WWII-era bomber crash kills at least 7, Conn. official says
WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — A World War II-era B-17 bomber carrying 13 people crashed and burned at the Hartford airport in an aborted takeoff attempt Wednesday, and a state official said at least seven people were killed.
The four-engine, propellerdriven plane struggled to get into the air and slammed into a maintenance shed at Bradley International Airport as the pilots circled back for a landing, officials and witnesses said.
It had 10 passengers and three crew members, authorities said.
The state official who gave the death toll spoke on condition of anonymity.
Connecticut Public Safety Commissioner James Rovella said hours after the crash that some of those on board were severely burned, and “the victims are very difficult to identify.”
At least six people were taken to the hospital, three of them critically injured, authorities said.
The retired, civilian-registered plane was associated with the Collings Foundation, an educational group that brought its Wings of Freedom vintage aircraft display to the airport this week, officials said.
The vintage bomber — also known as a Flying Fortress, one of the most celebrated allied planes of World War II — was used to take history buffs and aircraft enthusiasts on short flights, in which they could get up and walk around the loud and windy interior.
“Right now my heart really goes out to the families who are waiting,” Gov. Ned Lamont said. “And we are going to give them the best information we can as soon as we can in an
The National Transportation Safety Board sent a team to investigate the cause of the crash.
The plane was a few minutes into the flight when the pilots reported a problem and said it was not gaining altitude, officials said. It lost control upon touching down and struck the shed just before 10 a.m. The airplane was consumed by the fire, fed by the aircraft’s fuel.
The left wing and tail appear to be all that remains of the airplane.
Flight records from FlightAware show the plane had traveled about 8 miles and reached an altitude of 800 feet.
One person on the ground was injured, officials said. The airport — New England’s second-busiest — was closed afterward but reopened a single runway 3 hours later.
Brian Hamer, of Norton, Massachusetts, said he was less than a mile away when he saw a B-17, “which you don’t normally see,” fly directly overhead, apparently trying without success to gain altitude.
One of the engines began to sputter, and smoke came out the back, Hamer said. The plane made a wide turn and headed back toward the airport, he said.
“Then we heard all the rumbling and the thunder, and all the smoke comes up, and we kind of figured it wasn’t good,” Hamer said.
The plane is one of five that were at the airport this week for tours and flights through Wings of Freedom.
The same plane also crashed in 1987 at an air show near Pittsburgh, injuring several people, the Collings Foundation said. Hit by a severe crosswind as it touched down, the bomber overshot a runway and plunged down a hill. It was later repaired.
Boeing-built B-17 Flying Fortresses were used in daylight bombing raids on Germany in the war.
Smoke fills the sky after a WW II-era plane crashed Wednesday at Bradley International, north of Hartford.