Recent Developments

Speiser Krause in the News and Recent Developments

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Speiser Krause Monitoring the Investigation into the Crash a Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress Vintage World War II Aircraft

On Wednesday, October 2, 2019 at approximately 10:00 a.m. a vintage Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress World War II era aircraft crashed at the Bradley International Airport located in Windsor Locks, Connecticut, killing 5 passengers and 2 crew members.  5 other passengers and the flight engineer were seriously injured, as was a ground based airport worker.

The aircraft was owned by the Collings Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational foundation based in Stow, Massachusetts.  The vintage aircraft was part of the Wings of Freedom Tour which includes several vintage aircraft and provides flights for individuals at various airports throughout the country.  The flight on the B-17G, for which passengers each pay $450 to the Foundation, is expected to last approximately 30-40 minutes.   The B-17G does not have conventional aircraft seating.  Rather, makeshift seats are installed and after takeoff passengers are able to walk through the aircraft, take photos, observe the pilots, crawl into the bombardier position in the nose of the aircraft, and visit the navigator station just below the flight deck.

Shortly after takeoff the aircraft contacted air traffic control tower and requested an immediate return to the airport.  The flight crew then advised that it was experiencing a problem with the number 4 engine.   Air traffic control cleared the aircraft to land on Runway 6 and diverted all other traffic that was in the vicinity of the airport.  The B-17G approached the runway in an attempt to land, but instead hit an Instrument Landing System stanchion, causing the aircraft to veer off the runway, cross a taxiway and impact a de-icing facility located on the airport property.  A significant post-crash fire ensued.  A Connecticut Air National Guardsman, who was on board as a passenger, was able to open a hatch that allowed the passengers to escape from the burning wreckage.  But for his heroics, it is likely that all on board would have perished in the post-crash fire.  

Speiser Krause has litigated multiple cases involving demonstration flights and vintage World War I, World War II and Vietnam era aircraft.  In one such case, Speiser Krause represented the estate and widow of a former senior Delta Airline Captain who perished in a T-34A crash when the wing separated from the fuselage due to a defect in construction and the age of the aircraft.  The simulated aerial combat flight was conducted by a commercial company who required its participants to sign a multi-page release.  Despite this, Speiser Krause attorneys overcame the release and aging aircraft defenses and provided a substantial recovery to the Captain’s widow.  In addition, as a result of the defects found in the aircraft during the course of the litigation, the T-34 fleet was grounded until the specified defect was corrected.  Partners of the firm also represented a British National who perished in a “paid ride” in a P-51 Mustang owned by a museum in Texas.  The museum also mounted a defense of waiver (again a multi-page release signed by the victim prior to the flight) and as well as the defense of charitable immunity.  Our firm was again able to litigate these issues to a successful resolution on behalf of the deceased-passenger’s family.  

We will continue to provide updates as the investigation into this tragedy unfolds.  

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