Accidents and incidents involving the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress
This is a partial list of accidents and incidents involving the Boeing-designed B-17 Flying Fortress. Combat losses are not included except for a very few cases denoted by singular circumstances. A few documented drone attrition cases are also included.
First Y1B-17, 36-149, c/n 1973, first flown 2 December, makes rough landing at Boeing Field, Seattle, Washington, on third flight, when Army pilot Stanley Umstead touches down with locked brakes, airframe ends up on nose after short skid. Repaired, Flying Fortress departs for Wright Field on 11 January 1937.
18 December 1940
Boeing Y1B-17 Flying Fortress, 36–157, c/n 1981, formerly of the 2d Bomb Group, Langley Field, Virginia, transferred to the 93d Bomb Squadron, 19th Bomb Group, March Field, California, in October 1940, crashed E of San Jacinto, California, 3.5 miles NNW of Idyllwild, while en route to March Field. Pilot was John H. Turner. "Six officers and men of the army's 93rd bombardment pursuit squadron [sic], March field [sic], were killed yesterday when their 22-ton B-17 four-motored bomber crashed and burned at the 6,700-foot snow line of Marion mountain in the San Jacinto range. Four bodies were hurled from the giant flying fortress as it plunged into the boulder-strewn, heavily-wooded mountain slope, three miles northeast of Idyllwild, in the San Bernardino national forest. The victims: First Lieut. Harold J. Turner, pilot, Riverside, formerly of Corning, Iowa. First Lieut. Donald T. Ward, co-pilot, Riverside, formerly of West Los Angeles. First Lieut. Vernon McCauley, navigator, Riverside. Staff Sergt. Thomas F. Sweet, engineer, Riverside. Corp. Frank J. Jirak, assistant engineer, Salem, Ore. Pvt. James C. Sessions, radioman, Bisbee, Ariz. At 10:45 a.m. yesterday the plane appeared to encounter mechanical trouble. Ground witnesses at the Idyllwild inn and at Pine Cove, nearby, reported that it circled several times, its engines seemingly missing. Clouds closed in on the bomber at 8,000 feet, and in a few minutes, it roared earthward at full throttle. A rescue party arrived 20 minutes later from Pine Cove to find the plane a mass of red-hot, fused metal. Two bodies were in the smashed fuselage. The 105-foot [sic] wing had sheared through a big pine tree. Residents of the two resort towns said they had heard a loud explosion, indicating that the gasoline tanks ignited with the impact. The noise was heard as far as six miles. The crash occurred approximately 400 yards from the Banning-Idyllwild highway, near the home of Harris Marchant, writer. It was the first accident to one of the new Boeing four-motored bombers since the army air corps adopted them as standard equipment, although the original model smashed up at Dayton, Ohio, in 1935. Members of an army board of inquiry said at least two, and possibly three or all of the four motors were cut out at the time of the crash, although there was no apparent indication that any of the occupants had attempted to bail out. They expressed the theory that pilot Turner was attempting to shift gasoline tanks when he ran into a cloud bank that concealed the side of the mountain. Fliers in the squadron described the wrecked bomber as a ship which had caused difficulty in stalled motors twice in flights when it was stationed at Langley Field, Virginia. Lieutenant Turner was an army air corps reserve veteran of six years experience and was on a practice flight with the B-17. March field [sic] operates 36 of these bombers. With a full load, they can climb to 30,000 feet. Lieutenant Turner is survived by his widow, Kathryn, Riverside, and his father, J. H. Turner, Corning, Iowa. He was the nephew of former Iowa Gov. Dan W. Turner. Co-Pilot Ward leaves a widow in Riverside and a father, E. A. Ward, West Los Angeles. Navigator McCauley leaves his widow, Mrs. Virginia McCauley, Riverside. Sweet's widow, Mrs. Anna M. Sweet, lives in Riverside. Jirak's father, Frank J. Jirak, lives in Salem, Ore., and Session's mother lives in Bisbee, Ariz."
6 February 1941
B-17B Flying Fortress, 38-216, c/n 2009, crashes near Lovelock, Nevada while en route to Wright Field, Ohio, killing all eight on board. Pilot Capt. Richard S. Freeman had shared the 1939 MacKay Trophy for the Boeing XB-15 flight from Langley Field, Virginia via Panama and Lima, Peru at the request of the American Red Cross, for delivering urgently needed vaccines and other medical supplies in areas of Chile devastated by an earthquake. General Order Number 10, dated 3 March 1943, announces that the advanced flying school being constructed near Seymour, Indiana is to be named Freeman Field in honor of the Hoosier native.
