Collings Foundation Reaches Settlement With Nine-0-Nine Crash Victims


The Collings Foundation has settled legal claims involving eight of the 10 passengers who were aboard its B-17 Nine-0-Nine when it crashed at Hartford’s Bradley International Airport on Oct. 2, 2019. Two other passengers reached a deal in 2021. Terms of the settlement, which was mediated by a retired judge, will not be made public, but lawyers for both sides released a joint statement to NBC. “While it is our sincere hope that this resolution brings peace and closure to those affected, The Collings Foundation deeply regrets the injuries and losses suffered by the passengers and their families that day,” the statement read.

The NTSB said in its final report the aircraft lost partial power in two engines on takeoff for a fundraising flight and the pilot headed back to the field. The board faulted the pilot for lowering the landing gear prematurely, causing drag that resulted in the plane losing altitude and clipping approach lights before hitting the ground before the runway and colliding with some unoccupied vehicles. It caught fire after coming to rest in a tank farm. The NTSB also rapped the foundation for lax maintenance practices and dysfunctional safety management system.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. A 75 year-old guy responsible for flying AND maintaining a 4-engined aircraft on a tour schedule (as I understood the report) doesn’t sound like a recipe for success.

      • More than one person. Probably more than two people. Maintaining the aircraft is more than a full time job. Having the same individual responsible for the flying is a bad idea.

  2. Early 2001 my father sat me down at my small kitchen table and said “Well, Dex, it looks like it’s curtains for me”. The cancer had run it’s course. I swallowed through tears and replied “Yeah Dad, I know, what do you want me to do with you when your gone?”. “I don’t know he replied”.

    I knew his memories of being shot down, interrogated, and interred by the Nazi’s was the single most influential events that had shaped him into the quiet, funny, gentle, brave and man of strength I have ever known.

    I asked “How about I spread your ashes from a B-17?”. “That’s what I want” he said. My Sister and Mom were not witness to this exchange, and I suspect they were never really all in on the idea.

    Through the Collings Foundation I was able to honor his wish in Nine-O-Nine.

  3. So, what’s the lesson for those of us in the cheap seats? When you take someone else flying your primary responsibility is to return them safely to their loved ones. Any question on pre-existing issues means postponing the flight until everything is checked over and test flown. In the event of inflight mechanical issues, that may mean sacrificing your airplane to make that safe return happen. While the calculation shouldn’t be different than when you’re flying solo, it is absolutely non-negotiable when flying anyone who puts their trust in you.

    The short version? put on your big boy PIC pants and be a responsible adult.