default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
Logout|My Dashboard

Jordan Guinn We lost more than a plane in the Liberty Belle crash

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Jordan Guinn

Posted: Wednesday, June 15, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 9:08 am, Wed Jun 15, 2011.

Almost two months to the day after I took a flight in the Liberty Belle, a restored B-17 bomber from World War II, the plane caught fire and crashed in a cornfield near Oswego, Ill.

News-Sentinel photo chief Dan Evans, Lodi resident Chuck Casella (a tailgunner in the European theater during the war) and I all were passengers of the aircraft that flew over the Sacramento area in mid-April.

The four-engine Boeing plane was briefly stationed at Mather Air Force Base as members of the Liberty Foundation — a group that provides rides in historic aircraft — toured Northern California with the plane. We basically found Casella by luck. He responded to a news brief asking readers if they had flown in a B-17 before.

Casella initially declined the offer to take the flight with us, but his wife, Vedah, urged him to reconsider. I don't know what she said, but it worked.

The assignment was gratifying because it offered us the chance to reward a veteran and loyal reader with a rare opportunity. Watching a beaming Casella tour the aircraft as the steel behemoth rumbled through the sky is a memory I don't plan on relinquishing.

It was as if I watched a microcosm of the war as he shared memories and cracked jokes with the other former airmen.

I guess I still shouldn't be surprised he handled the flight better than me or Evans. After all, he was operating a .50 caliber machine-gun from the rear of the plane over the Mediterranean Sea before our dads were even born.

While Evans was feeling good enough when we touched down, I practically made out with the runway when I got off the plane. It's not that I didn't feel safe; I just hate flying to begin with. Ten more minutes in the air and they would've been pressure-washing my breakfast out of the restored fuselage.

The loss of the plane is tragic on several levels. The only positive is that no one was seriously hurt Monday. Not only are there likely heavy financial losses for the Liberty Foundation, but the plane is ruined beyond repair.

There are only 13 B-17s in flying condition left, according to Liberty Foundation spokesman Ron Gause.

Its loss offers sobering symbolism of the World War II generation that is also sharply declining in numbers.

Contact reporter Jordan Guinn at jordang@lodinews.com.

More about

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don't pretend you're someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don't insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.

Welcome to the discussion.

Recent Comments

Posted 6 hours ago by jeffreyrinek.

article: San Joaquin County supervisors approve …

Mr. Chang, from your latest comment concerning out of county comments I presume you are referring to me, at the least. Thank you for partic…


Posted 7 hours ago by Frank Gayaldo.

article: San Joaquin County supervisors approve …

My passion is promoting our local economy. When the sheriff does things like waste $9 million dollars on jail design plans, that has a dire…


Posted 7 hours ago by Eric Barrow.

article: Letter: Pastor Frank Nolton forgets abo…

Left wing political propaganda nonsense? I thought you weren't caught up in the left right paradigm.


Posted 7 hours ago by nth degree wise.

article: Letter: Pastor Frank Nolton forgets abo…

Now who is promoting political (right wing) propaganda nonsense? That a sign on a school building (Gun-Free School Zone) is the cause of sc…


Posted 7 hours ago by Ron Werner.

article: Chris Piombo: Life can be hard for a Do…

The Dodgers, just like the federal government. They think that if you throw enough money at something you can buy what you want. With the …



Popular Stories


Should graduations return to the Grape Bowl?

Lodi Unified leaders are moving Lodi and Tokay high school graduations from the Grape Bowl to the Spanos Center at UOP in Stockton. They cite limited seating, costs and unpredictable weather at the Grape Bowl. But others say graduations at the Grape Bowl are an important Lodi tradition, and one reason many supported renovating the stadium. What do you think?

Total Votes: 26


Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists