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Preliminary report on B-17 crash released

October 17, 2019 News Extra

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FILE - In this Aug. 19, 2019 file photo, B-17 pilot, Ernest "Mac" McCauley lands the B-17 flying fortress "Nine O Nine" during the Wings of Freedom Tour at the Hazleton Regional Airport in Hazleton, Pa. McCauley, 75, of Long Beach, Calif., and his co-pilot were among seven people killed when the bomber crashed and burned Wednesday, Oct. 2, at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn.

The World War II-era B-17 Flying Fortress that has visited the Pittsburgh-Butler Regional Airport multiple times during the Wings of Freedom Tours might have crashed due to trouble with more than one engine.

The aircraft, known as the “909,” was destroyed in a fiery crash Oct. 2 at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn.

The plane was owned by the Collings Foundation, and was giving enthusiasts rides at the airport when the crash occurred.

The pilot, co-pilot and five passengers were killed in the crash. Four passengers and a flight mechanic were seriously injured. One passenger and one person on the ground sustained minor injuries.

A preliminary report on the crash released by the National Transportation Safety Board said the plane fueled up and took off at 9:20 a.m. with the crew and passengers aboard as it had dozens of times during the annual Wings of Freedom Celebration in Penn Township.

According to the preliminary report, shortly after takeoff and at about 500 feet in the air, one of the pilots radioed the control tower that he needed to return to the airport.

Control tower personnel verified the request to return and asked the pilot if he needed any assistance, to which he replied “no.”

When the controller asked the pilot the reason for the return, the pilot replied that he had a “rough mag” on one of the huge craft’s four engines.

This is an excerpt from a full article that will appear in Friday’s Butler Eagle. Subscribe online or in print to read more about what’s in the preliminary report.

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