2 aircraft collide in mid-air, crash to ground during Dallas air show

Two historic military aircraft collided and crashed to the ground during the Dallas Air Show Saturday, exploding in a fireball and sending billows of black smoke into the sky. It was not immediately clear how many people were on board the plane or if anyone on the ground was injured.

Anthony Montoya saw the two planes collide.

“I just stood there. I was in complete shock and disbelief,” said Montoya, 27, who attended the airshow with a friend. “Everyone around was gasping. Everyone was in tears. Everyone was in shock.”

Emergency crews rushed to the crash site at Dallas Executive Airport, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from downtown.

Live TV news footage showed people erecting orange cones around the wreckage of the bomber in the grass.

“These videos are heartbreaking,” Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson tweeted, adding that the National Transportation Safety Board had secured the crash site, with support from local police and fire departments.

The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and Bell P-63 King Cobra collided and crashed at about 1:20 p.m., the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. The collision occurred during the Wings of the Air Force Memorial in Dallas.

The B-17 was a massive four-engine bomber that was the cornerstone of the U.S. Air Force during World War II. The King Cobra was an American fighter jet that was primarily used by the Soviet Army during the war. According to Boeing, most B-17s were scrapped at the end of World War II, and only a handful remain today, mostly in museums and air shows.

Several videos posted on Twitter showed the fighter jet appearing to fly towards the bomber, causing the bomber to plummet to the ground and spark a large cloud of fireballs and smoke.

“It was horrible to see this,” said Aubrey Anne Young, 37, of Leander, Texas, who witnessed the crash. Her children were in the hangar with their father when the accident happened. “I’m still trying to understand it.”

In the video Yang uploaded to her Facebook page, a woman next to Yang can be heard crying and screaming hysterically.

Airshow safety—especially for older military aircraft—has been a concern for years. In 2011, a P-51 Mustang-style P-51 Mustang crashed into spectators in Reno, Nevada, killing 11 people. In 2019, a bomber crashed in Hartford, Connecticut, killing seven people. The National Transportation Safety Board said at the time that since 1982 it had investigated 21 accidents involving World War II-era bombers that killed 23 people.

Wings of Dallas bills itself as “America’s premier World War II airshow,” according to the website promoting the event. The show is scheduled for Veterans Day weekend, November 11-13, and guests will see more than 40 World War II-era aircraft. The Saturday afternoon schedule includes air shows, including the “Bomber Parade” and “Fighter Escort” featuring the B-17 and P-63.

Videos from previous Wings Over Dallas events depict vintage warplanes flying low, sometimes in tight formations, in simulated strafing or bombing operations. The video also shows the plane performing stunts.

The FAA is also investigating, officials said.

Some recent fatal accidents in the U.S. and abroad:

– October 2, 2019: A four-engine, propeller-driven B-17G Flying Fortress bomber with 13 people on board crashes at Bradley International Airport north of Hartford, Connecticut, while on a vintage trip during the aircraft show. Seven people were killed and six were injured. The National Transportation Safety Board found pilot error as a likely cause, and poor maintenance as a contributing factor.

— November 17, 2018: A privately owned vintage World War II Mustang fighter jet plane crashed into the parking lot of an apartment complex in Fredericksburg, Texas, killing the pilot and a passenger. A P-51D Mustang returns after a flyover flight in a living history exhibit at the National Museum of the Pacific War. The plane was destroyed and several cars in the parking lot were damaged.

— August 4, 2018: A 79-year-old Junkers Ju-52 operated by Swiss company Ju-Air crashed into the Piz Segnas mountain near the Flims ski resort in eastern Switzerland, killing all 20 people on board . Retired from the Swiss Air Force in 1981, this German-built aircraft carries tourists who want to experience the country’s sights in a vintage aircraft on an “adventure flight”. Swiss investigators said the pilot’s “high-risk flight” led to the crash.

— May 30, 2018: A small vintage plane of the GEICO stunt team crashed with five other planes in a wooded residential area in Melville, New York, killing the pilot. The World War II-era SNJ-2 aircraft, known as the North American T-6 Texan, took off from a nearby airfield en route to Maryland when it crashed.

— July 16, 2017: A World War II-era P-51D Mustang “Duckling” crashes into a field, killing a pilot and an airport manager in Cummings, Kansas. Authorities said the pilot was recreating the stunt he performed at the Amelia Earhart Music Festival the day before.

– January 26, 2017: A World War II-era Grumman G-73 Mallard stalls and swerves down the Swan River in Perth, Australia, during Australia Day celebrations. Both the pilot and his passengers died.

— August 27, 2016 — A pilot from Alaska crashed during the Cascades airshow in Madras, Ore., when his 450 Stillman biplane (a A plane that was often used for military training during World War II) crashed.

— July 17, 2016 — A T-28 Trojan, used by the U.S. military as a training aircraft starting in the 1950s and as a counterinsurgency aircraft during the Vietnam War, crashed at the Cold Lake Air Show in Alberta , the pilot was killed. Thousands of spectators witnessed the accident.

— 22 August 2015 — Eleven people have been killed and more than a dozen injured when a 1950s Hawker Hunter T7 jet crashed on a busy highway near West Sussex, England. Investigators said the surviving pilot flew too low and too slow to complete the loop successfully. He was charged with 11 counts of manslaughter but was eventually acquitted.

— June 22, 2013 — A World War II-era Boeing-Stillman IB75A biplane during a display at the Vectren Dayton Air Show in Vandalia, Ohio It crashed and caught fire, killing a pilot and a Wingwalker. Thousands of spectators witnessed the crash, which federal safety investigators said may have been caused by pilot error.

— September 16, 2011 — A 70-year-old modified P-51D Mustang pilot lost control and crashed into spectators at the National Flying Championships and Air Show in Reno, Nevada, causing 10 casualties and 10 injuries. More than 60 people were injured. The pilot also died. Federal investigators blamed the crash on worn parts and speed.

Associated Press

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