WINDSOR LOCKS, Connecticut — At least 14 people were injured when a vintage WWII bomber crashed at Bradley International Airport Wednesday morning — but while officials confirmed there were fatalities, they said it is “far too early” to offer a death toll.
“Our hearts are broken right now,” Gov. Ned Lamont said during a media briefing at the airport.
Officials said the injured included 13 people on the plane and one maintenance worker on the ground. Of the people on the plane, officials said, 10 were passengers. The person on the ground was in a building that the plane struck.
The injured were taken to Hartford Hospital, the Connecticut Burn Center at Bridgeport Hospital and St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport.
“The victims are very difficult to identify; we don’t want to make a mistake,” James C. Rovella, commissioner of Connecticut’s Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection, said in declining to offer a specific number of fatalities.
The plane erupted in a fireball, and the plume of smoke could be seen from buildings in downtown Springfield.
The restored 1944 Boeing B-17G bomber, which had four engines and room for 36 seats, was in the air for about five minutes. The flight record from the website FlightAware shows the plane took off at 9:48 a.m. Officials said the crash happened at 9:54 a.m.
Kevin Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority, said the plane was trying to return to the runway after reporting a problem. “It circled around the airport. But unfortunately, upon touchdown, the aircraft obviously lost control,” he said.
The plane belonged to the Collings Foundation, an organization dedicated to “preserving living aviation history” that flies a fleet of vintage aircraft. It was among three bombers and two World War II fighter planes scheduled to be at the airport through Thursday, with flights available to the public as part of the “Wings of Freedom” tour.
The plane was at Boire Field in Nashua, New Hampshire from Friday through Monday, when it made the 40-minute flight to Bradley.
The airport is expected to reopen with one runway at 1:30 p.m.
Officials asked family members of victims to call Connecticut State Police headquarters, at 860-685-8190, for information. Hartford Hospital, meanwhile, said family members can call 860-972-9166 for information.
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