6 die in midair collision of World War II planes at Dallas air show

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The explosive crash of two vintage World War II planes over a Dallas air show has left six people dead, authorities said Sunday.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the National Transportation Safety Board was working to identify victims of the “horrible tragedy” Saturday at the Wings over Dallas air show.

The planes, a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber and P-63 Kingcobra fighter plan, slammed together shortly after noon above Dallas Executive Airport, less than 10 miles from downtown. The show had drawn about 4,000 spectators,

The debris field stretched across airport grounds and onto a nearby highway and strip mall, Mayor Eric Johnson said. He said no injuries to people on the ground were reported.

“We have had a terrible tragedy in our city,” Johnson said. “The videos are heartbreaking. Please, say a prayer for the souls who took to the sky to entertain and educate our families.”

‘SHOCK AND DISBELIEF’: World War II bomber, smaller plane collide and crash at Dallas air show

Video from the scene appears to show the P-63 turning into the path of the B-17. Both planes break apart and the P-63 then flies straight into the ground and explodes. Raging flames quickly give way to thick, black smoke.

The B-17 typically has a crew of four to five people while a P-63 usually has a single pilot. The aircraft are flown by highly trained volunteers who are often retired professional pilots, said Hank Coates, president of planes-owner Commemorative Air Force. No paying customers were on the planes, he said.

Fort Worth pilot Victoria Yeager, widow of legendary test pilot Chuck Yeager, was at the event but said on Twitter that she did not see the actual crash.

“I saw the fire just after B-17 crashed into ground. Pulverized everybody & everything. So sad” she said. “P-63 did a belly up in forming up. Very unfortunate – B-17 probably never knew what hit him. Formation flying takes a lot of practice – special skill set.”

The B-17, a main component of U.S. air superiority in World War II, is a four-engine bomber used in daylight raids against Germany. Most were scrapped after the war. In 2019, after a bomber crash in Connecticut killed seven people, the NTSB said it had investigated 21 crashes since 1982 involving World War II-era bombers that resulted in 23 deaths.

The Kingcobra was a U.S. plane used mostly by Soviet forces during the war.

Contributing: The Associated Press

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