The fatal crash of a World War II-era bomber in Connecticut last week has not changed plans to continue to have antique planes come to Warren County airport.
Seven people were killed Oct. 2 when a B-17G bomber crashed shortly after takeoff at Bradley International Airport near Hartford, Connecticut.
The airplane involved is known as a Flying Fortress and was named “Nine-O-Nine,” and had visited Warren County airport a number of times. One of its engines failed last week and the pilot lost control when it touched down, slamming into vehicles and at least one building off the tarmac.
The B-17G was owned by the nonprofit Collings Foundation of Massachusetts, which takes World War II-era warplanes around the country on tours to commemorate their history. Attendees can pay for rides on the planes, and the foundation has brought the B-17G, as well as a B-24 and P-51 fighter, to Warren County over the years.
Airport Manager Don DeGraw said the fatal crash has not dissuaded him from having the Collings Foundation planes, or those from the Experimental Aircraft Association, back to the airport if they become available. EAA brought a B-17 to the airport last month.
DeGraw, who has worked at a number of airports around the country, said the Collings Foundation gives their aircraft “the very best maintenance,” and the planes are operated by experienced pilots. The pilot in the Connecticut crash was considered to be one of the most experienced B-17 pilots in the country.
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“That was a horrible situation and our hearts go out to everyone involved,” he said. “We get a great response from people when they come here.”
The county Board of Supervisors, which oversees the airport, is typically advised of events that are planned there, but has not historically voted on them.
Queensbury at-Large Supervisor Doug Beaty, chairman of the board’s Facilities Committee, said the board relies on the airport management to vet the organizations that come to the facility, and there have been no issues.
“We go by what Don and Kevin (Hajos, county public works superintendent) decide, and they would never book the event if they had any safety concerns,” Beaty said. “Accidents happen with any vehicle, but from what I understood (in the Connecticut crash) everything had been checked out thoroughly.”
Since 1982, the National Transportation Safety Board has investigated at least 21 accidents involving World War II-era bombers. They resulted in at least 23 deaths, according to The Associated Press. Four of the accidents involved B-17s.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., asked that the NTSB during its investigation of the Connecticut accident look at the inspection and maintenance requirements on vintage planes and whether they need to be more rigorous.