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Author Topic: B-17 Forced Landing, Aurora Tower  (Read 31292 times)
Hollis
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« Reply #15 on: June 13, 2011, 09:51:30 PM »

Ironically, the original Liberty Belle, tail # 42-30096, had an accidental on-board fire and was destroyed in the resultant crash.
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VampyreGTX
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« Reply #16 on: June 13, 2011, 10:23:09 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.


Actually, I feel she handled the incident appropriately. Liberty Belle was no longer on tower frequency, however, the Lima Lima pilot still was (even though 'Flight' was given frequency change approved.) That's why they kept repeating 'You're on fire' over and over with no acknowledgement from Liberty Belle.

The ATC controller was trying to figure out who was on fire so she could get emergency equipment rolling to the airport or off-field as soon as possible. She knew the B-17 wasn't on the frequency and with the calls to 'put her on the ground', she knew someone was making an off airport emergency landing and was trying to ascertain who and where.

As the incident was happening off airport, it was ATC's responsibility to keep the airport operating and concurrently notify emergency services of an issue off airport.  That's just my opinion though.
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jtramo
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« Reply #17 on: June 13, 2011, 11:13:44 PM »

Hard to monday morning qb but less is more from atc in this situation. (She wasnt too bad though) "Clear of class d frequency change approved" isnt the same as "over to departure" which guarantees they are off frequency.  I'll bet they were both on and the 17 heard very loud and clear but was super super busy trying to run fire procedures. Good job on the t6 for talking them down even without reply. Great job on the 17 crew for getting it down safely ASAP.
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NTHRIWZ
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« Reply #18 on: June 13, 2011, 11:51:54 PM »

derekjackson — Great.  I wasn't trying to be pushy but amazingly some people are totally blind to the big honking yellow "more panoramas" flag (I still can't figure that out) and don't get past the first one.  This is the best record we have of the Liberty Belle and I wanted to make sure everyone here saw it because they'll appreciate it more than normal people who just aren't nuts about planes.

SoloSP — I know about the armor plating but when you stick your head inside of a 3' sphere to set up a camera you see how very, very small it is and the small windows on the sides weren't hardened like the porthole he sighted through between his feet was so the engineers may tell you it's safe but your brain says otherwise.  Of course it was a LOT safer then the tail or waist gunners' positions because they had bupkis between them and the enemy.

I spoke with a flight engineer/top turret gunner some time back and he also said the BT was the safest position.  He did say that one of the BT gunners he flew with was so small he was able to take his chute with him if he clipped it on one side and pushed it off to that side so he could see what he was doing.

The thing that really amazed me was when I asked where they stowed their chutes and he said they just tossed them wherever vs. having them stowed so you'd KNOW where it was if you needed it and the plane was out of control.  He was very cavalier about it.  As a skydiver with thousands of jumps and 37 reserve rides, I can't imagine me ever doing that.  Ever.

derekjackson — My interview with the ground crew when I shot this confirms Wikipedia's article that this Liberty Belle never saw combat (that article parrots the LB site on that detail).
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Flyingnut
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« Reply #19 on: June 14, 2011, 07:30:39 AM »

Some video footage I saw showed a yellow AT-6 with the B-17.  That would not be a Lima Lima aircraft because they fly T-34s.
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Marty
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« Reply #20 on: June 14, 2011, 08:47:28 AM »

Now, only 12 remain in the US. Looks like a fuel leakage issue.

"Mike Baker, of Montgomery, was at the Aurora airport on Saturday and says the plane was grounded because of a fuel leak in the same engine that burned Monday. “One of the guys who travels with the plane said it was leaking gasoline, and you could smell it was gasoline,” Baker said."
http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/06/13/small-plane-crashes-in-oswego/

In flight image showing small fire, well behind engine nacelle:
http://www.dailyherald.com/article/20110613/news/706139915/photos/EP13/

Immediate after landing image:
http://www.chicagotribune.com/media/photo/2011-06/62341960.jpg

I know there's a lot to go wrong with a 65 year old machine that is used as designed. I am amazed though, that as with KeeBird, there apparently there weren't a few big ABC extinguishers stowed inside. Not the little one-hand ones but the big industrial ones. While something like this, with apparent fuel leaking inside the wing, is not the same as that B-29, still, it may have bought a few minutes.

Let's hope the other Warbird owners inspect their fuel lines this week. Ground 'em if you have to, but do it - and make sure you have enough big, new extinguishers aboard.

MRK
« Last Edit: June 14, 2011, 09:01:19 AM by emarkay » Logged
mh53eflyguy
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« Reply #21 on: June 14, 2011, 01:55:00 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!"

