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Author Topic: B-17 Forced Landing, Aurora Tower  (Read 30751 times)
derekjackson
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« on: June 13, 2011, 01:28:44 PM »

Recording from Aurora Tower, 1430Z (edited) - fire on board B-17 Flying Fortress "Liberty Belle", registry N390TH, as previously reported in the Listeners Forum. Thankfully, all on board have survived!
« Last Edit: June 15, 2011, 08:59:04 AM by derekjackson » Logged
VampyreGTX
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« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2011, 01:45:08 PM »

You beat me to the edit! Scary when you hear the P-40 they were in formation with yelling to the B-17, 'You're on fire!', over and over and then 'put her on the ground!'  Seeing the pictures, you can see extensive fire damage to the elevator/tail area behind the right engines showing how significant the engine fire was. The tail damage is far enough away from the main body of the post-crash fire that it's clear it was from the engine fire. Sad day for heritage aircraft. Such a beautiful aircraft. Thankfully, only 1 minor injury it sounds like.

A local paper did report that the Liberty Belle did have engine problems on 6/6 shortly after arrival that caused flights that day to be canceled. Wonder if it was the same engine(s) involved?
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NTHRIWZ
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« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2011, 02:03:32 PM »

This is the piece of history we all lost today.  The Liberty Belle was a gorgeous aircraft and I had unfettered access to it for 2 days to shoot this VR tour.  Make sure you look at all 9 panoramas.  http://lookinanydirection.com/panoramas/liberty_belle

RIP Liberty Belle
« Last Edit: June 13, 2011, 02:11:12 PM by NTHRIWZ » Logged
derekjackson
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« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2011, 02:37:06 PM »

You beat me to the edit! Scary when you hear the P-40 they were in formation with yelling to the B-17, 'You're on fire!', over and over and then 'put her on the ground!'  Seeing the pictures, you can see extensive fire damage to the elevator/tail area behind the right engines showing how significant the engine fire was. The tail damage is far enough away from the main body of the post-crash fire that it's clear it was from the engine fire. Sad day for heritage aircraft. Such a beautiful aircraft. Thankfully, only 1 minor injury it sounds like.

A local paper did report that the Liberty Belle did have engine problems on 6/6 shortly after arrival that caused flights that day to be canceled. Wonder if it was the same engine(s) involved?

Sorry about beating you to the edit ! I didn't realize that a P40 was in formation with the B-17, makes sense now why they would be in a position to report the fire. I wonder if the B-17 even heard them because the P-40 was using the tower frequency but it seemed earlier on that the B-17 had switched frequencies.

And NTHRIWZ, excellent work on the panorama!
« Last Edit: June 13, 2011, 02:40:43 PM by derekjackson » Logged
VampyreGTX
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« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2011, 02:37:32 PM »

Check out this picture! As fire crews arrived on the scene. Shows the pilot made a PERFECT off airport emergency landing in the field. The left inboard engine appears to be the one that had an issue as you can see the pilot had feathered it. So sad...

http://dailyherald.com/article/20110613/news/706139928/photos/
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VampyreGTX
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« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2011, 02:39:50 PM »

Sorry about beating you to the edit ! I didn't realize that a P40 was in formation with the B-17, makes sense now why they would be in a position to report the fire. I wonder if the B-17 even heard them because the P-40 was using the tower frequency but it seemed earlier on that the B-17 had switched frequencies.

No worries! Was working and editing at the same time. I figured it was 'in formation' as when they clear Liberty Belle for takeoff, they use the callsign 'N390TH FLIGHT' indicating a formation takeoff and flight.
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VampyreGTX
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« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2011, 04:17:48 PM »

Correcting myself, looks like it wasn't the P-40 escorting the Liberty Belle, but a plane from the local Lima Lima aerobatic team per local news reports.
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NTHRIWZ
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« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2011, 05:06:49 PM »

He did a great soft-field landing and stopped before the tree line but without immediate firefighter support, because it was an off-field landing, the Liberty Belle was doomed by the time the firefighters arrived

Thanks derekjackson.  Did you look at all 9 of the panoramas in the tour?  Without a doubt I'm the only person to shoot a panorama in a Sperry ball turret.  That panorama gives you an inkling of what it was like for ball turret gunners laying on their back, sans parachute because there wasn't enough room to see over it if it was clipped on to the harness, looking between their legs at fighters coming up to shoot them down.  Although it doesn't seem possible the research I did after that shoot says that the ball turret gunner was in the safest position from attacking fighters in the aircraft.  Of course if there was a hydraulic failure and they couldn't get the gear down and couldn't rotate the ball turret he wouldn't survive the landing, so it wasn't all roses.

