Vintage Plane Goes Down In Oswego Field

UPDATED 06/13/11 7:00 p.m.

OSWEGO, Ill. (CBS) — An engine caught fire in a vintage World War II plane Monday morning, prompting its pilot to make an emergency landing in a field in Oswego Monday morning.

No one was seriously injured, but the plane, named the Liberty Belle, ended up being destroyed by the flames.

“Everything’s good,” a crew member told CBS 2’s Jim Williams hours later.

The Oswego Fire Department said the B-17 came down in a field near the intersection of Route 71 and Minkler Road in the Kendall County town, which is located about 40 miles west of Chicago.

All seven people onboard the plane got off safely, and one had minor injuries, authorities said. The injured person was treated and released from Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora, according to a hospital representative.

Kevin Potts, a farmer in the area, said he saw the plane fly over. He told CBS 2 that the plane was obviously in trouble, as it was flying low and there was fire in one of the engines.

“I noticed that it was a little too low and was kind of coming down, and then I noticed flames coming out underneath its left wing,” Potts told CBS 2.

Potts said the plane appeared to be escorted by another plane.

He jumped in an all-terrain vehicle and went to the crash scene – a cornfield about two miles away.

“It’s just an amazing job by this pilot, and thank God that apparently, everyone walked away,” he said.

LISTEN: Newsradio 780’s Mke Krauser reports

After everyone left, the plane was still on fire, and fire crews from Oswego, Sugar Grove and other departments were on the scene. But they were were having difficulty getting to the crash because of “extremely wet fields,” Sugar Grove Fire Chief Marty Kunkel said.

The plane was burning in the field but it was too muddy for fire trucks to get to,” Clow International Airport Manager Joe De Paulo said.

The plane had taken off around 9:30 a.m. from the Aurora Municipal Airport in Sugar Grove. It had been built in 1944 during World War II, Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said.

Mike Baker, of Montgomery, was at the Aurora airport on Saturday and says the plane was grounded because of a fuel leak in the same engine that burned Monday.

“One of the guys who travels with the plane said it was leaking gasoline, and you could smell it was gasoline,” Baker said.

The plane was part of the Liberty Foundation’s 2011 Salute to Veterans at the Aurora Municipal Airport.

By 11 a.m., the fire was out, but the plane seemed to have split into three pieces and smoke was still rising. Fire crews were still hosing down the demolished plane.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

  • Robert J, Junger

    If it was a WWII bomber, it’s NOT a “small” aircraft.

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  • Gabrielle Pierce

    The incredible B-17 bomber is NOT a small plane!!! It is an impressive, enormous beautiful 4-engine aircraft, sheesh. Do a bit of research on your stories, please. The history on these planes is awesome. How sad to have one end like this—and for those reporting on it to be so clueless.

  • Doug

    Re: 6:00 P.M. news tonight…..You might mention to Bill Kurtis, it’s not Berlin Wisconsin, it’s New BERlin.

    • JeanSC

      I’ll put the stress on the 2nd syllable in “Berlin” regardless of location, because that’s where it is in the original German. The anglicized vowels are enough for me. I don’t know why anyone here would stress the 1st syllable, but I don’t owe them imitation. Tough.

  • John

    I totally agree with Robert and Gabrielle get your facts straight before racing to try and be the first to run the story. The B-17 is a very large aircraft my cousin flew 52 missions as a bombardier in one of those great machines. Maybe some people ought to stick to doing the traffic.

  • Gabrielle Pierce

    52 missions, WOW. What memories he must have.

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  • limaflight

    John Rippinger here from the Lima Lima Flight Team. Just an FYI, there were only three Lima Lima aircraft in the Chicago area yesterday and none of them flew. What someone saw was a yellow T-6 Texan that was accompanying the B-17 to Indy. Some sort of retraction would be nice only because of our sensitivity to the loss of one of our team members 11 years ago in Oswego.

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