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. According to Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson on Saturday, the death toll has not yet been confirmed.
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.
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.”
“I can tell you it’s a casual crew,” Coates said. “I cannot release the number of people on the manifest or the names on the manifest until it is released by the NTSB.”
The Air Force has identified both planes as being based in Houston.
“We currently do not have information on the condition of the flight crew as emergency responders attend to the crash,” said a statement from the group, which is working with local authorities and the FAA.
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 it was turned over to the NTSB once its team arrived at the scene, Coates said.
On Saturday evening, the NTSB said it was sending a team to investigate the collision. A team of technicians regularly dispatched to crash sites is expected to arrive on Sunday, the agency said.
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,” 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.
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