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WW II bomber that crashed had visited Capital Region

WW II bomber that crashed had visited Capital Region

Seven killed at Connecticut airport
WW II bomber that crashed had visited Capital Region
The B-17 bomber (909) that crashed in Connecticut Wednesday is shown at the Warren County Airport on Sept. 28, 2007.
Photographer: Gazette file photo

CAPITAL REGION -- The World War II-era B-17G bomber that crashed in Connecticut Wednesday, killing seven people, made several visits to the Capital Region.

The plane had just taken off from Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks at 9:45 a.m. when the pilot, who alerted air traffic control of an engine problem, requested permission to return to the airport for an emergency landing.

The bomber hit about 30 approach lights as it sped toward the airport. At 9:53 a.m., it crashed into a de-icing facility at the airport and burst into flames.

The airplane, the "Nine-O-Nine," was owned by the Collings Foundation, a Massachusetts non-profit that restores World War II-era aircraft. The name came in part from the registry number, which ended in "909."

The plane visited the Empire State Aerosciences Museum in Glenville in both 2012 and 2007. It also made recent appearances at Floyd Bennett Memorial Airport in Queensbury.

Members of the Aerosciences Museum on Thursday remembered the ill-fated B-17G, a "flying fortress." 

"The Collings Foundation keeps those airplanes in perfect shape," said John Panoski of Charlton, a museum trustee and former vice president. "They spend a lot of money, they winter over somewhere in Florida and maintain them, they pull the engines and go through the inspections and do whatever the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) requires."

Vintage airplanes have made frequent trips to the Capital Region. The visits have included:

* The "Sentimental Journey," a B-17G flying fortress built in 1944, which was among the World War II-era planes that flew into Albany International Airport in 2017.

* The Oklahoma-based Liberty Foundation's B-17 -- which was used during the 1989 filming of the movie "Memphis Belle -- which appeared at Albany International in 2013.

* The "Aluminum Overcoat" B-17G bomber, which was on display at the Aerosciences Musem in 2010.

* The "Liberty Belle," another B-17, which flew into Albany International in 2006.

Peter V. Russo Sr., the museum's current president, remembers when a B-29 recently visited Albany. "They sold out all their flights," he said. "To take a flight on one of these planes is anywhere from $350 to $550."

Russo, who lives in Glenville, said the flight becomes a true experience.

"If you have ever been in one of those planes, it's a thrill," he said. "You can't even talk because the noise is so bad, none of those planes were ever insulated. So you're dealing with the elements and those engines are loud."

Panoski believes people want to see vintage planes at air shows and air museums for nostalgia.

"We're losing our greatest generation, they're in their 90s, a lot of them, even in their 100s now, who flew those aircraft," he said.

Panoski said the old planes also are popular because they are so rare.

"There aren't that many aircraft available," he said.

Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]


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