Two World War II-era military planes collided mid-air and crashed at Dallas Executive Airport Saturday afternoon, killing six people and all aboard. The Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office announced Sunday.
“We can confirm there are six (deaths),” a spokesman for the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office told CNN by phone.
More than 40 fire-rescue units responded to the scene after two vintage aircraft, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and a Bell P-63 Kingobra, crashed during the Wings Over Dallas air show.
Video footage of the crash, described as “heartbreaking” by the mayor of Dallas, shows the planes disintegrating in mid-air after impact, then crashing to the ground seconds later, bursting into flames.
Here are the latest developments as National Transportation Safety Board investigators are scheduled to visit the scene Sunday.
The Federal Aviation Administration said the crash happened around 1:20 p.m. Saturday.
The Allied Pilots Union — the labor union representing American Airlines pilots — identified two pilot retirees and former union members among those killed in the collision.
Former members Terry Barker and Len Root crewed 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 association said. APA provides career counseling services at their headquarters in Fort Worth following this incident.
The death of Barker, a former city councilman in Keller, Texas, was announced Sunday morning in a Facebook post by Keller Mayor Armin Misani.
“Keller is saddened to learn that husband, father, military veteran and former Keller City Councilman Terry Barker was one of the victims of the tragic crash at the Dallas Air Show,” Misani wrote.
“Terry Barker was loved by many. He was a friend and someone I often looked to for guidance. Even after retiring from the city council and flying for American Airlines, his love for the community was unmistakable.
Maj. Curtis J., a more than 30-year veteran of the Ohio Division of the Civil Air Patrol. Rowe was among those killed in the conflict, the agency’s commander, Col. Pete Bowden, said Sunday.
Rowe has served in several positions throughout his tenure with the Civil Air Patrol, from security officer to operations officer, and most recently was the Ohio Wing maintenance officer, Bowden said. Rowe’s family was notified of his death Saturday evening, the commander said.
“When great pilots like Kurt perish, I can take solace in the fact that they do so doing what they love. Curt touched the lives of thousands of his fellow CAP members, especially the cadets he flew during orientation flights or taught at flight academies and for that we are forever grateful,” Bowden wrote in a Facebook post.
“Farewell to a great pilot, colleague and fellow airman,” he said.
At a news conference Saturday, Hank Coates, president and CEO of Commemorative Air Force One, an organization that preserves and maintains vintage military aircraft, told reporters that the B-17 “typically has a crew of four to five. That’s what the plane had,” the P-63 was “a single-pilot fighter type aircraft.”
The Commemorative Air Force identified both aircraft as being based in Houston.
Although the debris field from the collision included Dallas Executive Airport Stadium, Highway 67 and a nearby strip mall, no spectators or others on the ground were injured.
The B-17 was part of a commemorative Air Force collection nicknamed the “Texas Raiders” and is kept in a hangar in Conroe, Texas, near Houston.
It is one of a total of 45 surviving examples of the model, of which only nine were airworthy.
The P-63 was even rarer. About 14 examples are known to survive, of which four were airworthy in the United States, and one belonged to 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 remainder scrapped in the early 1960s. About 3,300 P-63s were produced by Bell Aircraft between 1943 and 1945, primarily for use by the Soviet Air Force during World War II.
The FAA led the investigation into Saturday’s air show crash, but was set to turn it over to the NTSB once its team reached the scene, Coates said.
On Saturday evening, the NTSB said it was sending a team to investigate the collision. The team of technical experts 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 air shows are volunteers and follow a rigorous training process. Most of them are pilots, retired pilots or retired military pilots.
“The maneuvers they (the aircraft) performed were not dynamic at all,” Coates noted. “That’s what we call ‘Bombers on Parade.’
“This is not about the plane. It’s not,” Coates said. “I can tell you that the airplanes are great airplanes, they are safe. They are very well maintained. Pilots are very well trained. So it’s hard for me to talk about it, because I know all these people, these people are family, and good friends.”
Mayor Johnson said in a tweet after the crash, “As many of you have seen by now, we had a terrible tragedy today during an air show in our city. At this time, many details are unknown or unconfirmed.
“The video footage is heartbreaking. Please, say a prayer for the spirits who have ascended to heaven 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.