Widow Recalls Husband’s Final Moments Before Vintage Plane Crash

A Connecticut woman recorded video from the tarmac at Bradley International Airport before a vintage plane crashed, killing her husband.

Debra Riddell of East Granby tried to hold back tears as she remembered her 59-year-old husband, Rob Riddell, and just how thrilled the World War II buff was to ride in the B-17 Flying Fortress.

"He was very excited about this trip," she said. "He was scheduled originally for Thursday morning."

Instead, Riddell says her husband was switched at the last minute to Wednesday's flight, which ended up crashing at the airport shortly after takeoff.

Riddell took video of the vintage plane from the tarmac shortly before it took off.

"They were working on the engines, they were having some type of issue with the engine," she said.

After a 45 minutes delay, the plane departed. Riddell was texting with her husband inside the plane as he told her they began experiencing issues.

"He said, 'They're making us go back to our seats, they're going to buckle in and going back,' and I sent him a question mark," she said. "He wrote one word — 'turbulence.'"

That was the last thing she would hear from her husband.

Riddell says she saw the plane approaching, and then heard what she said sounded like the reverse thrusters.

"Immediately after that, there was this huge fireball and black smoke just billowing, and I knew that plane went down," Riddell said.

But she didn't receive confirmation for hours that her husband did not survive. She says she can't even explain the profound loss she is feeling without the man she met later in life, but believes was her soulmate.

"We had a perfect marriage," she said through tears. "We were meant to be together, apparently not forever."

Riddell says she and her husband were set to celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary later this month.

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