DALLAS - Two military planes from World War II collided mid-air during a Veterans Day air show at Dallas Executive Airport on Saturday.
The accident took place around 1:20 p.m. during the Commemorative Air Force’s Wings Over Dallas WWII Airshow. There were between 4,000-6,000 spectators at the show.
Video from witnesses obtained by FOX 4 shows the planes colliding and then bursting into flames after hitting the ground.
Fallen debris stretched from the south end of the airport, across Highway 67 to a strip mall on the opposite side.
"A Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and a Bell P-63 Kingcobra collided and crashed at the Wings Over Dallas Airshow at Dallas Executive Airport in Texas around 1:20 p.m. local time Saturday. At this time, it is unknown how many people were on both aircraft," the Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement shortly after the crash.
CAF President Hank Coates said he could not yet release any information about the number of casualties. However, he confirmed that the B-17 typically has a crew of about four to five people on board and the P-63 is a single-pilot, fighter-type aircraft.
Six people were killed in the crash.
The Allied Pilots Association said two of its members – Terry Barker and Len Root – were among those who died in the crash.
"It's difficult for me to talk about it because I know all of these people. These are family and good friends," Coates said. "Obviously this is a very challenging time for the families. And when I say family, I also mean the CAF family and our customers that follow us all over the world and enjoy our shows."
(Courtesy Valerie Dinh)
CAF is a nonprofit organization that owns over 180 aircraft that appear in air shows all over the country and in other parts of the world.
"This was a WWII flight demonstration-type airshow where we highlight the aircraft and their capabilities and what actually happened in WWII. It’s very patriotic. The maneuvers that they were going through were not dynamic at all. It was what we call bombers on parade," Coates said.
He said the people who fly the vintage aircraft during the airshows are volunteers, often pilots or retired pilots, who go through a strict training process.
"This is not about the aircraft. It's just not. These are great aircraft. They are very well maintained. The pilots are very well trained," Coates said.
The FAA and the National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the crash to determine the exact causes. Coates would not speculate on what happened.
"NTSB will be doing a very thorough and complete investigation and which time they will release a preliminary report, which will be followed up at a later time, usually a significantly later time once they do engineering analysis and interviews and everything like that," he said.
The Dallas Executive Airport remains closed because of the investigation.
Both directions of Hwy. 67 were also shut down and traffic is diverted to the east and west of Ledbetter Drive.