WINDSOR LOCKS, CT — The historic B-17 bomber which crashed outside Hartford, Connecticut on Wednesday -- killing seven people and injuring at least seven others -- went down just weeks after thrilling crowds in Kalispell and Great Falls.
The vintage B-17 "Flying Fortress" was one of the historic planes owned by the Collings Foundation and had made stops in Kalispell and Great Falls as part of it's annual "Wings of Freedom Tour" this summer. That tour has also visited Missoula and other Montana cities in the past.
During those stops, the plane and the other Collings aircraft are opened for tours on the ground, but also give people a chance to fly in the bomber, a popular opportunity for the handful of surviving veterans who might have flown in the planes during wartime.
Investigators aren't sure why the bomber crashed five minutes after taking off from Bradley International Airport outside of Hartford. There were indications it might have been an engine problem.
The National Transportation Safety Board is looking for the cause of the crash, with an investigator saying it's amazing any of the 13 people on board survived.
The Collings Foundation issued a statement expressing sympathy to those impacted by the crash, saying it would be "forever grateful" to the emergency responders who helped at the crash, which also injured two people on the ground.