DALLAS (AP) — Two historic military planes collided and fell to the ground during an air show in Dallas on Saturday, exploding in a ball of flame and sending plumes of black smoke into the sky. It was unclear how many people were on board the plane or if anyone on the ground was injured.
Leah Block, a spokeswoman for the Commemorative Air Force, which produced the weekend show Veterans Day and was the owner of the crashed plane, told ABC News she believes five crew members were on the B-17 Flying Fortress bomber and one aboard the P -63 Kingcobra fighters located aircraft. The Houston-based planes were not offering rides for paying customers at the time, she said.
Rescue workers rushed to the crash site at Dallas Executive Airport, about 10 miles from downtown. Live TV news footage from the scene showed people setting up orange cones around the crumpled wreckage of the bomber, which was on a lawn.
Anthony Montoya saw the two planes collide.
“I just stood there. I was completely shocked and in disbelief,” said Montoya, 27, who attended the air show with a friend. “Everyone around us gasped. Everyone burst into tears. Everyone was shocked.”
Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said the National Transportation Safety Board took control of the accident site, with local police and fire departments providing assistance.
“The videos are heartbreaking,” Johnson said on Twitter.
The Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and a Bell P-63 Kingcobra collided and crashed around 1:20 p.m., the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement. The collision occurred during the Commemorative Air Force Wings Over Dallas show.
Victoria Yeager, widow of famed Air Force test pilot Chuck Yeager and a pilot herself, was also at the show. She didn’t see the collision, but she did see the burning wreckage.
“It was pulverized,” said Yeager, 64, who lives in Fort Worth.
“We were just hoping that they had all disembarked, but we knew they hadn’t,” she said of those on board.
The B-17, a huge four-engined bomber, was a cornerstone of the US Air Force during World War II and is one of the most famous fighter jets in US history. The Kingcobra, a US fighter aircraft, was primarily used by Soviet forces during the war. Most B-17s were scrapped at the end of World War II, and Boeing says only a handful remain today, mostly on display at museums and air shows.
Several videos posted on social media showed the fighter plane appearing to fly into the bomber, causing them to quickly fall to the ground and unleashing a large ball of fire and smoke.
“It was really horrible to see,” Aubrey Anne Young, 37, of Leander. Texas who saw the crash. Her children were in the hangar with their father when it happened. “I’m still trying to make sense of it.”
In a video that Young uploaded to her Facebook page, a woman can be heard crying and screaming hysterically next to Young.
Air show safety — particularly for older military aircraft — has been a concern for years. In 2011, 11 people were killed in Reno, Nevada when a P-51 Mustang crashed into spectators. In 2019, a bomber crashed in Hartford, Connecticut, killing seven people. The NTSB said at the time it was investigating 21 accidents since 1982 with World War II-era bombers that killed 23 people.
Wings Over Dallas bills itself as “America’s first WWII airshow,” according to a website promoting the event. The show was scheduled for November 11-13, Veterans Day weekend, and guests were scheduled to see more than 40 World War II-era aircraft. The Saturday afternoon schedule included flight displays, including a “bomber parade” and “fighter escorts” using the B-17 and P-63.
Videos from previous Wings Over Dallas events show vintage warplanes flying low, sometimes in close formation, in simulated gunfire or bombing raids. The videos also show the planes performing aerobatic stunts.
The FAA also launched an investigation, officials said.
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