A Connecticut Air National Guard chief master sergeant sprang into acton when the World War II-era B-17 Flying Fortress he was a passenger aboard crashed while attempting to land at Bradley International Airport on Wednesday, officials said.
Chief Master Sgt. James Traficante, the current command chief for the 103rd Airlift Wing at Bradley’s Air National Guard Base, was able to open the downed Collings Foundation B-17’s hatch and pull other passengers to safety thanks to his military-issued flame retardant flight gloves and his experience as a C-130 loadmaster, NBC Connecticut reports
“He is very familiar with the back of an aircraft,” Army Maj. Gen. Francis J. Evon, adjutant general of the Connecticut National Guard, said in a statement on Thursday. “[It was] very lucky that he had gloves on. Our understanding is he popped the hatch and was able to extract some individuals.”
Chief Master Sgt. James Traficante(Connecticut National Guard photo)
The Hartford Courant reports that Traficante suffered “at least one broken arm and a broken collarbone” during the crash. He was transported to Hartford Hospital for treatment and released as of Wednesday evening, according to NBC Connecticut.
Seven people were killed in the crash, including the pilot and co-pilot. Seven passengers, including Traficante, were injured.
The National Transportation Safety Board is currently investigating the incident.
“The Connecticut National Guard is thankful that our airman on board the aircraft is safe,” Evon said in a statement “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this tragic accident.”