Six dead in mid-air plane crash at Texas WWII show: authorities

The incident at Dallas Executive Airport involved a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and a smaller Bell P-63 Kingcobra, the Federal Aviation Administration said Saturday.

Mid-air collision screenshot. Source: Twitter/@RitahPanahi

HOUSTON — Six people were killed when two World War II planes collided mid-air during a show in Texas and crashed to the ground in a ball of fire, authorities said Sunday.

“According to our Dallas County Medical Examiner, there were a total of 6 fatalities in yesterday’s Wings over Dallas air show incident,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said on Twitter on Sunday. .

The incident at Dallas Executive Airport involved a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and a smaller Bell P-63 Kingcobra, the Federal Aviation Administration said Saturday.

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson called the incident a “terrible tragedy”, adding that videos of the incident “are heartbreaking”.

Multiple videos posted to social media showed dramatic scenes of the small plane descending towards the lower-flying B-17 and crashing into it as the two circled around the airport.

After the collision, the planes appeared to break into several large pieces before crashing to the ground and exploding in a ball of fire, creating a huge plume of black smoke.

The crash scattered debris across airport grounds as well as a nearby shopping mall and freeway, which was closed for hours, Johnson said.

Fire and rescue vehicles were already present at the show in case of an emergency and responded immediately, authorities said.

About 5,000 people attended the event Saturday, a few miles south of downtown Dallas. Air shows scheduled for Sunday have been canceled.

The FAA said its officers and the National Transportation Safety Board would investigate the incident.

Hank Coates, director general of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF), whose planes were involved in the crash, said the B-17 “normally has a crew of four or five”, while the P-63 is piloted by a single pilot. .

He said the pilots who operate the planes at these shows are experienced volunteers with “very extensive training” and are often retired military pilots.

The Allied Pilots Association, the collective bargaining agent for American Airlines, confirmed earlier that two of its retired members died in the crash.

Both planes were based in Houston, the Dallas Morning News reported.

The CAF owns some 180 vintage aircraft that fly about 6,500 hours a year in air shows, veteran tributes and training flights, according to Coates.

The B-17, a four-engine bomber, played a major role in winning the air war against Germany in World War II. With a reputation as a workhorse, it became one of the most produced bombers of all time.

The CAF said the B-17 involved in the crash, which bore a Texas Raiders logo on its nose, was one of only five bombers that could still fly of the 12,731 originally built.

The P-63 Kingcobra was a fighter aircraft developed during the same war by Bell Aircraft, but was used in combat only by the Soviet Air Force.

Safety has long been a concern at air shows.

Seven people died on October 2, 2019 when a B-17 crashed during a vintage aircraft show in Connecticut.