Ravaged WWII B-17 is no stranger to The Suncoast
SARASOTA COUNTY - Seven people are dead and several others injured after a World War II era Boeing B-17 crashed at a Connecticut airport Wednesday.Passengers across the country have had the opportunity to ride in it, including SNN's Jennifer Kveglis.
In February 2018, Jennifer was a passenger on this tour and joined two World War II veterans to fly on what the EAA calls one of the "sturdiest aircrafts in history". EAA Spokesperson, Dick Knapinski said, "Many organizations that still fly them take them throughout the country to share the story of what the greatest generation did 75 to 80 years ago to protect our freedoms."
For passengers on the Collings Foundation's Wings of Freedom Tour stop in Connecticut Wednesday, it was a flight experience in a rare piece of living history that ended in turmoil.
10 eager passengers and 3 crewmen on board the B–17 Flying Fortress. Less than 10 minutes in the air, the bomber crashed. He said, "The first reaction always when you hear about loss of life in aircraft or any kind of accident is that your hearts go out to the people involved and their families of course. And then when you think about losing this priceless piece of history, it saddens you because these airplanes are simply irreplaceable."
Jennifer rode that plane when the tour stopped in Fort Myers. World War II U.S. Air Force veteran, Jimmy Nixon and U.S. Navy veteran, Angelo Yarice joined Jennifer aboard the four-engine, "Nine-O-Nine" B-17 to fly to Venice.
Thursday, after the aircraft's fiery crash, Yerace said the flight nearly two years ago ignited something for 94–year–old. "Brought back memories of the planes that were flying that day D Day.." He said.
Yerace was 18, looking up to the sky to see thousands of B–17s in the sky. After this week, less than 10 are in operation, leaving many questions unanswered about what went wrong Wednesday.
"The B–17 is one of the sturdiest aircrafts ever designed. There are stories of wartime, where it landed with only one of its four engines operating or part of its tail shot off," Knapinski said. The NTSB and FAA are investigating the cause of the mysterious crash.