On Saturday, November 12, 2022, two World War II-style planes collided midair and crashed in Dallas, Texas during the Wings Over Dallas air show. Six people died in the crash.
Authorities have identified the Dallas air show victims as Terry Barker, Craig Hutain, Kevin Michels, Dan Ragan, Leonard Root, and Curtis Rowe. The aviators had over 100 years of combined flying experience.
Investigators say the two vintage planes—a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and Bell P-63 Kingcobra—collided and went down at approximately 1:20 p.m. local time during the air show hosted by the Commemorative Air Force.
Video footage of the crash shows the two planes colliding and breaking apart in midair before plummeting to the ground and bursting into flames. The debris field from the wreckage includes part of the Dallas Executive Airport grounds, Highway 67, and a strip mall adjacent to the airport. No spectators or others on the ground sustained injuries.
Victims of Dallas Air show Plane Crash
All six of the deceased aviators were affiliated with the Commemorative Air Force, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving and showing historical aircraft at air shows throughout the country.
Terry Barker, 67 – For 36 years, Barker worked as an instructor pilot for American Airlines. He also flew helicopters during his service in the Army. For leisure, he built and refurbished a Beechcraft AT-6. He described his passion for aviation outside of his day job as "like a postman taking a walk on his day off.” Barker leaves behind a wife and children.
Craig Hutain, 63 – Authorities have indicated that Hutain was flying the P-63 warbird, a single-seat aircraft that Hutain described as "an honor and a privilege to fly.” Hutain’s passion for aviation began early in life. He began flying at age 10 with his father, a WWII veteran. At 17, he was flying solo. During his career, Hutain flew commercial flights for Rocky Mountain Airways and United Airlines. He is survived by his wife of 20 years, two adult children, and four grandchildren.
Kevin “K5” Michels, 42 – Michels, known by his friends as “K5,” served in the Commemorative Air Force in many different ways, including historian, media representative, and tour supervisor for veterans and the general public. He dedicated his spare time to volunteer as a crew member on board the B-17.
Dan Ragan, 88 – Ragan was a colonel in the Navy. Early in his career, he worked as a combat radio operator during the Korean War. He would give tours later in life in the same plane he flew missions on. Ragan called the B-17 plane “beautiful,” saying the experience of getting inside the aircraft made him “a kid in the candy store.” His late brother was also a B-17 pilot.
Leonard Root, 66 – Root spent nearly 40 years working at American Airlines, where he was a flight management system program controller and flight director. In 2021, he became the manager for Commemorative Air Force’s Gulf Coast Wing.
Curtis Rowe, 64 – A former Air National Guardsman, Major Curtis Rowe was a mechanic who worked on the B-17. Rowe served in the Ohio wing of the Civil Air Patrol, an official civilian auxiliary of the US Air Force, for more over 30 years. Colonel Peter Bowden, commander of the Ohio Wing, wrote on social media that Rowe “touched the lives of thousands of his fellow Civil Air Patrol members.”
“I reach to find solace in that when great aviators like Curt perish, they do so doing what they loved,” Bowden said.
WWII-Era Planes Involved in Wings Over Dallas Air Show Crash
The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress is considered a cornerstone of American aviation during World War II. The B-17 is a large four-engine bomber that the military used in daylight raids against the Germans. The United States built over 12,000 B-17 aircraft and today around five are actively flying.
The Bell P-63 Kingcobra was a U.S. fighter plane that entered production during World War II. It is estimated that between 2,400 of the 3,303 P-63s were sent to the Soviet Union during World War II under the Lend-Lease act.
The Commemorative Air Force said both aircraft that crashed during the air show were based in Houston.
What Caused the Dallas Air Show Plane Crash?
Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) arrived in Dallas to investigate the cause of the fatal crash at the Dallas Air Show. It will likely take the agency a year or more to finish their investigation and report on the cause of the crash. Aviation attorney Timothy A. Loranger says government officials will learn what they can from the wreckage and analyze the video of the collision for more information on what went wrong. Loranger says that based on the video footage of the Dallas plane crash, the weather and equipment do not appear to be factors, so officials will likely be looking at other factors, including human error.
A preliminary report on the crash will be issued within the next few weeks. The final report will list the probable cause (or causes) of the crash and highlight any relevant safety issues to prevent future accidents.
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