I had to interject.  Believe it or not, ATC has to ask those questions.  Usually it "SOB, Fuel State, state intentions, and location".  To some degree, that is what she was doing.  All that being said, it still goes back to Aviate, Navigate, Communicate.  No one declared an emergency (on the audio) and there was no reason to cease other operations with tower.  Besides all of this, If you are unable to answer them, it is the pilot's responsibility to stay "STAND BY". 
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joeyb747
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« Reply #22 on: June 14, 2011, 05:46:45 PM »

Vid of post-crash fire:

http://xfinity.comcast.net/video/crew-survives-crash-of-bomber/1999570948/Comcast/2001111329/
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« Reply #23 on: June 14, 2011, 07:48:33 PM »

Some video footage I saw showed a yellow AT-6 with the B-17.  That would not be a Lima Lima aircraft because they fly T-34s.

Correct, seeing the video it's not Lima Lima. Once again the news just ran with that as I guess one of the residents identified it as such. I've correct my story as well to indicate it was a T6 and not a Lima Lima aircraft.
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tpj
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« Reply #24 on: June 14, 2011, 09:42:58 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!"

I had to interject.  Believe it or not, ATC has to ask those questions.  Usually it "SOB, Fuel State, state intentions, and location".  To some degree, that is what she was doing.  All that being said, it still goes back to Aviate, Navigate, Communicate.  No one declared an emergency (on the audio) and there was no reason to cease other operations with tower.  Besides all of this, If you are unable to answer them, it is the pilot's responsibility to stay "STAND BY". 

I agree with SoloSP, I'm a professional pilot (> 12,000 hrs) as well and I agree that the lady ATC controller should have stayed off the radio after the second call with no response.   I don't care that it's her job to get that information.  From the tone, volume, inflection and the words used it is extremely OBVIOUS that she should have known a MAJOR incident was occurring.  Her blocking of the radios and stepping over and or causing the other pilots to step on the radio transmissions did NOT help matters at all.  After two calls from her, she should have caught a clue that there were much more pressing matters to attend to than anybody responding to her. 

All pilots, and ATC personnel should know if someone doesn't answer your radio calls, either they can't hear you or they are fighting and struggling to deal with an IFE.  Anybody with common sense would know that those two pilots had their hands full and the last thing they want to do is waste precious seconds on answering a needless call from ATC.  She was not controlling LAX or ORD.  She could have said for everyone to hold their positions and keep the frequency clear for 30 secs to a minute to let the other planes deal with their crisis.   

She needs to go back to remedial ATC training.  It's people like her that cause accidents at small controlled airfields.  It really upsets me when I see examples like this where ATC is contributing to the problem rather than helping. 
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Pchan
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« Reply #25 on: June 14, 2011, 11:54:39 PM »

There is now a full statement on their website:

Quote
Statement from Liberty Foundation Chief Pilot:

June 14, 2011 - First, let me start off by sincerely thanking everyone for the outpouring of support that we are receiving. I am sorry that I have not yet had the opportunity to return the many phone calls, text or e-mails that I am receiving offering to help. Again, thank you for all of the kind words that we are receiving and for incredible offers to help emotionally, financially and/or with the recovery process. I hope this statement will help fill in a few details that everyone is wondering about that led to the loss of our “Liberty Belle”.

Yesterday (June 13, 2011) morning, both our P-40 and B-17 were scheduled to fly from Aurora, Illinois to Indianapolis, Indiana. We were in Aurora for the weekend as a part of our scheduled tour. Over the course of the previous week, we completed a scheduled 25-hour inspection on the B-17 which was completed by Saturday. On Saturday, the weather stayed below the required ceiling to give any passenger flights, however the B-17 flew in the morning on a routine training proficiency flight, performing several patterns. Following the flight, other maintenance issues arose that required us to cancel our Sunday flying schedule for repairs. The maintenance performed has not been, in any way, associated to the chain of events that led to Monday’s fateful flight, but is being considered in the preliminary investigation. However, due to the media’s sensational (mis)reporting, there is a large amount of misinformation that continues to lead the news.

Here is what we do know… Flying in the left seat of the B-17 was Capt. John Hess. John has been flying our Liberty Belle since 2005 and one of our most experienced B-17 pilots. He is an active Delta Air Lines Captain with over 14,000 hours of flying experience and flys a variety of vintage WWII aircraft. In the right seat was Bud Sittic. While Bud is new to the Liberty Foundation this year, he is also incredibly experienced with over 14,000 hours of flying time in vintage and hi-performance aircraft. He is a retired Captain with Delta Air Lines.

