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B-17 Bomber “Liberty Belle” Crashes Near Chicago

b-17 bomber liberty belle crash chicago

A vintage World War II B-17 bomber, dubbed the “Liberty Belle,” crashed and burned this morning in a cornfield outside Chicago.

The Boeing aircraft, commonly referred to as a “Flying Fortress,” took off from the Aurora Municipal Airport around 9:30 AM and was forced to make an emergency landing after the pilot reported an engine fire.

According to the Chicago Tribune, one witness saw the pilot 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.

“He did a great job,” said Jim Barry, a local who was sitting in his home when he heard the B-17 flying low overhead.

Once the bomber touched down, flames started shooting as high as 50 feet in the air and engulfed the aircraft.

Don Brooks, founder of the Liberty Foundation, the organization that spearheaded the plane’s restoration in 2004, said the seven people on board- comprised of crew members and volunteers who help with the foundation’s tours around the country- all were fortunate enough to walk away without serious injury.

“It’s a sad day but a good one in that no one was hurt. An airplane can be replaced.”

Below is footage of emergency crews working to extinguish the flames on the Liberty Belle.

via Chicago Tribune

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Comments

19 Responses to “B-17 Bomber “Liberty Belle” Crashes Near Chicago”

  1. James McWhorter

    I have seen aircraft pulled up out of the ocean looking far worse than this, and within 5 to 10 years of patience restoration work, they look just like they were when they rolled off of the assembly line.

  2. Joe Dnhman

    Plane is burnt to a crisp there is no way to restore that!, Perhaps some parts could be rescued for use elsewhere,

  3. Todd Spink

    Yes it's a sad day – NO, the airplane CAN'T be replaced! Far worse than this? Half the airplane is GONE! Glad no one got hurt. If anyone can tell me who rebuilt the engines, I'd like to know – mouchot@yahoo.com.

  4. Joe Dnhman

    The B17 was one of my favorite ww2 planes, Sad to lose one more, there are so few that are operational.

  5. David Brummitt

    Unfortunately the heat generated by the fire will have caused metal to expand and twist, aircraft, something that doesn't occur as much on one pulled from the ocean, as such the air frame is in a better condition to start from.

  6. Ronald W. Streicher

    I am really sad about this mishap. I watched for years when Mr Riley and crew rebuilt this gracious aircraft. I especially am sorry for Mr. Brooks, for he is the owner. I am also very happy that nobody was hurt it this accident. This is another LOSS to the Warbird community.

  7. Anonymous

    I took a tour of this plane in Hayward Ca in April greart plane they have a p40 Flying Tiger Also.

  8. Jared Howe

    My father was on a B-17 F called "Susie Sag Tits", and another called "Quarterback", in the 388th Bomb Group at Knettishall, England. He was a tailgunner that flew 25 missions. He was in England from September of 1943 to March of 1944. I am an Air Force Vietnam Veteran who loves aviation and aircraft. I retired from British Airways and have traveled the country to airshows and have see this B-17, (Block J tail) fly many times. My dad was in the 562nd Squadron Block H tail. Too bad about this crash. I am sad. A part of American History gone.

  9. David Abramo

    Seeing that Fort onthe cornfield burning serves as a reminder of the previous 7000+ forts lost during WWII. IMO the greatest bomber of all.