HOUSTON - Six people are reported to be dead following the tragic mid-air plane crash in Dallas on Saturday morning during an air show at the Dallas Executive Airport.
The accident happened during the Veterans Day Wings Over Dallas WWII Airshow around 1:15 p.m. near Duncanville.
According to Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, the Dallas County Medical Examiner's Office confirmed six people died in the incident.
During a press conference on Sunday, Michael Graham, a board member of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), says "Five crew members of the B-17 and the pilot of the P-63 were fatally injured. There were no ground injuries reported."
Graham asks that anyone with videos or photos of the incident please submit them to the organization. "They're actually very critical since we don't have any flight data recorder data or cockpit voice recorders or anything like that, be very critical to analyze the collision. And also tie that in with the air traffic control recordings to determine why the two aircraft collided and to determine basically the how and why this accident happened." Information on where to send any videos or photographs is mentioned at the end of the article.
Neither aircraft had a flight data recorder or cockpit voice recorder, often known as the "Black Box", Graham says.
Another part of the investigation will be determining why the two planes were at the same altitude as seen in many social media videos.
"That's part of what we'll be determining here. And we were gathering evidence at that time we at this time. We don't have the exact altitude of each one and one of the things we would probably most likely be trying to determine is why those aircraft are co-altitude in the same airspace at the same time," Graham said.
According to the NTSB, it's too early to tell if it was a mechanical error or pilot error that led to the accident.
"It's too early to tell, like I said, we're here to basically recover all the evidence of the scene. We're currently starting the removal process of the aircraft, taking it to a sort of secure location, where we will look at the airframe itself, and the engines, and everything to determine that we will also look into the crew members. And basically, we will look at everything that we can, and we'll let the evidence basically lead us to the appropriate conclusions. But at this point, we will not speculate on what happened once more," Graham says.
The NTSB has started to investigate the incident. The organization has begun to secure the audio recordings from the air traffic control tower, surveying the accident site by the NTSB drone, photographing the scene from the ground to document the accident site prior to records being moved, and conducting interviews of the other formation crews and air show operations.
Of the two aircrafts, one was a Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and the other a Bell P-63 Kingcobra, according to Hank Coates, President, and CEO of the Commemorative Air Force. Both of the planes were based out of Houston and owned and operated by the American Airpower Heritage Flying Museum.
The B-17 plane was reportedly hangared at General Aviation Services in Conroe at Conroe-North Houston Regional Airport. The aircraft was nicknamed the Texas Raiders.
The B-17 usually has a crew of four to five people and the P-63 is a single-pilot aircraft.
"This is a World War II flight demonstration type airshow where we highlight the aircraft and their capabilities," says Coates. "The maneuvers that they were going thee were not dynamic at all. It was what we call ‘Bombers on parade’."
According to Coates, he will not release the names of those involved until all next of kin are informed, and he receives consensus from the NTSB and other working agencies.
According to FOX 4, family members confirmed that Houston-area pilot Craig Hutain was flying the single pilot P-63 Kingcobra Saturday.
FOX 4 reports that Hutain flew for United Airlines and was planning on retiring in a few years.
Allied Pilots Association shared that two of their members, Terry Baker and Len Root, were among those who died in the accident. The APA is the labor union representing American Airlines pilots.
The families of those involved are being taken care of and receiving counseling, Coates says.
"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. What I can tell you, this is not their first rodeo. These guys are very well-versed."
The NTSB will conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of the accident, along with the Commemorative Air Force and Federal Aviation Agency. At this time, no additional information is available.
If anybody in the public has any photos or videos, the NTSB ask that you please share them and send those to firstname.lastname@example.org.