22 June 1941
Royal Air ForceBoeing Fortress I, AN522, of No. 90 Squadron, RAF Great Massingham, flown by F/O J. C. Hawley, breaks up in mid-air over Yorkshire during a training flight. Single survivor, a medical officer from RAE Farnborough, reports that the bomber entered a cumulo-nimbus cloud at 33,000 feet (10,100 m), became heavily iced-up with hailstones entering through open gunports, after which control was lost, the port wing detached, and the fuselage broke in two at 25,000 feet (7,600 m). Survivor, who was in the aft fuselage, was able to bail out at 12,000 feet (3,700 m).
The 303rd Bomb Group, activated at Pendleton Field, Oregon, on 3 February 1942, suffers its first fatal aircraft accident when three flying officers and five enlisted crew are killed in the crash of a B-17E-BO, 41-9053, six miles (10 km) N of Strevell, Idaho during a training mission.
6 April 1942
B-17B, 38-214, of the 12th Bomb Squadron, 39th Bomb Group, Davis-Monthan Field, Arizona, suffers engine failure with one bursting into flame, the bomber crashing into the desert 22 miles SE of Tucson, killing all five crew. "The dead and their addresses, as announced by Col. Lowell H. Smith, commander of Davis-Monthan air corps base, who said the tragedy was due to 'engine failure and fire in the air,' were: First Lieut. Donald W. Johnson, the pilot, of Dunning, Neb.; Sgt. Laurel D. Larsen, Minkcreek, Idaho; Pvt. Herbert W. Dunn, Mifflintown, Pa.; Pvt. Emerson L. Wallace, Philipsburg, Pa.; Pvt. Leo W. Thomas, Lemoore, California. Second Lieut. Sidney L. Fouts, of Santa Rosa, California, and Sgt. William F. Regan, of Dunmore, Pa., parachuted to safety, suffering only minor injuries and shock, the air base said."
27 June 1942
During Operation Bolero, the ferrying of combat aircraft from the U.S. to England by air, B-17E-BO, 41-9090, c/n 2562, ditches in a Greenland fjord near Narasak. Attempts have been made to locate the airframe, particularly by noted recovery expert Gary Larkins, but it has yet to be found. Provisionally assigned the FAA registration N3142U if it can be found and retrieved from 1,500 feet of water.
15 July 1942
During Operation Bolero, the ferrying of combat aircraft from the U.S. to England by air, a flight of two B-17E-BO Flying Fortresses, 41-9101, c/n 2573, "Big Stoop", and 41-9105, c/n 2577, "Do-Do", of the 97th Bomb Group and six P-38F Lightnings of the 94th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Group, on the 845-mile (1,360 km) leg between Bluie West 8 airfield and Reykjavík, Iceland, run out of fuel after being held up by bad weather, and all force-land on the Greenland icecap. All safely belly in except for the first P-38 which attempts a wheels-down landing, flipping over as nosewheel catches a crevasse, but pilot Lt. Brad McManus unhurt. All crews rescued on 19 July, but aircraft are abandoned in place. One P-38F-1-LO, 41-7630, c/n 222-5757, now known as "Glacier Girl", recovered in 1992 from under 200 feet (61 m) of accumulated snow and ice and rebuilt to flying status, registered N17630. One B-17 ("Big Stoop") also found, but it is too badly crushed for recovery. Although the USAAF had expected to lose 10 percent of the 920 planes that made the North Atlantic transit during Bolero, losses were only 5.2 percent, the majority being involved in this single incident.
18 July 1942
"It was about 3:20 p.m. on a foggy Saturday afternoon during the World War II years when 16-year-old Leonard (Gig) Stephens heard through the cold mist the sound of an aircraft in trouble near his home by the Red Hill Country Club, not far from Route 62, and he ran outside to see a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber on a descent to death. He will never forget, he says, the sight of an airman standing in an open hatchway as the plane started to clip the tops of pine trees into a wooded area, too low for a parachute to work. The engines were spitting flames. The plane cut a path 200 feet long and 40 feet wide..." B-17B, 39-8, of the 492d Bomb Squadron, flying from Gander Field, Newfoundland, piloted by Marion R. Klyce, comes down at North Reading, Massachusetts; scrapped at North Reading, 2 October 1942. "The Veterans’ Memorial on the town common commemorates the ten crew members who lost their lives in this crash. They were Orville Andrews, Robert Aulsbury, Stephen Bilocur, Archie Jester, Don Johnson, Marion Klyce, Sidney Koltun, William Perkins, James Phillips and Charles Torrence."