The news misidentified the P-40 as flying chase during the accident. I was flying our P-40, however I had departed 20 minutes prior to the B-17’s takeoff on the short flight to Indianapolis to setup for the B-17’s arrival. The aircraft flying chase was a T-6 Texan flown by owner Cullen Underwood. Cullen is one of our rated B-17 Captains and an experienced aviator tagging along as a support ship.

The takeoff of both aircraft was uneventful and proceeded on-course southeast. Prior to exiting Aurora’s airport traffic area, the B-17 crew and passengers began investigating an acrid smell and started a turn back to the airport. Almost immediately thereafter, Cullen spotted flames coming from the left wing and reported over the radio that they were on fire.

As all pilots know, there are few emergency situations that are more critical than having an in-flight fire. While an in-flight fire is extremely rare, it can (and sometimes does) indiscriminately affect aircraft of any age or type. In-flight fires have led to the loss of not only aircraft, but often can result in catastrophic loss of life. It requires an immediate action on the flight crew, as the integrity of aircraft structure, systems and critical components are in question.

Directly below the B-17 was a farmer’s field and the decision was made to land immediately. Approximately 1 minute and 40 seconds from the radio report of the fire, the B-17 was down safely on the field. Within that 1:40 time frame, the crew shutdown and feathered the number 2 engine, activated the engine’s fire suppression system, lowered the landing gear and performed an on-speed landing. Bringing the B-17 to a quick stop, the crew and passengers quickly and safely exited the aircraft. Overhead in the T-6, Cullen professionally coordinated and directed the firefighting equipment which was dispatched by Aurora Tower to the landing location.

Unlike the sensational photos that you have all seen of the completely burned B-17 on the news, you will see from photos taken by our crew that our Liberty Belle was undamaged by the forced landing and at the time of landing, the wing fire damage was relatively small. The crew actually unloaded bags, then had the horrible task of watching the aircraft slowly burn while waiting for the fire trucks to arrive. There were high hopes that the fire would be extinguished quickly and the damage would be repairable. Those hopes were diminished as the fire trucks deemed the field too soft to cross due to the area’s recent rainfall. So while standing by our burning B-17 and watching the fire trucks parked at the field’s edge, they sadly watched the wing fire spread to the aircraft’s fuel cells and of course, you all have seen the end result. There is no doubt that had the fire equipment been able to reach our aircraft, the fire would have been quickly extinguished and our Liberty Belle would have been repaired to continue her worthwhile mission.

Let me go on the record by thanking the flight crew for their professionalism. Their actions were nothing short of heroic and their quick thinking, actions and experience led to a “successful” outcome to this serious in-flight emergency. John and Bud (and Cullen) did a remarkable job under extreme circumstances and performed spectacularly. While the leading news stories have repeatedly reported the “crash” of our B-17, fact is they made a successful forced landing and the aircraft was ultimately consumed by fire. Airplanes are replaceable but people are not and while the aircraft’s loss is tragic, it was a successful result.

This leads me into discussing the exceptional safety record of the Boeing B-17 and to hopefully squash the naysayers who preach we should not be flying these types of aircraft. Since we first flew the “Liberty Belle” in December of 2004, we have flown over 20,000 passengers throughout the country and if you count our historic trip to Europe in 2008, worldwide. Of the other touring B-17s, some of which that have been touring for over 20 years, they have safely flown hundreds of thousands of people. The aircraft’s safety record is spectacular and I am certain the overall cause of our issue, which is under investigation, will not tarnish that safety record. In fact, as many of you know, other B-17 have suffered significant damage (although not as bad as ours!), only to be re-built to fly again. From a passenger carrying standpoint, I can think of few aircraft that offer the same level of safety as the 4-engine “Flying Fortress”. As mentioned earlier, in-flight fires are extremely rare and certainly could affect any powered aircraft under certain circumstances. I would put my children today in any of the other touring B-17s to go fly. I suggest to anyone that was thinking of doing so when a B-17 visits your area to do so without giving our loss any thought.

There is wild speculation going on as to the cause of our fire and the affect to other operators. Please let the investigation run its course and report the findings. The NTSB and FAA were quickly on the scene and we are working closely with them to aid in the investigation. As soon as we receive some additional information, we will release it via the website.

The ultimate question remains, where does the Liberty Foundation go from here? After the investigation and recovery, we will determine our options. We are still committed to the restoration and flying of World War II aircraft. Again, we appreciate the support and people offering to help get us back flying.

