A WWII-era B-17 Flying Fortress bomber crashed this morning while attempting to land at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Connecticut. Sadly, several people on board have died and others are injured, some critically. The aircraft is a total loss; photos from the scene show only the tail and a wing tip as recognizable following the large fire that developed.
The B-17, named “Nine-O-Nine”, was owned by the non-profit Collings Foundation and is one of less than a dozen flyable B-17s in the world. She was visiting Bradley Intl. as part of the “Wings of Freedom” tour, a program where multiple Collings aircraft make stops at airports across the country to offer the public an up close look at these pieces of history. Supporters can buy rides in the aircraft, and all indications are that today’s flight was one with passengers aboard. The tour stop was expected to conclude tomorrow.
According to air traffic control recordings, the aircraft asked for a priority return to the airport after reporting trouble with one of the four engines. It’s far too early to speculate on what specifically went wrong, but it appears to have lost control and impacted a de-icing facility on the airport grounds. Many photos from the scene showed a huge smoke column rising from the crash site.
The airport, FAA, and Collings Foundation have all confirmed that it was the B-17 that went down. There have been varying reports of casualties throughout the day, but the latest figures reported in local media are five dead and nine injured.
Warbird fans across the country have taken to social media to express their shock and sadness at the crash, many with personal stories relating to Nine-O-Nine spurring their passion for aircraft during a childhood visit to their town.
To say it’s been devastating news to receive would be an understatement. I missed their annual visit to the Pacific Northwest this summer and now I really feel the guilt. The organization and that warbird in particular have been the direct inspiration for me to get into the world of aviation when I first saw them at my local airport nearly two decades ago.
While it breaks my heart that Nine-O-Nine will no longer serve as an ambassador to aviation and history, I am pleased that so many have had their lives positively impacted by its touring. It has been the most personally significant airplane I’ve ever known and will be deeply, deeply missed.
We will be updating the thread on our forums as more information becomes available. Please feel free to add your own Nine-O-Nine story there as well.
We have everyone impacted by this tragedy in our thoughts, and we hope for a full recovery by all involved.