6 pilots killed in horrifying Dallas air show collision were 'well-versed' and experienced aviators
The six men died Saturday after two World War II-era planes collided mid-air and crashed to the ground while flying over the Dallas air show
DALLAS, TEXAS: Officials have identified the six men killed in a collision between two World War II-era aircraft II Monday, Nov 14, at an air show in Dallas. The crash is expected to reignite the debate over whether additional safety regulations are needed for such events. The six people were identified by Commemorative Air Force as Terry Barker, Craig Hutain, Kevin "K5" Michels, Dan Ragan, Leonard "Len" Root, and Curt Rowe. Officials did not specify which of the victims flew the planes.
The six men were killed Saturday, Nov 12, when two World War II-era aircraft II collided in midair and plummeted to the ground while flying over the Wings Over Dallas air show. According to the Commemorative Air Force, which put on the spectacle, all six were seasoned aviators with years of flying experience, USA Today reports.
According to NTSB member Michael Graham, the National Transportation Safety Board is in charge of looking into why the two planes were in the same airspace and at the same height. “We’ll look at everything that we can and we’ll let the evidence basically lead us to the appropriate conclusions. At this point, we will not speculate,” Graham said.
Hank Coates, CEO of Commemorative Air Force, stated at a weekend news conference that although all of the men were volunteers for the air show, they all passed a rigorous screening procedure that included logging hours and training flights. “This is not their first rodeo,” Coates said. “These guys are very well-versed. Many of them are airline pilots, retired airline pilots, retired military pilots like myself."
Hutain, a native of Montgomery, Texas, has been flying commercial aircraft since 1985. His LinkedIn page states that he began flying when he was 10 years old and has since racked up more than 34,500 flight hours. According to Armin Mizani, the mayor of Keller, Barker was a retired pilot who resided in that city. In his time in the military, Barker, an Army veteran, piloted helicopters. Before retiring in 2020, he later spent the next 36 years working for American Airlines. Mizani said. “It’s definitely a big loss in our community,” Mizani admitted, adding. “We’re grieving.”
According to his LinkedIn page, Root, who is also from Keller, was a manager and pilot for the Gulf Coast Wing of the Commemorative Air Force. Over the previous year, Root served as a contract commercial pilot for a number of businesses. Rowe, of Hilliard, Ohio, was a crew chief on the B-17 and a member of the Ohio Wing Civil Air Patrol, according to his brother-in-law Andy Keller. Keller claims that Rowe took part in air displays all through the year because he was enamored with WWII aircraft. Austin, Texas, is where Michels was born. According to FOX 4 News, Michels held several positions on the flying crew, including historian and media liaison, and she also oversaw public and veteran tours.
The P-63 was shown on camera turning into the path of the B-17 at the location on Saturday. It was visible that both aircraft were crashing, and the P-63 was seen to crash into the ground before bursting into a column of flames and black smoke. A P-63 typically has a single pilot, while a B-17 typically has a crew of four to five personnel.
The NTSB will issue a preliminary report in four to six weeks, and it could take up to 18 months to complete a final report.