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Wings of Freedom plane involved in fatal crash

B-17 'Flying Fortress' came to Livermore Airport annually, crashed in Connecticut while on tour

Visitors climb into and walk around the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress at the Wings of Freedom Tour's stop at Moffett Airfield on May 20. The vintage World War II plane was on tour in Connecticut when it crashed on Oct. 2. Photo by Magali Gauthier

A vintage World War II plane that visited the Bay Area, including Livermore, as part of the Wings of Freedom tour was involved in a fatal crash in Connecticut last week.

The plane, a B-17 "Flying Fortress" bomber, reportedly experienced an engine failure just minutes after taking off from Bradley International Airport near Hartford, Conn., last Wednesday. The aircraft ended up crashing into an airport building, killing seven people and injuring seven others.

The B-17 plane was owned by the Collings Foundation, a nonprofit that maintains a large collection of World War II vintage aircraft. The organization is best known for coordinating an annual Wings of Freedom tour to showcase its historic planes at airports across the country.

The Wings of Freedom tour has visited the Livermore Municipal Airport and Moffett Field each May for more than a decade. The B-17 was one of the event's main attractions, and it was promoted as one of the last bombers of its type that was still airworthy.

During visits to Livermore and other airports, the Wings of Freedom organizers offered visitors short rides on the B-17 and other vintage aircraft at the cost of $450 per person. It was reportedly during one of those paid flights that the B-17 ended up crash landing at the Connecticut airfield.

In a brief statement, the Collings Foundation said they were working with authorities investigating the crash.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with those who were on that flight," the organization wrote. "The Collings Foundation flight team is fully cooperating with officials to determine the cause of the crash of the B-17 Flying Fortress."

The Connecticut Post identified those who died as:

Ernest “Mac” McCauley, 75, of Long Beach, pilot.

Michael Foster, 71, of Jacksonville, Fla., co-pilot.

David Broderick, 56, of West Springfield, Mass., passenger.

Robert Riddell, 59, of East Granby, Conn., passenger.

Gary Mazzone, 66, of East Windsor, Conn., passenger.

James Roberts, 48, of Ludlow, Mass., passenger.

Robert Rubner, 64, of Tolland, Conn., passenger.

-- Pleasanton Weekly editor Jeremy Walsh contributed to this story.

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