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Officials report fatalities after a WWII-era B-17 bomber crashed at a Connecticut airport

Posted at 10:34 AM, Oct 02, 2019

Multiple people are dead after a World War II-era B-17 bomber crashed Wednesday into an airport de-icing facility while trying to land at Connecticut's Bradley International Airport, officials said.

Thirteen people -- 10 passengers and three crew members -- were on board when the vintage Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress crashed at the end of a runway, authorities said. Connecticut State Police Commissioner James Rovella reported fatalities but would not say how many.

Fourteen people are injured, including everyone on the plane and one person on the ground. It was not immediately clear how many people on the ground may have been killed.

At least five patients were taken to Hartford Hospital after the crash, Hartford HealthCare spokesman Shawn Mawhiney said.

The aircraft is civilian-registered and was not flown by the military at the time of the crash, the FAA said.

Pilot asked to return to the airport, FAA audio indicates

The B-17 waited a few minutes for turbulence from a prior aircraft to clear before it was cleared for takeoff, according to FAA air traffic control audio recorded by the website LiveATC.net.

But shortly after takeoff, the pilot told air traffic control: "N93012 would like to return to the field."

"What is the reason for coming back?" the controller asked.

"You got No. 4 engine. We'd like to return, and blow it out," another pilot in the aircraft said.

A pilot said he needed to land immediately, and the control tower diverted other jets that were about to land, the recording indicates.

After the B-17 crashed at the end of a runway, a plume of black smoke billowed from the scene.

The plane belonged to a nonprofit that restores aircraft

The plane belonged to the Collings Foundation, the airport's Twitter account said.

A "Wings of Freedom Tour," featuring the B-17 and other aircraft, was scheduled to take place from Monday to Thursday at the airport, the foundation said on its website.

Attendees could purchase various experiences aboard the featured aircraft, including flights, the website says.

The Collings Foundation said it's "forever grateful to the heroic efforts of the first responders at Bradley."

"Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were on that flight," the foundation said in a statement to CNN.

"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 foundation is a 40-year-old educational nonprofit that organizes and supports " 'living history' events and the preservation, exhibition and interaction of historical artifacts that help Americans learn more about their heritage," according to its website.

It counts the Wings of Freedom Tour as a "major focus" of its endeavors, the site states.

The airport is in Windsor Locks, about a 15-mile drive north of Hartford.