What We Know About the World War II-Era Plane That Crashed at Bradley Airport

Seven people are dead and eight others injured after a vintage Boeing B17 aircraft crashed Wednesday morning at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut.

The plane crashed at the end of Runway 6 while attempting to land, according to the Federal Aviation Administration. It had just taken off from Bradley Airport and was five minutes into the flight when it reported it had a problem and was not gaining altitude.

The plane struck a maintenance shed at the airport on its attempting landing, officials said.

About the World War II-Era Plane That Crashed at Bradley

The type of plane that crashed Wednesday was used by the Allies in a bombing campaign against Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II, NBC News reported.

More than 10,000 of the B-17s, a model known for ruggedness and versatility, were built and were often used for bombing campaigns over Germany and occasionally for targeting Japanese ships in the Pacific theater.

"Without the B-17, we may have lost the war," Gen. Carl Spaatz, the American air commander in Europe, has been quoted as saying.

The 1944 plane is registered out of Stow, Massachusetts, according to the FAA registry. The FAA said it is a civilian registered aircraft, not flown by the military.

The plane was at Bradley Airport for the "Wings of Freedom Tour," sponsored by the Collings Foundation. It was known at one point as the "Flying Fortress," or "the 909".

The foundation said that although the plane was made too late to participate in the fighting of World War II, it flew as part of a rescue squadron and a military transport service. It was also used in three nuclear explosion tests before it was eventually sold as scrap metal and later restored. The foundation purchased the B-17 in 1986.

This plane was one of 18 B-17 actively flying in the United States, Sen. Richard Blumenthal said in a statement.

The New England Air Museum says the B-17 is a four-engine bomber developed in the 1930s, and was the third most produced bomber of all time. The aircraft was used primarily for daylight bombing missions during World War II, and the aircraft represents an important part of U.S. history.

Since the 1960s the NTSB has investigated a total of 13 crashes involving the B-17, not including Wednesday’s crash at Bradley.

Three of the crashes resulted in fatalities, with a total of six dead.

Plane Involved in Prior Crash

The plane that crashed Wednesday morning was involved in a prior crash in 1987, according to a report on the FAA website.

The B-17 is the same plane that crashed on Aug. 23, 1987, at an air show near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, when the bomber overshot a runway in an attempted landing amid strong gusty winds.

The crash landing at Beaver County Airport sent the bomber plunging down a hillside as thousands of spectators were awaiting the show’s finale.

The Federal Aviation Administration said three people were injured in the 1987 crash. The FAA said the plane’s airspeed was excessive and cited pilot errors.

Damage to the plane was repaired, and it went on make more than 1,200 tour stops.

The plane was named the "Nine-O-Nine" in honor of another B-17 of the same name that successfully completed 140 missions during World War II.

Statement from the Collings Foundation

Bradley International Airport said the plane is a Collings Foundation World War II aircraft. The passengers paid an unknown fee to ride on the plane.

The Collings Foundation in a statement expressed gratitude for the actions of first responders and offered thoughts and prayers for the flight's passengers and crew.

“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 said in a statement. “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.”

Bradley International Airport was closed, but Runway 15/33 has reopened. Runway 6/24 remains closed for the investigation into the crash.

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