6 dead after a pair of vintage military aircraft collided at a Texas air show

Nov 14, 2022, 5:57 AM | Updated: 12:48 pm
Debris from two planes that crashed during the airshow. The B-17 was one of about 45 complete survi...
Debris from two planes that crashed during the airshow. The B-17 was one of about 45 complete surviving examples of the model, which was produced by Boeing and other airplane manufacturers during World War II. (LM Otero/AP)
(LM Otero/AP)

DALLAS — Six people are dead after two World War II-era military planes collided midair and crashed at Dallas Executive Airport during an airshow Saturday afternoon, killing all on board, the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s office said Sunday.

“We can confirm that there are six (fatalities),” a spokesperson for the office told CNN in a phone call.

More than 40 fire rescue units responded to the scene after the two vintage planes — a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and a Bell P-63 Kingcobra — went down during the Wings Over Dallas airshow.

In video footage of the crash described by Dallas’ mayor as “heartbreaking,” the planes are seen breaking apart midair after the collision, then hitting the ground within seconds before bursting into flames.

Here are the latest developments as investigators from the National Transportation Safety Board begin their investigation:

What we know about the crew members killed

The crash took place at around 1:20 p.m. Saturday, the Federal Aviation Administration said.

The Allied Pilots Association — the labor union representing American Airlines pilots — identified two pilot retirees and former union members among those killed in the collision.

Terry Barker and Len Root were crew on the B-17 Flying Fortress during the airshow, the APA said on social media.

“Our hearts go out to their families, friends, and colleagues past and present,” the union said. The APA is offering professional counseling services at its headquarters in Fort Worth following the incident.

The death of Barker was also announced by Keller Mayor Armin Mizani on Sunday morning in a Facebook post.

“Keller is grieving as we have come to learn that husband, father, Army veteran, and former Keller City Councilman Terry Barker was one of the victims of the tragic crash at the Dallas Air Show,” Mizani wrote.

“Terry Barker was beloved by many. He was a friend and someone whose guidance I often sought. Even after retiring from serving on the City Council and flying for American Airlines, his love for community was unmistakable.”

A 30-year plus veteran of the Civil Air Patrol’s Ohio Wing, Maj. Curtis J. Rowe, was also among those killed in the collision, Col. Pete Bowden, the agency’s commander, said Sunday.

Rowe served in several positions throughout his tenure with the Civil Air Patrol, 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 Saturday evening, the commander added.

“I reach to find solace in that when great aviators like Curt perish, they do so doing what they loved. Curt touched the lives of thousands of his fellow CAP members, especially the cadets who he flew during orientation flights or taught at Flight Academies and for that, we should be forever grateful,” Bowden wrote in a Facebook post.

“To a great aviator, colleague, and Auxiliary Airman, farewell,” he said.

In a Saturday news conference, Hank Coates, president and CEO of the Commemorative Air Force, an organization which preserves and maintains vintage military aircraft, told reporters the B-17 “normally has a crew of four to five. That was what was on the aircraft,” while the P-63 is a “single-piloted fighter type aircraft.”

Three more victims were identified in a release from the Commemorative Air Force, which hosted the event.

“We are heartbroken to announce that the following members of the Commemorative Air Force went west on Saturday,” the statement said, using the phrase pilots use when one of their own has died.

Craig Hutain was a United Airlines pilot and executive officer with Tora! Tora! Tora! Airshows. In a bio on the company website, Hutain wrote he started flying with his father at 10 years old. He took his first solo flight at 17, became a flight instructor in college at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering, and got a job with an airline in 1982. He was married, with two daughters and four grandchildren.

Kevin “K5” Michels and Dan Ragan were named as the other victims. CNN is working to obtain more information about Michels and Ragan.

The Commemorative Air Force identified both aircraft as based in Houston.

No spectators or others on the ground were reported injured, although the debris field from the collision includes the Dallas Executive Airport grounds, Highway 67 and a nearby strip mall.

Rare aircraft involved

The B-17 was part of the collection of the Commemorative Air Force, nicknamed “Texas Raiders,” and had been kept in a hangar in Conroe, Texas, near Houston.

It was one of about 45 complete examples of the model, only nine of which were airworthy.

The P-63 was even rarer. Some 14 examples are known to survive, four of which in the US were airworthy, including one owned by the Commemorative Air Force.

More than 12,000 B-17s were produced by Boeing, Douglas Aircraft and Lockheed between 1936 and 1945, with nearly 5,000 lost during the war, and most of the rest scrapped by the early 1960s. About 3,300 P-63s were produced by Bell Aircraft between 1943 and 1945 and were principally used by the Soviet Air Force in World War II.

NTSB launches go-team

The FAA was leading the investigation Saturday, but the NTSB took over the investigation once its team reached the scene, the agency said at a news conference Sunday. The team dispatched by the NTSB consists of technical experts who are regularly sent to plane crash sites to investigate the collision, according to the NTSB.

