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Authorities identify six killed during Dallas airshow collision

Commemorative Air Force Pilots
The Commemorative Air Force
Six pilots of the B-17 Flying Fortress and P-63 Kingcobra flight crews were killed during an in-air collision at the Wings Over Dallas event on Nov. 12, 2022. Top, from left, are Terry Barker, Craig Hutain and Kevin "K5" Michels; Bottom, from left, are Dan Ragan, Leonard "Len" Root and Curt Rowe.

The pilots and crewmen died Saturday when two World War II-era aircraft collided during the Wings Over Dallas airshow.

Updated at 4:15 p.m.

Authorities have identified the six people killed Saturday afternoon when two military planes collided in midair during an air show over North Texas.

The names were released by the Commemorative Air Force, a Dallas-based, non-profit organization that put on the show. The group identified the deceased as: Terry Barker, Craig Hutain, Kevin “K5” Michels, Leonard “Len” Root, Dan Ragan and Curt Rowe. Barker is a former city councilman from Keller and a retired American Airlines pilot, and Root was also a retired American Airlines pilot.

The six perished when a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber collided with a P-63 Kingcobra fighter plane, the Associated Press reported Saturday. The B-17’s usual crew is about four to five people, the AP added. The air show was dubbed the Wings Over Dallas WWII Airshow and took place at the Dallas Executive Airport.

“We are heartbroken to announce that the following members of the Commemorative Air Force went west on Saturday, November 12, 2022, at the Wings Over Dallas WWII Airshow while performing,” the Commemorative Air Force said in a statement. “Please join us in mourning the loss of our good friends and fellow airmen.”

The National Transportation Safety Board, a federal agency that investigates civil aviation and other accidents, is investigating the crash. The board’s duties include determining the causes of accidents and issuing safety recommendations designed to prevent similar occurrences.

Several videos posted on social media Saturday showed the two planes colliding and the larger craft plummeting to the ground, causing a fiery explosion and subsequent billowing cloud of black smoke. No one on the ground was injured.

“The videos are heartbreaking. Please, say a prayer for the souls who took to the sky to entertain and educate our families,” Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson posted on Twitter Saturday.

What we know as of Monday

The NTSB Monday tweeted images of its investigators touring the scene of the crash that included the charred wreckage of one of the aircraft.

Officials with the NTSB said the investigation is ongoing during a Monday afternoon press briefing, adding a preliminary report could be released within four to six weeks. A full NTSB investigation usually takes a year to 18 months.

The wreckage of the P-63 has been recovered and sent to a secure location but rain on Monday has delayed additional recovery of the B-17, officials said.

Neither aircraft was equipped with a flight data recorder, commonly referred to as a “black box,” or a cockpit voice recorder. But NTSB Board Member Michael Graham said an electronic flight display was recovered from the B-17 and a GPS unit was recovered from the P-63.  He said both pieces of equipment have been sent to a lab in Washington, D.C. for further analysis.

Graham added it was too early in the investigation to tell whether the pilots of the aircrafts were in communication immediately before the crash. But he is hopeful the equipment analysis will yield some clues as to what went wrong.

“Data that these types of units may have — and I say the word ‘may’ here — may have...things like GPS location, possible altitudes of the aircraft and the air speeds of the aircraft. Those are three right off hand that I think would be very important to our analysis,” he said.

Graham said the vintage aircraft used in airshows are required to have some updated equipment as many have been restored.

He also thanked the public for submitting photos and videos of the crash.

“[They] will give us a layout of where each aircraft was in the process. It should help us with speed, altitude, location,” he said. “There may be an angle of something out there that we’re unaware of.”

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Got a tip? Email Julián Aguilar at jaguilar@kera.org.You can follow Julián on Twitter @nachoaguilar