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B-17 'Nine-O-Nine' crashes in Connecticut, killing multiple people

The News Leader (Staunton) 10/2/2019 Claire Mitzel, Staunton News Leader
a small plane sitting on top of a runway: A World War II B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, named Nine-O-Nine, taxis in from the runway after landing at the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport as part of the Wings of Freedom Tour on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2018. The tour brings four period aircraft to airport until noon Friday when they depart. © Mike Tripp/The News Leader A World War II B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, named Nine-O-Nine, taxis in from the runway after landing at the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport as part of the Wings of Freedom Tour on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2018. The tour brings four period aircraft to airport until noon Friday when they depart.

A WWII-era plane that came to the Shenandoah Valley multiple times as part of an educational tour crashed and burned Wednesday at Bradley International Airport in Hartford, Connecticut, killing seven people.

Public safety Commissioner James Rovella said the six others who were on the airplane suffered injuries ranging from minor to critical, according to USA TODAY. One person on the ground was also injured. 

The names of the victims have not yet been released.

The FAA said via Twitter that a vintage Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress crashed at the end of a runway while attempting to land at 10 a.m. local time, according to USA TODAY.

The aircraft was not gaining altitude and attempted to return to the runway before losing control during touchdown, authorities said in a press conference. The plane struck tanks holding deicing fluid and a maintenance facility. 

The plane is owed by The Collings Foundation, an educational group that brought its “Wings of Freedom” vintage aircraft display to Bradley this week. The aircraft display, including the B-17, has multiple times visited Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport in Weyers Cave for the same tour.

a man in a car engine: Steve Fick of Maryland sits in the bombardier's chair aboard the World War II era B-17G bomber, called "Nine-O-Nine," as he takes a picture out the window. He flies as a passenger aboard the aircraft during its flight from Maryland to Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014. Part of the "Wings of Freedom" tour, the B-17 joins two other WWII era aircraft on display in Weyers Cave through Friday. © Mike Tripp/The News Leader Steve Fick of Maryland sits in the bombardier's chair aboard the World War II era B-17G bomber, called "Nine-O-Nine," as he takes a picture out the window. He flies as a passenger aboard the aircraft during its flight from Maryland to Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport on Wednesday, Oct. 8, 2014. Part of the "Wings of Freedom" tour, the B-17 joins two other WWII era aircraft on display in Weyers Cave through Friday.

The planes fly throughout the nation as a tribute to those involved with the WWII planes and their families, according to past News Leader reporting. The tour starts the first week of January and lasts until the beginning of November.

Here's an excerpt from the story we did when the B-17, named the Nine-O-Nine, came to town in 2014:

Taxiing down the runway, the plane jumps and halts, getting its bearings.

"It's a little windy, so when we get over those mountains ... you might need to hang on," pilot Mac McCauley said.

Right before take-off, the air surrounding those inside the plane is suspended, like time has briefly stopped.

Picking back up, the plane ascends.

The roar of the engine is now competing with the whoosh of the wind in a never-ending battle.

Once the plane stabilizes in the air, passengers are free to move around the small corridors. But walking around is shaky as the plane sways back and forth.

a group of people standing around a plane: A World War II B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, named Nine-O-Nine, rests on the tarmac after arriving at the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport as part of the Wings of Freedom Tour on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2018. The tour brings four period aircraft to airport until noon Friday when they depart. © Mike Tripp/The News Leader A World War II B-17 Flying Fortress bomber, named Nine-O-Nine, rests on the tarmac after arriving at the Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport as part of the Wings of Freedom Tour on Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2018. The tour brings four period aircraft to airport until noon Friday when they depart.

In Wednesday's crash, there were 13 people on the plane, 10 passengers and three crew members. One person, who worked at the airport, was also on the ground, Rovella said in the press conference.

Rebecca Stewart, director of news service at Hartford HealthCare told USA TODAY that Hartford Hospital received six patients, one of whom arrived via helicopter. 

The airport shut down after the crash, halting private and commercial flights for several hours before reopening shortly before 2 p.m., according to USA TODAY.

The National Transportation Safety Board is conducting an investigation into the crash, the agency announced on Twitter.

The Collings Foundation did not provide details on the crash but did issue a statement.

“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 organization said in a written statement. “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.” 

Here's a gallery of photos our photographer took from when the B-17 last came to Weyers Cave in 2018:

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USA TODAY contributed reporting to this story.

Please share questions, comments and story ideas. Email me at cmitzel@newsleader.com or follow me on Twitter @c_mitzel.

This article originally appeared on Staunton News Leader: B-17 'Nine-O-Nine' crashes in Connecticut, killing multiple people

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