Please check back for updates. I will close by thanking everyone that made our tour so successful. From the first day of the B-17’s restoration, thank you for all of you who labored to get her flying over the initial restoration years and to everyone that has worked on her out on tour since. Thank you to the crewmembers, tour coordinators and volunteers who gave up weekends and countless hours to support her on the road. And finally, thank you to the passengers, donors and media patrons that flew aboard and everyone who supported our cause. Hopefully, this will not be the end of the story, but a new beginning.

Regards,
Ray Fowler
The Liberty Foundation, Chief Pilot
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pvt/ATC
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« Reply #26 on: June 15, 2011, 12:41:54 AM »

So are you suggesting that it would've been better to not have had emergency response? As a Private Pilot and  Air Traffic Controller with (>30,000 hrs), I believe this Controller responded appropriately. It a Controller's job to dispatch emergency equipment and personell ASAP. There were obviously other aircraft on the frequency and to suggest that she stay off the radio for 30 seconds to a minute could've resulted in another accident. This emergency did not occur in controlled airspace, but was broadcast on a controlled frequency. Aircraft in-flight cannot hold their positions and they certainly will NOT stop communicating. I absolutely agree to fly the plane first, then communicate. The reason there was emergency response was because of her persistance. This was not a "needless call", but a very necessary one.
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tpj
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« Reply #27 on: June 15, 2011, 04:21:07 AM »

So are you suggesting that it would've been better to not have had emergency response? As a Private Pilot and  Air Traffic Controller with (>30,000 hrs), I believe this Controller responded appropriately. It a Controller's job to dispatch emergency equipment and personell ASAP. There were obviously other aircraft on the frequency and to suggest that she stay off the radio for 30 seconds to a minute could've resulted in another accident. This emergency did not occur in controlled airspace, but was broadcast on a controlled frequency. Aircraft in-flight cannot hold their positions and they certainly will NOT stop communicating. I absolutely agree to fly the plane first, then communicate. The reason there was emergency response was because of her persistance. This was not a "needless call", but a very necessary one.

I respect your opinion, but wholeheartedly disagree.   There are nordo procedures for both ATC and pilots.  To suggest that a mere 30 seconds to a minute would cause another crash is ridiculous.  The weather is not a factor.  If you think that fully licensed, certificated pilots can't think on their own for that time period, use nordo procedures and "see and avoid" bad situations, then you obviously think that a private pilot's license is a joke.  The only thing the lady did was garbage up the radios, and hindering the handling of the IFE.   Was it really necessary that the emergency response get there 30 secs to a minute faster?  That would have had NO effect.  Besides that, the other plane or other planes in the area would have relayed the position of the B-17.  She knew that that aircraft was a formation and was not alone.  It most definitely was  a "needless call". 
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ogogog
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« Reply #28 on: June 15, 2011, 07:55:09 AM »

So are you suggesting that it would've been better to not have had emergency response? As a Private Pilot and  Air Traffic Controller with (>30,000 hrs), I believe this Controller responded appropriately. It a Controller's job to dispatch emergency equipment and personell ASAP. There were obviously other aircraft on the frequency and to suggest that she stay off the radio for 30 seconds to a minute could've resulted in another accident. This emergency did not occur in controlled airspace, but was broadcast on a controlled frequency. Aircraft in-flight cannot hold their positions and they certainly will NOT stop communicating. I absolutely agree to fly the plane first, then communicate. The reason there was emergency response was because of her persistance. This was not a "needless call", but a very necessary one.

I respect your opinion, but wholeheartedly disagree.   There are nordo procedures for both ATC and pilots.  To suggest that a mere 30 seconds to a minute would cause another crash is ridiculous.  The weather is not a factor.  If you think that fully licensed, certificated pilots can't think on their own for that time period, use nordo procedures and "see and avoid" bad situations, then you obviously think that a private pilot's license is a joke.  The only thing the lady did was garbage up the radios, and hindering the handling of the IFE.   Was it really necessary that the emergency response get there 30 secs to a minute faster?  That would have had NO effect.  Besides that, the other plane or other planes in the area would have relayed the position of the B-17.  She knew that that aircraft was a formation and was not alone.  It most definitely was  a "needless call". 

as a 30 year retired controller all i can say is that your clueless.
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derekjackson
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« Reply #29 on: June 15, 2011, 09:05:32 AM »

So thanks to that press release, we can now identify the chase plane as N299FM (which is shortened to 9FM in the ATC recording) from the FAA registry. Up until now, doing a search for "9FM" of course didn't bring up any likely hits.

Sad to hear the fire trucks couldn't race up and put the fire out before it was too late. As per the press release, I changed the title of this topic from "crash" to "forced landing".
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