23 August 1942
B-17E-BO, 41-9091, of the 427th Bomb Squadron, 303rd Bomb Group, operating out of Biggs Field, El Paso, Texas, suffers center fuselage failure in extremely bad weather 12 miles W of Las Cruces, New Mexico, only the radio operator and the engineering officer for the 427th Bomb Squadron, both in the radio room, survive by parachuting. Pilot was James E. Hudson. The 303rd BG was due to deploy overseas from Biggs on 24 August.
B-17D, 40-3089, of the 5th Bomb Group/11th Bomb Group, with Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker, America's top-scoring World War I ace (26 kills), aboard on a secret mission, is lost at sea in the central Pacific Ocean when the bomber goes off-course. After 24 days afloat in three rafts, he and surviving crew are rescued by the U.S. Navy after having been given up for lost, discovered by OS2U Kingfisher crew.
2 November 1942
A B-17C, 40-2047, c/n 2117, breaks apart in the air near Tells Peak, California, while en route to Sacramento for an overhaul of the number 3 (starboard inner) engine. Pilot 1st Lieutenant Leo M. H. Walker dies, but the other eight crew members survive.
B-17F-27-BO, 41-24620, "snap! crackle! pop!", of the 360th Bomb Squadron, 303rd Bomb Group, on daylight raid over Saint-Nazaire, France, loses wing due to flak, goes into spiral. Ball turret gunner Alan Eugene Magee (13 January 1919 – 20 December 2003), though suffering 27 shrapnel wounds, bails out (or is thrown from wreckage) without his chute at ~20,000 feet (6,100 m), loses consciousness due to altitude, freefall plunges through glass roof of the Gare de Saint-Nazaire and is found alive but with serious injuries on floor of depot - saved by German medical care, spends rest of war in prison camp.
B-17E-BO converted to XB-38-VE, 41-2401, with Allison V-1710 liquid-cooled engines. Wrecked near Tipton, California, on its ninth test flight when the number three (starboard inner) engine caught fire. Attempts to extinguish it were unsuccessful, and as the fire spread to the wing, the pilots bailed out after pointing the aircraft to an uninhabited area. Lockheed test pilot George MacDonald was killed when his parachute did not deploy, and Lockheed test pilot Bud Martin was seriously injured when his parachute did not deploy properly.
1 August 1943
B-17F-95-BO, 42-30326, c/n 5440, of the 541st Bomb Squadron, 383d Bomb Group, piloted by Roy J. Lee, was headed north up the Oregon coast on a routine patrol flight. The plane had left Pendleton Field, near Pendleton, Oregon, at 0900 and was tasked with flying to Cape Disappointment on the Oregon coast. They were then to fly 500 miles out to sea, followed by a direct flight back to Pendleton Field. On arriving at the coast, the crew found the entire area hidden in overcast clouds which extended to an elevation of 8000 feet. The pilot decided to locate Cape Disappointment by flying below the overcast. The overcast proved to reach almost to the level of the sea. The plane was flying at about 50–150 feet above the waves. Deciding that the risk was too great the crew began to climb back up into the overcast. Unfortunately, the plane crashed into the side of Cape Lookout at about 900 feet in elevation. The Aviation Archeological Investigation & Research website lists the crash date as 2 August.
B-17F-40-VE, 42-5977, of the 540th Bomb Squadron (Heavy), 383d Bomb Group (Heavy), Geiger Field, Washington, on a routine local flight with three aboard, piloted by Robert P. Ferguson, clips the tops of trees for several blocks, crashes into scrub pines two miles S of Geiger Field and burns. Only three were on the bomber, said a report by Lt. R. E. Reed, public relations officer at the field. Names were withheld pending notification of next of kin.
Boeing B-17. [plane name, (Miriam)] Young pilot Clyde "Sparky" Cosper was the pilot of the plane "Miriam." The crew had barely left the airbase when they flew into a pocket of bad weather near Buckinghamshire, England. the pilot had two gnarly choices, bail with the crew to save himself as well as the crew, or steer the plane safely to the ground avoiding the small village that the plane was on crash course for. He now has a V.A Home in his dedication in his hometown, Bonham, Texas.
2 January 1944
"NORNICK, [sic] Iowa, Jan. 2 (AP) - Nine crew members of a Flying Fortress based at Sioux City, were killed when the plane crashed and burned on a farm near here late today. Persons within a radius of several miles said they saw the plane explode and crash." B-17F-40-VE, 42-6013, of the 393d CCTS, piloted by Frank R. Hilford, appears to be the airframe involved.
