WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (WWLP) – A member of the Connecticut Air National Guard was on board the B-17 aircraft when it crashed at Bradley International Airport Wednesday.
Captain Jennifer Pierce identified the Airman as Chief Master Sgt. James Traficante. He currently serves as the 103rd Airlift Wing’s command chief master sergeant. As an experienced aircrew member, he is said to have taken action when the vintage bomber went down.
“He brought his military-issued flame-retardant flight gloves with him during the flight, and using these, was able to open a hatch on the aircraft allowing other passengers to egress the plane after the crash,” Pierce said.
The command chief was among the six patients taken to Hartford Hospital after the crash. Pierce said he has since been released and is recovering at home.
Chief master sergeant is the highest enlisted rank in the U.S. Air Force. Traficante joined the military in 1984 and has deployed in support of several operations including Operation Inherent Resolve, Operation Enduring Freedom, Operation Iraqi Freedom, Desert Shield/Storm, and Volant & Coronet Oak.