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Specialists Continue To Assess B-17 Damage

New video may offer more clues

May 10, 2004 - Damage assessment of EAA's B-17 Aluminum Overcast continues at the Van Nuys Airport in California, where the vintage World War II aircraft suffered a landing gear failure after safely landing there last Wednesday, May 5. The immediate goal is to determine what repairs are necessary to the B-17, which is currently on the Van Nuys ramp awaiting available hangar space.

EAA Museum Director Adam Smith, who has been in close contact with EAA maintenance officials on the scene, said some recently obtained video footage shows the entire incident from approach to touchdown, roll-out, and gear collapse.

"We are using that new video to help us understand exactly what happened," he said. "Our emphasis, naturally, is on the landing gear and discovering why it malfunctioned."

The damage to the Flying Fortress is pretty obvious to anyone who has seen the video or photographs, Smith said. "We are assessing our options. But we don't feel we are finding anything of major concern beyond what is obvious in the photos and video that have been circulating since the incident."

As expected, there is some propeller damage, with inspections continuing to the airplane's four engines. On the bright side, the damage to the underside of the fuselage was not as heavy as first feared, further cementing the B-17's 60-year reputation as an extremely rugged airframe.

No timeline has been set for completion of the aircraft inspection or repairs.

A number of people have asked whether they can go to the site and see the airplane, but Smith stressed that the site is not publicly accessible. EAA continues to receive calls and e-mails from members and enthusiasts from throughout the country, offering everything from repair assistance on the airplane to monetary donations.

EAA has a long-established B-17 Maintenance Fund that is specifically earmarked for maintenance of the aircraft. To learn more, visit EAA's B-17 website.

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