6 killed in two World War II military aircraft crashes Crashed in mid-air During an air show Saturday afternoon at Dallas Executive Airport, all on board were killed. The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office said Sunday.
“We can confirm there are six (deaths),” a spokeswoman for the Dallas County medical examiner’s office told CNN in a phone call.
More than 40 fire and rescue units responded to the scene after two vintage aircraft — a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and a Bell B-63 Kingobra — went down during the Wings Over Dallas air show.
Video footage of the crash, described as “heartbreaking” by the mayor of Dallas, shows the planes breaking up in mid-air after the collision, then crashing to the ground seconds later and bursting into flames.
Here are the latest developments as investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board arrive at the scene Sunday.
The crash happened around 1:20 p.m. Saturday, the Federal Aviation Administration said.
Allied Pilots — the labor union representing American Airlines pilots — identified two pilot retirees and former union members among those killed in the crash.
Former members Terry Barker and Len Rudd worked on the B-17 Flying Fortress during the air show. APA said on social media.
“Our hearts go out to their families, friends and colleagues, past and present,” the union said. APA provides professional counseling services at their headquarters in Fort Worth following the incident.
The death of Barker, a former city council member in Keller, Texas, was announced by Keller Mayor Armin Misani in a Facebook post Sunday morning.
“Keller is saddened to learn that husband, father, military veteran and former Keller City Councilman Terry Barker was among the victims of the tragic crash at the Dallas Air Show,” Misani wrote.
“Terry Barker was loved by many. He was a friend and whose guidance I often looked to. Even after retiring from the City Council and flying for American Airlines, his love for the community was unmistakable.
Major with more than 30 years of experience in the Ohio Wing of the Civil Air Patrol. Curtis J. Rowe was among those killed in the shootout, the agency’s commander, Col. Pete Bowden, said Sunday.
Rowe served in several positions throughout his Civil Air Patrol career, from safety officer to operations officer, and most recently, he was the Ohio Wing maintenance officer, Bowden said. Rowe’s family was notified of his death on Saturday evening, the commander added.
“When great pilots like Kurt die, I take solace in the fact that they were doing what they loved. Kurt touched the lives of thousands of his fellow CAP members, especially the lives of the cadets he flew during orientation flights or taught at flight academies, for which we must be forever grateful,” he said. Bowden wrote in a Facebook post.
“To a great pilot, colleague and fellow Airman, farewell,” he said.
At a Saturday news conference, Hank Coates, president and CEO of the Air Force Memorial, an organization that preserves and maintains vintage military aircraft, told reporters that the B-17 “typically has a crew of four to five. That was the plane,” while the P-63 was a “one-pilot fighter.”
The Air Force has identified both planes as being based in Houston.
Although the Dallas Executive Airport stadium, Highway 67 and a nearby strip mall were littered with debris from the collision, no spectators or others in the stadium were injured.
The B-17 was part of a commemorative Air Force collection, nicknamed the “Texas Raiders,” and was housed in a hangar in Conroe, Texas, near Houston.
It is one of only 45 surviving complete examples of the model, only nine of which are airworthy.
The P-63 was even rarer. About 14 examples are known to survive, including four owned by aircraft in the United States. Memorial Air Force.
More than 12,000 B-17s were produced Boeing, Douglas Aircraft and Lockheed lost nearly 5,000 during the war between 1936 and 1945, and most of the rest were scrapped in the early 1960s. About 3,300 P-63s were produced by Bell Aircraft between 1943 and 1945, and were mainly used by the Soviet Air Force in World War II.
The FAA led the investigation into Saturday’s air show crash, but the NTSB took over the investigation when its team arrived at the scene, the agency said at a news conference Sunday. The NTSB dispatch team includes technicians who are regularly sent to crash sites to investigate collisions, the NTSB said.
“Our team is systematically and methodically reviewing all evidence and considering all possible factors to determine probable cause,” NTSB member Michael Graham said.
According to Graham, investigators have begun securing audio recordings from the air traffic control tower and conducting interviews of other formation crews and air show operations.
No aircraft is equipped with a flight data recorder or cockpit voice recorder, often called a “black box”.
Investigators surveyed the crash site using both an NTSP drone and a photo of the scene from the ground before the wreckage was moved to a safer location, Graham said. An initial accident report is expected to take four to six weeks, but a full investigation could take 12 to 18 months before a final report is issued.
Graham appealed to witnesses if anyone has photos or videos of the incident to share them with the NTSB.
“Because we don’t have flight data recorder data or cockpit voice recorders or anything like that they’re really going to be very important. [those devices]”Graham said. “It’s going to be really important that they analyze the collision and combine it with air traffic control records to determine why the two planes collided and, basically, determine how and why this accident happened, and eventually, hopefully, do something. Safety recommendations to prevent this from happening in the future.”
According to Coates, the people who fly the aircraft at CAF airshows are volunteers and follow a rigorous training process. Many of them are airline pilots, retired airline pilots or retired military pilots.
“Not all of the maneuvers they (the aircraft) were going through were dynamic,” Coates noted. “We call them bombers on parade.”
“It’s not about the plane. It’s not just that,” Coates said. “I can tell you that the planes are great planes, they’re safe. They’re very well maintained. The pilots are very well trained. So it’s hard for me to talk about this because I know all these people, they’re family, they’re good friends.
Mayor Johnson said in a tweet after the crash, “As many of you have seen by now, a terrible tragedy occurred today during an air show in our city. Many details are unknown or unconfirmed at this time.
“The videos are heartbreaking. Please say a prayer for the souls who ascended to entertain and educate our families today,” Johnson said in a separate tweet.
The Wings Over Dallas event, which was scheduled to run through Sunday, has been canceled, according to the organizer’s website.