Two historic military aircraft collided and crashed to the ground in a ball of fire during an airshow in Dallas, officials said, killing six people.
National transportation officials are investigating the cause of Saturday’s collision, which came three years after a World War II bomber crash in Connecticut killed seven people, and amid continuing concerns about the safety of air shows involving older fighter planes.
Emergency crews rushed to the scene at Dulles Executive Airport, about 10 miles from downtown. News footage from the scene showed the wreckage of the crashed planes in a grassy area inside the airport.
A mid-air collision during the Wings airshow over Dallas killed six people. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins tweeted on SundayQuoting the county medical examiner. He said authorities were continuing to work to identify the victims. It was not clear if there were any injuries or deaths on the ground. Dallas Fire Rescue told the Dallas Morning News that there were no reports of injuries there.
Anthony Montoya saw the two planes collide.
“I just stayed there. I was in shock and disbelief,” said Montoya, 27, who attended the air show with a friend. “Everyone was panting. Everyone was bursting into tears. Everyone was in shock.”
Officials did not say how many people were inside each plane, but Hank Coates, president of the company that organized the air show, said one plane, a B-17 Flying Bomber Fortress, usually had four to five crew members. The other aircraft, a P-63 Kingcobra fighter jet, has a single pilot.
Coates of Memorial Air Force, which also owns the planes, said there were no paying customers on board. He said the planes are flown by highly trained volunteers, often retired pilots.
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said the National Transportation Safety Board took control of the scene, and local police and firefighters provided support. Officials said the FAA would investigate.
‘The videos are heartbreaking’ Johnson said on Twitter.
The FAA said in a statement that the two planes collided and crashed around 1:20 p.m.
Also on the show was Victoria Yeager, widow of Chuck Yeager, famous Air Force test pilot. She did not see the impact, but she did see the burning wreckage.
“It was shattered,” said Yeager, 64, who lives in Fort Worth.
“We were just hoping they would all get out, but we didn’t know,” she said of those on board.
A cornerstone of the US Air Force during World War II, the B-17 was a massive four-engine bomber used in daytime raids against Germany. The Kingcobra, an American combat aircraft, was primarily used by Soviet forces during the war. Most of the B-17s were scrapped at the end of World War II and only a handful remain today, largely shown in museums and air shows, according to Boeing.
Multiple videos posted on social media showed the fighter jet apparently flying into the bomber, crashing rapidly to the ground and exploding in a large ball of fire and smoke.
“It was really awful,” said onlooker Aubrey Ann Young, 37, of Leander, Texas. His children were inside the shed with their father when it happened. “I’m still trying to figure that out.”
A woman next to Young can be heard crying and screaming in a video uploaded to her Facebook page.
Airshow safety—especially with older military aircraft—has been a concern for years. In 2011, 11 people were killed in Reno, Nevada, when a P-51 Mustang hit pedestrians. In 2019, a bomber crashed in Hartford, Connecticut, killing seven people. The NTSB later said it had investigated 21 crashes since 1982 involving World War II bombers that killed 23 people.
Wings Over Dallas bills itself as “America’s Premier World War II Air Show,” according to a website announcing the event. The exhibit was scheduled for November 11-13, Veterans Day weekend, and guests were expected to see more than 40 aircraft from World War II. The Saturday afternoon flight show program included the “Bomber Show” and the “Fighter Escort” which featured B-17s and P-63s.
Arthur Alan Walk is a Philadelphia aviation attorney who has been involved in air shows for 12 years. After watching video of the airshow and hearing maneuvers described as “bombers in parade,” Walk told The Associated Press Sunday that the P-63 pilot violated a basic rule of flight training.
“His belly went to the captain,” said Wook. This prevents it from measuring distance and location. The risk of collision is very high when you cannot see the person you are supposed to be training with and this kind of closeness is not allowed. »
He added: “I do not blame anyone, and as far as possible, the air shows, the pilots and the planes they fly in are safe. The air shows are among the largest spectator events in America and such a tragedy is rare.”
Walking in an airshow venue requires extensive training and discipline, Wolk said. The airshow qualifications of the P-63 pilot are unknown.
Bleed reported from Little Rock, Ark. Bobby Kaina Calvan in New York, Ken Miller in Oklahoma City, and Dave Kolpak in Fargo contributed to this report.
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