B-17 rides likely over, at least for now
Back in 2014, I got a very close look and some airtime in the Collings Foundation’s Douglas-built B-17G-85-DL Flying Fortress, SN 44-83575. Although 83575 has spent her career as an air-sea rescue aircraft, she had been painted since 1986 as a tribute ship in the livery of the 91st Bomb Group’s famed Nine-O-Nine (42-31909), which had completed 132 consecutive missions in WWII.
Sadly, 83575 crashed in Connecticut in 2019, killing seven of the 13 aboard, while on a living history flight like the one I was on. Just the left wing and part of the tail remained.
Speaking of which, this, via the Yankee Air Museum:
Hello, The Yankee Air Museum decided to proactively cease flight operations of the B-17G Flying Fortress ‘Yankee Lady.’Recent inspections of other B-17s have discovered wing spar issues. As a result, we expect a mandatory Airworthiness Directive to be issued by the FAA in the next few weeks regarding the matter. Out of an abundance of caution, we are temporarily ceasing our B-17 flight operations and awaiting direction from the FAA regarding necessary inspections and repairs that will be required. It is expected that the B-17 will not fly during the 2023 flying season. Please note that this only affects the B-17.
More on the B-17’s wing spars, here.
I live in Kommiecticut and was on shift at the firehouse watching the live news coverage of the Nine-Oh-Nine. Two weeks earlier I attempted to get a seat on that very plane in Worcester, MA but it was sold out. I took a fantastic flight over the Quabbin Reservoir in the nose seat on their B-25 “Tondelayo” instead. The crash of the B-17 was not airframe weakness, but shoddy (and criminal) maintenance of the engine magnetos and spark plugs, made worse by pilot errors during the emergency that allowed gravity and physics to win.