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7 aboard WWII-era B-17 bomber escape as plane burns in Illinois cornfield

Firefighters extinguished flames after a B-17 bomber burned following an emergency landing in a cornfield in Oswego, Ill., yesterday. The accident happened shortly after the plane took off from Aurora Municipal Airport. Firefighters extinguished flames after a B-17 bomber burned following an emergency landing in a cornfield in Oswego, Ill., yesterday. The accident happened shortly after the plane took off from Aurora Municipal Airport. (Brian Powers/ The Beacon-News/ Associated Press)
Associated Press / June 14, 2011

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OSWEGO, Ill. — A B-17 bomber dating to World War II apparently made an emergency landing yesterday in a cornfield outside Chicago before it was consumed by fire while the seven people aboard escaped uninjured, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

“The plane departed the airport, noted an emergency, and the pilot made what appears to be an emergency landing, after which the plane was consumed by fire,’’ FAA spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said in an e-mail.

The aircraft departed the Aurora Municipal Airport and the accident happened immediately after takeoff, with the plane in an Oswego cornfield, Cory said. The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating the incident.

Jim Barry, who lives in a nearby subdivision, told the Chicago Tribune that he heard a low-flying plane and looked to see it. The engine on the bomber’s left wing was on fire, he said.

“Not a lot of flames, just more smoke than flames,’’ Barry said.

The pilot reported a fire shortly after taking off, Sugar Grove Fire Chief Marty Kunkle said.

“He attempted to make a return to the airport, but couldn’t make it so he put it down in a cornfield,’’ Kunkel told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Firefighters from Oswego, Sugar Grove, and Plainfield responded to the scene. Fire officials said they were having difficulty getting to the aircraft because of wet fields.

The aircraft was made in 1944 and is known as the “Flying Fortress.’’ Authorities say it is registered to the Liberty Foundation in Miami.

An e-mail to the Liberty Foundation seeking confirmation was not immediately returned.

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