World War II-era bomber crashes; at least 7 reported dead


By CHRIS EHRMANN and DAVE COLLINS - Associated Press



A Delta commercial airline plane taxis to take-off behind investigators at the wreckage of World War II-era bomber plane that crashed at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

A Delta commercial airline plane taxis to take-off behind investigators at the wreckage of World War II-era bomber plane that crashed at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)


In this photo provided by Antonio Arreguin, smoke fills the sky after a World War II-era bomber plane crashed, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 outside Bradley International Airport north of Hartford, Conn. A spokesman for Gov. Ned Lamont confirmed the crash of the B-17 plane.  (Antonio Arreguin via AP)

In this photo provided by Antonio Arreguin, smoke fills the sky after a World War II-era bomber plane crashed, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 outside Bradley International Airport north of Hartford, Conn. A spokesman for Gov. Ned Lamont confirmed the crash of the B-17 plane. (Antonio Arreguin via AP)


A fire-and-rescue operation is underway where World War II-era bomber plane crashed at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. A fire with black smoke rose from near the airport as emergency crews responded. The airport said in a message on Twitter that it has closed. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)


WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (AP) — 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 officials say at least seven people were killed.

The four-engine, propeller-driven 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 was not authorized to discuss the investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Connecticut Public Safety Commissioner James Rovella said hours after the crash that some of those on board suffered severe burns and “the victims are very difficult to identify.”

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.

“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 honest way.”

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 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.

One person on the ground was injured, officials said. The airport — New England’s second-busiest — was closed after the crash but reopened a single runway about 3½ hours later.

Flight records from FlightAware shows the plane went down about five minutes after it took off. The data shows it had traveled about 8 miles (13 kilometers) and reached an altitude of 800 feet (244 meters).

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 to gain altitude but not succeeding.

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.

Antonio Arreguin said he had parked at a construction site near the airport for breakfast when he heard an explosion. He said he did not see the plane but could feel the heat from the flames, about 250 yards away.

“I see this big ball of orange fire, and I knew something happened,” he said.

Only a few of the roaring Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses are still airworthy. The planes, 74 feet (23 meters) long with a wingspan of 104 feet (32 meters), were used in daylight strategic bombing raids against Germany during World War II — extremely risky missions that helped break the Nazis’ industrial war machine.

The Collings Foundation said the same plane in Wednesday’s accident also crashed in 1987 at an air show near Pittsburgh, injuring several people. Hit by a severe crosswind as it touched down, the bomber overshot a runway and plunged down a hillside. It was later repaired.

The B-17 was built in 1945, too late for combat in World War II, according to the foundation.

It served in a rescue squadron and a military air transport service before being subjected to the effects of three nuclear explosions during testing, the foundation said. It was later sold as scrap and eventually was restored. The foundation bought it in 1986.

“This is kind of shocking. It’s a loss to lose a B-17,” said Hamer, whose father served in the Air Force. “I mean, there aren’t very many of those left.”

___

Collins reported from Hartford. Associated Press writers Michael Melia and Susan Haigh contributed to this report from Hartford.

A Delta commercial airline plane taxis to take-off behind investigators at the wreckage of World War II-era bomber plane that crashed at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/10/web1_plane1-1.jpgA Delta commercial airline plane taxis to take-off behind investigators at the wreckage of World War II-era bomber plane that crashed at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
In this photo provided by Antonio Arreguin, smoke fills the sky after a World War II-era bomber plane crashed, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 outside Bradley International Airport north of Hartford, Conn. A spokesman for Gov. Ned Lamont confirmed the crash of the B-17 plane. (Antonio Arreguin via AP)
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/10/web1_plane2-1.jpgIn this photo provided by Antonio Arreguin, smoke fills the sky after a World War II-era bomber plane crashed, Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019 outside Bradley International Airport north of Hartford, Conn. A spokesman for Gov. Ned Lamont confirmed the crash of the B-17 plane. (Antonio Arreguin via AP)
A fire-and-rescue operation is underway where World War II-era bomber plane crashed at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. A fire with black smoke rose from near the airport as emergency crews responded. The airport said in a message on Twitter that it has closed. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)
https://www.limaohio.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/54/2019/10/web1_plane3-1.jpgA fire-and-rescue operation is underway where World War II-era bomber plane crashed at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. A fire with black smoke rose from near the airport as emergency crews responded. The airport said in a message on Twitter that it has closed. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

By CHRIS EHRMANN and DAVE COLLINS

Associated Press

Post navigation