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B-17 Bradley Airport deadly plane crash one year later

The crash took the lives of seven people including the pilot and co-pilot.

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. — On October 2, 2019, an antique B-17 crashed at Bradley International Airport. 

The vintage bomber - also known as a Flying Fortress, one of the most celebrated Allied planes of World War II, was used to take history buffs and aircraft enthusiasts on short flights, during which they could get up and walk around the loud and windy interior.

The plane was carrying 13 passengers and two crew members when it crashed that Wednesday morning. 

Pilot Ernest McCauley, 75, of Long Beach, California, had flown for over 20 years with the educational group that owned the World War II-era plane and was also its safety officer.

Five passengers were killed along with McCauley and the co-pilot, Michael Foster, 71, of Jacksonville, Florida, passengers Gary Mazzone, 60, of East Windsor, Robert Riddell, 59, of East Granby, James Roberts, 48, of Ludlow, Massachusetts; David Broderick, 56, of West Springfield, Massachusetts; and Robert Rubner, 64, of Tolland, Connecticut.

FOX61 spoke to Rob Riddell's wife Deborah the day after the crash:

The plane was part of the Collings Foundation Wings of Freedom tour. The FAA and the Collings Foundation agree to temporarily ground the vintage planes earlier this year.

NTSB member Jennifer Homendy said at a news conference shortly after the crash, they will look into witness reports that work was being done on one or two of the engines prior to takeoff. The plane had last been through a major inspection in January 2019, she said.

The families of the victims filed a lawsuit against the Collings Foundation in June of 2020.

A preliminary report was released by the NTSB days after the crash. The report also found a 100-hour inspection was performed at 268 hours. 

Jennifer Homendy of the NTSB said, “That inspection is called a continuous airworthiness inspection. From there, there are requirements to have progressive inspections think of it a lot like a car where you would have service.” 

Additional new information includes findings that, at some point, several blades separated from their engine propellers. The report additionally revealed that engine 4 propellers were in what’s called a ‘feathered’ position. A position to minimize air drag typically associated with engine failure.

As of September 2020, the NTSB has not released a final report regarding the crash.