By Christina Hager

LUDLOW (CBS) — Joe Roberts said it still doesn’t seem real. His brother Jim Roberts, who’s from Ludlow, was among those who boarded a vintage World War II bomber for a special flight this week just outside Hartford, CT. It ended in a crash landing.

“I still think I’m in a bad dream and I’m going to wake up.”

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“He wanted all of us brothers to go,” said Roberts. Since they had scheduling conflicts, Jim, the youngest among them, went alone.

“The thing that’s going to haunt me is, seeing that fire and knowing my brother was in it. I just hope he died instantly,” he said.

Joe Roberts (WBZ-TV)


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Seven people were injured, and seven were killed, including the 75-year-old pilot, Ernest McCauley. He had called the Bradley International Airport tower about an engine issue moments before the crash.

Aviation podcaster Micah Engber met up with McCauley and saw the B17 bomber at an airshow in Maine just last week. During an interview on the podcast “Airplane Geeks,” McCauley can be heard telling a show producer about the plane, “I fly this thing every day…every single day at least once.”

McCauley even talked specifically about engine #4 on the plane, which happens to be the same engine he referenced when he alerted the tower before the crash in Connecticut. “That engine was in perfect shape,” Engber told WBZ. “All those engines were in perfect shape. This was some kind of strange happening that took place.”

“That engine was in perfect shape,” said Engber. “All those engines were in perfect shape. This was some kind of strange happening that took place.”

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Roberts said he wouldn’t go on a vintage plane ride himself after this incident, but one thing does give him some comfort, that his brother spent his last moments on a bucket list experience.

Christina Hager