Ear: B-17

Back in 2007, The Astorian sports writer Gary Henley (pictured) covered the World War II-vintage airplanes belonging to the Collings Foundation (collingsfoundation.org), that flew in to the Astoria Regional Airport for the "Wings of Freedom" tour. 

One of the planes was a B-17 Flying Fortress, the Nine O Nine; Ernest "Mac" McCauley of California was its pilot.

"There's a lot of tricks we have to do," Hunter Chaney, director of marketing for the Collings Foundation told Gary at the time, "in salvaging and replacing parts. … These are the most cared for, loved and coddled planes. They're meant to fly." And Gary did just that. On the B-17. 

Gary flew on the Nine O Nine a second time, over Corvallis in 2018, again with McCauley at the controls. His video of the flight is at bit.ly/GHfly2018. A screen shot is shown; Laurie Assa's photo is inset.

By now, you might have guessed that it was the Nine O Nine, piloted by McCauley, 75, and Michael Foster, 71, that crashed and burned at a Connecticut airport Oct. 3, killing the pilots and five others. An AP story says McCauley had more than 7,000 hours of B-17 flying experience (bit.ly/B17down).

The aircraft, one of the few B-17s left, was brought down by mechanical trouble. "Same plane," Gary noted, that he flew on — twice. "So sad."  

Elleda Wilson is an editorial assistant for The Astorian and author of the award-winning In One Ear community column. Contact her at 971-704-1718 or ewilson@dailyastorian.com.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.