Connecticut's State archaeologist says he's almost certain his team has solved a mystery dating from World War 2 - the site of the plane crash that killed the man who gave Bradley International Airport its name.
Lieutenant Eugene Bradley joined the army air corps in early 1941. He came to Connecticut that July to train on a newly opened air strip in Windsor Locks. During a dog fighting exercise one August morning, Bradley lost control of his plane, and crashed. He was 25-years-old.
"He plunged five thousand feet, vertically, nose first, into the ground," says Nicholas Bellantoni, the state's Archaeologist. He says after the crash, a rescue team recovered engine parts as deep as 13 feet under ground. He says the exact coordinates of the crash site were never recorded.
"They came in very quickly, they searched for his remains, and removed that, and then they just basically covered it up with a bulldozer," says Bellantoni. "So it's led me to believe that there were numerous parts of the plane still in the ground."
Bellantoni's team used ground penetrating radar detection to try to determine where the plane crash occurred. Extensive research allowed them to narrow down five possible locations. The first four all came up negative. But the fifth site gave them the signals they we're looking for.
"You know in terms of Connecticut history, Bradley International Airport is a very significant site for us, and seven million people a year go through that airport and probably not seven know the story of Eugene Bradley. We forget sometimes how many people gave their lives preparing for combat, and Bradley's one of them," Bellantoni says.
He says the next step is to take a core of the soil from the site, which is located beneath Runway 33. He hopes the sample will contain fragments of lieutenant Bradley's 1941 P-40 C fighter.