2 January 1944
"SACRAMENTO, Calif., Jan. 2 (AP) - Thirteen army flyers were killed today when a B-17 Flying Fortress, headed for Los Angeles from McChord field, Tacoma, Wash., exploded in flight over McClellan field and plunged 3000 feet to the ground in flames. Thousands of Sacramentans, startled by a terrific explosion, looked skyward and saw the crippled and burning four-motored bomber emerge from the overcast sky and fall. Only one member of the plane's crew of 14 escaped the flaming wreckage, parachuting to safety before the crash. He was Maj. James H. Wergen of Kingman field, Ariz., the bomber's home base. The plane went to pieces in the air as it fell, scattering a wingtip, one of its motors and other parts over a vast area. McClellan field authorities said medical officers were attempting to identify the dead, but that names would be withheld pending notification of next of kin." The B-17G was piloted by Frederick M. Klopfenstein.
4 January 1944
B-17G-10-BO, 42-31257, flying in formation with other B-17s, catches fire near Alamo, Nevada, while en route between Indian Springs Army Airfield and Las Vegas Army Airfield, Nevada, and twelve of thirteen aboard bail out. One is killed when his chute fails to open in time, and one aboard the bomber dies in the crash 67 miles NNE of Las Vegas AAF. Other planes circled the spot where the plane went down and radioed the base news of the crash. "Eleven of their number were brought to the airfield hospital hospital last night (5 January), suffering from minor injuries and exposure after having spent the intervening time in heavy snow on a high mountain plateau."
13 January 1944
B-17G-30-DL, 42-38094, flown by Ralph M. Calhoon, and B-17G-10-VE, 42-40038, piloted by Thomas W. Williams, of the 99th Bomb Squadron, collide ~10 miles SW of Brooksville Army Airfield, Florida, killing four officers and five enlisted men, reports Brigadier General Hume Peabody, commander of the Army Air Forces Tactical Center (AAFTAC), at Orlando. One victim is Sgt. Benjamin B. Estes, son of J. M. Estes, Burley, Idaho.
B17 from 305th BG based at Chelveston crashed shortly after take-off into the Bedfordshire village of Yelden. The aircraft sliced through a barrack block housing men from the airfield and partially demolished a farm bungalow. 21 persons died in the accident, including 2 children (Monica & Keith Phillips) who were asleep in the bungalow. A post-crash fire caused the bomb load to explode blowing out the windows of houses in the village including the nearby church. A plaque in the village church, St Marys, shows the names of those who perished in the crash.
9 April 1944
B-17G-35-VE, 42-97854, of the 390th Bomb Group, on a ferry flight from the United States to England, piloted by George L. Williamson, ditches in the Graah Fjord, Greenland this date (another source states that it was ditched in "Lageons Fjord") —probably after Cape Langenæs at the entrance of Graah Fjord. Attempts by noted aircraft recovery expert Gary Larkins to locate the airframe have been unsuccessful. MACR report 3637. FAA registration N9094V to Institute of Aeronautical Archaeological Research of Auburn, California, provisionally assigned to this airframe.
24 April 1944
B-17G-55-BO, 42-102685, of the 271st Air Base Unit, Kearney Army Airfield, Kearney, Nebraska, crashes six miles N of Bertrand, Nebraska, after an oxygen fire breaks out in flight. Six crew bail out but both pilots are killed. Dead were 2d Lt. Thomas G. Eppinger, pilot, of Huntington Woods, Michigan; and 2d Lt. Robert D. Shaw, co-pilot, of Vicksburg, Mississippi. Survivors were 2d Lt. Voris H. Fabik, navigator, of East St. Louis, Illinois; 2d Lt. Lewis E. Louraine, bombardier, of Purcell, Oklahoma; 2d Lt. Robert Durocher, assistant bombardier, hometown not available; S/Sgt. Clifford M. Bowen, engineer, of Jefferson, Oregon; S/Sgt. Obert M. Lay, radioman, of Aurora, Illinois; and Sgt. James T. Grantham, waist gunner, of Phoenix, Arizona.
11 July 1944
A U.S. Army Air Force B-17G-75-BO, 44-38023, en route from Kearney Army Airfield, Nebraska, to Dow Field, Maine, for overseas deployment, crashes into Deer Mountain in Parkertown Township in North Oxford, Maine, during a thunderstorm, killing all ten crew: Sgt. James A. Benson, Sgt. Gerald V. Biddle, 2nd Lt. John T. Cast, 2nd Lt. John W. Drake, 2nd Lt. William Hudgens, Cpl. John H. Jones, Staff Sgt. Wayne D. McGavran, Sgt. Cecil L. Murphy, 2nd Lt. Robert S. Talley, and Sgt. Clarence M. Waln. Locals saw the plane circling before it struck terrain 500 feet below the summit. It apparently descended below the clouds, struck treetops, and cartwheeled across the mountainside. Two days later, after a search by more than 100 spotters from the Civil Air Patrol, the Army Air Force, the Navy, and the Royal Canadian Air Force, the B-17’s wreckage was found on the side of the mountain. This was the second-worst military crash in Maine history, occurring the same day as an A-26 Invader crash at Portland that killed 21.
