Vintage B-17 bomber crashes while landing at Connecticut airport

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WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — Connecticut State Police confirmed that there were fatalities after a vintage World War II bomber crashed at Bradley International Airport on Wednesday morning.

Fourteen people were injured in the crash, 13 people from the plane and one on the ground. There were 10 passengers and three crew members. Three patients are being treated at Hartford Hospital with critical injuries,  two with moderate injuries, and one with minor injuries. Two of the patients are expected to be transported to be taken to Bridgeport Hospital’s burn center.  Hartford Hospital’s Dr. Jonathan Gates said, “We didn’t know how many to expect, but we knew it couldn’t be good.”

It’s unknown whether the plane had a flight data or voice recorder.

A solemn sounding Gov. Ned Lamont, said he wants to let the families know in a timely and honest manner.

John Cappiello, Bridgeport Hospital spokesperson,  confirmed one non-critical patient was taken there by ambulance.

Two others are being treated at other hospitals. Family members of victims are asked to call 860-972-9166. They can come to the Taylor conference room at Hartford Hospital Cancer Institute.

The Boeing B-17 bomber that was on tour in the area crashed on landing around at 9:54 a.m. according to officials.

De-icing facility and maintenance facility were damaged as the plane came to rest.

Smoke and flames are visible throughout the area. Lifestar took at least one patient to the hospital.

The airport is expected to reopen around 1:30 pm. Security reopened shortly after 1 p.m.

The FBI is on site with  evidence crews in addition to the Connecticut State Police on site.  The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate for cause and origin.  According to Senator Blumenthal, at least eight people from the office of aviation safety.   Jennifer Homendy will be heading the investigation for NTSB, she is a Southington native.    FAA is on site, as is Homeland security.

The FAA confirmed that airport officials have closed Bradley International Airport, and the FAA has put in a ground stop for flights that are destined for the airport. “A vintage Boeing B-17 crashed at the end of Runway 6 while attempting to land at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., at 10 a.m. It is a civilian registered aircraft, not flown by the military. Local officials will release information about the people aboard. We will update this statement when we get new information,” said the FAA in a statement.

A witness, Brian Hamer,  saw the plane take off, and the plane did not climb very high. He saw the number 3 engine fail and then the plane return to the airport. Moments later he heard a crash and saw smoke.

Bradley Airport tweeted: “We can confirm that there was an accident involving a Collings Foundation World War II aircraft this morning at Bradley Airport. We have an active fire and rescue operation underway. The airport is closed. We will issue further updates as information becomes available.

The Collings Foundation had brought several planes to Bradley this week, including  the B-17G that crashed. a B-24 –Liberator,  a B-25, a P-51 – Mustang fighter,  and a P-40 Warhawk. Rides on some of the planes were available to the public.

U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal issued a statement:

“Our hearts go out to the loved ones of the victims. They and the public deserve to know the facts and causes of this tragic crash. I am calling for an immediate National Transportation Safety Board investigation so we can get to the bottom of what happened and prevent future tragedies. The NTSB should be on the scene as soon as possible, with assistance from other agencies like the FAA.”

The foundation issued a statement:

Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were on that flight and we will be forever grateful to the heroic efforts of the first responders at Bradley.

The Collings Foundation flight team is fully cooperating with officials to determine the cause of the crash of the B-17 Flying Fortress and will comment further when details become known.

According to news reports at the time, the same plane made an emergency landing in 1995. 

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