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Updated: Plane's Passengers Were Not Local

Plane will be removed from field Tuesday.

Updated 4:25 p.m. The seven passengers are associated with Liberty Foundation and are not local residents, officials said in a news conference. Check back later for a full article on the news conference.

Updated 4 p.m. Rush-Copley Medical Center spokeswoman Courtney Satlak said the person transported from the scene had been treated at the Aurora hospital and released. All seven people aboard were unharmed in the emergency landing, but one person did receive a minor head injury exiting the aircraft, police said.

Updated 2:50 p.m. Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board will hold a press conference at the scene of the emergency landing at 4 p.m. Monday. 

Updated 1:30 p.m. At a second small news conference, Kendall County Sheriff's Office Deputy Craig French said the National Transportation Safety Board officials had arrived on the scene and were joining the Federal Aviation Administration in investigating the emergency landing.

French said someone aboard the plane saw a fire in an engine about five minutes after it took off and the pilot successfully executed an emergency landing. French did not release the names, ages or hometowns of those aboard the plane.

Updated 1 p.m. Roger VanEtten of Oswego said he toured the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress named Liberty Belle on Sunday when it was on display at the Aurora Municipal Airport. He said he did not see the plane make its emergency landing, but said he heard it overhead on Monday morning. He described it as a beautiful plane.

VanEtten and Mike Gossett of Boulder Hill tromped through the farmer's field to get a closer look at the wreckage Monday morning. He said you could still read the "Miss Liberty Belle" insignia on the fuselage, but the section of plane between the back of the cockpit and the tail was "just gone."

Frank Corney of Oswego said he saw the plane flying on Monday morning, with a smaller plane flying next to it. He said the B-17 made a hard bank to the right, and flew very low over his house.

David DeVos of Oswego heard the bomber flying overhead, and said it sounded to him like a single-engine plane. He said he knows what a B-17 sounds like, having been an airplane mechanic for 20 years. When he saw the helicopters overhead, he said, he knew something big had happened.

The Liberty Foundation offered flights of the restored aircraft Saturday and Sunday at Aurora Municipal Airport in Sugar Grove, according to the foundation's website. The organization was going to offer a similar program this weekend at Indianapolis Regional Airport in Greenfield, IN, according to its website.

Updated 12:25 p.m. Eyewitness John Paravola reported seeing the plane just after takeoff. He said he was driving on Wolf's Crossing Road when he saw the plane lose half its altitude just after taking off. 

"[The pilot] banked hard right and you could tell something was wrong," Paravola said. "His wings almost went vertical and I saw him put out his landing gear. ... He looked like he was headed back to the airport."

Paravola, who lives on Tomahawk Trail, said his house is about 300 yards from the crash site. He said he tried to return to his house but by the time he got back to Minkler Road and Route 71 police had it closed off. 

He said neighbors had called him to report the plane had just missed his home.

Updated 11:45 a.m. Kendall County Sheriff's Office Public Information Officer Craig French said the plane did not crash but made an emergency landing in a field about 1,150 yards off Minkler Road. All seven people aboard were unharmed in the emergency landing, but one person did receive a minor head injury exiting the aircraft. The injured person, who was not the plane's pilot, was taken to Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora.

French said the plane was en route to Indianapolis when a passenger noticed one of the engines on fire. French said as of 11:25 a.m. the plane was still on fire.

Updated 11:15 a.m. Deerpath Creek resident Brenda Zych said she was in her back yard cleaning her grill this morning when the plane flew over her house very low to the ground. 

"It was lower than any plane has ever flown over our house before," she said. "It was close enough that you could make out the details of the plane."

Original post

A vintage B-17 bomber caught fire in the air and made an emergency landing in a field near Minkler Road and Route 71 in Oswego Monday morning, officials said.

No one was injured in the blaze, according to Sugar Grove Fire Chief Marty Kunkel. The plane took off from the Aurora Municipal Airport in Sugar Grove around 9:30 a.m., Kunkel said, and soon after reported to the tower that there was a fire on board.

“They tried to come back to the airport but they ended up putting the plane down in a farm field,” Kunkel said.

Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman Elizabeth Isham Cory said there were seven people on board the aircraft, and all escaped unharmed. The plane, a World War II bomber, was manufactured in 1944, Cory said.

The FAA is investigating the landing, and no cause has been determined. Cory said an investigation may take several weeks to complete. 

Police and fire crews from Oswego and Sugar Grove remained on the scene. More information will be posted as it develops.

Marla Gusler Holman June 13, 2011 at 04:05 PM
Thank heavens no one was hurt!
Scott Henderson June 13, 2011 at 04:08 PM
http://www.libertyfoundation.org/index.html
Deb Krase June 13, 2011 at 04:14 PM
You said it, Marla. I am thankful pilots are trained so well for emergencies.
Evelyn Santiago June 13, 2011 at 04:17 PM
Well that explains the helicopters earlier this morning. Glad to know that no one was hurt!
Greg Nelson June 13, 2011 at 04:39 PM
What a shame that we may have lost a piece of WWII History also with this crash. The people that rebuilt this aircraft are unique in their drive to save our history. Happy to hear they all are save, and high hopes they will continue the passion of rebuilding our past so all can see and learn.
Julie Gartung June 13, 2011 at 05:40 PM
Yikes! We were out driving this morning and saw the smoke. I'm so glad everyone was able to walk away from it.
Juan Hernandez June 13, 2011 at 06:33 PM
Yeah I saw the smoke too. Never go down that road and when I do this happens. Glad everyone is okay.
Brenda Zych June 13, 2011 at 11:49 PM
Just to let you know. I live in Deerpath creek not trails and I did not hear an explosion. The plane was very loud flying over us and we saw the explosion of black clouds and fire. Very happy everyone survived. Thank you Oswego Patch for keeping us posted and on top of everything. Doing a great job! Brenda Zych
Steven Jack (Editor) June 14, 2011 at 12:00 AM
Brenda, Sorry for that. I think with the rush of everything this morning there was a lot of confusion. Thanks for setting the record straight. It's always appreciated.
BoniV June 14, 2011 at 12:52 AM
We were in Meijer parking lot in Oswego, watching the planes in the distance, when the B17 did a turn about. We saw him disappear out of site. Thank you for this update. Glad nobody was hurt.

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