Today there was a crash of a vintage B-17 Bomber Aircraft at an airport in Connecticut. There is a back story involving Jack and me and this plane. I have written about it below. So far of the 13 people on board and one person on the ground, 7 are confirmed dead.
She was a grand old plane, who served her country well. I’m happy that I had the chance to tour her and terribly saddened by today’s events.
This is the plane today. Aircraft #231909, The Flying Fortress! Here is her story.
Many years back, Jack and I visited an exhibition of two WW II aircraft. The B-17 and the B-24. We were allowed to walk through the planes and take tons of pictures. Which I did, of course! This was the Flying Fortress all renovated and open for all to tour.
What really hit me was how small the insides of the planes were. How these men were able to get around totally amazed me. Especially the area underneath the B-17, the Ball Turret, where the Belly Gunner sat. I looked and I just knew I could not have gotten in there. Or if I had gotten in, I never would have gotten out.
I spoke for a long time to the Belly Gunner of that plane, Smitty. He told us the story of when the plane had been shot down, and how he had lost his arm. He spoke kindly of the German Nun Nurse who cared for him. He told us about the struggles that the men went through.
I shook his hand with thanks, and by the end of the talk, I hugged both him and his wife.
I thought of all the young lives lost and also of all the lives saved by these heroic men. What a terrible time in world history, and yet these machines that flew through the sky, primitive as they were, flown by these fearless men, conquered overwhelming evil and restored freedom to many parts of the world.
I was so pleased that I was able to hear about Smitty’s survival. He was a real American Hero.
So today The Flying Fortress died. She will not fly again and all that remains are pieces of her wings and tail and a pile of ashes. Over 70 years old and this was how the life of this great plane ended.