Liberty Bell B-17 Burns after Forced Landing

 - June 27, 2011, 4:28 AM

The NTSB is investigating the forced landing of a vintage B-17 Flying Fortress near Aurora Municipal Airport in Illinois last month. There were seven people aboard and no reported injuries after an in-flight fire occurred. The B-17, named Liberty Belle, was operated by the Liberty Foundation. Earlier in its life, the same B-17 was used by Pratt & Whitney Canada to test the T34 and PT6 turboprop engines. According to a statement by Liberty Foundation chief pilot Ray Fowler, one minute, 40 seconds after the fire was spotted, the “crew shut down and feathered the number-two 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.” The pilots landed on a flat field, but recent rainfall made the terrain too soft for fire trucks to drive onto the field. The crew had enough time to unload bags and then watch helplessly as the aircraft slowly burned.