While even the idea of taking even a short flight in a vintage World War II plane would frighten a lot of people, some history and aviation buffs eagerly pay to do so. There’s something about flying in a vintage aircraft (albeit one that’s been restored and modified) that can make you feel like you’re part of history. But are these aircraft really safe?
Not always. Several years ago, seven people were killed and a number of others (both in the plane and on the ground) were injured when a modified 1944 Boeing B-17G bomber crashed. The crash was determined to have been caused by pilot error. Specifically, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said the pilot extended the landing gear too soon.
Tourist flights are available – how risky are they?
Groups like the Southern California Commemorative Air Force offer flights from local airports and at airshows for those with a couple thousand dollars to spare and a taste for adventure. Although vintage aircraft used for commercial purposes are supposed to undergo regular maintenance, that’s no guarantee of safety.
After the crash of a 1939 plane on a tourist flight over the Swiss Aps, Switzerland’s aviation agency found “various shortcomings” in the plane’s documented maintenance. After that crash, the government determined that “commercial operation with historic aircraft no longer meets today’s safety requirements.”
Are U.S. regulations strict enough?
Shortly after the vintage B-17 bomber crash, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal renewed his call for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) “to tighten its regulations and oversight.” He noted that the agency’s regulations “defer to the airplane’s owner on safety compliance, failing to provide even the most basic oversight of how closely the airplane owner is complying with FAA regulations.”
Even if you determine that a ride in a vintage WW II bomber doesn’t need to be on your bucket list, you don’t have to be in the plane to suffer injuries on the ground in the event of a crash. If you’ve been injured or a loved one has been killed in a crash of a vintage airplane, you have the same right to seek compensation for damages as someone injured in any other kind of plane crash.
Determining fault and liability can take some time, since the NTSB will need to get involved. However, it’s crucial to protect your right to justice and compensation. Seeking experienced legal guidance can help.