Family of copilot killed in WWII plane crash sues foundation


The family of a copilot killed in the crash of a World War II-era plane in 2019 in Connecticut is suing the foundation that hosted the air show.

The civil suit by relatives of Michael Foster is the fourth that has been brought against the Massachusetts-based Collings Foundation, an educational group, after the deadly crash at the Bradley International Airport, the Hartford Courant reported on Wednesday.

Foster was one of two pilots flying the four-engine, propeller-driven B-17G Flying Fortress bomber with 13 people on board at a traveling vintage aircraft show on Oct. 2, 2019. The other pilot, Ernest “Mac” McCauley, reported a problem with one of the engines shortly after takeoff, and the plane crashed into a maintenance building and burst into flames after striking the runway lights during a landing attempt.

Seven people were killed in the crash, including Foster, who was 71 at the time.

The National Transportation Safety Board found pilot error probably caused the crash and cited inadequate maintenance as a contributing factor. McCauley, who was 75 at the time of the crash, was an experienced pilot and also the maintenance director for the Collings Foundation, which owned the plane. But the NTSB investigation found he wrongly turned off an engine that was malfunctioning and deployed the plane’s landing gear too soon.

Andrew Groher, an attorney for Foster’s family, blamed the foundation for the crash in a statement to the newspaper.

“This plane should never have been allowed off the ground on the day of this crash,” he said.

In March 2020, the Federal Aviation Administration revoked the Collings Foundation’s permission to carry passengers aboard its World War II-era planes because of safety concerns stemming from the Bradley accident.

Representatives of the Collings Foundation declined a request by the newspaper to comment on the new filing, citing ongoing litigation.

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