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Mid-air collision at Wings Over Dallas airshow destroys two WW-II planes

Photo by Rodney Moore

A mid-air collision at the Wings Over Dallas airshow held Saturday, Nov. 12 at Dallas Executive Airport has left a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bomber and a Bell P-63 Kingcobra destroyed.

Both planes were part of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF) fleet.

The CAF, which has a fleet of about 180 aircraft that perform around the country and world, had roughly 4000 to 6000 people in attendance at their Wings Over Dallas event. Counseling services from the Dallas Police and Fire Departments have been offered to those affected by the incident.

The accident occurred at approximately 1:15 p.m., about two hours into the show.

Initial reports indicate six people were aboard the aircraft, with the B-17 having a typical crew of four to five and the P-63 being a single-pilot fighter. The Dallas County Medical examiner confirmed a total of 6 fatalities from the incident. No paying guests of the event were on board the aircraft.

The airshow was meant to demonstrate the capabilities of the aircraft and recreate formation scenarios comparable to those in WW-II. According to CAF President and CEO Hank Coates, the maneuvers that led to the collision were “not dynamic at all,” and were part of a standard “bombers on parade” maneuver.

According to Coates, occurrences like this are exceedingly rare.

“The people that are flying in the airshows are volunteers. There is a very strict process of training and hours. All the pilots are vetted very carefully, many of them have been flying for us for 20, 30 years or longer. So this is not their first rodeo, these guys are very well-versed,” Coates said. “They spend their summertimes [flying], many of them are airline pilots, retired airline pilots, retired military pilots like myself. These guys do a lot of training, there’s a lot of minimums they have to meet, criteria they have to meet, so this is not just someone that’s out doing something, these are very well-trained folks that have been doing this for a long time.”

Dallas Fire-Rescue declared an Alert 3 Aircraft Emergency at 1:32 p.m. The FAA and the NTSB will investigate. Further updates will follow from their investigations.

This is a developing story. Updates will be added as they are received.