7 dead in Connecticut vintage B-17 WWII bomber crash
Published: 03 Oct 2019
Seven people have died after a rare World War Two-era plane crashed and burst into flames at an airport in the US state of Connecticut.
There were 13 people aboard the vintage Boeing B-17 - dubbed the Flying Fortress - when it crashed outside Hartford on Wednesday morning, reports .
The aircraft was civilian-registered and was not being flown by the US military, aviation officials say.
Experts say only about 10 B-17 planes are still being flown around the US.
"There were fatalities," State Police Commissioner James Rovella told reporters earlier at a news conference, adding: "Victims are very difficult to identify, we don't want to make a mistake."
The B-17 flight departed at 09:45 local time (14:45GMT). Five minutes later it reported having difficulties. The crash occurred near the Bradley International Airport at 09:54.
"We observed that the aircraft was not gaining altitude," said Connecticut Airport Authority Executive Director Kevin Dillon.
Jeremy Kinney, the curator for World War Two aviation at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, says there are only around 10 B-17 planes still considered "air-worthy", while another 40 or so exist in museums and private collections.
Mr Kinney tells BBC News that the strategic bombers were famous for their "rugged construction, their reliability, their ability to take the air war to the Nazis".
They played a "central role" in the campaign over Europe, he says, adding that they became a "stirring symbol" for allied fighters.
The aircraft's nickname comes from a newspaper reporter who dubbed it a "flying fortress due to all the machine guns that were protruding from the body" as well as its reputation for delivering US airmen home safely after missions flown from England and Italy.
It could carry up to 13 50-calibre machines guns and 4-8,000lbs (1,800-3,600kg) of bombs.
When it was first introduced in 1936 it was considered state-of-the-art, but by the end of World War Two it had largely been replaced by the B-29 "Super Fortress".
They are one of the most popular and one of the most important airplanes that people want to see," says Mr Kinney, adding that aviation fans also come to hear the "lumbering sound" of the plane's four engines.
"It's an iconic symbol of World War Two and it's a really legendary airplane."