2d Lt. John T. McCarthy, in Republic P-47D-6-RE Thunderbolt, 42-74782, of the 262d FPTS, on a combined interception training mission out of Bruning Army Air Field, Nebraska, at ~1540 hrs. CWT, at 16,000 feet altitude, makes a pursuit curve mock attack from the high port side of Boeing B-17G-35-DL Flying Fortress, 42-107159, terminating his attack from about 250 to 300 yards away from the bomber, but "mushes" into the B-17 while breaking away, hitting the port wing near the number one (port outer) engine. "Both planes burst into flames immediately, the B-17 exploding, disintegrating into several pieces, and crashing to the ground. The P47 hit the ground in a tight spiral, exploding when it hit the ground." The collision occurs ~5 miles NE of Bruning AAF. The fighter pilot is KWF. The B-17, of the 224th AAF Base Unit, out of Sioux City Army Air Base, Iowa, was part of a formation of bombers on a camera-gunnery mission, en route to Bruning AAF, which was flying in several elements. The fighter struck the wing man of the second element of the low formation. Only four crew of ten aboard the B-17 manage to bail out. Killed are 2d Lts. William F. Washburn, and Bernard I. Hall, pilot and co-pilot, F/O George A. Budovsky, Cpl. John E. Tuchols, and Pvt. Henry C. Sedberry. Surviving are Cpls. LeNoir A. Greer (minor injuries), and Walter A. Divan (major injuries), Pvt. Albert L. Mikels (minor injuries), and Pfc. Reuben L. Larson (minor injuries). "It is the opinion of the Aircraft Accident Investigating Committee that responsibility for the accident is 100% pilot error on the part of the pilot of the P47, in that poor judgement and poor technique was used in 'breaking-off'." A Nebraska historical marker for the accident was erected in 2010 by the Milligan Memorial Committee for the World War II Fatal Air Crashes near Milligan, Nebraska.
16 September 1944
U.S. Army Air Forces B-17 on its way to England loses altitude due to a severe downdraft and crashes on Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland. All ten crew members survive the crash with minor injuries and are able to escape the partial burning plane but have to stay two days in the wreckage due to a storm before they can hike down the glacier. Six of the crew manage to reach a farm after a 13 hour walk, while four have to spend a night in the open, as they were unable to cross the river of Markarfljót, before getting rescued the day after.
A TB-17G, built as a B-17G-70-BO, 43-37700, of the 325th Combat Crew Training Squadron,Avon Park Army Airfield, Florida, crashes six miles S of Ridgeland, South Carolina, after the number 2 (port inner) engine catches fire at 10,000 feet during a flight from Stewart Field, New York, to its home base in Florida. Pilot Lieutenant Dewey O. Jones orders the crew to abandon ship. An announcement released by the Hunter Field, Georgia, public relations office states that five parachuted safely, three were killed, and that two other men were missing. Listed as fatalities are Flight Officer Alfred Ponessa, of Newburgh, New York, a passenger, Sergeant Leo B. Bucharia, of Long Island, New York, and Technical Sergeant Edwin S. Salas, of Haverhill, Massachusetts, both members of the crew. The missing were listed as Lieutenant William Cherry and Corporal Sidney Podhoretz (addresses not available). The names of the other four survivors were not given.
9 July 1946
Eight USAAF crew, 16 U.S. Coast Guardsmen, returning from duty in Greenland, and one civilian are killed when the B-17G-105-BO, 43-39136, c/n 10114, they are flying in crashes into Mount Tom, Massachusetts, at ~2220 hrs. while attempting to land at Westover Field, Massachusetts. A monument to the victims was dedicated on the crash site on 6 July 1996.
14 January 1947
B-17G-95-VE, 44-85588, of the Flight Test Division, Air Materiel Command, Wright Field, Ohio, crashes through a rain-soaked swamp thicket, cutting a 500-yard swath through the underbrush, rams a tree and burns at ~1810 hrs., coming down ~3 miles NE of Fairfield, and ~3 miles NW of Patterson Field, where the pilot apparently intended to land. The crash, coming at the end of a routine test flight to Lawson Field, Fort Benning, Georgia, and return, kills three crew and leaves one injured. Dead are Maj. Walter L. Massengill of Dayton, the pilot; Master Sgt. Lee P. Hartman, engineer, and Warrant Officer Benedict F. Jacquay. The injured crewman is Lt. Marvin C. Rice, copilot. Other home towns were unavailable, said Wright Field officials.
