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Dallas Midair Disaster: Authorities Identify Victims

The collision between two World War II-era aircraft left six dead and many unanswered questions.

Photo by Alan Wilson, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Authorities have identified the six men who died in the collision of two World War II-era planes, a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber and a Bell P-63 Kingcobra fighter plane. The collision took place on Saturday (November 12, 2022) at Dallas Executive Airport in Texas, during the Wings over Dallas Air Show. The event was cancelled following the fatal crash.

Video shows the B-17 in level flight apparently as it flies along the fly-by path fairly low over the runway. Flying much faster, the P-63 in a banked turn is seen to close quickly on the bomber and collide with it catastrophically. The smaller plane hit behind the main fuselage of the Boeing, immediately destroying the smaller plane and severing the bomber in two. The larger plane then plummeted to earth and burst into flames. The five crewmembers on the B-17 and the single pilot aboard the P-63 all perished in the crash.

On Monday, the event organizer The Commemorative Air Force, which put on the show, identified those who died as Craig Hutain, who was the pilot and sole occupant of the P-63; and Terry Barker, Kevin Michels, Dan Ragan, Leonard Root and Curt Rowe, all of whom were flying on the B-17.

There were no paying passengers aboard the B-17 at the time of the time of the mishap.

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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the crash. There were no indications that the collision was the result of any mechanical or medical issue, though investigators will look into every possibility. The NTSB’s final report on such crashes usually take at least a year to be published. Preliminary reports are generally issued within a few days to a few weeks after a crash and will contain factual information. Preliminary reports are not intended to draw any conclusions—those are contained in the final report, which will be the result of teams of investigators turning over every stone in their quest to find out what happened.

In 2019, another B-17 crashed while giving a living history experience flight, killing seven and injuring 6 others. That plane, operated by the Collings Foundation, was carrying 10 paying passengers on the flight. The NTSB ruled the crash was the result of engine trouble and pilot error in dealing with the resultant emergency landing.

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