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19th May 1944 - Thorpe Abbotts - B-17 Crash

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Frank Valesh and his crew, by this time in the war, were a pathfinder crew. They were sent back to Thorpe Abbotts in the early hours of May 19th to lead the group on the days mission. In the early morning darkness, Frank had trouble picking up the outer circle lights leading to the active secondary runway and ended up on final approach too high.


As the B-17 crossed the end of the runway, a warning flare was fired from flying control. Unfortunately it ignited just ahead of the cockpit, momentarily blinding Frank and John Booth. The B-17 touched down long on the runway, without either pilot knowing where they were on the runway, but they let the speed gently bleed off, thinking that the Radar B-17 could always be towed back onto the concrete if they over ran.


What they failed to realise is that they were landing on the short secondary runway. The ditch that ripped the landing gear off the plane soon brough home the reality of their location. The B-17 over ran the runway, through the airfield boundary ripping the landing gear off in the ditch beside the public road, finally coming to rest in the field beyond ( see red X on photo ).


The valuable Radar B-17 was only fit for scrap! While Frank flew around 14 different B-17's on his tour, this B-17 ( # 42-97560 MZ*H ) and the first ( # 42-31035 EP*E that crashed into Drapers Farm ), were the only two of Frank's aircraft to carry the name "Hang The Expense".




Edited by Jessie The Jeep
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