Collings Foundation's Nine-O-Nine
, in Marana, Arizona, on April 15, 2011
NTSB investigators at the crash site on October 3
The aircraft was a 74-year-old Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, military serial number 44-83575 (variant B-17G-85-DL) with civilian registration N93012. The aircraft was painted to represent a different B-17G, the 91st Bomb Group's Nine-O-Nine, with military serial number 42-31909 (variant B-17G-30-BO), which had been scrapped shortly after World War II at Kingman, Arizona. During its original military career, the aircraft operated as an Air-Sea Rescue aircraft until 1952, when it was reassigned to the Air Force Special Weapons Command for use as a specimen in weapons-effects testing. In this role, it was subjected to three nuclear explosions as part of Operation Tumbler–Snapper. The aircraft was purchased as scrap in 1965 for a price of US$269 (equivalent to $2,139 in 2018); being in relatively good condition, it was restored to airworthy condition for use as a water bomber over the course of ten years, entering civilian service in 1977.
Following its operator's liquidation in 1985, the aircraft was acquired by the Collings Foundation in January 1986, restored to its 1945 configuration, and N93012 was flying as Nine-O-Nine by August 1986. While operated by the Collings Foundation, it was involved in two prior accidents: on August 23, 1987, it overran the runway on landing at Beaver County Airport near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and on July 9, 1995, it was damaged on landing at Karl Stefan Memorial Airport in Norfolk, Nebraska, as the result of a landing gear malfunction.
The October 2019 crash and resulting fire destroyed most of the aircraft. Only the left wing and part of the tail remained.