2019 Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress crash

Last updated

B17 wreckage at BDL.jpg
The destroyed B-17 at the crash site
DateOctober 2, 2019 (2019-10-02)
SummaryUnder investigation
Site Bradley International Airport, Windsor Locks, Connecticut, United States
41°55′54″N72°41′32″W / 41.93167°N 72.69222°W / 41.93167; -72.69222 Coordinates: 41°55′54″N72°41′32″W / 41.93167°N 72.69222°W / 41.93167; -72.69222
Aircraft type Boeing B-17G-85-DL Flying Fortress
Aircraft name Nine-O-Nine (marked as)
Operator Collings Foundation
Registration N93012
44-83575 (actual)
42-31909 (marked as)
Flight originBradley International Airport
DestinationBradley International Airport
Ground casualties
Ground injuries1

On October 2, 2019, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress owned by the Collings Foundation crashed at Bradley International Airport, Windsor Locks, Connecticut, United States. Seven of the thirteen people on board were killed, and the other six, as well as one person on the ground, were injured. The aircraft was destroyed by fire, with only the tail and a portion of one wing remaining.

Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress US four engine bomber produced 1936–1945

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is a four-engined heavy bomber developed in the 1930s for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC). Competing against Douglas and Martin for a contract to build 200 bombers, the Boeing entry outperformed both competitors and exceeded the air corps' performance specifications. Although Boeing lost the contract because the prototype crashed, the air corps ordered 13 more B-17s for further evaluation. From its introduction in 1938, the B-17 Flying Fortress evolved through numerous design advances, becoming the third-most produced bomber of all time, behind the four-engined B-24 and the multirole, twin-engined Ju 88.

Collings Foundation Aviation Museum, Auto Museum in Massachusetts, United States

The Collings Foundation is a private non-profit educational foundation located in Stow, Massachusetts, founded in 1979 by Robert F. Collings and Caroline Collings with a mission dedicated to the preservation and public display of transportation-related history, namely automobile and aviation history. The Collings Foundation is headquartered at a small private airfield in Stow that includes a small museum that opens for special events and pre-scheduled tour groups. On July 4, 2013, Military Vehicle Technology Foundation founded by Jacques Littlefield, donated their entire collection of military vehicles to the Collings Foundation. The vehicles are now the centerpiece of the new American Heritage Museum, located at the Collings campus in Stow.

Bradley International Airport Airport near Hartford, Connecticut, USA

Bradley International Airport is a civil/military airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Owned and operated by the Connecticut Airport Authority, it is the second-largest airport in New England.



The aircraft involved, painted as Nine-O-Nine B-17-231503-bassingborne.jpg
The aircraft involved, painted as Nine-O-Nine
Collings Foundation's Nine-O-Nine, in Marana, Arizona, on April 15, 2011 2011 031 a zoom.jpg
Collings Foundation's Nine-O-Nine, in Marana, Arizona, on April 15, 2011
NTSB investigators at the crash site on October 3 B-17 gretz (48838452072).jpg
NTSB investigators at the crash site on October 3

The aircraft was a 74-year-oldBoeing B-17 Flying Fortress, military serial number 44-83575 (variant B-17G-85-DL) with civilian registration N93012. [1] The aircraft was painted to represent a different B-17G, [2] the 91st Bomb Group's Nine-O-Nine , with military serial number 42-31909 (variant B-17G-30-BO), which had been scrapped shortly after World War II at Kingman, Arizona. [3] During its original military career, the aircraft operated as an Air-Sea Rescue aircraft until 1952, when it was reassigned to the Air Force Special Weapons Command for use as a specimen in weapons-effects testing. In this role, it was subjected to three nuclear explosions as part of Operation Tumbler–Snapper. The aircraft was purchased as scrap in 1965 for a price of US$269(equivalent to $2,139 in 2018); being in relatively good condition, it was restored to airworthy condition for use as a water bomber over the course of ten years, entering civilian service in 1977. [4]

Aircraft registration Registration and identification assigned to an individual aircraft by national aviation authorities

An aircraft registration is a code unique to a single aircraft, required by international convention to be marked on the exterior of every civil aircraft. The registration indicates the aircraft's country of registration, and functions much like an automobile license plate. This code must also appear in its Certificate of Registration, issued by the relevant National Aviation Authority (NAA). An aircraft can only have one registration, in one jurisdiction, though it is changeable over the life of the aircraft.


