One fatality as historic plane crashes

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One person was killed when an historic Northrop N9MB flying wing crashed on the grounds of a state prison in Norco, Calif., April 22.

No one on the ground was reported injured.

The aircraft was owned and operated by the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino, about 10 miles from the prison.

“Today [April 22], at approximately 12 p.m., one of our museum pilots and our N9MB Northrop Flying Wing were lost in an accident in Norco, Calif.,” said the museum in a statement. “The flight was being conducted in preparation for the upcoming Planes of Fame Air Show where it was scheduled to fly.

“At this time details are not known as to the cause of the accident,” and the FAA and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the accident to determine the cause.
The identification of the pilot, the sole occupant, is being withheld pending notification of family.

Officials say the plane disintegrated and burst into flames.

According to the museum’s website, the plane was 75 years old and is the grandfather of today’s B-2 Spirit bomber.

The aircraft was built in 1944 as the fourth and final in a series of 1/3 scale test models for the Northrop XB-35flying Wing bombers. Each of the N9Ms was painted in a different color scheme.

The primary mission of the N9Ms was to provide flight test information from which the maneuverability, controllability and performance of the XB-35 could be predicted. It was flown at Muroc Army Airfield (later Edwards Air Force Base) by well-known pilots including Robert Cardenas, Russ Schleeh, John Myers and Bob Hoover.

The final configuration of the N9MB featured leading edge slots, flaps, elevons and split rudders. These were used on the XB-35, the YB-49, and many years later, with some modifications, on the B-2 Stealth Bomber.

The N9MB was obtained from the U. S. Air Force by Ed Maloney of Planes of Fame Air Museum in the 1950s. Restoration was begun by Museum staff in 1981 and was completed 13 years later. It was painted in its original yellow-over-blue scheme. Flight testing was completed in 1996.

The Federal Aviation Administration and National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash.