Washington, Oct 3 (IANS) Seven people were killed as a World War II-era B-17 bomber plane crashed into an airport de-icing facility while trying to land at Bradley International Airport in the US state of Connecticut, officials said.
Six people on the vintage Boeing B-17 – dubbed the Flying Fortress – survived in the Wednesday crash, said Connecticut State Police Commissioner James Rovella at a press conference.
The incident happened at 9.54 a.m. (local time) as the landing aircraft slid off the runway and hit the de-icing facility. The plane reported difficulties shortly after taking off and the pilot requested to return to the airport.
Thirteen people were on board the plane when it went down during the attempted landing and burst into flames. It crashed at the end of the runway. A person on the ground was also injured, Rovella said.
The aircraft was civilian-registered and was not being flown by the US military, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
“We observed that the aircraft was not gaining altitude,” said Connecticut Airport Authority Executive Director Kevin Dillon.
Witness Antonio Arreguin told NBC News that he felt the heat from the fire 250 yards from the crash site. “In front of me, I see this big ball of orange fire, and I knew something happened,” he said.
Angela Fletcher, who lives about a half-mile from the airport, told the Hartford Courant newspaper: “It sounded like an 18-wheeler coming down the street and then it got louder.
“Like so loud, it was vibrating things in the house. I looked out the window, and I saw this giant old plane come over the house that was very close.”
The airport is in Windsor Locks, about a 15-mile drive north of Hartford. It reopened about three hours after the crash.
The Collins Foundation, a non-profit that owned the plane, said it was scheduled to participate in a “Wings of Freedom Tour” at the airport later this week.
“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,” it said in a statement.
The foundation is a 40-year-old educational nonprofit that organizes and supports “‘living history’ events and the preservation, exhibition and interaction of historical artefacts that help Americans learn more about their heritage”, according to its website.