SACRAMENTO — A historic WWII-era bomber, which in the past has offered flights in Sacramento, crashed in Connecticut Wednesday morning, killing at least seven people.
The plane is owned by the Collings Foundation, which takes passengers on historic aviation tours, making stops across the country — including Sacramento.
“Five minutes into the flight, the aircraft indicated to the tower that they were experiencing some type of problem with the aircraft,” Connecticut Airport Authority Executive Director Kevin Dillon said. “We did observe that the aircraft was not gaining altitude.”
The B-17 returned to Bradley International Airport, but crashed into a de-icing and maintenance facility.
“They don’t use jet fuel like an airliner would use. They use aviation gasoline, which is much more flammable and a little more dangerous than jet fuel,” Sacramento City College aeronautics professor Scott Miller said.
Miller says the NTSB will have challenges investigating the crash.
“This aircraft is not equipped with any sort of cockpit voice recorder or flight data recorder,” he said.
The plane that crashed offered flights out of Mather Airport in Sacramento County as recently as last May. Clients joined to reconnect with their family history, flying on the same aircraft their fathers, husbands and grandfathers did when they served.
Miller says there are fewer than 20 B-17 still flying today.
Although their designs are old, Miller says the planes are as safe as any modern aircraft and still must meet modern FAA requirements.
“With proper maintenance, these airplanes can really fly almost forever. The engines that are on these airplanes are not obviously the original engines installed, they’ve been removed, overhauled components replaced as required,” Miller said. “The airframes themselves the wings the fuselage gets inspected quite regularly and if there’s any corrosion or anything like that, those parts are replaced.”