This morning a vintage World War II plane that has visited the Hazleton airport many times crashed and erupted into flames leaving multiple dead and wounded.
Sources state that at multiple injures were transported to local hospitals and 5 unconfirmed deaths have been reported.
According to FAA air traffic control audio recorded by LiveATC.net, shortly after takeoff the pilot told air traffic control:
"N93012 would like to return to the field."
The controller replied "What is the reason for coming back?"
"You got No. 4 engine. We'd like to return, and blow it out," another pilot in the aircraft responded.
One of the pilots requested to land immediately and the control tower diverted other planes that were about to land according to the recording.
The Collings Foundation in a brief release stated they are "forever grateful to the heroic efforts of the first responders at Bradley."
In a statement to CNN, the foundation said "Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were on that flight"
B-17 Nine-O-Nine History
The original aircraft was nicknamed after the last three digits of her serial number: 42-31909. Nine-0-Nine was added to the USAAF inventory on December 15, 1943, and flown overseas on February 5, 1944.
Her first bombing raid was on Augsburg, Germany, on February 25, 1944. She made 18 bombing raids on Berlin. In all she flew 1,129 hours and dropped 562,000 pounds of bombs. She had 21 engine changes, four wing panel changes, 15 main gas tank changes, and 18 changes of Tokyo tanks (long-range fuel tanks).
After the hostilities ceased in Europe, Nine-O-Nine was returned to the United States on June 8, 1945, consigned to the RFC facility at Kingman, Arizona on December 7, 1945, and eventually scrapped.
B-17G-85-DL, 44-83575, civil registration N93012, owned and flown by The Collings Foundation, Stow, Massachusetts, appeared at airshows marked as the historic Nine-O-Nine.
The Collings Flying Fortress was built at Long Beach, CA by the Douglas Aircraft Company and accepted on April 7, 1945. Although she was too late for combat, #44-83575 did serve air-sea rescue duties as part of the Air/Sea 1st Rescue Squadron and later in the Military Air Transport Service.
For twenty years, without a major problem or incident, #44-83575 served as a fire bomber dropping water and borate on forest fires. She was sold in January 1986 to the Collings Foundation. Restored back to her original wartime configuration by Tom Reilly Vintage Aircraft, she represented one of the finest B-17 restorations and won several awards.
On August 23, 1987, while performing at an airshow in the Pittsburgh suburban Beaver County Airport, N93012 ("Nine-O-Nine") was caught by a severe crosswind moments after touchdown. The right wing lifted in the air, finally coming down too far down the runway. Despite the efforts of her crew, she rolled off the end of the runway, crashed through a chain link fence, sheared off a power pole and roared down a 100-foot ravine to a thundering stop. The landing gear sheared off, the chin turret was smashed and pushed into the nose; the Plexiglass nose was shattered; bomb bay doors, fuselage, ball turret, wing and nacelles all took a tremendous beating. Engines and propellers were also torn from their mounts. Fortunately, there were no fatalities to the crew or riders although there were injuries.
For a second time, N93012 (Nine-O-Nine) "rose from the ashes". With nacelles from the famed B-17 "Shoo Shoo Baby", thousands of volunteer hours at Air Heritage Aircraft Restoration Inc., support from the people of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, and donations from individuals and corporations, she was made whole again to carry on the proud and rugged heritage of the B-17.
Since the crash at Beaver County Airport N93012 (Nine-O-Nine) has succeeded in visiting over 1200 tour stops.
On July 9, 1995 N93012 (Nine-O-Nine) once again crashed, this time near Norfolk, Nebraska after it's landing gear failed, resulting in the air craft skidding for 700 feet with one working tire.
On the morning of October 2, 2019, N93012 ("Nine-O-Nine") crashed shortly after takeoff from Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. The airport was shut down after the accident. The aircraft was destroyed in the crash.
During September Drift Evergreen event at Evergreen Raceway in Drums PA and Hazleton News 1's own Shayne Balliet attended the event to do some ride alongs with the drivers.
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