World War II-era aircraft crashes at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut, injuries reported

Multiple injuries were reported after a World War II-era bomber crashed Wednesday while attempting to land at Connecticut’s largest airport, officials said.

The Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement a Boeing B-17 crashed at the end of Runway 6 while attempting to land at 10 a.m. at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., located north of Hartford.

“It is a civilian registered aircraft, not flown by the military,” federal officials said. “Local officials will release information about the people aboard.”

Connecticut State Police confirmed that injuries were reported, but could not give an exact number or confirm how many people were on board the plane when it crashed.

A spokesperson from Hartford Hospital told reporters that the facility has received six patients, with one arriving by Lifestar helicopter and the five others by ambulance. A news conference is expected shortly to provide additional details.

A Collings Foundation World War II aircraft crashed at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut.
A Collings Foundation World War II aircraft crashed at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut. (Tony Arreguin)

Bradley International Airport said in a statement on Twitter the accident involved a Collings Foundation World War II aircraft. Airport officials have closed the airport and the FAA has put in a ground stop for flights that are destined for the airport.

“We have an active fire and rescue operation underway. The airport is closed,” officials said. “We will issue further updates as information becomes available.”

A fire with black smoke rose from the airport as emergency crews responded to the site. Aerial images showed the tail of the aircraft around charred debris, in addition to foam sprayed in the area by fire crews.

An aerial image of the crash site at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut.
An aerial image of the crash site at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut. (WFXT)

A witness told FOX61 he saw the plane take off but heard the engines “definitely struggling.”

Another witness, Brian Hamer said the plane took off but did not climb very high.  He told FOX61 he saw one of the aircraft’s engines fail and the plane attempted to return to the airport.

“A minute or so later, a big rumble,” he said, adding he then saw smoke smoke.

A Collings Foundation World War II aircraft crashed at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut.
A Collings Foundation World War II aircraft crashed at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut. (Tony Arreguin)

Antonio Arreguin told the Associated Press 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 fire, which was about 250 yards away.

“In front of me, I see this big ball of orange fire, and I knew something happened,” he told the AP. “The ball of fire was very big.”

Arreguin reported a small explosion after the initial blast as emergency crews rushed to the scene.

A Lifestar medical helicopter was called to the scene, as emergency responders rushed to the area, according to FOX61.

A Boeing B-17 bomber was on tour in the area when it crashed while attempting to land at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut on Wednesday.
A Boeing B-17 bomber was on tour in the area when it crashed while attempting to land at Bradley International Airport in Connecticut on Wednesday. (Aaron Katzman)

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont said on Twitter that several state agencies, including state police and the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection are on scene responding to the accident.

“Such an unfortunate situation with an historic aircraft,” Lamont said. “Our prayers are with everyone who was on board.”

A spokesman for Lamont, Max Reiss, told the Associated Press it’s not clear how many people were on board the plane or where the aircraft was going.

The New England Air Museum is located near the airport. Airport officials said the plane was associated with the Collings Foundation, an educational group that brought its “Wings of Freedom” vintage aircraft display to Bradley International Airport this week.

Besides the B-17, a B-24 Liberator, a B-25, and P-51 Mustang fighter were among the aircraft on display, according to FOX61.

“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 foundation said in a statement to FOX61. “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.”

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