LOWER MAKEFIELD >> Like so many of our readers, I was terribly shocked to learn about the crash of the WWII vintage B-17 bomber, also known as a 'Flying Fortress,' at the Bradley International Airport on Oct. 2.

This past August, I had the opportunity to again visit and photograph the same 'Nine-O-Nine' (the name on the fuselage) when it was on display along with other WWII aircraft at the Trenton-Mercer Airport just across the river in New Jersey.

Approximately eight years ago I had my first introduction to this historic airplane when it was brought to the Trenton Airport by the Collings Foundation. I will never forget just how awe struck I was to be in the presence of such aviation history.

That day I met many former Army and Air Force veterans, each with their own personal stories about B-17s and other military aircraft that were on display at the airfield.

The Collings Foundation who own the aircraft is a private, non-profit educational foundation located in Stowe, Massachusetts. It was founded in 1979 by Robert F. Collings and Caroline Collings with a mission dedicated to the preservation and public display of transportation history.

The B-17 Flying Fortress is a four engine heavy bomber that was developed in the late 1930s for the United States Army Air Corps (USAAC). From its introduction in 1938 and through numerous design advances it became the third most produced bomber of all time. Many recognized the aircraft as the work horse of the U.S. Army Air Corps flying thousands of missions in the European Theater during the war.

It is so very sad that what was supposed to be a once in a lifetime flying adventure turned out to be such a tragedy. Certainly my heart goes out to the families of all those who perished and were injured in this horrible accident.

Hopefully, the aviation authorities will be able to determine the cause of this crash and prevent something like this from ever happening in the future.

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