A Connecticut National Guard Airman heroically helped his fellow passengers escape the burning World War II-era plane that crashed and burned in the state, authorities said Thursday — as they identified the seven dead and others wounded in the tragedy.
Chief Master Sgt. James Traficante, 54, allowed other passengers to flee by opening a hatch on the B-17 bomber that crashed Wednesday while attempting to make an emergency landing at Bradley International Airport, north of Hartford.
The valiant act was only possible because Traficante had brought along his military-issued flame retardant gloves on the flight, allowing him to open the hatch without scorching his hands, Captain Jennifer Pierce told WWLP.
Traficante — who serves in the 103rd Airlift Wing command — suffered a broken arm and broken collarbone and was treated and discharged at Hartford Hospital, according to the Hartford Courant.
During a Thursday afternoon press conference, authorities identified the seven people killed in the fiery crash. They included both the pilot, 75-year-old Ernest “Mac” McCauley of Long Beach, California and his co-pilot, 71-year-old Michael Foster, of Jacksonville, Florida.
Among the five passengers killed was former Vernon police Capt. Gary Mazzone, 66, a 22-year member of the department who retired nine months ago.
Robert Riddell, 59, a grandfather and insurance company analyst from East Granby, also perished in the crash.
“Rob was the best person Ive ever known,” his wife, Debra Riddell posted on Facebook. “He was my soul mate I will miss him beyond words can ever express.”
Also among the dRead More – Source