Vale, Nine O Nine and those who flew on her

In March 2014, I had to good fortune to take advantage of a leg of the Collings Foundation’s Wings of Freedom Tour and visited a three-aircraft flight that included a Consolidated B-24J Liberator (SN 44-44052, “Witchcraft”) a TP-51C Mustang fighter (42-103293, “Betty Jane”) and a late block 85 Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress (44-83575, painted as 42-31909, “Nine O Nine”).

It was a beautiful day and they were beautiful, and increasingly machines.

The original Nine O Nine survived the great Augsburg raid and 18 roundtrips over Berlin with the 8th Air Force over a 140 mission career in WWII. SN 44-83575, shown above in the more famous Fortress’ colors, was built too late for combat, then served as a rescue aircraft, Atomic instrumentation aircraft, and forest fire bomber until she was restored to her original WWII configuration in the 1980s by the Collings Foundation. (Photo: Chris Eger)

Sadly, yesterday at Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport, Nine O Nine was destroyed in the crash, and seven of the thirteen people on board were killed.


  • I went to the “Wings of Freedom” event and saw the B-17, B-24, B-25, P-38, P-40, P-51, F6F Hellcat, and A1-E Skyraider in Worcester, MA on Sunday September 22nd. I walked through and viewed them all, and took the flight in the B-25 because the B-17 was booked solid. Since I was first to sign up for a new additional flight, I got choice of seat. I sat up front behind the pilots which allowed me to slide through the tunnel under the cockpit up to the nose. Our flight took us over the spectacular Quabbin Reservoir, and I got some great photos and videos from the nose bubble. After this accident, I will have to do a blog post about the whole event and post those photos and videos.

  • I got a ride on in 4-5 years ago. Both my missile wings had been B-17 groups.

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