Many of us have our own bucket list of the things we wish to do, see or accomplish during our lives. For one man who had a dream of flying in a World War II plane that had long fascinated him, it cost him and seven others their lives.
ABC News Go reported that on Wednesday, October 2nd, the B-17 Flying Fortress crashed at Bradley International Airport, located near Hartford, Connecticut. Shortly after takeoff, the pilot, Ernest McCauley, 75, of Long Beach, called into air traffic controllers to report an issue with the engine of his plane. McCauley attempted to land the aircraft, but the World War II vintage aircraft crashed into a de-icing facility.
Robert Riddell was a devoted World War II history buff and wanted to take a ride in the vintage plane. According to Riddell’s wife, he dreamed of someday being able to ride in the Boeing B-17. When he finally got the chance, Riddell’s wife Debra told ABC reporters that he had been excited at having his dream come true at last. “This was really important to him.”
Just before the crash, Riddell was exchanging texts with his wife telling her it had been getting warm in the plane. While Debra thought it might be a concern, her husband didn’t seem worried. Robert Riddell did send additional texts to his wife during the flight indicating that they were returning to the airport due to “turbulence.”
Officials from the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement that the crash occurred just minutes after takeoff. Eyewitnesses who were at the airport at the time of the crash reported having seen ground crews working on at least one of the plane’s engines just before takeoff.
The plane crashed approximately 1,000 feet short of the runway, struck several approach lights, and hit the de-icing facility before bursting into flame.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are currently investigating the cause of the crash.