15 August 1947
B-17H, 43-39473, with 10th Air Rescue Squadron, built as a B-17G-110-BO, crashes after takeoff ~2 miles from Fort Randall Army Airfield, Cold Bay, Alaska, this date, killing all eight on board. Pilot was Marion E. Calender. Some wreckage still there.
24 December 1947
B-17G-95-DL, 44-83790, of the 1385th Base Unit, Bluie West One, Greenland, delivering presents and mail to isolated outposts on Baffin Bay, runs out of fuel on Christmas Eve and pilot Chester M. Karney makes a forced landing on snow-laden frozen Dyke Lake in Labrador. None of the nine aboard are injured and they are picked up on 26 December by a ski and JATO-equipped Douglas C-47. Officers at Atlantic Division headquarters of Air Transport Command, Westover Air Force Base, Massachusetts, said that a snowstorm earlier in the day delayed one flight by the C-47 to fetch the seven crew and two passengers off the ice and that they had prepared to spend a third night in the sub-zero temperatures. But a successful rescue was achieved and the marooned flown 275 miles to Goose Bay. Fortress abandoned and sinks to the bottom of lake. Aircraft located in July 1998; recovered from the lake on 9 September 2004. Now under restoration to fly at Douglas, Georgia.
30 January 1948
A Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, searching for the Douglas C-47 that went missing on 27 January in France, spots the downed transport on the mountainside, and then itself crashes and burns. Only one member of the ten crew survives, Sgt. Angelo LaSalle, of Des Moines, Iowa. He is aided by a former Luftwaffe pilot, Horst Kupski, a prisoner-of-war working for a French farmer, who lends him garments and helps him down the mountain.
5 November 1948
DB-17G, 44-83678, returning to Eglin AFB, Florida, from Fort Wayne, Indiana, crashes in woods SE of Auxiliary Field 2, Pierce Field due to pilot error, crashing and burning NE of the runway at Eglin main base early Friday. All five on board were killed, including Lt. Col. Frederick W. Eley, 43, of Shalimar, Florida, staff judge advocate at Eglin for nearly three years – he was returning from his grandmother's funeral in Portland, Indiana; Maj. Bydie J. Nettles, 29, who lived in Shalimar, Florida but was originally from Pensacola, Florida, group adjutant for the 3203rd Maintenance and Supply section; Capt. Robert LeMar, 31, Ben's Lake, Eglin AFB, test pilot with the 3203rd; crew chief M/Sgt. Carl LeMieux, 31, of Milton, Florida; and Sgt. William E. Bazer, 36, assistant engineer, Destin, Florida. Bazer's wife was the Eglin base librarian.
16 October 1950
A QB-17G, 44-83565, of the 3200th Drone Squadron, piloted by Emerson N. Hixson, is involved in a ground accident at Eglin AFB, Florida, due to weather, receiving moderate damage.
SB-17G, 44-85746, built as B-17G-105-VE, accepted May 1945, based at McChord AFB, Washington, returning from a search and rescue mission, strikes a ridge near Tyler Peak on the Olympic peninsula, killing 3 crew, 5 survive. Wreckage is still there.
11 July 1952
Seven of eight crew survive the crash landing of a Boeing SB-17 Flying Fortress, of the 10th Air Rescue Squadron at Anchorage, Alaska, when it fails to return from a search for an RCAF bomber, missing since 30 June with four aboard. The Fortress had apparently completed its six hour search sweep and was en route to Whitehorse when it crashed. The last radio message, shortly before noon, stated that they were over their search area in fair to good weather. The hunt for the B-17 began at 2015 hrs. when it had not returned by fuel exhaustion limits. An amphibian sighted the downed plane in the night and dropped food and sleeping bags. American parachutists jumped to the downed crew's aid on 12 July and three helicopters - two American and one Canadian - began moving survivors to Snag, Yukon territory, about 30 miles SW of the crash site. A seriously burned crewman was ferried by C-47 to Elmendorf Air Force Hospital at Anchorage. Two other survivors were not as seriously injured.
