FLYING Magazine is reporting that four years after the deadly crash of its B-17 and the damning investigation that followed, the Collings Foundation has announced it will end its popular Wings of Freedom tours and put its aircraft on static display. Nine-O-Nine crashed while the crew tried to coax it back to Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Connecticut, in 2019, after a partial power loss shortly after takeoff. There were seven passengers and three crew onboard and only three people, two passengers and the loadmaster, survived when the plane hit vehicles and a deicing fluid tank about 500 feet short of the runway.
The NTSB report cited numerous maintenance and safety issues with the touring aircraft, which spent 10 months of the year crossing North America giving rides for hire. In addition to the B-17, the foundation offered rides in a B-25, B-24 and two-seat P-51D. The foundation says the aircraft will now stay at its Hudson, Massachusetts, museum along with dozens of other aircraft, vehicles and ground equipment commemorating U.S. involvement in wars around the world. “We are moving forward on our long-term plans to bring the aircraft from a nationwide flying exhibition to permanent display here in Massachusetts,” the foundation said in its newsletter to members. A 90,000-square-foot expansion to the museum is also planned.