Following this weekend’s crash of a World War Two B-17 bomber in Dallas Texas, only nine remain flying in the world. Forty-Five others survive as non flyable static exhibits, including one at Tulare County, California’s Mefford Field.
Nearly 13 thousand B-17 were built during World War Two, most of those that survived the conflict were destroyed but many went on to serve as air tankers to fight forest fires, while a few were snapped up by groups like the Confederate Air Force, which was renamed the Commemorative Air Force when people complained about the name of the organization honoring the Confederacy of the south.
On Saturday, one of the world’s remaining B-17’s was hit in mid air by another aircraft during an air show in Dallas Texas. Both planes went down carrying 6 people, all of whom perished. An investigation is currently underway by the Federal Aviation Administration to determine the cause of the crash, but based on the footage obtained of the event, it was the single engine P-63 King Cobra aircraft that slammed into the rear of the B-17 as the P-63 maneuvered into a left turn. The B-17 was flying straight and level when it was struck, cut in half, and exploded when it hit the ground in front of thousands of spectators.
Among the B-17’s still air worthy are the Memphis Belle, which has paid visits to the central valley in recent years, and Sentimental Journey, which this reporter personally piloted between Fresno and Oakland, California in the 1990’s