25 August 1952
An Eglin Air Force Base DB-17G Flying Fortress drone control ship, 44-83680, built as a B-17G-90-DL, is accidentally shot down by F-86D-1-NA Sabre, 50-469, of the 3200th Proof Test Group, flown by Colonel Arthur R. DeBolt, 39, of Columbus, Ohio. Colonel Mac McWhorter was piloting the mother ship with a QB-17 drone in trail over the Gulf of Mexico for a radar-controlled approach by the jet fighter, "which by mistake fired a rocket that sent a B-17 bomber spinning into flames into the Gulf of Mexico. Six of eight crewmen on the bomber may have been killed. The Air Force said the pilot, DeBolt, apparently mistook the B-17 mother" [sic] plane for a radio-controlled drone during a test operation. Col. DeBolt was overcome with grief by the tragic error." Two enlisted crewmen were plucked from the Gulf by USS Seer after 24 hours in a life raft on 26 August. Building 100 on the Eglin flightline is named the Audette Airborne Systems Building. A dedication plaque at the front entrance reads: "In memory of Lieutenant Colonel Leo R. Audette, United States Air Force – in recognition of his contribution in the development of airborne electronics systems – who on 25 August 1952, while a member of this command, gave his life while participating in operations which advanced the development of these systems."
An F-89H Scorpion downed a remote-controlled target QB-17 Flying Fortress over the Eglin water ranges with a Hughes GAR-1 Falcon, "the first time the missile has been employed to destroy a target ship in a simulated air defense environment." Lt. Col. Louis E. Andre, Jr., from the 3241st Test Group, Interceptor, of APGC and his radar observer, Squadron Leader George T. E. Richards of the Royal Air Force, were credited with the kill. The Falcon is designed to be launched by the F-89H and the F-102A Delta Dagger interceptors. "The missile as well as the Scorpion and the F-102A are presently undergoing operational suitability testing at the Air Force Operational Test Center."
A third QB-17 drone kill was achieved by a Hughes GAR-1 Falcon fired from a F-102A Delta Dagger of the 3201st Test Group (Interceptor), flown by Maj. Robert T. Goetz on this date over the Eglin water ranges. The drone had been previously damaged by an earlier hit during the same mission, fired by Capt. William T. Quirk. Goetz had been credited with one of the two QB-17 kills during June 1956.
29 August 1967
B-17G-95-DL, 44-83857, later PB-1W, BuNo 77226, to civil register as N7228C. Destroyed in crash at 0927 hrs. at Kalispell, Montana while in use as a fire bomber, after making wheels-up landing due to smoke in the cockpit, killing two crew according to one source, no fatalities according to an NTSB report, which seems more credible as the co-pilot reported that the fire began in the accessory section of the number three (starboard inner) engine. Jettisoned load before touch down.
18 August 1970
B-17F-50-VE, 42-6107, c/n 6403, to TB-17F, to civil register as N1340N. Reengined with Rolls-Royce Dart turboprops in 1969. Crashed at 1637 hrs. during fire bomber run while operated by Aero Flite on down slope side of mountain near Dubois, Wyoming, with density altitude of ~13,000 feet, winds of 25-35 mph, updrafts and downdrafts. Pilot misjudged altitude and clearance, failed to maintain flight speed, aircraft stalled and struck trees. Two crew killed.
12 July 1972
B-17G-95-DL, 44-83864, c/n 32505, later to PB-1W, BuNo 77232, registered successively N6465D, N5234V, XB-BOE, and finally N73648, operated as a fire bomber 'E56' by Black Hills Aviation. Destroyed 20 mi SW of Socorro, New Mexico when the pilot misjudged his altitude during his second slurry drop and struck trees at 1605 hrs., killing two crew.
12 July 1973
B-17G-110-VE, 44-85840, c/n 8749, to Bolivian registry with Lloyd Aero Boliviano, November 1956, as CP-620, back to U.S. in 1968 with Aircraft Specialties, Inc. of Mesa, Arizona as N620L. Used in 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora! Crashed near Elko, Nevada during fire bomber run, updrafts and downdrafts, 40 knot winds. Following steep turn downwind over downslope of mountain, pilot failed to maintain airspeed, stalled, two crew killed.
5 August 1976
B-17G-110-VE, 44-85812, later PB-1G, BuNo 77246, to civil register as N4710C and used for fire ant spraying by Dothan Aviation, destroyed in accident near Rochelle, Georgia.NTSB report gives cause as fire in or near carburetor, forcing emergency landing at 0815 hrs., airframe burned. Another source cites crash site as Blakely, Georgia.
B-17G-105-VE, 44-85734, registered N390TH, previously N5111N, named Liberty Belle and operated by the Liberty Foundation of Tulsa, Oklahoma, as a flying history exhibit, suffered an in-flight fire in port wing behind #2 engine while on a positioning flight from Aurora, Illinois, to Indianapolis, Indiana. The crew made an emergency landing in a field near Oswego, Illinois, 20 minutes after takeoff. Three crew and four passengers escaped safely before fire consumed the airframe.
