WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (WBZ NewsRadio) — A vintage WWII-era bomber crashed Wednesday morning at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut, erupting into flames and leaving at least seven people killed.
Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services James Rovella confirmed there were fatalities in the crash, but did not say how many. The Associated Press reported that seven people were dead.
Rovella said there were 13 people on the plane, including ten passengers and a crew of three. He said at least one person on the ground in a maintenance facility was also involved in the incident.
The crash happened around 10 a.m. on Bradley's Runway 6. The airport was ordered closed, and reopened shortly before 2 p.m.
Kevin Dillon, the Executive Director of the Connecticut Airport Authority, said the plane had trouble right after it took off.
"Five minutes into the flight, the aircraft indicated to the tower that they were experiencing some type of problem with the aircraft,"Dillon said. "We did observe that the aircraft was not gaining altitude. Upon touchdown, the aircraft obviously lost control, struck what's known as our de-icing facility here."
NBC Connecticut reported that at least six patients were taken to Hartford Hospital—five by ambulance and one by LIFE STAR helicopter.
The Boeing B-17 "Flying Fortress" bomber, nicknamed "Nine-O-Nine," was at Bradley as part of the "Wings of Freedom Tour" put on by the Collings Foundation, a Stow, Massachusetts non-profit aviation history foundation.
Charley Valera, an author and pilot who flew on "Nine-O-Nine" back in February, told WBZ NewsRadio how the plane has been used.
"That aircraft is now used for flights and fundraising," Valera said. "So, you make a donation, I believe it's about $450 for about a 20-minute flight."
The Associated Press also confirmed the same plane crashed in August 1987 at an air show at the Beaver County Airport near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
"In the 1987 crash, the bomber overshot a Pennsylvania runway while attempting to land at Beaver County Airport in gusty winds and plunged down a hillside as thousands of spectators were waiting for the show's finale," the AP's report read.
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