‘Wings of Freedom’ Morristown visit canceled after fatal B-17 crash in CT

NTSB investigators at crash site of vintage B-17 at Bradley International Airport, Hartford. Photo: NTSB.


The Wings of Freedom Tour, which was scheduled to visit Morristown Airport from Oct. 7-10, has been canceled in the wake of Wednesday’s B-17 crash that killed seven aviation buffs and crew members in Connecticut.

“In the wake of a tragic accident involving our B-17, the Collings Foundation is currently suspending its flight operations and the Wings of Freedom Tour for the remainder of the 2019 season. We are in the process of issuing refunds for those who had reserved flights through December,” the foundation said on its Facebook page.

The Massachusetts nonprofit sells rides on vintage WWII aircraft to preserve history of the U.S. war effort.

Authorities, meanwhile, released names of the dead and injured.

B-17 bomber, at the Wings of Freedom tour, Morristown Airport, September 2018. Photo by John Grieder
Ill-fated B-17 bomber, at the Wings of Freedom tour, Morristown Airport, September 2018. Photo by John Grieder

Victims were pilot Ernest McCauley, 75,, from Long Beach, CA; co-pilot Michael Foster, 71, from Jacksonville, FL; passengers David Broderick, 56, West Springfield, MA; Gary Mazzone, 66,  Broad Brook, CT; James Roberts, 48 – Ludlow, MA, Robert Riddell, 59, East Granby, CT; and Robert Rubner, 64, Tolland, CT.

Injured were Mitchell Melton, 34, light engineer on the B-17G, from Dalehaff, Texas; and passenger Andy Barrett, 36, South Hadley, MA; Linda Schmidt, 62,  from Suffield, CT; Tom Schmidt, 62, Suffield, CT; Joseph Huber, 48, Tariffville, CT, and James Traficante, 54, Simsbury, CT.

Traficante, a National Guard airman riding as a passenger, has been hailed as a hero. He brought flame-retardant gloves with him and opened a hatch enabling survivors to escape from the flaming wreck. He sustained injuries in the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating. A spokeswoman said 23 people have died in crashes of B-17 Flying Fortresses since the 1980s.



Video: MorristownGreen.com flies on ill-fated B-17, in 2013:

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