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Fatalities Reported After WWII Aircraft Crashes At Connecticut Airport

Smoke fills the sky after a World War II-era plane crashed Wednesday at Bradley International Airport north of Hartford, Conn.
Smoke fills the sky after a World War II-era plane crashed Wednesday at Bradley International Airport north of Hartford, Conn.

Updated at 2:02 p.m. ET

A World War II-era plane crashed and caught fire Wednesday morning when it was attempting to land at Bradley International Airport near Hartford, Conn., according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Fourteen people — 13 on board the plane and one person on the ground — were injured, Connecticut Commissioner of the Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection James Rovella said at a news conference. An unspecified number of them died.

"We have burn victims that are very difficult to identify," he said. "We don't want to make a mistake."

The vintage B-17, which was carrying 10 passengers and three crew members, reported trouble just minutes after it took off, according to Connecticut Airport Authority Executive Director Kevin Dillon.

The plane lifted off at 9:45 a.m. ET, and "five minutes into the flight, the aircraft indicated to the tower that they were experiencing some type of problem with the aircraft," Dillon said. Observers on the ground noticed that it was not gaining altitude. It circled and tried to land.

"Unfortunately, upon touchdown, the aircraft obviously lost control, struck what's known as our de-icing facility here," he said. It also hit a maintenance facility.

Aerial images from the scene show a destroyed and charred plane, and several buildings around it appear to have sustained damage.

The airport in the town of Windsor Locks was closed for several hours after the crash, though the state officials said the facility would be partially operational in the afternoon. The FAA said it had "put in a ground stop for flights that are destined for the airport."

The plane belongs to the Collings Foundation, a nonprofit that provides educational programs about aviation history. The foundation has a touring exhibition of antique aircraft called the "Wings of Freedom Tour" featuring five WWII planes.

The tour has recently offered opportunities for the public to fly for half-hour rides in the vintage aircraft.

"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. "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."

The National Transportation Safety Board has launcheda "go team" to investigate.
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