Neither aircraft was equipped with a flight data recorder or cockpit voice recorder, often known as the “black box,” he added.

Investigators surveyed the accident site using both an NTSB drone and a photograph of the scene from the ground to document the area before the wreckage is moved to a secure location, Graham said. A preliminary accident report is expected in four to six weeks, but a full report on the investigation may not arrive for 12 to 18 months.

Graham asked anyone with photos or videos of the incident to share them with the NTSB.

“They’ll be very critical to analyze the collision and also tie that in with the aircraft control recordings to determine why the two aircraft collided and to determine, basically, the how and why this accident happened and then eventually, hopefully, maybe make some safety recommendations to prevent it from happening in the future,” he said.

According to Coates, the individuals flying the aircraft in his group’s airshows are volunteers and follow a strict training process. Many of them are airline pilots, retired airline pilots or retired military pilots.

“The maneuvers that they (the aircraft) were going through were not dynamic at all,” Coates noted. “It was what we call ‘Bombers on Parade.”

“This is not about the aircraft. It’s just not,” Coates said. “I can tell you the aircraft are great aircraft. They’re safe. They’re very well-maintained. The pilots are very well-trained. So it’s difficult for me to talk about it because I know all these people. These are family, and they’re good friends.”

The Wings Over Dallas event, which was scheduled to run through Sunday, was canceled, according to the organizer’s website.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

A flyer seeking information about the killings of four University of Idaho students who were found ...
Elizabeth Wolfe and Mallika Kallingal, CNN

Moscow police say a sixth person on the lease isn’t involved in the Idaho student killings

The Moscow Police Department said on Friday that they don't believe a sixth person listed on the lease at the residence, where four University of Idaho students were killed last month, was involved in their deaths.
24 hours ago
FILE: This 2003 electron microscope image made available by the Centers for Disease Control and Pre...
AMANDA SEITZ, Associated Press

US plans end to mpox public health emergency in January

The federal government plans to end in January the public health emergency it declared earlier this year after an outbreak of mpox left more than 29,000 people across the U.S. infected.
24 hours ago
FILE - This undated artist rending provided by the U.S. Air Force shows a U.S. Air Force graphic of...
TARA COPP Associated Press

Pentagon debuts its new stealth bomber, the B-21 Raider

The United States' newest nuclear stealth bomber is making its public debut after years of secret development. The new bomber is part of the Pentagon's answer to rising concerns over a future conflict with China.
24 hours ago
FILE: LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 03:  The Airbnb logo is displayed on a computer screen on August 3, ...
Shay O'Connor

Families of tourists found dead in Mexico Airbnb plan to file lawsuit

A news conference was held Thursday with the mothers who lost their children last month in Mexico to carbon monoxide poisoning at an Airbnb.
24 hours ago
F.B.I. Director Christopher Wray speaks at a press conference at the U.S. Department of Justice on ...
ERIC TUCKER, Associated Press

FBI director raises national security concerns about TikTok

FBI Director Chris Wray is raising national security concerns about TikTok, warning Friday that control of the popular video sharing app is in the hands of a Chinese government “that doesn't share our values.”
24 hours ago
Flyer for killings of University of Idaho students...
REBECCA BOONE Associated Press

EXPLAINER: Deaths of 4 Idaho students fuel online sleuths

The deaths of four University of Idaho students nearly three weeks ago has riled up thousands of would-be armchair sleuths, many of whom are posting speculation and unfounded rumors about the fatal stabbings online.
24 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 reasons you may want to consider apartment life over owning a home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
Festive kitchen in Christmas decorations. Christmas dining room....
Lighting Design

6 Holiday Decor Trends to Try in 2022

We've rounded out the top 6 holiday decor trends for 2022 so you can be ahead of the game before you start shopping. 
Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to choose what MBA program is right for you: Take this quiz before you apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Diverse Group of Energetic Professionals Team Meeting in Modern Office: Brainstorming IT Programmer...
Les Olson

Don’t let a ransomware attack get you down | Protect your workplace today with cyber insurance

Business owners and operators should be on guard to protect their workplace. Cyber insurance can protect you from online attacks.
Hand turning a thermostat knob to increase savings by decreasing energy consumption. Composite imag...
Lighting Design

5 Lighting Tips to Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Advances in lighting technology make it easier to use smart features to cut costs. Read for tips to save energy by using different lighting strategies in your home.
Portrait of smiling practitioner with multi-ethnic senior people...
Summit Vista

How retirement communities help with healthy aging

There are many benefits that retirement communities contribute to healthy aging. Learn more about how it can enhance your life, or the life of your loved ones.
6 dead after a pair of vintage military aircraft collided at a Texas air show