The B-17G, Liberty Belle, which I’d previously posted about, met its end in an Indiana farmer’s field after an in-flight fire was detected, on June 13, 2011. See the Belle’s site for more information. I’d heard of the news from Janet and Richard Fogg’s, Fogg in the Cockpit. My hat’s off to the skilled and quick acting pilots who brought the Belle and their passengers to a safe landing.
All things must come to an end, and in way, this really is a fitting ending to the Belle, though some may disagree, and it is disappointing and quite halting to those who worked and flew her, and the Belle’s Liberty Foundation…though the foundation itself can go on. Sure it would have been great to continue flying, performing its static displays, et cetera, but the Belle was first and foremost a war bird. An instrument of death and destruction. It was not designed as a museum piece, but as a functional piece of war machinery. And it did its job well. It was a tough old bird and could take quite a pounding and still returned many an aviator home. It did what it did best, and in retirement and refurbishment, continued to fly. Sure, it’s an inanimate object, but in a Zen way, it died doing what it did best (without the bombs and bullets)—it died flying.
And, in the end, isn’t that what we all probably hope for ourselves? That we (short of dying unconscious in our sleep, or in some heroic manner in service to others…) die doing what we love doing most?
The Belle reawakened awareness in many in its refurbishment years, helped awaken some Zen moments in myself as previously mentioned, so it was not a waste. Death is never a waste. It is simply a time to go, whether in people, ideas, or inanimate objects. It was simply time to go, and as dramatic a piece of machinery as it was—again, in a Zen way—it chose a similarly dramatic exit.
And as for the aviators and passengers inside…any landing you can walk away from is a successful landing.
Bon voyage, Liberty Bell!