Nine-O-Nine was a Boeing B-17G-30-BO Flying Fortress heavy bomber, of the 323rd Bomb Squadron, 91st Bomb Group, that completed 140 combat missions during World War II, believed to be the Eighth Air Force record for most missions, without loss to the crews that flew it. A different B-17G, painted as a representation of the original Nine-O-Nine, crashed at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, on October 2, 2019.

World War II 1939–1945, between Axis and Allies

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from more than 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 70 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Following its operator's liquidation in 1985, [4] the aircraft was acquired by the Collings Foundation in January 1986, [2] restored to its 1945 configuration, and N93012 was flying as Nine-O-Nine by August 1986. [5] While operated by the Collings Foundation, it was involved in two prior accidents: on August 23, 1987, it overran the runway on landing at Beaver County Airport near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, [2] [6] and on July 9, 1995, it was damaged on landing at Karl Stefan Memorial Airport in Norfolk, Nebraska, as the result of an undercarriage (landing gear) malfunction. [7] [8]

Beaver County Airport airport in Pennsylvania, United States of America

Beaver County Airport or is a county-owned public airport three miles northwest of Beaver Falls, in Beaver County, Pennsylvania.

Norfolk, Nebraska City in Nebraska, United States

Norfolk is a city in Madison County, Nebraska, United States, 113 miles northwest of Omaha and 83 miles west of Sioux City at the intersection of U.S. Routes 81 and 275. The population was 24,210 at the 2010 census, making it the ninth-largest city in Nebraska. It is the principal city of the Norfolk Micropolitan Statistical Area.

The October 2019 crash and resulting fire destroyed most of the aircraft. Only the left wing and part of the tail remained. [9] [10]


The "living history" flight was delayed 40 minutes because of difficulty starting one of the four engines. The pilot shut down the other three engines and used a spray can to "blow out the moisture" in the engine that balked. [11] [12] The aircraft took off from Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, at 09:48 local time (13:48 UTC). [7] [13] It carried three crew and ten passengers. [14] A witness reported that an engine was sputtering and smoking. [15] At 09:50, two minutes after takeoff, the pilot radioed that there was a problem with engine number 4. [9] The control tower diverted other traffic for an emergency landing.

Windsor Locks, Connecticut Town in Connecticut, United States

Windsor Locks is a town in Hartford County, Connecticut, United States. As of the 2010 census, its population was 12,498. It is the site of Bradley International Airport, which serves the Greater Hartford-Springfield region and occupies approximately 1/3 of the town. Windsor Locks is also the site of the New England Air Museum.

UTC−04:00 Identifier for a time offset from UTC of −4

UTC−04:00 is an identifier for a time offset from UTC of −04:00. It is observed in the Eastern Time Zone during the warm months of daylight saving time, as Eastern Daylight Time. The Atlantic Time Zone observes it during standard time . It is observed all year in the Eastern Caribbean.

Coordinated Universal Time Primary time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time

Coordinated Universal Time is the primary time standard by which the world regulates clocks and time. It is within about 1 second of mean solar time at 0° longitude, and is not adjusted for daylight saving time. In some countries where English is spoken, the term Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) is often used as a synonym for UTC and predates UTC by nearly 300 years.

The aircraft came in low, touched down 1,000 feet (300 m) short of the runway, [11] clipped the instrument landing system (ILS) antenna array, veered to the right off the runway across a grassy area and taxiway, then crashed into a de-icing facility at 09:54; [16] [9] the aircraft then burst into flames. [15]

Instrument landing system ground-based system that simplifies the pilot to land the aircraft

An instrument landing system (ILS) enables a pilot to land an airplane by instrument approach when the pilot cannot see the runway. It is defined by the International Telecommunication Union as a service provided by a station as follows:

A radionavigation system which provides aircraft with horizontal and vertical guidance just before and during landing and, at certain fixed points, indicates the distance to the reference point of landing.

Taxiway path for aircraft at an aerodrome connecting runways with aprons, hangars, terminals and other facilities

A taxiway is a path for aircraft at an airport connecting runways with aprons, hangars, terminals and other facilities. They mostly have a hard surface such as asphalt or concrete, although smaller general aviation airports sometimes use gravel or grass.

De-icing process of removing snow, ice or frost from a surface

De-icing is the process of removing snow, ice or frost from a surface. Anti-icing is understood to be the application of chemicals that not only de-ice but also remain on a surface and continue to delay the reformation of ice for a certain period of time, or prevent adhesion of ice to make mechanical removal easier.

