a successful result."

Pilots are first and foremost responsible for the lives of those aboard their craft. Everyone walked away from this LANDING (not crash) which makes it a very successful LANDING. It is truly unfortunate that we lost a piece of history in the subsequent events, but nowhere near the catastrophe that would have been had they actually CRASHED and burned trying to make it back to the airport. Great job Captain Hess, I'll fly with you anyday.
Brian Bishop 0
@Lloyd Boyette

They are AIRPLANES - not museum exhibits. It's one thing for the Enola Gay, Spirit of St Louis, the Wright Flyer, and other truly historic aircraft to be preserved, but the few real workhorses that are left need to be in the air, out on tour, reminding us and educating our kids in a far more effective way than on the backside of a rope and a "DO NOT TOUCH" sign.
jim helms 0
AN AIRPORT RESCUE AND FIREFIGHTING VEHICLE, aka a fire truck that can't drive on a farm field. Gimme a break. What if the "crashed aircraft" was a full skinny tube 100 seat commuter - old folks, babes in arm, many trying to take their carry-on. a low experience cabin crew and the step-up and over main entry door that wants to flip you onto your head as you depart.

Thanks to the skilled crew that landed, gear down - wheels rolling on the dirt that an AIRPORT RESCUE AND FIRE FIGHTING COULDN'T DRIVE ON!

Andrew Kriner 0
This is a sad day. I flew in her in Tampa recently. It was one of the best and user friendly restorations I have seen. My Dad was in the 390th and I was awe struck by the thought of what he went through in that airplane for 30 missions. As a pilot I was amazed with the ease of handling and how stable the aircraft was. This is a great loss to history and the people that donated their time and money to have kept her flying.
It is like losing a friend.
wx1013b 0
She will be missed greatly. I will miss her photogenic fly overs!!
david jones 0


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