UPDATE Oct 2. 2019: As of Wednesday evening, State Police Commissioner James Rovella confirmed seven passengers aboard the plane died in the crash. Six others survived with various injuries.
At least five people were reportedly killed and nine more injured after a vintage military plane crashed in Connecticut on Wednesday.
Thirteen people were aboard the World War II-era B-17 bomber aircraft owned by the Collings Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving aviation history, when it crashed at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks.
NBC News reported that there were 10 passengers, two pilots and one flight attendant on the flight.
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
One of the people injured was on the ground when the plane crashed into a facility containing tanks with de-icing fluid.
The plane took off at 9:45 a.m., according to Kevin Dillon, the executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority.
About five minutes later, it became clear there was a problem.
“We observed that the aircraft was not gaining altitude,” Dillon said at a news conference.
The plane was attempting to return to the airport when it crashed into the de-icing facility, according to CNN.
“There were fatalities,” said James C. Rovella, the executive director of the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection.
“Victims are very difficult to identify, we don’t want to make a mistake,” he added.
While Rovella would not say how many fatalities there were, the Hartford Courant — citing unnamed sources — reported there were five deaths and nine people hurt, including three who sustained critical injuries.
Six people were being treated at a local hospital, CNN reported.
The airplane was one of five at Bradley Airport for the “Wings of Freedom” tour sponsored by the Collings Foundation, according to WVIT.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were on that flight and we will be forever grateful to the heroic efforts of the first responders at Bradley,” the foundation said in a statement to WFSB.
“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.”
Photos and videos posted to social media showed the aftermath of the crash, which led to the plane bursting into flames:
— PhotographyByAntonio (@TonyArreguin75) October 2, 2019
According to our pilot a plane crash on the runway in Hartford has closed the airport and has everyone scrambling. pic.twitter.com/khAGbq50z5
— Aaron Katzman (@aaron_katzman) October 2, 2019
Vintage B17 plane crashed across the street from my job at Bradley Airport. pic.twitter.com/GtFuo4TW8t
— Segun O. (@Seeguunn) October 2, 2019
One witness described the harrowing scene to the Courant.
“He was treetop level when I saw him,” Laura Nolan said.
“And one of the engines wasn’t spinning,” she added.
After hearing a “thunderous” roar as the plane passed overhead, Nolan said the plane crashed.
“I saw the smoke in the rearview mirror,” she said.
One woman who lives less than half a mile from the airport compared the sound that the low-flying plane made to that of an 18-wheeler.
“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,” Angela Fletcher told the Courant.
“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.”
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