The victims in Wednesday’s crash of a B-17 at Bradley International Airport were identified by officials on Thursday.
The following seven people were classified as dead or presumed dead, according to officials.
1. Ernest “Mac” McCauley, 75, of Long Beach, Calif., pilot.
McCauley was remembered fondly on Thursday by Greenwich resident Michael Mason.
Mason met McCauley through Mason’s private aviation business, Million Air at Westchester County Airport, in 1996. Mason’s company had played host to The Collings Foundation and its fleet in the past.
Mason himself had been in the plane that crashed with McCauley as the pilot more than 15 times.
He recalled his friend as someone who loved people and loved talking about aviation, sticking around long after business hours were over to dish with anyone who shared his passion for planes.
“He may have been 75, but if he told you that, you’d have thought he was really 50,” Mason said, remembering how McCauley played football in his younger days. “He was this big California surfer dude and he was wonderful to be around. He has such a connection to that B-17. He was with it all the time. He would even go each year with it to Florida in the off-season when it got its FAA inspection and upgrades. He loved that plane and he loved talking about it.”
Mason said he had changed tires on the plane with McCauley and the two of them had even replaced an engine on it together.
“He loved what he did,” Mason said. “He’d have done it until he was 100 if he could have.”
Eric Whyte, a pilot who has flown with McCauley, posted about his death on his Facebook page.
McCauley has been flying with the Collings Foundation, owner of the B-17, since 1999.
“He was a former NFL player, took pride in being a curmudgeon, liked to laugh at millennials but he had a soft spot for animals. Especially dogs,” Whyte wrote. “He would often sneak away from the tour and visit animal shelters to walk the dogs since being on the road he couldn’t have one of his own.”
Whyte said he regretted that the two never took a photo of them flying together — citing his friend’s “no selfies in the cockpit” rule.
“One story we laughed about, the first time I flew with him I couldn’t get the parking brake to release,” Whyte wrote. “No matter what I couldn’t get the parking brake off. Mac looked over and laughed and said ‘you know we aren’t going anywhere until you get that figured out.’ Both of us were laughing as I finally got it to release (it was operator error).”
“Blue skies and tailwinds guys,” Whyte wrapped up his tribute to McCauley. “It was an honor to fly with you.”
2. Michael Foster, 71, of Jacksonville, Fla. Co-pilot.
3. David Broderick, 56, of West Springfield, Mass. Passenger.
The Westfield News reported that Broderick had an interest in World War II history and accepted the opportunity to fly in the aircraft.
A family member of Broderick’s told Westfield News that he loved WWII history and had previously taken two of his sons on a trip to Normandy, France, to see historic sites.
Broderick was remembered as a devoted husband and father who loved spending time with his family. He worked for Hamilton Sundstrand and Collins Aerospace.
He lived in West Springfield. He is survived by his wife, children, parents, sister, grandmother and several aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews.
4. Robert Riddell, 59, of East Granby. Passenger.
His wife, Debra, told ABC News:
"Rob was the best person I’ve ever known," Debra Riddell said in a statement to ABC News. "He was my soul mate I will miss him beyond words can ever express. ... He was brilliant, loving, funny, reliable, compassionate and the best man I’ve ever known. The world lost an amazing person today."
She posted on her Facebook page Wednesday, “It’s been a long and tragic day. Words cannot express how devastated I am. At this point, all survivors have been identified. Rob was not one of them. We are waiting for the M.E. to identify those who did not make it. Your thoughts and prayers are greatly appreciated.
“Rob was the best person I’ve ever known. I will miss him beyond words can ever express. He loved his children more than anyone could know and the new grandson was the apple of his eye. He embraced my daughter and grandchildren and loved them as his own.”
“My heart goes out to the other people that lost loved ones but especially the people who survived this crash.”
Riddell was a business analyst at The Hartford.
Just before takeoff, Robert Riddell took photos of the B-17.
For the full story visit CTPost.com.