2 October 2019
B-17G-85-DL, 44-83575, registered N93012, named Nine-O-Nine and operated by the Collings Foundation, crashed at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Within minutes of the crash, the airport tweeted "We can confirm that there was an accident involving a Collings Foundation World War II aircraft [Wednesday] morning at Bradley Airport."  Three crew-members and 10 passengers were onboard at the time, and seven fatalities have been reported.
^Mueller, Robert, "Air Force Bases Volume 1: Active Air Force Bases Within the United States of America on 17 September 1982", United States Air Force Historical Research Center, Office of Air Force History, Washington, D.C., 1989, ISBN 0-912799-53-6, p. 237.
^Bowers, Peter M., "Fortress In The Sky", Sentry Books, Granada Hills, California, 1976, Library of Congress Card No. 76-17145, ISBN 0-913194-04-2, p. 37
^ abFreeman, Roger; Osborne, David (1998). The B-17 Flying Fortress Story: Design - Production - History. London, UK: Arms & Armour Press. p. 71. ISBN 1854093010.
^Bowers, Peter M., "The Forgotten Fortresses", Wings, Granada Hills, California, August 1974, Volume 4, Number 4, pp.22-23.
^Staff, "Six Die In March Field Plane - Giant Bombers Falls, Burns In Mountains - Flying Fortress, Apparently in Trouble, Circles Idyllwild And Crashes in Clouds - Fire Follows Explosion - Four Bodies Thrown Clear, Two Found in Smashed Fuselage At Snowline of Peak", The San Bernardino Daily Sun, San Bernardino, California, Thursday 19 December 1940, Volume 46, page 1.
^Thompson, Scott A., "Final Cut: The Post-War B-17 Flying Fortress and Survivors", Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, Missoula, Montana, and Aero Vintage Books, Lincoln, California, Fourth Edition, June 2011, ISBN 978-1-57510-156-9, page 227.
^ abcdeThompson, Scott A., "Final Cut: The Post-War B-17 Flying Fortress and Survivors", Pictorial Histories Publishing Company, Missoula, Montana, and Aero Vintage Books, Lincoln, California, Fourth Edition, June 2011, ISBN 978-1-57510-156-9, page 228.
^Hayes, David, "The Lost Squadron - A Fleet of Warplanes Locked in Ice For Fifty Years", Chartwell Books / Madison Press Books, Edison, New Jersey / Toronto, Ontario, ISBN 978-0-7858-2376-6, 1994, pp.40-47, 276.
^Bodie, Warren M. "The Lockheed P-38 Lightning". Hayesville, North Carolina.: Widewing Publications, 1991, ISBN 978-0-9629359-5-4, pp.99-103.
^Dabilis, Andy, unknown headline, The Boston Globe, Boston, Massachusetts, 12 November 1995.
^Associated Press, "Rescue 7 Crash Victims Of B-17 In Yukon Wilds - U. S. Paratroopers Jump to Their Aid; 1 Dead", Chicago Sunday Tribune, Chicago, Illinois, Sunday 13 July 1952, Volume CXI, Number 28, Part 1 - Page 7.
^Associated Press, "PILOT IN TEST ERROR", Newport Daily News, Newport, Rhode Island, Wednesday 27 August 1952, page 5.
^Associated Press, "Two Shot Down By Error Survive - Weary Pair Battled Gulf for 24 Hours", The San Bernardino Daily Sun, San Bernardino, California, Wednesday 27 August 1952, Volume LVIII, Number 314, pages 1, 4.
On October 2, 2019, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress owned by the Collings Foundation crashed at Bradley International Airport, Windsor Locks, Connecticut, United States. Seven of the thirteen people on board were killed, and the other six, as well as one person on the ground, were injured. The aircraft was destroyed by fire, with only the tail and a portion of one wing remaining.
The Bakers Creek air crash was an aviation disaster which occurred on 14 June 1943, when a United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress aircraft crashed at Bakers Creek, Queensland. The aircraft took off from Mackay and crashed approximately 8 kilometres (5 mi) south of the airfield. Forty military service personnel on board were killed; one person survived the crash. The crash was Australia's deadliest aviation disaster by death toll and was the deadliest accident involving a transport aircraft in the south-western Pacific during World War II.
On 23 April 1945, a Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress crashed on North Barrule, a hill in the Isle of Man. A total of 31 people were killed. The accident is the deadliest aviation accident to have occurred in the Isle of Man. It was due to controlled flight into terrain (CFIT).
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