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Cause of B-17 crash not yet known

Published: Thursday, June 23, 2011 6:38 p.m. CST • Updated: Thursday, June 23, 2011 10:34 p.m. CST

The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report into last week’s forced landing of a World War II B-17 bomber in a field near Oswego, but the cause of the crash is not yet known.

NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said a final report – including a probable cause – could take from 12-18 months to complete.

Seven people were aboard the plane – dubbed Liberty Belle – when it made a forced landing in a field outside Oswego at about 9:47 a.m. June 13 after taking off from Aurora Municipal Airport in Sugar Grove. No one was seriously injured in the crash.

“The airplane was substantially damaged as a result of the post impact fire,” the preliminary report stated.

The plane departed Aurora Airport with an North American SNJ. About six minutes after takeoff, the pilot of the SNJ plane informed the flight crew of the B-17 that they had an in-flight fire, the report stated.

The SNJ pilot then advised the B-17 crew to execute an emergency landing to a field. The report also stated that the flight crew of the B-17 smelled smoke and were attempting to locate the source when they received a call from the pilot of the SNJ.

They initially had shut off the electrical generators in an effort to isolate the problem, the report stated.

“Once they determined that the fire was on the left wing, they elected to shut down the No. 2 engine and discharge the fire bottles,” stated the report. “Upon receiving guidance from the SNJ pilot, the B-17 flight crew executed an emergency landing to a corn field.”

Oklahoma-based group The Liberty Foundation, which operated the plane, has previously stated that maintenance issues did not play a part in the forced landing of the bomber.

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