WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (WPRI) – Officials confirm there are fatalities following a crash involving a Collings Foundation World War II aircraft at Bradley International Airport Wednesday morning.
During an afternoon news conference, Airport Director Kevin Dillon said 13 people were on board a B-17 WWII-era plane for a tour when the plane went down.
Connecticut State Police Commissioner James Rovella confirmed there were deaths in the crash but he did not release a number of fatalities. He said investigators were working to properly identify the victims. Our sister station WTNH is reporting at least seven people died.
Dillon said the plane took off from Runway 6 at 9:45 a.m. and five minutes later, the pilot reported the aircraft was having trouble gaining altitude and attempted to return to the runway. However, Dillon said the plane lost control upon touchdown and crashed into a de-icing facility at 9:54 a.m.
Rovella said 16 people total were involved in the crash: 10 passengers, three crew members, two aviation employees and a firefighter who was in the maintenance facility.
While no one has been officially identified, News 8 says a member of the Conn. Air National Guard and two Simsbury, Conn. firefighters were among the passengers.
Rovella urged family members looking for information on the plane crash to call the Connecticut State Police Message Center at 860-685-8190.
Our sister station WTNH spoke to a construction worker at Bradley Airport who saw the accident unfold. He told News 8 that a military plane was taking off and didn’t have enough power. The plane tried to land, but hit the ground, impacting the fuel farm/fuel tank.
Dillon, the former executive director of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, said the airport closed following the crash. He hoped to reopen one runway sometime Wednesday afternoon, with Runway 6 remaining closed due to the investigation.
Some flights scheduled to land at Bradley were diverted to T.F. Green Airport in Warwick.
Officials have confirmed the plane that has crashed was a B-17 World War II aircraft as part of the Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom tour, which is the same tour that stopped at Quonset in Rhode Island a few weeks ago.
Eyewitness News reached out to the foundation, which released the following 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 Airport.
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.”Hunter Chaney, Collings Foundation
Dillon said the foundation – which is based in Stow, Massachusetts – conducts paid tours aboard vintage aircraft as a means to raise money for its preservation efforts.
U.S. Sen. Richard Blumental said the plane that crash is one of only 18 B-17s in the entire country registered to fly with the FAA.
The senator said while the investigation is ongoing, he feels there is a need for “scrutiny and oversight” for tours involving vintage aircraft.
In addition to Connecticut State Police, the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transporation Safety Board, and the FBI are among the agencies investigating the crash.
Our sister station, 22News, obtained the following statement from the Federal Aviation Administration:
“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. Officials have closed Bradley International Airport, and the FAA has put in a ground stop for flights that are destined for the airport.”FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION