The Latest: Pilot in B-17 crash logged 7,300 hours in bomber

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Emergency crews respond to where a World War II-era bomber B-17 plane crashed at Bradley International Airport in Windsor Locks, Conn., Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019. (Kassi Jackson/Hartford Courant via AP)

WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (AP) — The Latest on the crash of a World War II-era bomber in Connecticut (all times local):

4:50 p.m.

An official from the National Transportation Safety Board says the pilot in a deadly Connecticut plane crash had more than 7,000 hours’ experience flying B-17s.

The pilot, Ernest McCauley, was among the seven people killed in the crash Wednesday at Bradley International Airport.

Board member Jennifer Homendy said at a news conference Thursday that McCauley had flown with the foundation that owned the plane for over 20 years and had flown the bombers for 7,300 hours.

She said investigators have begun securing evidence including the engine in which the pilot had reported a problem.

As part of the investigation she said they also will look into witness reports that work was being done on one or two of the engines prior to takeoff.

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4:25 p.m.

The wife of a man who died in a B-17 bomber crash in Connecticut says she had “a really bad feeling” the plane was going to go down.

Debra Riddell says she was at the airport on Wednesday to video her husband, 59-year-old Robert Riddell, take a “bucket list” trip aboard the World War II-era bomber. She told reporters Thursday that her husband texted her shortly into the trip that they were coming back, blaming “turbulence.”

But as the plane came in low and fell behind a hangar, Riddell says she was certain it was going to crash. She then recalls hearing a “really, really loud sound” followed by a huge fire ball and billowing black smoke.

Riddell says it all “just didn’t seem real.”

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This item has been updated to correct the spelling of the last name of the victim and his wife to Riddell, instead of Ridell.

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3:10 p.m.

State officials have identified the people who were killed and injured in the crash of a B-17 bomber at a Connecticut airport.

The pilot was 75-year-old Ernest McCauley, of Long Beach, California, and the co-pilot was 71-year-old Michael Foster, of Jacksonville, Florida. They were killed while flight engineer 34-year-old Mitchell Melton, of Dalhart, Texas, survived with injuries.

The five passengers who were killed in the crash lived in Connecticut or Massachusetts and ranged in age from 48 to 66. Five other passengers were injured.

The plane crashed Wednesday at Bradley International Airport as it was attempting an emergency landing shortly after takeoff.

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1:50 p.m.

The family of a Massachusetts man is identifying him as one of the seven people killed in the crash of a B-17 bomber in Connecticut.

Forty-eight-year-old Jim Roberts, of Ludlow, Massachusetts, was among the victims. His brother Joe Roberts confirmed the death Thursday to MassLive.com .

The World War II-era plane was carrying 13 people when it crashed and burned Wednesday during an emergency landing at Bradley International Airport.

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12:30 p.m.

The Connecticut Air National Guard says an airman who was aboard a B-17 bomber that crashed in Connecticut opened a hatch that allowed some passengers to escape a fire.

The Guard said Thursday the airman has training and experience in handling emergencies on aircraft.

After the crash Wednesday morning at Hartford’s Bradley International Airport, he used flame-retardant flight gloves he had brought with him to open the hatch.

The airman suffered injuries and has been recovering at home since his release from a hospital Wednesday evening.

The airman is currently command chief for the 103rd Airlift Wing. His name was not released.

Seven people were killed in the crash of the World War II-era plane.

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9:40 a.m.

A former police officer and an insurance analyst were among the seven people killed in the crash of a B-17 bomber at a Connecticut airport.

State officials said Thursday that Gary Mazzone (muh-ZOHN’) died in the crash the day before of the World War II-era plane at Bradley International Airport.

The 60-year-old Mazzone, of East Windsor, retired in January as a prosecutor’s office inspector and previously was a Vernon police officer for 22 years.

The wife of Robert Riddell, an insurance company analyst from East Granby, said in a Facebook post that her husband was among those killed.

Robert Riddell had posted a photo from inside the plane just before takeoff.

The victims’ names have not been officially released, but officials and relatives are beginning to confirm some of them.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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