Texas: Vintage military aircraft collide mid-air at Dallas air show



CNN

A Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and a Bell P-63 Kingcobra collided and crashed at the Wings Over Dallas airshow around 1:20 pm on Saturday, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.

Authorities responding to the incident at the Dallas Executive Airport, Jason Evans with Dallas Fire-Rescue told CNN on Saturday.

The number of victims in the accident was still not confirmed later on Saturday afternoon, according to Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson.

However, the Allied Pilots Association, the union representing American Airlines pilots, identified two retired pilots and former union members among those killed in the collision.

Former members Terry Barker and Len Root were crew members in a B-17 Flying Fortress during the Wings Over Dallas air show, APA said in a tweet. APA also offered professional counseling services at its headquarters in Fort Worth following the incident.

“Our hearts go out to our family, friends, and colleagues past and present,” the tweet said.

There were more than 40 fire-rescue units on the scene after the collision, the agency’s active incident page showed.

A video captured by an onlooker shows the immediate aftermath of the crash.

At a news conference Saturday afternoon, Hank Coates, president and CEO of the Air Force Memorial, told reporters the B-17 “typically has a crew of four to five. That’s what’s on the plane,” while the P-63 is a “single fighter-type aircraft— piloted”.

“I can tell you it’s mostly made up,” Coates said. “I cannot release the number of people on the manifest or the names on the manifest until I am released to do so by the NTSB.”

The Air Force Commemorative identified both planes out of Houston.

“Currently we do not have information on the status of the flight crew as emergency responders are working on the accident,” a statement from the group said, adding that it was working with local authorities and the FAA.

The FAA is currently conducting an investigation, which was handed over to the NTSB around 9 p.m. when an NTSB team arrived on the scene, Coates said.

On Saturday evening, the NTSB said it had launched a go-team to investigate the collision. The team is expected to arrive on Sunday, the NTSB said in a tweet.

“Member Michael Graham will be the spokesperson on the scene,” the tweet added.

“Maneuvers that they are [the aircraft] what’s going on isn’t very dynamic,” Coates said. “That’s what we call ‘Bombers on Parade’.”

Johnson tweeted later on Saturday that no spectators or others on the ground were reported injured, although the debris field from the collision included the grounds of Dallas Executive Airport, Highway 67, and a nearby mall.

The event, which was scheduled to run through Sunday, has been canceled, according to the organizers’ website.

guards said in a tweet after the accident“As many of you can now see, we have experienced a terrible tragedy in our city today during the air show. Many details remain unknown or unconfirmed at this time.”

“The videos are heartbreaking. Please say a prayer for the souls who have gone to heaven to comfort and educate our families today,” Johnson said in a separate tweet.

The southbound and northbound lanes of the highway were closed following the incident, said the Dallas Police Department.

“It’s not about the plane. It’s not,” Coates said during a press conference. “I can tell you that the plane is a good plane, they’re safe. It is very well maintained. The pilots are very well-trained. So it’s hard for me to say that, because I know all these people, this is family, and they’re good friends.

According to Coates, individuals flying aircraft at CAF airshows are volunteers and have a strict training process. Many of them are airline pilots, retired airline pilots, or retired military pilots, Coates said.

The B-17 was part of the Air Force Commemorative collection, nicknamed “Texas Raiders,” and has been hung in Conroe, Texas near Houston. This is one of about 45 completely surviving examples of the model, only nine of which were airworthy.

P-63 is even rarer. Some 14 examples are known to survive, four of which are airworthy in the United States, including one belonging to the Memorial Air Force.

More than 12,000 B-17s were produced by Boeing, Douglas Aircraft and Lockheed between 1936 and 1945, and nearly 5,000 were lost during the war, with most of the remainder 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.



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