Six men were murdered on Monday when two vintage World War II aircraft collided at a Dallas air show, a tragedy that is sure to reignite debate about the need of stricter regulations for events of this kind.
Six soldiers were killed Saturday when two aircraft from World War II collided above the Dallas air show and plummeted to the ground. According to the Commemorative Air Force, the group responsible for the performance, all six pilots were highly qualified professionals with years of flying training under their belts.
These six individuals were identified as Terry Barker, Craig Hutain, Kevin “K5” Michels, Dan Ragan, Leonard “Len” Root, and Curt Rowe by the Commemorative Air Force.
But authorities haven’t said whether or not any of the dead were the planes’ pilots.
Commemorative Air Force CEO Hank Coates stated at a weekend press conference that all of the men performing in the air show were volunteers, but that they had all been through to a rigorous screening procedure that included recording hours and training flights.
Coates said, “This is not their first rodeo.” These gentlemen are really knowledgeable. Like me, many of them have flown for airlines or the military and are now retired.
Hutain, a native Texan hailing from Montgomery, served as a commercial airline pilot for the whole of his career. According to his LinkedIn profile, he began flying at the age of 10 and now has more than 34,500 total flight hours under his belt.
Mayor Armin Mizani of Keller, Texas, said that Barker was a retired pilot living in the area. During his time in the Army, Barker served as a helicopter pilot.
After that, Mizani stated he worked for American Airlines for 36 years until retiring in 2020. A significant loss for our community, that’s for sure,” Mizani said. We’re heartbroken.
According to his LinkedIn profile, another Keller native, Root, flew and managed for the Gulf Coast Wing of the Commemorative Air Force. Throughout the last year, Root has served as a contract commercial pilot for a number of different businesses.
Andy Keller, Rowe’s brother-in-law, told the Associated Press that Rowe, from Hilliard, Ohio, was a crew chief on the B-17 and a member of the Ohio Wing of the Civil Air Patrol. If Keller is to be believed, Rowe spent a great deal of time at air shows in the course of a year admiring WWII planes.
Austin, Texas, was home for Michels. According to FOX 4 News, Michels not only oversaw tours for veterans and the general public but also acted as a historian and media representative for the flight crew.
Saturday footage shows the P-63 veering towards the B-17’s flight path. The two aircraft disintegrated in midair, and the P-63 crashed directly into the earth, bursting into a ball of fire and black smoke.
There are normally four or five persons on board a B-17, but a P-63 only has one pilot.
The accident is now being looked at by the NTsb and FAA. According to NTSB member Michael Graham, one of the primary mysteries is why both planes were in the same airspace and at the same altitude.
Graham stated that radar and video footage, as well as crash debris and other recordings and records, would be analyzed as part of the investigation.
Crews that were there for the air show will also be interviewed by the investigators.
We will gather as much information as possible, and we will let the facts guide us. “At this time, we are not going to make any assumptions,” Graham said.
It will take the NTSB four to six weeks to issue a preliminary report, and up to 18 months to issue a full report.