Seven occupants were killed, and the remaining six were injured severely enough to be taken to the hospital, including one who was airlifted. [7] [16] Among the dead were the pilot and co-pilot, aged 75 and 71 respectively. [17] One person on the ground was injured (see below). [18] The airport was closed for 3½ hours after the crash. [15]


One of the passengers on the aircraft, a Connecticut Air National Guardsman, managed to open an escape hatch after the crash, despite having a broken arm and collarbone. An airport employee, who had been working in the building into which the aircraft had crashed, ran to the wreckage to help pull injured passengers from the burning aircraft. The employee suffered severe burns on his hands and arms and was taken by ambulance to the hospital. [19]


The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) opened an investigation into the accident. [15] A "go team" was dispatched to Bradley International Airport, headed by Jennifer Homendy. [20] The NTSB removed some wreckage to their laboratory for further analysis, completing operations at the scene by October 8. [21]

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  1. Leone, Dario (October 2, 2019). "Collings Foundation B-17 Flying Fortress Crashes". theaviationgeekclub.com. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  2. 1 2 3 "History of the B-17 Nine O Nine". Collings Foundation . Archived from the original on August 9, 2014.
  3. Havelaar, Marion H. (1995) The Ragged Irregulars of Bassingbourn: The 91st Bombardment Group in World War II. Schiffer Military History. ISBN   0-88740-810-9 p.185
  4. 1 2 Thompson, Scott A. (2000) Final Cut: The Post-War B-17 Flying Fortress: The Survivors. Pictorial Histories Publishing Company. ISBN   1-57510-077-0 pp.116-120
  5. Henrichs, Mary (August 11, 1986). "Sight of vintage bomber startles ex-crew member". The Vidette-Messenger . Valparaiso, Indiana. p. 9. Retrieved October 4, 2019 via newspapers.com.
  6. Danhauer, Clifford (January 11, 1989). "National Transportation Safety Board Aviation Accident Data Summary, Accident Number: NYC87LA238". National Transportation Safety Board . Retrieved October 3, 2019 via ntsb.gov.
  7. 1 2 3 Bonner, Michael; Simison, Cynthia G. (October 2, 2019). "The vintage B-17 bomber that crashed at Bradley International Airport had crash landed before". masslive.com. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  8. "Nine-O-Nine's Replica Survives Emergency" (PDF). The Ragged Irregular. Vol. 28 no. 4. October 1995. pp. 1–2 via 91stbombgroup.com.
  9. 1 2 3 Owens, David; et al. (October 2, 2019). "7 dead, 7 injured in crash of World War II bomber at Connecticut's Bradley International Airport". Hartford Courant . Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  10. Ranter, Harro. "ASN Aircraft accident Boeing B-17G-30-BO Flying Fortress N93012 Windsor Locks-Bradley International Airport, CT (BDL)". aviation-safety.net. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  11. 1 2 "NTSB investigating whether B-17 that crashed at Bradley International Airport Wednesday had engine trouble prior to takeoff". Hartford Courant . Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  12. "State police release names of victims, survivors of B-17 plane crash at Bradley International Airport". Hartford Courant. Retrieved October 4, 2019.
  13. "N93012 Flight Path". Flight Aware. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  14. "B-17 plane crashes at Bradley Airport Outside Hartford, Killing at Least 5". The New York Times. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  15. 1 2 3 4 "World War II-era bomber trying to land crashes in fireball; 5 deaths confirmed". WDBJ7. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  16. 1 2 "'Several dead' in Connecticut vintage B-17 WWII bomber crash". BBC News Online. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  17. Tziperman Lotan, Gal; Sweeney, Emily; Ellement, John R. (October 3, 2019). "Two Mass. men among 7 people killed in B-17 crash in Conn" . The Boston Globe . Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  18. Geneous, Jacob (October 2, 2019). "At least five dead after World War II-era plane crashes into airport". Metro. Retrieved October 2, 2019.
  19. "'A very courageous individual.' Airport employee pulled injured passengers off burning plane, police sources say". Hartford Courant. Retrieved October 3, 2019.
  20. National Transportation Safety Board [@NTSB_Newsroom] (October 2, 2019). "NTSB Go Team launching to investigate Wednesday's crash of a B17 at Bradley International Airport, Connecticut. Team led by Board Member Jennifer Homendy" (Tweet) via Twitter.
  21. https://abc7ny.com/ntsb-finishes-on-scene-investigation-into-crash-of-wwii-plane-in-ct/5601050/

Further reading