The bomber reportedly burst into flames after colliding with a building during an attempted landing. The plume of smoke is reportedly visible from miles around, with multiple accounts of the incident reaching social media within minutes of the crash.
B17 crashed at pic.twitter.com/RqoH6MaN2F
— Dave Colavecchio (@dxdavec) October 2, 2019
Thus far, officials have not provided word on the total number of deaths, but multiple local outlets are already reporting that at least two people were ruled dead at the scene with at least six more hospitalized following the crash. It is not currently known if all of those involved were on board the aircraft or if any of the injured or killed may have been inside the structure the B-17 reportedly collided with.
“He was treetop level when I saw him,” Laura Nolan, who witnessed the crash, told the press. “And one of the engines wasn’t spinning.” Nolan, who previously worked as a paramedic, sped the airport to offer her assistance but was turned away.
We can confirm that there was an accident involving a Collings Foundation World War II aircraft this morning at Bradley Airport. We have an active fire and rescue operation underway. The airport is closed. We will issue further updates as information becomes available.
— Bradley Intl Airport (@Bradley_Airport) October 2, 2019
Just prior to the announcement of the crash on Twitter, Bradley International Airport shared a local news piece pertaining to the Wings of Freedom bomber tour’s arrival at the airport. Included in the planned celebration of World War II aviation are a P-40 Warhawk, a B-24 Liberator, a B-25 Bomber, a P-51 Mustang Fighter, and a B-17 — likely the one that crashed.
“We feel keeping history is all about giving you a hand-on experience. We bring these here to honor the veterans, to keep history alive, and keep young people engaged as well,” said Debbie Bamber, from the Wings of Freedom Tour at the time. The exhibit was scheduled to be open through Thursday.
Angela Fletcher, who lives less than a half-mile from the airport, heard the bomber as it made its descent. She looked outside to find it flying much lower than she expected.
“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, like oddly close to the house…” she said.
“And then you heard like a pop pop. Almost like it was [the] engine. The engine was failing. And then it just continued over. So I didn’t think too much of it. And then I heard all the sirens but it was dangerously close,” Fletcher said.