Wing walker, pilot die in Ohio air-show crash
CINCINNATI — A plane carrying a wing walker crashed Saturday at an air show and exploded into flames, killing the pilot and stunt walker instantly, authorities said.
The crash happened at around 12:45 p.m. at the Vectren Air Show at Dayton International Airport. No spectators were hurt.
A video posted on WHIO-TV shows the plane turn upside-down as the performer sits on top of the wing. The plane then tilts and crashes to the ground, exploding into flames as spectators screamed.
Ian Hoyt, 20, an aviation photographer and licensed pilot from Findlay, was at the show with his girlfriend. He told The Associated Press he was taking photos as the plane passed by and had just raised his camera to take another shot.
"Then I realized they were too low and too slow. And before I knew it, they hit the ground," he said.
He couldn't tell exactly what happened, but it appeared that the plane stalled and didn't have enough air speed, he said.
"I'm still shaking," Hoyt said. He said he had been excited to see the show because he'd never seen the scheduled performer - wing walker Jane Wicker - in action.
The names of those killed weren't immediately released, but a schedule on the event's website and the announcer at the show said Wicker was performing.
Airport spokeswoman Linda Hughes and Ohio State Highway Patrol Lt. Anne Ralston confirmed the deaths to the AP.
The show was canceled for the rest of the day, but organizers said events would resume Sunday. The National Transportation Safety Board said it is investigating the crash.
Another spectator, Shawn Warwick of New Knoxville, told the Dayton Daily News that he was watching the flight through binoculars.
"I noticed it was upside-down really close to the ground. She was sitting on the bottom of the plane," he said. "I saw it just go right into the ground and explode."
Wicker's website says she responded to a classified ad from the Flying Circus Airshow in Bealeton, Va., in 1990, for a wing-walking position, thinking it would be fun. Her full-time job was as a budget analyst for the Federal Aviation Administration, according to her website.
She told WDTN-TV in an interview this week that her signature move was hanging underneath the plane's wing by her feet and sitting on the bottom of the airplane while it's upside-down.
"I'm never nervous or scared because I know if I do everything as I usually do, everything's going to be just fine," she told the station.
Wicker wrote on her website that she had never had any close calls.
"What you see us do out there is after an enormous amount of practice and fine tuning, not to mention the airplane goes through microscopic care. It is a managed risk and that is what keeps us alive," she wrote.
In 2007, veteran stunt pilot Jim LeRoy was killed at the Dayton show when his biplane slammed into the runway while performing loop-to-loops and caught fire.
Organizers were presenting a trimmed-down show and expected smaller crowds at Dayton after the Air Force Thunderbirds and other military participants pulled out this year because of federal budget cuts.
The air show, one of the country's oldest, usually draws around 70,000 people and has a $3.2 million impact on the local economy. Without military aircraft and support, the show expected attendance to be off 30 percent or more.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rollout of health exchange draws flak from GAO official
- IRS calls right-wing Republicans ‘crazies’ in emails
- Tea Party opposition threatens House GOP’s border bill
- Stowaway’s access to Air Force plane eyed
- 6 narcotics officers charged with racketeering
- Ground Zero ship dated to 1773
- N.Y. opera proposes mediation as lockout looms
- $17B emergency funding for Veterans Affairs health care system passes House, heads to Senate
- Charges against Fla. mom raise ire
- House’s vote to sue Obama is historic foray into checks, balances
- U.S. coal exports undermine clean air efforts, experts say