WINDSOR LOCKS, Conn. (WTNH) — An Air National Guard command chief is being called a hero after he helped save several people during Wednesday’s vintage B-17 military plane crash at Bradley International Airport.
Related: At least 7 reported dead in vintage WWII military plane crash at Bradley International Airport
Officials told News 8 54-year-old James Traficante was sitting in the back of the plane when it experienced issues with the instrument landing system and crashed into a de-icing facility.
Major General Francis J. Evon said Chief Master Sgt. Traficante knew exactly what to do and didn’t hesitate to jump into action.
“He is very familiar with the back of an aircraft,” Evon said. ” [It was] very lucky that he had gloves on. Our understanding is he popped the hatch and was able to extract some individuals.”
The Connecticut National Guard released a statement applauding Traficante’s efforts, saying he brought his pair of “military issued flame-retardant flight gloves” on the flight, which allowed him to open a hatch on the aircraft and to help passengers escape from the plane after the crash.
“The Connecticut National Guard is thankful that our Airman on board the aircraft is safe,” Evon said in the statement.
“The response to the B-17 crash was a joint effort and a great example of state and local municipalities working together. We will continue to provide support any way we can,” Evon added.
Related: ‘Never seen anything that low in my life’: Witness recount seeing military plane go down at Bradley Airport
According to WPRI, Traficanti is a former East Providence firefighter of two decades. East Providence Acting fire chief, Glen Quick, said of Traficanti, “It doesn’t surprise me that his training saved people in the plane crash.”
“He is a true American hero. Yes, absolutely,” said Quick.
Traficanti was treated and released from the hospital. While he was able to help save some of the passengers, at least seven lost their lives.
Related: Officials release names of those involved in B-17 plane crash at Bradley Airport