The tail gunner's area was so narrow that my shoulders brushed up against the sides of the tail section when I sat in that seat.  And there was nothing between the tail gunner and attacking fighters, or flak, but a thin piece of aluminum.  Certainly not a confidence builder.

The bombardier and navigator's positions in the nose were access through a relatively tight tunnel/crawl space that I'm sure would've been impossible to get through if the plane were out of control on the way down.  There is a hatch just behind the front bulkhead but it's right beside #2.  It would've been better than nothing but dicey at best if the engine weren't feathered.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2011, 05:29:40 PM by NTHRIWZ » Logged
derekjackson
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« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2011, 05:41:32 PM »

Yup, I saw all of them. I'm not sure about the ball turret being the safest place either, as I think of the movie "Memphis Belle". No room for a parachute but they did have a "safety strap" and I'm not sure on how effective it was.

I saw a post on airliners.net about this incident where someone wrote: "The Old Girl still has it! Rugged character brings yet another crew back safely." I thought that was very appropriate.
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SoloSP
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« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2011, 06:56:50 PM »

 Although it doesn't seem possible the research I did after that shoot says that the ball turret gunner was in the safest position from attacking fighters in the aircraft.

This is true for two reasons.

First, he is pretty much surrounded by armor plate (the armor behind him was a counterweight for the guns, and they had to use a lot of steel to hold armor and guns together while being rotated and tumbled around ).  Something like one-tenth of the steel in the whole plane was in the ball turret, its support and operating mechanism.

Second, the only direction to hit the turret directly was from the sides or coming up underneath, due to the ballistic path of projectiles.  By the time anything from front, rear or top hit him, it had gone through other parts of the plane and lost some of its energy, making it less likely to go through the steel
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SoloSP
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« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2011, 07:05:48 PM »

As a pilot, I'm seriously annoyed at the tower operator.  Don't these people know ANYTHING?

There is an EMERGENCY UNDER WAY, one pilot talking to another, and she keeps interrupting, not only with her question but also handling other planes which can WAIT.

When the pilot has a chance, he will let ATC know what's going on, but until then ATC SHOULD STAY OFF THE AIR and let the pilots sort it out.  The radio on the ground is more powerful and has a much better antenna, and every time she spouts off that radio drowns out the IMPORTANT traffic.  There is nothing that she needs to know that she won't hear if she listens.

If I ever have a problem like this, all I want to hear from ATC is "There is an emergency, all aircraft hold short and stay off the radio!"
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montanagal
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« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2011, 07:55:33 PM »


  This makes me sick to my stomach to know that we lost this beautiful plane.
Am I not mistaken that this plane actually saw combat during WWII?

   So damn sad.
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derekjackson
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« Reply #12 on: June 13, 2011, 08:01:33 PM »


  This makes me sick to my stomach to know that we lost this beautiful plane.
Am I not mistaken that this plane actually saw combat during WWII?

   So damn sad.

According to wikipedia (which can be wrong) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_Belle_%28B-17_Flying_Fortress%29

this plane never saw combat as it was built too late but was named after an actual Liberty Belle that was lost in 1943.
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joeyb747
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« Reply #13 on: June 13, 2011, 08:39:54 PM »

 cry cry cry cry...at least no one was seriously hurt...
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CorsairFas217
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« Reply #14 on: June 13, 2011, 09:07:30 PM »

My heart sank when I saw the raw stream on ABC today, now hearing the FIRE! FIRE! Put Her Down! ...  I guess It's a miracle the crew walked away. Who ever was at the controls is a hero for getting on the ground with no loss of life.  My heart goes out to Don and his crew. Liberty Bell was beautiful. She visited Stratford Connecticut at Sikorsky Memorial last year and my crew has a blast going through her and even a few of them took a ride. Tragic loss to the warbird community.  sad  This is the exact reason our Corsair will be relegated to the hanger as a static aircraft.  

Andrew King
Director of the
Sikorsky Memorial FG1-D Corsair Restoration
www.sikorskymemorialcorsair.org
« Last Edit: June 14, 2011, 12:52:57 AM by CorsairFas217 » Logged
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